Young, Long Shadow Featured in Golf Georgia Magazine

Golf Georgia

May 10, 2010

Long Shadow Golf Club and its designer Mike Young were featured in the May/June 2010 edition of Golf Georgia magazine. The following is an excerpt from the article, "Changing the Design Rules: Course Designers Aren't Afraid to Use Old Ideas" by Derek Duncan.

The 17th hole at Long Shadow is a stout par-3, 218 yards from the rear tees, sitting in the middle of an open plain fringed with prairie grasses. The hole requires a tee shot to carry a raised front rim that obscures the green, as well as a staggering 14-foot deep, sheer-faced bunker. Once on, the putting surface is some 13,000 square feet and shaped like a deep saucer. There’s nothing else quite like it in Georgia; it’s a monolithic hole, a little frightening, profound in its singularity and physique, and it’s the spiritual centerpiece of what is an utterly large and rugged course.

As surprising as the 17th is, however, you feel somewhat prepared for it by the time you finally behold it. Components of it have been introduced repeatedly throughout the previous 16 holes, albeit usually in less grandiose fashion. The hidden, elevated green at the par-5 third is a modified version of the 17th’s bowl, for example, though most of Long Shadow’s greens are slightly convex, rolling down at one edge or another. The architect, Mike Young of Athens, also drew into the course in as many places as possible the native fescue of the old dairy farm land on which Long Shadow is built.

The bunker style as well — gaping, with flat sand floors and shallow entries giving way to steep grass back walls — makes an impression off the first tee with two of them standing enormously in the right rough, and they occur thereafter on nearly every hole the rest of the way around.

These bunkers are heavy-gloved jabs that keep coming, straight left reminders to keep your guard up and your distance too.

They match, intentionally, the big-venue scale of the property.

“I knew (the course) was going to be wide open, so I knew that in order for it to be wide open my bunkers would have to be large and broad so that the space would work,” Young says. “So they had to be big bunkers to make up for the width of the golf course. I built them as basic as I could, like the old ones.” Beginning with back-to-back uphill par-4s into large, heavily contoured greens, you see quickly that Long Shadow is a heavyweight, a skilled brawler who likes to punch. There are moments of grace — the slender par-5 fifth playing into a grove of trees followed by a lithe par-4 with a small green tucked into a nook near a tributary wetland of Little Indian Creek both qualify — but mostly it throws haymakers.

And yet despite its size, Long Shadow presents itself as detailed and handcrafted.

While the surrounding land is full of long, flowing slopes, the fairways and green complexes are busily marked with knobs, hollows and even grassy dunes that border 10, 11, 12 and 18 on the high section of property. The course and its features look older, settled, and evolved, a little like a Sunningdale or Swinley Forest in the British heathlands. In fighter terms, it’s seasoned.

“That’s intentional,” Young says. He works with his own construction crew to build his courses rather than hiring outside contractors, which is the industry norm.

Typically, he says, large-scale contractors shape with bulldozers with 10- or 12-foot blades and get a lot of big movement. In golf’s early days shaping consisted of mules dragging pans and buckets three to four feet wide, at most. “We try to use much smaller instruments in our finish work where you get a lot narrower blade and you get more of the old type look,” he says.

The course finds its legs mid-fight at the 10th and 11th that play down and flow randomly between staggered dunes, the first a par-4 that slides downhill followed by another more prodigious one that Works back upward. Twelve is a gorgeous par-5 that tumbles back down through a pummeling of Young’s brawny bunkers and craters.

From there the holes tumble up and down across ridges and over a section of lake, including the Cape-style 16th where the right side of the green hangs dangerously out over the water. When the 17th comes into view, you’re half dizzy, half bewildered, and totally switched on.

To read the full article, go to

"Hacienda Pinilla is an 18 hole championship links style course with open fairways and challenging winds. Designed by famous architect Mike Young to conform to the natural contours of the land, this 7,274 yard, Par 72 course is truly masterpiece. It is one of the few courses in the world created to face the ocean, and as a result, its coastal layout offers both exhilarating play and absolutely awe-inspiring views."

-Costa Rica Travel