Thursday, 10 February 2011

Spyglass Hill

The Good

I have also played three rounds at Spyglass Hill and each time I had played the course the less I like it.

The first does nothing for me personally, other than get you down to the bottom of the hill efficiently. The green site has some interest, but it’s a way to get to the next four holes right away. The 2nd is good hole and I do enjoy the idea of playing to the elevated green site. I thought the holes was a little more natural and interesting the first time I played it when more of the dunes were visible. The third is beautiful and was well worth the routing to achieve this moment. The view deceives you into thinking the ocean is near when it’s actually a long way away.

The 4th is simply the best four Robert Trent Jones every built using a brilliant set of angles. From the he compels into playing way too far to left when the right side opens up the green. I love the contrasting angle set by the narrow green and the tier sets up a super tough approach on this diabolical short hole. Everything is brilliant here! The 5th is my favourite three and wonderfully set in the dunes. The setting on the shelf and surrounding dune line is really quite striking.

The Bad

Unfortunately the rest of the course is drudgery. Almost every par fours is very long and almost always uphill. In fact the breaks in this pattern at the 10th and 16th are a joy although they remain excessively long fours. Almost every four is played into an elevated green and bunkered on the front right and front left resulting is a series of long irons that must be flown all the way to the putting surface. Nice idea a couple of time to add pressure, bad idea on a continuous basis.

The fives are also too consistent, or at least were before changes to the 11th eliminated the pond, where they are designed to be reachable with the element of water in play on the second shot. The change to the 11th did add some variety that was much needed. The threes follow a pattern too. They are downhill with water directly in play. I felt like I’ve seen the holes a thousand times before.
The Consistant Pattern

Many of the holes that fall into my criticism of the final 13 holes are good holes. My issue is the lack of variety in Jones's design and the impact it has on the course as a whole. This is a course that is perennially ranked in the Top 100 in the World, yet I would be happier never to play it again. How can that be one of the World’s Greatest courses?

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