The Els Club is a challenging layout, both in terms of its length and visual intimidation off the tee. The first is a relatively gentle downhill opener of a par 4, but standing on the second tee I understood that my biggest challenge for the rest of the round would be to see if I could evade the bunkers, even with the generously wide fairways. They are everywhere and hard to miss being so cleverly positioned. The exceptions are the par-3 14th, the only bunkerless hole, and the par-4 sixth which has no fairway bunkers. My challenge ended early. The greenside bunkers have all been renovated with new white sand, but the fairway bunkers were not done. While the greenside sand is soft, the rest is firm, which actually makes for easier recovery shots. You’re going to hit ball first. The new greens are running at a superb pace and the overall experience is a good one. The back nine was clearly my favourite; the holes on that side are that much better.