There were not a lot of options for long holes on this property. The first two fives fell on the two natural locations, the last one was another matter. There were a number of locations that were ideal for long dominant par fours where we could have stretched the hole into a decent short reachable five, but each made much better par fours. So we kept each one in its more natural form as a par four since we feel that quality long fours are vital to a great golf course. This left us looking to find the final five.
We found our hole by simply extending a mid range par four back to a distant tree line. The length and location worked well and fit into the flow of the routing. It was now up to us to decide how to yield an interesting hole out of this setting. The green and second landing can be seen from the tee. The tee shot is either to the top of the hill leaving a great view of the entire hole from above or down into the valley with a second shot played over the lower rise to the second landing area. Players playing to the bottom will have clear designs on getting close to the green in two.
We had two potential locations for a green. The green on the right removed the prominent knoll, but finished at a fairly mundane green site. The green location on the left made the knoll a key feature because you needed to play over it to get to the green. This creates more blindness for the second shot, but the hole would finish at a far more interesting green site.
The key to our selection was embracing the blind aspect of the second shot and using the 8th at Augusta National as our guide. The knoll became the key point to the design, since most shots would be played at that position, particularly since most tee shots will end up on the left side of the fairway or rough due to the strong cross-slope in the fairway. The similarity to Augusta lies in the need to play further left than you perceive.
To reinforce the importance of the knoll we added bunkers. We also need to provide a reason for taking the bunkers on. The key was coming up with an approach shot that was complicated enough to encourage players to want to be left on their second shots. Since we really couldn’t get any descent depth in our bunkers that idea wasn’t going to have the impact, Mike and instead borrowed an idea from the 14th at St. Andrews and brought a prominent mound into play on the front right of the green. It’s really hard to approach the 14th at St. Andrews because of the knoll.
We supplemented the idea by turning the green to the right 15 degrees since a green on a subtle angle is hard to hit since it plays essentially narrow to the approach. The 17th at Commonwealth is a marvelous example of this technique and the green plays on that idea. Mike and I then added a false front and roll-offs on all sides so that only the very best approach would stay on the green. The fall off is not a great so recovery shots should be fairly routine. Although we did add more internal contour to the green to create a very hard hole to hit a pitch close and this may complicate some of the recovery shots.
The idea for the hole is for everything to get tougher as you go unless you take on the knoll and its bunkers. The knoll became the key to everything we did before and after. The image is taken from the top of the hill.