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.

  • 4.0 stars from 5

    Fort Sam Houston

    "Nice layout and value, and you don't have to be military"

    First off, I need to disclose that I played nine holes from La Loma Grande and nine holes from Salado Del Rio. The reason is because those holes are the original holes (front nine on La Loma and holes 1-3 and 13-18 on Salado) designed by legendary architect A.W. Tillinghast. Turns out Tillinghast did much of that work some 80-plus years ago when he was working on Brackenridge Park, which was restored wonderfully a few years ago. But back to the Fort Sam Houston course and those 18 holes: First off, it's a terrific routing anyway you slice it. Play either course and the 18 integrated into the original designs really works well. There's plenty of room off the tee and both courses are very walkable. With classic greens complexes, a smattering of bunkers and even a little elevation change and a few water hazards, playing here is solid golf. Both courses tip out at around 6,800 yards, so the golf will challenge good players as well as higher handicappers. No. 3 on La Loma, by the way, is right next to the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. And at just $35-$45 or so for civilians (less for military and retired military), it's also a bargain. more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Saddlebrook - Saddlebrook Course

    "Saddlebrook's original course fun from start to finish"

    The best thing I can say about any course is that I had fun playing it, and that was certainly the case with Saddlebrook's original Saddlebrook Course. This older Palmer design has tons of character. I remembered every hole, and while having to "think on every shot" isn't necessarily a virtue for me, in this case, I didn't have to overthink it. The reason being is that while driver isn't the smartest play on every non-par-3 hole for every player, it was available on most if you were willing to take the chance, and I felt pretty confident with the driver. Also, this is anything but a pushover. Don't let the 6,500 yards from the tips fool you; there is plenty of length on many of the holes -- like the 200-yard-plus par-3 third -- but it's balanced out by some really good short par 4s. And there are only two par 5s, so it's a par 70 that plays plenty long, so it's a championship test. Play this course well, and I think you can play anywhere. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Lakewood National Golf Club

    "Bradenton-Sarasota area in Florida get gem in Lakewood National"

    At first, I was reluctant to give this year-old course five stars. After all, that's the highest rating we have, and those are usually reserved for the very best courses in the world. Then, as I thought back to this round and the attention to detail and the well thought-out holes by golf course architect Brandon Johnson, I couldn't help but answer excellent to every question. My only reservation is the construction that's going on around the golf course, but in retrospect, it's not enough to detract from how thoroughly enjoyable this experience was. First off, the greens, which can certainly be difficult, are very fair. You just have to use the slopes to your advantage. More than that, they're super interesting. The course is also imminently playable, with five sets of tees that allow the less-skilled or shorter golfer to avoid forced carries. And conditions here, even in the winter without overseeding, were outstanding. The semi-dormant greens rolled true and very fast, and the dormant fairways were in excellent shape. I look forward to seeing the course again after the clubhouse is built and the course has greened up. more »