Shinnecock Hills was the first private Top 100 course I played after receiving I an unexpected invitation from a member named Kevin. After having a great afternoon on the course we sat down on the clubhouse porch for a drink and Kevin asked me about the new course that Vinny Giles had been involved with down in Richmond. He was referring to Kinloch Golf Club and after a brief conversation about the club I off-handedly said “If you ever get to Richmond let me know and I can probably line a game up for us”. Kevin then informed me that he spent a lot of time in South Carolina and that he often drove through Richmond on his way back to New York. He said he would remember my offer and just might take me up on it someday.
Fast forward to six years later when one day I received an email from Kevin telling me that he would be passing through Richmond and inquiring if I would be able to arrange for us to play at Kinloch. Luckily, I have a couple of friends who are members and was able to set up a game with my friend Sam who has been the club champion there a number of times. In addition to Sam, Kevin and myself the foursome would be rounded out by my friend Barry from Pittsburgh who is on a Top 100 quest of his own. Kinloch would be Barry’s 67th Top 100 course played.
I’ve been fortunate enough to play Kinloch a couple of times and I have even done two previous posts on this website about my experiences there. For some reason I never took many photos on my previous visits so I made a point this time to bring my camera and take a bunch of photos. There are no tee times at Kinloch so Sam told us that we should plan to play around 1pm. Kevin, Barry and I all arrived about 30 minutes beforehand and spent some time on the practice tee and putting green. As 1 o’clock neared I saw Sam’s truck pull into the valet loop and he came walking over to meet us on the practice green. Without as much as a warm up swing or a practice putt he made his way to the back tees (7,203 yards!) and stuck his peg in the ground. The rest of us decided that we would play from the more manageable Blue Tees which are 6,405 yards and play to a par of 72.
Hole 1 – 383 Yards – Par 4
The course starts off with a mid length par 4. The landing zone is blind, but the fairway is pretty wide open. Shots hit down the left side can catch a “speed slot” and pick up some extra yardage.
The approach shot into the green plays a little downhill, but once the ball reaches the green it is sloped from back to front, so a club adjustment for the downhill is not really necessary.
Hole 2 – 340 Yards – Par 4
Here we have our first split fairway of many at Kinloch. The hole is pretty short from the blue tees so aiming left or right of the cross bunker is an option. Longer hitters should be careful if they are aiming to the right side of the bunkers as it is possible to hit a drive through the fairway and into the woods.
Here is a view of the short approach shot into the green after a drive hit to the left of the cross bunker.
Hole 3 – 523 Yards – Par 5
The first three shot hole on the course has the player hitting to a blind landing zone. The best line is 10-15 yards left of the bunkers on the right side of the fairway.
Below is a look into the green. Note the water hazard on the right side. It’s important to know about this when playing the second shot. I’ve seen a couple of balls hit that water because of a poorly calculated layup.
Hole 4 – 310 Yards – Par 4
This is a fun hole and might be my favorite on the course. At 310 yards playing downhill it is possible to drive the green. I always hit my driver here and am usually left with a short chip or putt for eagle. the fairway slopes downhill so its only necessary to get the ball 270-280 yards down there and the hill will help it reach the green. The other options for playing the hole are to hit a 160-170 yard shot out to the left or to hit a 200 yard shot down the left side. This is fun hole with lots of options on how to play it.
Hole 5 – 165 Yards – Par 3
This one shot hole starts what I think is a tough section of the course. This one plays a little uphill and the green works from back right to front left. Its tough to chip from the right side of the green and keep your ball on the putting surface.
Hole 6 – 359 Yards – Par 4
I really like this hole, but I’ve been told that it is not always a fan favorite. The ravine at the bottom of the hill takes driver out of most players hands and requires a little more thoughtful shot. There is a bridge at the far right side of the natural area and anything to the left of that bridge and in the fairway is a pretty good line.
The approach shot here is a tough one. It plays pretty severely uphill and will require an extra club.
Hole 7 – 199 Yards – Par 3
This downhill one shot hole is a tough one. Even though it plays downhill I hit the full yardage at the caddie’s recommendation. Note the bunkers on the left. The way that the bunkers come up to the edge of the putting surface is something new and something that I love. Click here to see a photo of this hole taken several years ago where the bunkers looked completely different. This is a cool change as I think that having a bunch of long grass between the putting surface and the bunkers doesn’t put the bunkers in play as much as they could be. I hope they do this with all their greens. Its a very cool look and I think it brings the bunkers into play a little more.
Hole 8 – 407 Yards – Par 4
Here we have a long par 4 with the drive hit to a blind landing zone. Something right down the middle will work just fine. Balls that favor the left will have a shorter approach and balls that favor the right will have a longer approach.
A view of the approach shot from the left rough. The slope in front of the green on the opposite side of the water is usually tightly mowed and balls that come up short will likely end up wet.
Hole 9 – 540 Yards – Par 5
This hole is a bit of a weird one. There is a split fairway, but the fairway on the right is very difficult to reach due to the bank of trees. A player needs to be able to hit a really high ball over the trees or a HUGE slice around them. From the back tees its a little more feasible to hit it over the trees. For the mere mortal the best line is to hit it straight out to the left fairway. The bolder player will take a line a little further right and might have a chance to get home in two. Although the scorecard says the hole is pretty long I’ve managed to reach this green in two with a good drive.
Here is a look at the second shot. It only makes sense to rip a 3 wood in my opinion. Players laying up can lay up short of the natural area, try to carry it or even hit it to the right side. Another hole at Kinloch with lots of options.
Hole 10 – 405 Yards – Par 4
The back nine starts off with a long par 4 where the drive plays a bit uphill. Grip it and rip it down the middle.
Here is a view of the approach shot into the green. Sorry about the lighting. The afternoon sun was starting to wreak some havoc on my camera during the back nine.
Hole 11 – 467 Yards – Par 5
This short par 5 is a huge scoring opportunity. Not only is the hole short, but it also plays downhill and with its split fairway offers a HUGE landing zone. The left fairway makes more sense to me, so a good line is to hit the drive just to the right of the bunker on the left side of the fairway.
There is a creek splitting the two fairways, so make sure to choose a side and stick with it or else your tee ball could end up wet.
Here is a view of the green from less than 200 yards out. With a big drive from the blue tees it is conceivable that the second shot could be hit from this area.
Hole 12 – 415 Yards – Par 4
After the short par 5 we get a tough par 4. This one is long on the card and plays all uphill making it even longer. It is a really tough hole and one where par feels like a birdie.
This is the view that a lot of players see on this hole . . . chipping from 50 yards out.
Hole 13 – 520 Yards – Par 5
I really like this hole as well. It’s not a short par 5, but it is reachable because the last 60 yards of the hole are downhill and its possible to get a little help from the hill. I think it’s best to favor the left side of the hole on the drive.
A view of one of the few relatively flat greens on the course.
Hole 14 – 130 Yards – Par 3
This short little one shot hole is a tricky one. The green falls away on the back side and the lake wraps around behind the green so players who go long or roll down the hill will find themselves swimming.
Hole 15 – 300 Yards – Par 4
Here we have another short par 4 with a split fairway. Players who want to rip it can take dead aim at the green and try to drive it. The safe play is to hit a 200 yard shot out to the right of the big tree by the cross bunkers.
This green is one of my favorites at Kinloch. It is a two tiered affair with a significant drop between the tiers. When the hole is on the lower tier it is a very difficult two putt from the upper tier.
Hole 16 – 390 Yards – Par 4
Here we have another one of my favorite holes. I never play it worth a darn, but I still think it’s great. Big hitters can aim towards the left side of the fairway and carry the first natural area.
A view of the uphill approach shot into the green.
Hole 17 – 175 Yards – Par 3
The final one shot hole on the course will require a mid to long iron for most players and plays just a little bit uphill.
Hole 18 – 377 Yards – Par 4
The last hole on the course gives an opportunity to hit a big drive from an elevated tee box. Something right down the middle or just favoring the left is the best plan as balls that are too far right will have a difficult angle into the green on their approach shot . . . and will be aiming right at the water.
Here is the approach into the green from about 150 yards out.
The sun was going down as we finished up so rather than playing the 19th hole we headed into the clubhouse for a beer and some of great homemade cookies before we all went our separate ways. We had a great time and everyone enjoyed the course. Kinloch is a real treat in the fall because the greens are running just absolutely smooth as can be and are running even faster than their normal lightning speeds. The wide, and often split, fairways present the player with numerous options off the tee and the course features a variety of holes so it never gets dull. It’s always nice to get a game at a place like Kinloch and I’m glad Kevin took me up on my offer . . . even if it took him almost seven years!