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Golf Course Review: Belle Terre Country Club

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

Update: It has come to our attention that Belle Terre opened about 3 months sooner than they should have. This explains the inconsistencies mentioned below and why the grass appeared to not be grown in fully in many areas.

 

After hearing the news that Belle Terre Country Club had re-opened, I was excited to get out there yesterday and check things out. Belle Terre has always been a favorite golf course for me. The golf course is designed by Pete Dye, however, many people did not know that for a long time and some still may not know.


Belle Terre had been closed for a year and a half due to a hurricane. There were rumors the course closed for good and others saying it would be back one day. Not knowing all us golfers could do is wait. That wait ended on June 1st and Belle Terre was back in business. Announcing their re-opening, Belle Terre said they worked on every fairway, green, and bunker on the golf course and we were there to see it for ourselves.



At first glance, nothing was noticeable except a fresh coat of paint on the clubhouse. The staff as always is nice and pleasant to chat with. Once we checked in I noticed the golf carts are new. They are the typical carts with four cup holders, a folding windshield, very comfortable seating, two sand bottles, and a rain club cover if the weather gets bad. A much-needed upgrade from their old carts, which if memory serves correctly, didn't have a windshield or a rain cover. The old carts also did not fit a staff bag on them and the new ones did. The only issue with the cart was someone sprayed too much Armor All on them. The seats were very slippery and so were the foot skids.



Getting to the driving range and the practice greens I still couldn't tell if things had changed. The range somewhat looked like it may have had new grass put down but the hitting areas were not level. There were depressions in many areas that say to me nothing was done to the range. The range was still decent and suitable for warming up. The practice greens on the other hand did not look like a course that just "reworked" everything. One of the practice greens had patches of missing grass in spots while the other looked unkept as if they haven't cut the grass or changed the cup positions for weeks. The putting green was bumpy but had a decent speed to it. All of this was still an improvement to what they were prior to Belle Terre closing.


Speaking of greens, we were pleased to see the first green full of grass. This green was also slightly faster than the practice green and smoother. We figured the practice areas just were not what the course conditions were going to be. That was not the case. The theme of the day on the greens was inconsistency. Some greens rolled faster than others and some smoother than others. A few greens appeared to have good healthy turf while on others the grass was thin and you can see the soil. The overall playability was decent but not what you'd expect from a course that had been closed with no play on it for so long. You could also tell by the look around the cup edges that the pin location hadn't been moved for a few days. That and the fact that almost every flag was stuck in the cup and would pull the cup liner out if you tried to remove it. The main reason that happens is when they stay in one position and sand or dirt particles get blown into the cup and get in between the flag stick and cup causing it to lock in place. I even tried tapping a few with my club to loosen them and that did nothing which is unusual unless the flag has not been removed from the cup for days.



The fairways were decent, however, they were still very bumpy, had many spots of dirt, and the grass was inconsistent. There was no distinction between the fairways and rough for the most part. The fairways were cut slightly lower than the rough but it was very difficult to see where the fairways started and the rough ended on many of the holes. Some fairways even had St. Augustine grass on them or you had to expect a flyer. Even the fairway cuts or the collar around the greens were similar. You may have a tight lie you can putt from and a foot away have a ball sitting a half inch down into the grass and be only a few inches from the green. Some of these areas had new sod that was still growing in. The sod lines were stil there like it was just planted recently. Again though these areas were all still very playable, you just had to think about the lie and shot selection a little more.


The bunkers on the golf course looked great. These were the only areas that had a noticeable change. The coloring really looked great on the golf course. However, the bunkers were maybe more inconsistent than the greens. Unfortunately for my play but fortunate for this review I found myself in six bunkers in total for the day. The first one when I stepped in I sunk down to my ankles. Something to be expected when new sand is added within a few weeks until it settles and is spread more evenly over time. On the very next hole, I found another bunker. Although walking into it the sand was soft it was not deep. I found that out with my bunker shot when the club grounded out only a half-inch deep. The third bunker had even less sand in it and was more like lumps of clay rock than sand. The remaining bunkers were all like that. Soft with four inches of depth to no depth and barely making a footprint. The other issue with the bunkers was the lack of rakes. One bunker that is very large and wraps around the right and back of a green had a single rake. Some bunkers had no rake while very few actually had two rakes.



The tee boxes were hard as a rock. I could have used a hammer all day on many just to get a tee in the ground. Although that was the case the tee boxes otherwise were pretty decent. The par-3 tee boxes had enough grass on them in areas to not need a tee although some of those areas were unlevel. There was no word that the tee boxes were worked but if not for some of the unlevel areas and the ground being so hard they were in pretty decent condition. the tee boxes just need some dirt to fill in the low spots to level them off and more water.


Belle Terre did lose a lot of trees giving the golf course a slightly different look. This is one thing that has helped the golf course. Areas that used to be bare with dirt because they got too much shade or the trees took the majority of the water did have healthy grass growing. It is a nice change to see in many areas of the golf course. The loss of those trees also opens up the golf course more giving you better chances to go at the green when you hit one offline.


In conclusion, I was disappointed. Or perhaps I just expected more after such a long closure. Usually, when a golf course closes for any kind of renovation the golf course is fully grown back in before they re-open. I was expecting greens to be plush and rolling smooth. For the bunkers to not only be consistent in appearance but also in playability. I was expecting the fairways to have more grass on them and be smoother. I was not expecting perfection or tour quality but I was expecting things to be more noticeable than they were. Is Belle Terre better than it was prior to closing? Yes, it is but not as much as you'd expect after a year and a half of no play and nothing but maintenance work.


Perhaps it was a bad day to visit the course and the weather had an effect on the conditions we experienced. Perhaps Belle Terre needs better irrigation to water the course to help the grass grow in better. I will keep an eye on Belle Terre and will head back out there again soon to see how things develop. The golf course is a fun layout and is worth playing. I am not sure of the exact rate but the $40 rate our group had was worth it. Check out the video below and see for yourself what our group experienced.



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