The Southern Oaks Golf Club brochure states that this is a "golf club designed to embody the spirit and tradition of the game." Designed by PGA champion Mark Brooks, the course opened in 1999 and Mark built the course to force golfers to focus on strategy, shot making, and intelligent club selection. As such you'll find strategically placed bunkers, mounding, swales and grass bunkers, dry ravines crossing the fairways, and plenty of century old trees as well as a meandering Village Creek lining some of the fairways. That said, most of the holes on the front nine are straight ahead with the pin in view and no hidden hazards and if you pick the right right tee box and do what it takes to avoid the fairway bunkers, you can score well on the front nine.
The front nine holes at Southern Oaks Golf Club are very traditional with fairly tight tree lined fairways and no homes. From the tee box, in most cases you can see the pin and quickly determine what you're against and how you should play the hole to avoid the bunkers and any other trouble. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to play the back nine but were told that it plays through the Southern Oaks community and is more like a links courses – wider more open fairways, homes, plenty of pot bunkers, and lots of mounding.
On the front nine, some of the holes we liked included:
#1 is a straight ahead 567 yard par 5 with a minefield of bunkers placed exactly where your drive (4 bunkers) and second shot want to land (3 more bunkers) plus the fairway is a little tight, has lots of mounds, and a deep dry gully crossing the fairway at 200 yards out and the big green is raised and tiered
#6 is a demanding par 3 three – 205 yards from the tips with a carry over the creek, 6 grass swales/bunkers between the creek and the green, and a deep grass ravine crossing the fairway
When we played in October 2013 the Southern Oaks Golf Club fairways were in pretty good condition but still had several bare spots thanks to the hot conditions and drought over the last year. The fairways are a little tight, some are gently rolling, and most have several bunkers. The rough is wide and playable but if you miss it you're lost in the dense forest. A new superintendent arrived in May and he has done a good job in improving the conditions.
The greens at Southern Oaks Golf Club will test your approach shot making and your putting skills. The good news is most are large but they raised, well guarded, and have a mix of slope, undulation, ridges/spines, and tiers. When we played they were a little damp from a recent rain but running true, smooth, and at a good speed – normally they run between a 10 to 11.5. You need to carefully study the breaks before you putt.
The bunkers are strategically place in the fairway and one or two are guarding most of the greens. They range in size from small pot bunkers to some nasty bunkers that are very steep and deep. The sand was wet when we played but it looked and felt like it would normally be soft and fluffy and thick and a joy to hit out of.
Bottom line – with a slope and rating of 76 and 135 from the tips (7311 yards), Southern Oaks Golf Club is no walk in the park but it's fair if you play smart, a joy to play, in good condition, and the rates are very reasonable.