I returned to Juneau Alaska a few months back, and had not lived here as a golfer before, so there was some golf-exploring to do. Well there are slim choices for a round around Juneau*— just a small, privately owned place called “Mendenhall Golf” in a wetland area near the airport, which has a nine-hole “executive course” (these are all par-3’s) plus three holes (two par-4’s and a par-3) to either take-on after the nine, or repeat three times. Here is the course layout.
A friend (terrific guy) and I went out for the regular nine on my first outing (unaware of the alternate-three), and we had a great time, but the course itself was a new-beast for me— the fairways and greens were very “prairie-golf-” style as I recall, and this coupled with short distances, thin paths and soggy land made for a tough challenge. I was dismayed about the course but took heart that golf can be played well in any open space, and that adverse settings have their own rewards.
A week or so after that round I went to Mendenhall’s driving range after work, and as I was walking back to the car I saw this big broad fairway pointing to the glacier— the first hole of the alternate three, and a surprise that felt made out of my golf dreams. I/we played those alternates instead of the main-course for the next few rounds, and I have enjoyed them greatly.
Well today I played the regular nine again, and am glad to report that they were much better than my recall of that first outing— the greens were very sharp** (though small), and staff has cleared out a lot more space than we had before (there was well-trimmed fairway space and more of it, esp. on hole 5).
I really like the younger guy who seems to be running the place— he seems to work hard to improve things— and I’m sure the weeks of dry-ness also helped a lot. So it was great fun today— the scenery’s always great but even better with so much sun lately and plant-flowering, and brought my Ipod along with some ELO and John Cale. Juneau golf is looking better and better— a good and often-familiar-feeling (executive-) course layout on the main-nine.
*And there aren’t any roads-out, so regular treks out of town aren’t feasible.**And I felt they were generally pointing south, similar to Ben Hogan’s prediction (though his was west) in Harvey Penick’s “Red Book.”.