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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • It's all about the tees

  • Binky checks out the Sand Creek Station golf course at Newton, listed in Golf Digest's 2007 list of Best New Courses.
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  • My latest foray into the world of golf course reviews took me to Newton to review that city’s heralded Sand Creek Station.
    One of the area’s newest venues—coming online less than a decade ago— Sand Creek was named in Golf Digest’s 2007 list of Best New Courses.
    Since then, it has been called the 24th best municipal course you can play in the nation by Golf Week magazine and, a few weeks ago, it played host to the prestigious US Amateur Public Links tournament.
    I found all the praise to be deserved, with everything from challenge to playability to enjoyment to ambience to bang-for-the-buck being top-notch.
    Beginning with bang-for-the-buck, had I been a Senior (over 55), I could have played for $28 including cart on a weekday. That would have been the least expensive green fee I have paid on any of my golfing trips this summer.
    Of course, as a 21-year-old cub reporter, I had to pay full price— but even that was pretty reasonable, especially considering all you get.
    You get a cart, 18 holes of golf, free range balls, an expansive putting clock and a short game practice area. The carts are equipped with GPS, so if you haven’t played the course very much, you can see how far it is to the hole and to obstacles. That’s a nice touch!
    On-course beverage service is provided, with the drink prices being very reasonable. The clubhouse contains a full-service grill/ snack bar and there is a complete pro shop with a nice selection of golf gear and apparel.
    As far as the golfing goes, the course winds along the banks of Sand Creek and skirts some railroad tracks (thus the course’s name Sand Creek Station). It makes for some interesting and picturesque ambience.
    The signature hole is #10: a 640-yard (from the tips) par 5 that heads directly into a prevailing southwest wind, being aptly nicknamed “The Beast.” This brings up what I would consider a very important point for the visitor’s enjoyment of Sand Creek: Choose your tee box wisely.
    My golfing trips this summer have turned me into a big fan of courses that give you multiple tee box options.
    At Sand Creek, there are 5 tee boxes from which to hit. The scorecard gives players suggestions on which color to hit from depending on your handicap: 0-4 should hit from “championship”; 5-16 from “tournament”; 17-25 from “medal”; 26+ from “intermediate”; and women from “front”.
    As an experiment, I decided to play the front nine from “tournament” and the back from “medal” to see how much my enjoyment was impacted by tee selection. “Tournament” plays to 6733 yards, “medal” to 6103. My hypothesis was that “tournament” was going to be longer than I really enjoy, but “medal” was going to be about right.
    Page 2 of 2 - That proved to be true. I shot 49 on the front, and didn’t record a single par. Part of that was me hitting even worse shots than usual, but part of it was, it was just too long for me. On the back, I posted a 42, which is a score I can live with, especially for the first time on a course.
    I made four pars, which really helped my motivation level. The shorter distance was just what I needed to make the playing really enjoyable.
    Not that the front nine was torture. As my playing partners agreed, you know it’s a nice venue when you have fun even though the course is beating you up.
    Initially, I had concern about the condition of the course. The first green was infested with roughly a million old, un-regrown divots— as though they had suffered a horrendous hail storm the night before.
    But then I remembered the National tournament that was recently held there. A week of play by golfers who routinely hit the greens in regulation had left numerous visible scars on the putting surfaces.
    However, the problem was only a visual one. The greens played splendidly, the ball rolled well. I made way more putts than usual.
    After adjusting to the quicker speed than I was used to, I found that more of my putts were finding the bottom of the cup than not.
    In summary then, Sand Creek needs to be on every at least semi-avid golfer’s bucket list. I would caution one to be realistic in one’s selection of tee markers, however.
    If your ego forces you to play from tee boxes that are designed for better golfers than you, you won’t enjoy the experience as much as you otherwise could.

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