This was one of those special years where I had some tremendous courses in the running for the Hooked on Golf Blog 2017 Best Golf Course award. In fact, I had to create a special category in order to award the two most deserving courses. The 2017 HOG Best Golf Course award goes to a new course in the Dominican Republic, designed by Jack Nicklaus. Drumroll please…
Punta Espada Golf Club
I was stunned by the beauty, flow, and atmosphere of Punta Espada. The golf course is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic. If that location isn’t paradise I have no clue what is. The water is the most amazing color of blue, the waves crash near most of the holes, the white sand bunkers and the deep green grass of the course provides a brilliant aesthetic balance.
This piece of land is as amazing as any waterside course I’ve stepped foot on, and I’ve been on many of the world’s best. I can’t stress enough how well Punta Espada utilizes the land. Where most waterside courses have a few holes on the water and many more inland, Punta Espada is the opposite.
Playing the course was extremely fun. It wasn’t a monster. It didn’t beat me to death but it did provide plenty of opportunities to challenge it, test my skills and test my nerve.
Far More Than I Expected
Having played many Jack Nicklaus designed courses I had a preconceived idea of what the architecture and the course would offer. I expected another “Jack course.” I didn’t get one. It wasn’t like the other Jack courses I’ve played. This was the most mature, natural, unforced, beautiful, mature Nicklaus design I’ve ever played. I knew the location would be great, but the architecture made it even better, in a natural way.
Congratulations Punta Espada and Jack Nicklaus
Major golf publications like Golf Digest and such have rated Punta Espada as the #1 course in the Dominican Republic and Latin America, and for good reason. It is truly a special place. I’m sure Punta Espada and Jack are happy about such recognition. But today I award them a far more distinguished and rare award, the 2017 Hooked on Golf Blog Best Golf Course.
Well done. Tip of the hat.
If you’re looking for a golf getaway or golf buddy trip, get to the Dominican and be sure put Punta Espada on the playlist.
Punta Espada Golf Club Review
I had a dilemma for this year’s Product of the Year for “Best Golf Course” award. This award goes to the best course I’ve played/reviewed in the previous calendar year. Typically the award is an easy one to choose, like last year’s winner Cruden Bay, in Scotland. This year’s award came down to the two best courses I played, The Loop at Forest Dunes and Punta Espada Golf Club in the Dominican republic. They’re both so different and have such different unique qualities that I couldn’t find a way to leave either one out of receiving an award. So what was my solution for this problem? Create a special award for this year which falls in the Golf Course Architecture category. This year’s winner for Product of the Year in Golf Course Architecture is… the envelope please…
The Loop at Forest Dunes, Michigan
One of my most favorite golf architects is Tom Doak. Doak is one of the most respected and famous course designers of the modern era, and he’s a bit of a mad scientist. The first Doak course I played was Stone Wall in Pennsylvania a long time ago. I loved the rugged, minimalist design and the fact that I had to play creative shots to get the ball close to the hole. Sometimes hitting a green meant aiming 20 yards left of it, or short. A few years later I had the pleasure of playing the Doak designed Ballyneal in a remote rural area in eastern Colorado on the Nebraska border. What an experience.
Years later and many Doak courses later in 2017 I played the newly opened “reversible” course in Forest Dunes, Michigan called “The Loop.” The Loop is two 18-hole courses, the Red and the Black course, but one set of 18 physical golf holes. What a fantastic and special experience.
The reversible holes were extremely interesting and ingenious. While playing one direction the player sees a certain look from the tee, and certain hazards, bunkers and sight lines. When playing the other direction the hole looks nothing like it’s opposite. Those bunkers and features which appeared going the opposite direction are completely different, and often not even visible. Instead, a new set of bunkers, features, and sight lines is presented to the player.
Hats Offf to Tom Doak and Forest Dunes
I salute Tom Doak for executing an amazing concept which had yet to be done in the U.S.A. I suspect we’ll see more reversible courses, or courses with interchangeable holes. It’s a great way to use one piece of land to offer many different playing options. And hats off to Forest Dunes for pulling the trigger as well. What an effort. I can’t wait to get back for a 2nd round on both courses!
Playing the Red and the Black was literally playing two different courses, each with its own personality and style. And they’re two very good golf courses to boot! Truly amazing and worthy of a special Hooked on Golf Blog Golf Architecture Product of the Year award.
The week between Christmas and New Years I post the Hooked on Golf Blog Product of the Year awards. We’re about halfway so far. Today’s award is in the “golf equipment” category. The golf equipment category can be anything from golf clubs to golf balls to…. golf bags. I typically choose a product that stands out the most and/or the product I’ve used the most in my gamer setup during the calendar year. Without further ado, the envelope please…
OUUL Super Light Python Series Golf Stand Bag
I’m still gaming my Super Light Python Series Stand Bag by OUUL. OUUL is a new company that launched this past year.
OUUL makes golf bags and accessories which are a little more high end or boutique style, and don’t have obnoxious branding or logos all over them.
My OUUL stand bag is solid, easy to carry, light, and durable. I’ve been using it all of 2017 and it still looks brand new. I posted my original review on January 10th and I’m still using it.
Some stand bags wear quickly in the legs and get more and more unstable over time. Not with my OUUL. The stand still springs out and provides a solid base.
I’m able to easily put in clubs and take them out, and the pockets are all easy to zip and access.
The large carry bar/skeleton on the top (above) makes grabbing, loading, lifting, moving my bag easy.
Hats off to OUUL for winning the 2017 Hooked on Golf Blog Golf Equipment Product of the Year!
OUUL Super Light Python Series Golf Stand Bag Review
OUUL Super Light Python Cart Bag Review
I’m happy to announce the long awaited Hooked on Golf Blog 2017 Golf Apparel Product of the Year. After hundreds of hours of testing, wearing, washing, evaluating countless apparel items in the calendar year of 2017, one item has triumphed and is clearly the best of the best. Drumroll please…
Galvin Green Dash Insula Pullover
The Insula Dash pullover is a 1/4 zip golf outerwear piece that exudes style and provides great comfort and performance. “Body mapping” was used to assist in the design of this tremendous looking and high performance pullover, helping to determine areas which need optimization for breathability. Extra padding on the shoulders and arms not only looks cool, but provides extra insulation and warming in crucial areas.
Innovation, style, and performance have really set Galvin Green apart from other golf apparel companies. For more details on this fantastic apparel piece, check out the HOG Galvin Green Dash Insula Pullover review.
Hats off to Galvin Green for claiming the 2017 HOG Apparel Product of the Year. I look forward to seeing what Galvin Green comes up with in 2018.
It’s the end of the year and time to look back at some awesome golf products and golf courses I’ve covered, and award the cream of the crop with the Hooked on Golf Blog Product of the Year. To qualify for this award the product has to have been reviewed here at Hooked on Golf Blog during the calendar 2017.
For the first Hooked on Golf Blog Product of the Year award of 2017 I’m starting with the golf accessory category. This award goes to the golf accessory I found to be the best, most important, and most go-to new accessory to my golf gamer bag of 2017. The envelope please…
Bushnell Pro X2 Laser Rangefinder
Hands down the most crucial and by far the most used accessory in my bag is my laser rangefinder. Boy is my gamer a good one, the Bushnell Golf Pro X2. The Bushnell Pro X2 uses “pinseeker” technology to nail the pin very quickly and give me solid yardages instantly.
Bushnell Golf Pro X2 Laser Rangefinder
This unit is fast, small, easy to use, accurate, well built, and dependable.
Features include rock solid yardages in yards or meters, vibration when locked onto the pin, bright red LED readout or standard black, slope (enable or disable easily for legal play), and a great carrying case.
Check out my Bushnell Pro X2 review for more details.
I get a LOT of golf accessories submitted here for review from golf GPS’s to lasers to training devices, apps, and countless other gadgets. The X2 stood out above the rest and deserves the great honor of winning a HOG Accessory Product of the Year.