Saturday, 1 January 2011

Pine Valley’s 8th

The drive and pitch hole is the second variety of the short par four. This is defined as a hole that is not realistically drivable but where a player can get their tee shot inside of a full shot to the green. These holes can be further broken down into two distinct categories. The one where taking the tough line rewards the player with either an easy pitch or even a possible bump and run approach. This has become a common modern approach. The other can be summed up as a tee shot with no real account for accuracy, followed by a devilishly tricky approach shot. The approach shot dictates the position and placement of the tee shot by its very nature.

The 8th hole at Pine Valley Golf Club is the best illustration of the latter type of drive and pitch hole. The tee shot is blind but fairly simple compared to many at Pine Valley. As long as your somewhere in the fairway, you always have a chance at hitting the green. But because of the size and shape of the green, position off the tee is more essential than it initially appears.

The fairway slopes gently down towards the green side bunkers and about 100 yards begins to slope hard right away from the green which is tucked in the left corner of the clearing. What becomes very clear when you are over the ball is that you are left with an awkward downhill and side hill stance for your approach. If you’ve played the tee shot inside 100 yards you have also complicated this with having to hit a feel shot into a very tiny green surrounded by trouble.

The green is where this hole becomes frightening, breathtaking, confounding, maddening, and architecturally brilliant. The green is 2,900 sq.ft. in size with a fair amount of contour in the green. The green is surrounded on all sides with deep bunkers. The recovery from any of these is very tough since there are bunkers awaiting anything but a perfect bunker shot. The green is also angled to line up with the farthest left edge of the fairway, which only a true shot maker could find; therefore depending on how right you go, you must hit a cut shot or be absolutely perfect on your approach to hold the green surface. When you throw in the visual intimidation of the bunkers, you have one of the most unnerving shots in all of golf. And even if you find the green, Maxwell’s contours are very difficult too.

This is an outstanding example of design balance; a short pitch to a small green. This is every bit the equal of the 13th at Pine valley; an enormous carry to a massive green and feeding fairway approach.

[authors note: I’m 1 over on both the famous 455 yard 13th and the infamous 235 yard 5th but 9 over on the 8th through the 3 rounds I’ve played at Pive Valley]

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