Mike Bailey

Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.

  • 5.0 stars from 5

    Streamsong Resort - Blue Course

    "Blue Course certainly doesn't give me the blues"

    After playing all three courses at Streamsong, I'm torn on which one is my favorite, but the Blue Course is definitely a candidate. Designed by Tom Doak, I love the way this course flows from the elevated tee shot on 1 to the difficult par-4 18th and everything in between. It definitely has a "miminalist" links feel to it with beautifully sculpted greens complexes, a great variety of par 3s and never a dull moment. You can play bump and run or fly it to the hole, which means there are endless possibilities. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Mid South Club

    "After renovation, certainly one of the best in the Sandhills"

    I expected Mid South to be pretty good, but quite honestly, this exceeded my expectations. First off, it's in perfect shape following the reopening in September after new Champion Bermuda greens were installed. The new greens recovered lost greens surface, but more than that, they rolled and looked perfect. As for the rest of the course, it was flawless as well, but even more importantly, this is a really fun course to play. Each hole has its own identity, there's plenty of water and bunkers that come into play, and the course has more than its share of signature holes. The par-4 16th, with water off the tee and the approach, is one of the best, but I also liked the preceding par 5 as well as the finishing holes on both nines that share a common green. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Belvedere Golf Club

    "One of my very favorite Michigan courses"

    This is what golf is all about -- interesting holes, great conditioning, imaginative greens and tradition. Nothing is tricked up here; and you can appreciate the natural contours from building courses during the golden age of American architecture. It's a course that you instantly get to know, but never truly learn, and each time you play it, there are different shots you must hit. It will test your long game, but really test your short game and putting skills. The 16th is one of Tom Watson's very favorites because its unique green, and it's one of my favorites, too. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Pinehurst Resort & Country Club - The Cradle

    "Golf needs more courses like The Cradle"

    This might be one of the best hours you can spend on a golf course. Conditioning like the championship layouts at Pinehurst, but playable by all levels, including expert players. That's right, you'll enjoy it if you're a good player and if you're not. It'd be pretty difficult to lose a ball on The Cradle, and there's nothing boring about it, despite the holes ranging from 50 yards or so to about 120 yards. And if you''ve never had a hole in one, this might be the course for you since there will undoubtedly be a pin position or two set up to catch a tee shot off a slope. Oh, and did I mention the course is beautiful. It's $50, but you can play it as many times as you want for the day (based on tee time availability). more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Anderson Creek Golf Club

    "Great warmup for Pinehurst area courses"

    Designed by Davis Love III, Anderson Creek sits on a beautiful piece of property, meaning the course has a number of picturesque holes. It's also as difficult a course as you want to make it, depending on the tee selection. Besides the rolling topography, greens complexes are probably the most interesting part of the course with plenty of undulation and interesting pin placements. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Tobacco Road Golf Course

    "Tobacco Road breaks the mold for excellent golf"

    Tobacco Road has been on my list of courses I've most wanted to play for a long time, and after finally getting to experience this legendary Mike Strantz layout, I can honestly say I wasn't disappointed in the least. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. Without a doubt, this is one of the most imaginative golf courses I’ve ever played. Yes, there are a lot of blind shots, and intimidating ones at that, but much of that is an illusion. Strantz gives ample room to land your drives; in fact you could say the fairways are very generous, even if they don't look like it at all times. With native grass and sand (it's not a hazard) everywhere, you'd think there's nothing but trouble out there, but it's really opportunity. I played decently, but not great and didn't come close to losing a ball. The most fun part of this course, though, has to be the greens, which are angled in every imaginable way. You can use the slopes to your advantage, especially if you can work the ball a little, and it's a blast to do just that. On the 11th hole, for example, I had an approach to a green that was sloped hard left to right, so I played a draw into the hole to hold the green and funnel the ball back to the hole. Unfortunately, I missed the six-footer for birdie, because the greens aren't easy to read, With all that said, having played the course once now would make for a great advantage the second time around. I'm looking forward to that day. more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Pinehurst Resort & Country Club - #8 Course

    "Certainly worthy of the Pinehurst name"

    This is another golf course that I'd like to give 4 1/2 stars if that option were available, because Tom Fazio's No. 8 design is certainly that good. It's a modern golf course, no doubt, but it fits the sand hills terrain perfectly, albeit with a few more water hazards than 1-5 at Pinehurst. There's nothing boring about No. 8 and it'll challenge the best players from the rearward tees. Like all the courses here, you can almost always expect great conditioning, including the greens surfaces. more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Talamore Golf Club

    "Don't skip Talamore on your trip to the NC Sandhills"

    No doubt Talamore is one of the Sandhills hidden gems and better values. Renovated in 2016, this Rees Jones layout is solid in every way and in excellent shape, including the year-old Champion Bermuda greens. With plenty of elevation change, doglegs and terrific bunkering (adding sod wall bunkers were part of the renovation), Talamore is a really nice championship level course that is truly playable by all levels of golfers. It’s also a great starting or ending point for any trip to this year. For those on somewhat of a budget, Talamore Golf Resort offers terrific packages that can also include Talamore’s sister course, the wonderful Mid South Club, as well as nearby gems like Mid Pines and Pine Needles, which have also been perfectly restored. In addition, those staying at the resort get free breakfast and barbecue pork dinner on Thursday evenings. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Pinehurst Resort & Country Club - #2 Course

    "A must play for any serious golfer"

    If you love golf and appreciate the nuances of classic design, then No. 2 is a must, especially after the renovation/restoration a few years ago by Coore-Crenshaw. This is a golf course that has truly withstood the test of time. Of course, this isn't a course for novices. You don't have to be single digit, but you do need to be able to stop the ball on these upside-down saucer-like Donald Ross greens. I was able to do that, but I also putted one into a bunker, too, so you have to pay attention. And that's the beauty of a golf course like this. It's a whole new ballgame once you get to the greens. And this is where the caddie really helps, especially with reads and just determining whether a putt is downhill or uphill (it's really not that easy to tell at times). more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Pinehurst Resort & Country Club - #9 Course

    "Certainly worthy of the Pinehurst brand"

    This newer addition is a change of pace from all the rest of the courses at Pinehurst, but certainly a worthy play. There's no doubt it has Jack Nickluas' imprint all over it, from the shape of the fairways, undulations, water hazards and difficulty of the tee shots and approach shots. With lost of elevated greens complexes and difficult bunkers, this is all the course you can handle and certainly presents a worthy contrast to the rest of golf at Pinehurst. more »