Rees Jones was already a name when he embarked on his first solo design at Arcadian Shores Golf Club in the early 1970s.
At a shade over 30 years old at the time, though, Jones had something to prove. He wasn’t just a name. He wasn’t just a consult. He could jump into the family business headfirst and knock off people’s socks.
Nearly five decades later, Arcadian Shores still does that. Water and sand, length and precision. It all comes into play for four hours of what is nothing short of a super-enjoyable round.
Yet, with everything happening here, Jones made sure three holes in particular would never evade your memory.
NO. 2, PAR 3, 148 YARDS
For as much as the opening hole at Arcadian draws you into for the round ahead – that brass knuckle bunker complex around the green is really something else – it’s really more of the bait.
The Par 3 second is an absolute hook.
With minimal distance, Jones’ first short hole of the day is a true wonder. Three of the five tee boxes require a full-fledged carry over the pond that hugs the back, right and front of the green. Reaching the kidney bean-shaped putting surface sometimes isn’t enough to flirt with a birdie, as a front left position doesn’t leave you a direct line a back hole location.
But don’t let that get into your head. Simply getting to the green in one is a victory in itself. Jones made sure of the impact by chasing this with five straight holes where water was non-existent or inconsequential.
That’s good. Because it certainly isn’t on No. 2. (top photo)
No. 7, Par 4, 330 yards
While it’s technically the highest-handicap hole on the entire course, the rigid layout on No. 7 is at the very least going to give you some significant pause off the tee. Here’s why.
At just 330 yards from the white tees, more than a handful of daily players see the lack of pure distance and then the flag with little but crips grass between the tee and green. That’s when the eyes get a little big.
And things get interesting.
What can certainly be described as Jones’ trickiest hole on the entire course, this Par 4 doesn’t just beg you to stay left; it destroys the number on your scorecard if you don’t. Easier said than done. Less than 60 yards from the front edge of the green, the wrap-around water framing the putting surface juts into the furthest stretches of the fairway. The run-in effect is very much in play.
Once you get close, you’ll see the potential danger involved. Just hope you’re not looking for a wet ball in the process.
No. 13, Par 4, 367 yards
A personal favorite among many Arcadian Shores regulars, the Par 4 13th is a creative take on an otherwise flat chunk of land. A blind tee shot takes players up a wide hill and then immediately comes right back down into penultimate portion of the hole.
First timers don’t get just how awesome that is until they pull their cart to the top of the hill and see the dynamic approach come into full view. What they see is the downward slope into the pond they have no choice but to carry.
From there, it’s a long, perpendicular green backed up by a downward-sloping bunker and then a no-man’s land of a tree line where errant shots simply aren’t found very often.
During the latter stages of fall, some of the trees in front of the evergreens change color, providing yet another reason to whip out the camera or phone and snap a few.
If not, no worries. The visual will be etched in your brain.