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

    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 »

    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 »

    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 »

    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

    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

    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 »