A challenging course that starts off near the ocean, climbs into the hills on the back nine, and finishes along the shore of Ascension Bay.
Drop anchor and prepare to come ashore, as Ascension Bay Golf Club is calling. This majestic and pristine layout is one of the most beautiful courses in the game.
Designer Adam Benjamin gives you many reasons to enjoy this course. From the beautiful coastline terrain sculpting on holes 1-5, to the thematic parkland tree planting on the middle 6 holes, to the treacherous march uphill along a coastline finish, this course offers a variety of hole shapes, shot shapes, and elevation changes. The length of the course is a little misleading, as many holes play dramatically downhill and the course firmness is such that drives get even more roll. This course is still very challenging and will require every shot and club in the bag.
Hole 2 is an early standout hole. A long par 4 with a difficult second shot into a small green, Benjamin took particular care to sculpt the green such that the back-to-front slope prevents a well-played approach from rolling through the green. Hole number 9, a short par three of only 136 yards, looks wonderfully inspired by Pebble Beach's hole #7. Down hill to a peninsular green, this hole is a lot of fun to figure out when standing on the tee. 16 is also a stout little hole, playing less than 400 yards as a par 4 but climbing up the hill and requiring an intelligent approach to the correct area of the green to score well.
Dramatic elevation changes propel this course slightly into the "fantasy course" realm, although not to an extent that people averse to fantasy courses wouldn't enjoy this one. I use that term "fantasy," loosely, as really this course feels and plays realistic in all aspects except these elevation changes. The drop offs encourage long tee shots, and provide stunning views. However, they begin to feel repetitive as there are extreme drops from tee to fairway on the majority of holes. Even holes that play uphill have elevation drops before climbing back up the hill. Additionally, hole 18 was a little bit too strong of a finishing hole, as a 497 yard uphill hole with an approach to a tucked pin, this one should have probably been a par 5 instead of a par 4, and it is really a shame because this course is spectacular throughout but will cap off many rounds with a bogey or worse.
Aside from the elevation overkill, this course is nothing short of amazing. The use of shallow water around many of the greens is absolutely beautiful (probably the best I've seen), and the planting throughout is skillful and injects life into this course. The lighting is dim, but not dark, creating lovely color palates. I will be playing this course many times, and borrowing many of the sculpting techniques raising the beach slightly above water level. 4.75/5.0 and a tough challenge, but one that all should enjoy.