Devilish greens offer a stiff defense
GUNTERSVILLE – Although known as an outdoorsman’s paradise, don’t overlook the golf scene in and around Lake Guntersville. Specifically, don’t sleep on Gunter’s Landing Golf Course.
The 18-hole semi-private facility checks just about every box that golfers look for in a course.
Located about 45 minutes south of Huntsville, 90 minutes northeast from Birmingham and two hours from the Shoals, Gunter’s Landing is a prime location for golfers to visit from across the northern tier of the state.
Gunter’s Landing opened in 1991 and was designed by Jimmy Kennamer. From the tips (gold tees), the course plays 6,863 yards. From the blue tees, it measures 6,419 and from the whites, it’s 5,922. Red markers play to 5,259.
Elevation change is the dominant feature of this parkland course that weaves in and out of hardwoods and pines in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Water is present on 11 holes, and while the course is tight in some areas, the contour of the slopes alongside of fairways often funnels shots back into play.
Practice green accurately reflect course’s greens
Even before the first tee shot is launched on the short, uphill par-4 first hole, players get an idea of what’s in store for the round with a visit to the range and practice green. One of the downsides at Gunter’s Landing is that the practice area is severely downhill and it is difficult to gauge how far the ball is going and to see it land. It is, however, fine for a warmup session.
Move to the practice green and you get an immediate idea of how pure and how difficult the greens will be. Gunter’s Landing’s practice green definitely mirrors what’s on the course, which isn’t always the case at other courses.
Gunter’s Landing features an intriguing set of par 3 holes. The third hole is a quaint 142 yards from the white tees (193 gold) with a pond fronting the green. A severely tilted back-to-front, right-to-left green that challenges even the best putters.
The other three par 3s feature varying degrees of descent on the tee shots, with two requiring carries over water/ravines.
The second hole and the 17th hole are both short par 4s that include classic risk-reward tee shots that can result in an eagle opportunity or a round-ruining double-bogey or higher. The second hole is a severe downhill, dogleg right, and to go at the green requires a tee shot over trees and dense woods that come into play along the right side. Although it has a card-yardage of 359 yards (white) and 377 yards (blue), it plays much shorter.
The 17th hole checks in at 327 yards (blue) and 297 yards (white) and is another sharp dogleg right. It’s another hole that is enticing to cut the corner and go straight at the green, but any mishit can lead to a bogey or worse.
A couple of the par 5s require layups off the tee, but are reachable in two for longer hitters. With water in play, the 581-yard eighth hole is memorable for having another severe green that features a small shelf on the back left. A precise approach to a pin located on that shelf is required, and any shot coming up short or right will feed away from the flag.
Gunter’s Landing staff aims to please
Given that most approach shots coming into the eighth green are not going to be short irons, the severity of this green would seem better suited for one of the shorter par 4s.
When the round is complete, Gunter’s Landing will be remembered for several things.
• The greens: A person will be hard-pressed to find better TifEagle Bermuda grass greens in the state. They are slick. They are smooth. They are receptive. And, they are devilish. Defensive putting is the order of the day on almost all putts except for uphillers.
• The staff: Head golf professional Stephen Worthy and his staff couldn’t be more welcoming. This is a course that wants your business and wants to keep your business. It’s evident superintendent Bart Muse takes great pride in keeping Gunter’s Landing well-maintained.
• The scenery: There are several jaw-dropping views that add to the experience. Regardless of how you are playing, take a minute to appreciate the vistas.
Rates are a reasonable $55 Monday through Thursday and $65 on the weekends. There also are senior/military and junior rates available. For information, call 800-833-6663 or go to gunterslanding.com.
Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News
Featured image of Gunter’s Landing No. 2 by Gregg Dewalt