Seminole Golf Club—Juno Beach, FL
Rankings as of 5/11/2010
10th best course in the US, #1 course in FL (Golf Digest)
13th best course in the US, 21st best course in the world (Golf Magazine)
14th best classic course (Golfweek)
Seminole is one of the most exclusive golf courses in the world and is also one of the most highly regarded courses
in the world as well. It is often said that the first time you play the course, you can’t appreciate its greatness.
Perhaps this is true, but I can say that I certainly noticed how good it was on my first (and to date, only) play.
However, the bigger issue is how darn difficult the course is. It is my opinion that the course's difficulty is what
makes it greatness so hard to appreciate, not the subtle nuances of it. I’ll expand more on this throughout my
For starters, Seminole was designed by Donald Ross is 1929. It measures 6,593 yards from the blue tees and is
rated 72.5/141. It plays right by the Atlantic Ocean, so the wind is huge factor regarding how the course plays. In
fact, here is a picture off the back of the 14th tee box.
When I played it the wind was a pretty constant 20 mph with random gusts over 30 mph. Due to the courses
excellent routing, that wind can be behind you to give you an extra 3 clubs of “umph” or right in your face, or from
either side. So, don’t just get your yardage and hit. First start with the wind speed, then get its direction, then your
yardage, uphill/downhill, etc. All of this must be factored into each and every shot.
The next thing that you need to factor in is the dynamic Ross greens. Think Pinehurst #2 type of greens, but
where Pinehurst keeps their greens around 9ish on the stimp meter Seminole was playing 13 the day I played. Call
it glassy, icy, fast as lightening, whatever…they were freakin’ brutal!!! You had to not only hit the right spot on the
green with the right type of shot, but you had to get the push or pull of the wind right and have a crisply hit shot
with some bite to have any chance of holding the green.
Now for a point of debate…the bunkers. I’ve heard people say it is an over bunkered course and I’ve heard people
say it is the best bunkered course in the world. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I think that depends on
how good your game is. If you are a scratch golfer or better, I think you might think the bunkering is quite good.
As you might like the fact that any and all shots not perfectly struck and placed will be deflected from the green and
into a severe greenside bunker. However, if you are a mid-handicapper, you might think your fairly well struck
shots deserved a better fate than they received. As most golf is, it is all a matter of perspective.
However, the great old school golf course architects have said many times that a “great” course is a challenge for
the championship caliber golfer, while still a joy to play for the mid to high handicap golfer. Given this definition, I
struggle to say that Seminole is “great” as each and every member of my foursome, which averaged 11 in
handicap, got raked over the coals at Seminole with the 30 mph wind and 13 stimped greens.
Having said that, I very much want to give this bad boy another shot and try to apply what I now know about it to
see if I can tame it. Perhaps, that is a better definition of a great course. It beats you down, but you can’t wait to
get back out their for another whipping.
For a quick peak at one of the holes, here is the tee ball off of 11. I think you can see everything I am talking about
in this one hole. Hit a long and strong tee ball to get over the water. Don’t slice or fade or you are in a fairway
bunker. But don’t hit you tee ball too long or you will be in the bunker right in the middle of the fairway. And if you
avoid all of that, you get an uphill approach shot to a heavily bunkered and lightening fast green.
And oh yeah, although the course isn’t truly beautiful…it has its moments. Here is a view from the 4th green.