Sunday, 2 January 2011

9th at Cypress Point

I must tell a story on this one, my father and I were lucky enough to play Cypress Point together. On the ninth hole we waved up a group up to play through but instead they suggested they join us for a few holes. We eventually parted ways after some fun together but it was pretty cool for my father to play with his current favorite player Mark O’Meara

You stand on the tee and you feel compelled to have a go at the green, the same feeling you have on most great short holes. At just shy of 300 yards the green is very reachable, when you couple this with an inviting stretch of fairway all the way to the right front of the green, it is an invitation to be aggressive. Mackenzie does a beautiful job of tempting and teasing you with such an inviting target.

Mackenzie provides you with all the options, you can lay-up and then play a short iron approach, or risk the driver and be left with an easy pitch run straight up the green. Where he proved to be very clever was how he escalated the level of difficulty the closer you got. Have a go at the green and you could find yourself in either the 20’ deep front left bunker or miss right and risk deep trouble in the dune grass that pinches the landing area the closer you are to the green. Either way you must make one great shot.

The long narrow green is a key architectural feature; it is angled sharply left to reinforce his strategy perfectly. Additionally the green falls steeply from left to right and has a big impact on where you want to approach a pin from. If a player is willing to risk hitting the driver into the narrow throat in front of the green, he is rewarded with a very straightforward pitch into bowl shaped green. If the player chooses a lay-up from the tee he will face the daunting short iron over the fronting chasm to a very wide but very shallow green. Shots long and short are both in deep trouble. Now if the pin is in the front right, you have to have a go because the pitch into the front right pin is incredibly difficult considering how small the target it is and that it has no backstop to help you.

What can we learn from this par four? Mackenzie uses temptation as the key element of the hole; he invites an aggressive play through a clear and obvious reward. The way he placed the green on a diagonal reinforced the strategy of the hole. It is the perfect drivable par four, fraught with danger, full of options and stunningly beautiful.

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