Sunday, 23 January 2011

10 Best Greens - 9th at Yale

The green seen from the Tee

I have seen few greens larger than the 9th at Yale Golf Club. The green is around 12,000 sq.ft. and the size is essential to keep the five foot deep swale in the centre in scale. Interestingly the green began as only the latter half or upper area in back and over time was expanded to include the front portion and the magnificent swale. While not part of Raynor and Macdonald’s original concept, the evolution created to a fascinating concept.

Five Foot Deep Swale (courtesy of Golf Club Atlas)

Originally the hole was planned so that players would carry the pond and use the front plateau as a landing with the intent of bouncing the ball forward into the valley and up onto the green. As the green expanded in size the front section became shorter and firmer which helped the process.

With the front kept short it opened up the opportunity to mix the pin positions by moving the pin to the front plateau. The shot was clearly shorter and more enticing, but the landing area was much smaller and the risk of finding the pond was increased. The front pin is
interesting, but the joy remains trying to find the back plateau when the pin is up top. The shot to the upper plateau can be carried or run in, the choice is yours.

From behind the green

The pin is never in the swale although a majority of shots end up in the swale and that is where the fun begins. Whether it is a putt out of the swale or through it very few players are comfortable judging speed when facing such a massive a. It’s the only green I can think of where the putt disappears from view as you cross the main feature.

The upper plateau (about 18 inches higher than the front plateau) is a little too steep at the current green speeds making pin positions tougher to find, but the fact that the back is collective really drives home the idea of trying a running approach through the swale. Only a green like this can get you trying creative shots instead of simply flying it in. One of the most unforgettable holes in golf created by a green with no peer.

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