Whispering Pines Golf ClubGolf Course Review by: Bill Satterfield
Designer: Chet Williams of Nicklaus Designs in 2000.
Cost: Private Club (Caddy or Forecaddie provided)
Phone Number: (936) 594-4980
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Whispering Pines Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - One Whispering Pines Drive, Trinity, Texas 75862
Accolades: Ranked 75th on Golf Digest's 2013-14 Top 100 Greatest Golf Courses in America and 1st in the state of Texas. Rated as the #1 course in Texas since 2006 by the Dallas Morning News. Ranked 11th on Golf Digest's Greatest Golf Retreats in America list. Final five holes featured on Dallas Morning News' list of Best 18 Holes in Texas.
Signature Hole: 15th - 178 Yard Par 3 - Par 3s are often the signature hole at golf courses because you can pack all the beauty of the hole in plain view from the tee box where every golfer can appreciate it. With par 4s and 5s, the golfer often has to play the hole in a certain way to fully appreciate the beauty and quality of the hole but par 3s are enjoyed by all. At Whispering Pines, the 15th hole is the first of two signature quality par 3s featured along Caney Creek. Playing just 178 yards from the tips, this signature hole demonstrates true artistry with a brilliant jagged edged bunker running from the front left portion of the green down into the water. Resting as an island, the target is not large on this domed green with Gator Cove waiting to drown tee shots that aren't able to find a dry surface to land on.
What to Expect: Whispering Pines is a beautiful, private golf club located 90 miles north of Houston in the towering trees near Lake Livingston. Members and their guests have four cottages available to them for overnight stays with the cottages aptly named Augusta, Ballybunion, Pine Valley, and St. Andrews. The cottage feature is a throw back to the storied golf clubs of yesteryear and keeps in line with the traditions of golf that Whispering Pines adheres to. With it's remote location to consider, the club has chosen to be open seasonally in the Spring and Fall while remaining closed in the heat of Summer and cold of Winter. Full service caddies and forecaddies are available at the club to assist the golfers in their round of golf and are chuck full of local knowledge. Beyond the service and quality afforded at Whispering Pines, the golf course that awaits is the true dazzler of the day. Chet Williams from Nicklaus Designs carefully crafted the course from the natural terrain and created several beautiful holes; but none prettier than the final six holes that play along Caney Creek and Lake Livingston. In the end, Whispering Pines offers a fantastic layout at a beautifully remote location that boasts tall trees, natural water hazards, crafty bunkers, and creative greens on its way to offering one of the best golf experiences available is all the South.
By the Numbers:
|Four Trees (Women)||72||5021||71.0||120|
Individual Hole Analysis
Best Par 3: Already featured as the signature hole, the 15th is a stunner by virtually anyone's standard. When I first played the 15th and 16th holes at Whispering Pines I instantly drew a comparison to the same numbered holes at Cypress Point. Both feature a pretty, shorter par three at #15 before busting out another par three that requires a long, difficult carry over water for the 16th hole. The jagged edge bunkering is also reminiscent of Cypress Point however no course will ever compete with Cypress's setting. In the end though, Chet Williams did an excellent job with the property Whispering Pines is on and successfully pulled off a rare "back-to-back par 3s" in his design.
Best Par 4: As is often the case, the best par four at Whispering Pines is also the most difficult. Tipping out just short of 500 yards, the golfer's eyes are instantly drawn to the large lake featured left of the hole. The water hazard continues to pester the golfer as it cuts through the fairway and fronts the entire green that is additionally protected by three bunkers. With the front portion of the green sloping back towards the water and a mid-long iron in the golfer's hand, intimidation is clearly a big factor when trying to finish your round strong.
Best Par 5: Keeping up pace with the other strong holes on Whispering Pines' back nine, the 17th is peppered with strategy and appeal. Hazards are abounding with a branch of Lake Livingston cutting in front of the tee and running the entire length of the left side of the hole along with four additional fairway bunkers found on that same side. After splitting the opening in the tree line that frame the driving zone, the player is faced with a decision is whether to go after the green in two or not. Factors to weigh into that decision include the six bunkers found 125 yards and in as well as the water hazard that travels along the left side of the green and wraps behind the rear. It is a beautiful hole that leads to a strong finish at a great course.
Birdie Time: As you step up to see the view from the tee box on the dogleg left 14th hole you will have the "Bush Pine" starring right back at you. Named after George H. Bush in the same vain as the Eisenhower Tree found at Augusta National, this hole is driveable for long hitters by cutting off the dogleg and taking dead aim at the green. On that line to the green, a carry of 270 yards is needed to fly the water and find dry ground again before rolling up to the green. Before the newest back tee was installed, this hole played 35 yards shorter where some of the top international amateurs were hitting 3 wood to this green while playing in Whispering Pines' annual "The Spirit" tournament. Even if you can't bomb your drive long enough to hit this green in one, the fairway is generous and this short hole offers an excellent chance to card a birdie.
Bogey Beware: 228 yards is a long distance away when trying to reach a green in regulation in one shot. Factor in a water hazard that runs from the front end of the tee box all the way back to the green and a large white bunker protecting the front left portion of the green and you flat out have one of the most difficult shots you may ever face from a tee box. Well, that is exactly what you are faced with when stepping up to Whispering Pines devilish 16th hole. With trees surrounding the sides and back of the hole there is little room for error and hence little room to score par or better. Bogey here is a solid score considering a score of double bogey will be much more common that par. Good luck!
Final Cut: Grade A