WHISTLING STRAITS is the most contrived course I‚Äôve ever seen. The road into the place has bunkers and mounds, and it‚Äôs the only course I‚Äôve ever mapped with tees protected by traps. The most unnatural hazards, though, are the 37 black-faced Scottish sheep that normally have the run of the course. (You won‚Äôt see them on TV because they‚Äôve been sequestered in a temporary pen near the maintenance sheds.)
I saw plenty of the sheep during my two visits to the course. Before the PGA Club Pro Championship in 1999, Squeaky, my late golden retriever, jumped into their pen to play by the 6th hole. One sheep ran to the top of a mound and keeled over. ‚ÄúYou killed him!‚Äù I yelled at Squeaky. Fortunately, the critter got up after Squeaky was gone. When I returned to the Straits last month, the sheep froze when they saw my new pooch, Woody. After a while Mr. Bill, the dominant male, approached us. I thought he was going to attack Woody, but instead he rubbed noses with him.
The pros won‚Äôt have much affection for this course, especially 18. There‚Äôs a 246-yard carry between the tee and the fairway, and a burn crosses the layup area. The hardest part of the hole is the humongous amoeba-shaped green. It has four fronts, which is why I put four yardages from each marker. If the pin is in the back right and a player is on the front right, he‚Äôll have to hit a 60-yard lob wedge to get down in two.
*For 28 years--the last three months accompanied by his golden retriever, Woody--Gorjus George has drawn the yardage books that the pros use.
August 15, 2004