Point O’ Woods Golf and County Club Review And Appreciation
Point O’ Woods Golf and Country Club
Benton Harbor, Michigan
Teacher’s Comments: As fine a golf course as I have ever played
Point O’ Woods is a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design in western Michigan that has gained fame as a longtime host of the prestigious Western Amateur. Over the years, Point O’ Woods hosted the 1963, 1965, 1971-2008 and 2019 Western Amateurs.
As you might expect from its architectural pedigree, Point O’ Woods is tough, but fair. Jones was famous for his mantra that a good hole is a difficult par, but an easy bogey. That spirit is alive at Point O’ Woods. I was happy to play bogey golf.
Point O’ Woods is a park-and-woodlands course routed over mostly flat terrain. Trees line nearly every hole, and often make driving treacherous. Tee shots are further threatened by numerous fairway bunkers. Water is in play on three holes.
Greens at Point O’ Woods are relatively large, which is fortunate, because a miss is likely to end up on a bunker. I found the greens vexing, but also recognized that I would do much better after a couple of plays.
Point O’ Woods is tough, but ultimately quite fair. Playing from the correct tees and using good judgment, a bogey golfer can work his or her way around the course and post a good score. On those tight par fours, the safe strategy is to choose a club you can get in the fairway. Then play another safe shot toward the green, which sometimes means laying up short of the bunker complexes. A pitch and a couple of putts later, and you’re in for bogey. A pitch and one putt, and the ball is in for par.
Unlike some other private clubs I’ve played, I never got the sense that the egos of Point O’ Woods members were built around how tough their course plays.
From the Championship tees, Point O’ Woods tops out at 7, 075 yards and plays to a 75.1/140. The Members Tees are in at 6, 353 yards and play at 71.4/135. The Middle tees play at 6, 001 yards and a 69.9/128.
If you have a chance to play, don’t set yourself up for a frustrating and difficult day. Play it forward.
My favorite hole was the par three ninth. A “redan,” it has a long, narrow green set at an angle to the tee box. The green is thus wider than it is deep. Shots that fall short will hit a slope covered with thick vegetation. Go long, and your ball finds a trap. Precise yardage and/or a shaped shot will serve you well.
I do not typically single out par threes in my reviews, but this is the hole that immediately comes to mind when I think of Point O’ Woods. My shot found the bunker on the slope. From there, I was able to salvage par, so maybe that has something to do with it
The ninth is one of only a few forced carries on the course. Others include the par 3 fourth and seventeenth, along with the par five fourth. The second/third shot on the second also requires a carry.
The par four tenth was another great hole. At 398 yards, the hole crosses a ravine, then bends left around a fairway bunker to the green. You’ll want to play well right of that bunker, because the open path to the green angles to that side.
I don’t count this as a forced carry, because as one of my playing partners discovered, you CAN play from the bottom of the ravine. He salvaged a bogey from that unfortunate tee shot.
Conditions on the day I played — ahead of the 2019 Western Amateur — were pristine.
In an age of power carts, it is reassuring to know that Point O’ Woods still has an active caddy program. On my round, we employed a forecaddy — a college age student who gave us shot suggestions and then ran ahead on every hole to keep track of our balls. He got a real workout that day.
Point O’ Woods is a supporter of the excellent Evans Scholar Program.
It makes me sad that both geography and finances keep me from playing Point O’ Woods on a regular basis. If you get a chance to play Point O’ Woods, jump on it. I would drive back there in a heartbeat.
The Point O’ Woods Golf Course Review and Appreciation was first published on GolfBlogger.Com on March 4, 2020 from photos and notes taken on a round played in the summer of 2019.
A course tour of Point O’ Woods follows.