The South Has Risen Again with Great Golf, Great Grub and Great Values

This morning was another 36-hole, two-state day. It started in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky (about a half hour east of Lexington)….

Old Silo Golf Club • Mt. Sterling, KY • 8/16/12

Note: This course is now closed.

I drove in from Cincinnati and got to the course extra early. My tee time was at 8:10 and they had told me they generally don’t start teeing off until 8:00, but I was still hopeful they’d at least let me out first by myself so I could accomplish what I had in mind for the rest of the day.

I got there around 7:30 and they let me right out, so I was able to zip around the course at my own pace. I always enjoy “dawn patrol” rounds and being first off the tee, especially by myself. It’s so peaceful and enjoyable out there and you always feel like you have the whole course to yourself, though you generally have to play your way around the grounds crew. The price here today was only $39 (cart included), which is an exceptional deal for this caliber of course!

My impression of Old Silo is similar to what I walked away with from Longaberger yesterday. On both courses, I got much more than I expected in terms of the layouts and scenery. At Old Silo, I was expecting a more pastoral layout (rolling hills, long native grasses framing the holes and not a ton of major elevation changes). These elements were definitely present, but it turned out to have a much more interesting and dynamic layout that winds through some heavily wooded areas. It goes up and down some hills and has a number of great elevation changes, forced carries and environmental hazard areas. There aren’t too many flat lies out here and the course was playing extra long this morning because they water it so heavily. The fairways were super soggy, which made things tough all around.

Otherwise, the course was in nice condition. Back home in California (especially in the dead of summer), I would call Old Silo’s conditions to be “excellent.” However, relative to what I’ve experienced so far on this trip, it wasn’t near those standards. That said, I’ve been definitely spoiled on this trip with amazing conditions on all the courses, so the bar had been set pretty high. Overall, the fairways were lush with some thin/bare spots peppered throughout the course. The rough was deep and especially punishing when so wet. The greens were excellent and the fastest I’ve played all trip (even when still super wet early on in the round).

Old Silo is a very good course and I can understand why it’s regarded by some as the top public track in Kentucky. It didn’t quite measure up to the most of the other courses I’ve played so far, but again the bar had been set pretty high.

Some pictures from Old Silo Golf Club (8/16/12):

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Yes, there is an old silo on the course:

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By finishing early, I was able to take advantage and squeeze in a “bonus” round on a course I really wanted to check out…

Stonehenge Golf Club • Fairfield Glade, TN • 8/16/12

Along the way, I stopped and had a bite to eat. I saw a sign for an Amish country store and deli, so I thought a fresh sandwich would be a nice meal. The store was more “modern” than I expected with plenty of electrical devices at work (cash register, meat slicers, refrigerators, etc.), so the store itself wasn’t fully Amish. But a lot of the food and items sold in there were from local Amish sources.

Anyway, I ordered a honey turkey sandwich on an Amish grain bread (kind of a wheat bread with some molasses, but not quite as dark/bold as a squaw bread). They had a ton of fresh cheeses to choose from, but as I looked at the list my eyes targeted one immediately: “green onion.” Now cheese and green onions are two of my favorite things on the planet. Just mentioning them in the same sentence gets me excited, let alone actually having the two mixed together in one magical concoction!

Let’s just say the sandwich was delicious and the green onion cheese did not disappoint. It was the best meal of the trip so far and made the Skyline Chili incident seem like it was eons ago. It was also cheap. I got a good-sized sandwich and a bottled soda for $5.25!

I got to the course around 2:00 (after gaining an hour moving into Central time) and they checked me right in as a single. This course is semi-private as it’s part of the Fairfield Glade resort/community, but is open for public play in the afternoons generally. There are three other courses here, but Stonehenge seemed to be the marquee track and that’s why it appealed to me. I figured a non-guest fee here would be kind of steep, but they only charged me $37 as a guest twilight rate. What a deal!

I knew this course had some stunning scenery from pictures on their website. I was a little disappointed on the front nine. The holes were nice and pretty, but there wasn’t anything overly dramatic about it. Really, the highlight of this course comes when you reach the 14th and 15th holes. These are the signature holes here and both are every bit as spectacular as advertised. 14 is a severe downhill par-3 overlooking a lake. The green is surrounded by great rock formations (some natural, some man-made) and kind of looks like a peninsula from the tee. In other words, you cannot go long here!

15 is a great par-5. The tee shot goes over and along that same lake that is seen behind the 14th green. The fairway landing area for the tee shot almost looks like an island itself, but there’s plenty of space. Then, longer hitters are faced with a risk/reward decision to go for the green or lay up. A small creek runs in front of the green and there’s not much bailout room on either side, so it would be a do-or-die shot. Otherwise, for most it’s a good three-shot hole to an elevated green that is also surrounded by some very cool rock formations, trees and the aforementioned creek.

Otherwise, the rest of the course is still very scenic with a lot of trees, some nice elevation changes and challenging dogleg holes. It was in good all-around shape. I would say equal to that of Old Silo earlier today, though not as soggy. The turf here was extra soft, though, so some massive divots were happening. The rough was super deep and very tough to even get a club on the ball half the time. The greens were excellent with a lot of subtle undulation and breaks because of the hilly layout. They did have some fertilizer or pesticide on the fairways that made them a little extra “green” and stained my shoes up a bit, but it didn’t detract much at all.

For the price and scenery, Stonehenge is a worthy stop. I’d love to get to play the other courses here someday. Today was the most scenic drive of my trip so far, as well, as Tennessee and Kentucky have some very pretty landscapes. I know there are many great courses here worth checking out.

Some pictures from Stonehenge Golf Club (8/16/12):

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Some views of the awesome 14th hole:

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And of the 15th:

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As I rolled into Nashville tonight, I got a cool (but creepy) light show in the sky as a big thunderstorm rolled into town. It’s VERY windy out right now and lightning is still flashing in the sky. Us Californians aren’t used to this type of crazy Midwest weather. This may affect my plans tomorrow, but you can’t keep the Nomad down for long, so we’ll see how it shakes out.

Previous Day: Longaberger (OH)

Next Day: Gaylord Springs (TN)

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