The front nine at The Lakes doesn't get the respect it deserves because of the grand scale of the back nine and generally sad perception that great golf must be on a large, sharply undulating scale.
The first plays with water on the left--certainly not ideal--before crossing under a road and traversing back and forth on beautiful terrain. The holes are separated by sandy areas which look old and full of character despite having been unveiled less than two years ago.
The greens are large and bold, with a plethora of great hole locations and only a couple that struck me as not being of great interest. The tee complexes sit in the ground beautifully and offer plenty of options, as well as a model for "proper" tees. Little splashes of sand and scrub make the blend in beautifully, but never get in the way of setting up the hole.
But mostly, the front has the appearance of being a fun, challenging nine with a solid variety of holes if you can look past some of the routing constraints. Hopefully these images help supplement the television coverage starting Wednesday night at 11 p.m. ET. (Click on the photos page to see captions.)