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

    Haig Point Club - The Calibogue & The Haig

    "Haig Point one of a kind, like Daufuski Island"

    Plain and simple, the Signature Course at Haig Point is remarkable. Not only is it a gorgeous layout, but Rees Jones did something really brilliant: he designed it to be extremely flexible. The course in certain areas has Haig tees and Calibogue tees. The former has few forced carries, while the Calibogue tees challenges the better player going over wetlands and ponds. Even more brilliant is that there are two additional Calibogue holes, giving the course 20 holes in all. These additional holes, both par 3s, are close to the Calibogue Sound on the Atlantic Ocean. It would seem that they are susceptible to severe hurricane damage, so much so that if they were wiped out, they probably couldn't be rebuilt. That would leave 18 holes intact, and while those terrific holes would be missed, the course would still be excellent. All that aside, this is a terrific layout with no two holes alike. Lined with majestic live oaks draped in Spanish moss, working their way around wetlands and ocean views on at least five holes, makes this one of the best courses on the Atlantic Coast, and that includes its neighbor, right across the sound, Harbour Town Golf Links. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Hammock Beach - Ocean Course

    "Newly renovated Ocean Course makes a bold statement"

    The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort really is an ocean course now. Thanks to in large part to Hurricane Matthew, which blew down trees and flooded the course, and the subsequent renovation, the course has better ocean views from its six ocean holes, the practice areas and the clubhouse. Beyond that, though, the new paspalum greens and fairways work very well together. Course conditions are already flawless after the recent reopening. And practice facilities, with a large grass range, short-game area and putting greens, are tremendous as well. As far as the course is concerned, wide fairways and little rough make the Ocean Course very playable, even in windy conditions. The great variety of holes and the fact that there aren't many true ocean courses in the U.S. make this one pretty special. more »

    3.0 stars from 5

    Whiskey Ranch

    "TX Whiskey, old golf course make a nice, new combo"

    The coolest thing about the golf course at Whiskey Ranch is that it's still there. Fortunately, for those of us who love a little golf history, the owners of F&R Distilling are big golfers, too, and realized that keeping the old Glen Garden CC in some form wasn't just good for golf, but good for business as well. This modified rendition of the course is shorter and has a few new holes, but it's still 18 holes, and it certainly retained its quirkiness. With six par 3s, this par 68 can be played in under three hours, which is a trend I'd like to see at more courses. And while we're not likely to confuse the WR course with Colonial, it's golf and fun golf at that. Combine that with sipping some of the best new whiskey in the world on the back porch after the round, and you've got a special experience. more »

    4.0 stars from 5

    Hammock Beach - Conservatory Course

    "Hammock Beach's other course shouldn't be overlooked"

    While the newly renovated Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort is getting much of the attention, The Conservatory, which is also offered by Hammock Beach, shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, it’s probably a better test. And while it isn't on the Ocean, it's certainly picturesque in its own right. More importantly, the quality and variety of holes is outstanding. With water on half the holes and some challenging bunkers, it's a terrific test. Word of warning here, don’t play too far back because long approach shots can make for a long day. This is a really good test of golf and plenty enjoyable. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club

    "Pine Needles is classic, enjoyable don't-miss Donald Ross"

    Of the two courses, Pine Needles and Mid Pines, Pine Needles is certainly the more playable and perhaps more fun. There's no shortage of great holes out there, and the greens are certainly a little less severe. Like Mid Pines, it's been wonderfully restored in recent years and is a classic Sandhills experience through and through, from the great old clubhouse and practice facilities, old school locker rooms and dining room to the golf course. In short, I liked every hole out there, from the great variety of par 3s to the finishing stretch. more »

    5.0 stars from 5

    Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club

    "Don't miss this Carolina Sandhills classic"

    Next to Pinehurst No. 2, it’s hard to beat Mid Pines, another classic Donald Ross classic course that has been restored to perfection. Mid Pines is actually less subtle than No. 2 and certainly has a different look, one that’s definitely all its own. If you’re a fan of Ross, you’ll love the greens complexes, of course, and probably get victimized a time or two by them if you don’t find the right part of the greens on your approach or miss a five-footer you simply couldn’t read. There are false fronts, of course, and greens that run away from you, meaning you definitely have to think your way around this golf course. 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

    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 »