OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC – The newest of the Ocean Ridge Plantation Big Cats and possibly the fiercest, Leopard’s Chase was named to both the Golf Digest and Golf Magazine list of Top 10 Best New Public Courses in America in 2007. For those traditionalists that enjoy a true test of golf, Leopard’s Chase is your course.
This Tim Cate design is a flat out pleasure to play. Every shot needs to be visualized with good shot making an absolute must. Put the ego in your bag and be ready to take what Leopard’s Chase is prepared to give you. It’s the style of golf course you’ll want to play again and again. If replays are available, this is the one to take.
Although not particularly long at 7155 yards from the championship tees the 74.1/142 rating/slope portrays the challenge. It is almost a full stroke higher on the rating than its sister course, Tiger’s Eye. The blue tees are 6645 yards, 71.8/136, while the playable white tees are 6145 yards, 69.7/130. There is some length from the gold tees at 5458 yards, 67.3/114 for the men and 71.8/132 for the ladies. The forward tees are all of 4872 yards, 68.2/118. The Par 72 Leopard’s Chase is unique that it has 3 Par 3s on the front nine and 3 Par 5s on the back nine.
The Cate modus operandi is to maximize the lands natural beauty. From native grasses to attractive plantings, the designer utilized the tools available. Combined with the natural wetlands and scenic trees and you have an absolutely beautiful layout. The day we played Leopard’s Chase the heat approached 100 degrees and we were in the midst of an early summer drought. The beauty of this course did not suffer in the least. The Bentgrass greens were outstanding.
The challenge at Leopard’s Chase begins with the tee ball. Case in point the beginning hole and is indicative of the entire layout. Water on the left definitely comes into play and the fairway trap on the right must be avoided. The landing area is narrow. A decision needs to be made to lay-up short of the bunker, or try to fly the bunker. Make note that the fairway bunkers throughout the course are fairly deep with raised edges on the green side.
No. 18 is a beautiful finishing hole. A waste area traverses the right side of the fairway. A waterfall and large pond come into play both off the tee and the approach shot. A Sunday pin position on the back left is a real challenge.
The island green Par 3 fourth hole is scenic from each tee box. Play to the center of the green to be safe. A front pin position is certainly inviting but treacherous, if your shot isn’t executed well. The par 3 eighth hole is equally attractive, but a back right pin position brings all the hazards into play. Choose your club wisely.
The par 5 eleventh hole is one that you’ll be sure to talk about on the 19th hole. Again, accuracy off the tee is critical to success. A little right and you’ll find some deep bunkers. Go left and you’ll find another fairway bunker. However, split the difference and you’ll be in a perfect position to clear the two environmental areas that face you. Less than perfect forces you to lay-up between the sensitive areas, or worse lay-up short of the first area. The green is elevated and well protected by sand and a large tree to the left. A three shot hole that requires accuracy from tee to green makes this one a great challenge.
Make sure to arrive at Leopard’s Chase well in advance of your tee time. It’s a few miles inside Ocean Ridge Plantation and you’ll definitely want to take advantage of their practice area. Range balls are complimentary and there is both a large putting green and chipping green.
If you truly appreciate a course that’s a great test of golf, where pars are earned, than Leopard’s Chase Golf Club is for you. This Tim Cate venue is one you’ll want another chance to challenge. I cannot wait to play it, again.