Thursday, 24 February 2011

Template Series - #3 Azalea

The Tee Shot

The tee shot on the 13th has to be shaped from right to left to get around the corner for a chance to go for the green. The golfers who hit the ball straight can easily find themselves in the trees on the far side of the dogleg or a very long way away facing a tough second. So players must turn the ball over to use the heavily canted landing area to gain position and create an opportunity to go for the green. Only a player able to control a strong draw can flirt with the creek to leave a flat lie and the perfect angle into the green.

A player who finds the fairway now faces one of the tougher shots in all of golf. The shot calls for a left to right approach since the creek crosses diagonally in front of the green and then continues down the right side. The safe play is to the front left of the green since there is some recovery from this area, chasing any other pin becomes a gamble that you won’t turn the ball back into the creek. This is an important time to mention that because it’s a creek, it contains the potential recovery, which encourages more players to try the shot than should.

The next factor is the stance in the fairway. The approach is hit from a right to left lie for a majority of the play to the green, so players are trying to cut a ball from a hook lie. Even the lay-up area has the same cant which creates the risk of hitting fat and ending up into the creek. Many over compensate and end up long from this position.

The Second Shot

The genius of this hole extends right to the green itself. The swale and bunkers beyond leave the player with a downhill shot to a green running away, with a large tier in the middle and short grass right into the creek on the other side. The green itself is wickedly sloped towards the water with a tier making up much of the grade in the middle. Only a shot on the correct level will lead to a makeable putt.

What makes this hole so very special is the balance between opportunity and disaster. Players can attack this hole at will, particularly because the hole is so short by modern standards, but they can pay a tremendous price for overconfidence too.

So how do I use this template?

The combination of fairway cant and hazard on the inside of the dogleg defines why this tee shot is so great. The ability to use a draw to work the ball around the corner is a key element since the draw is one that can best use that slope. It must be a hole that turns right to left and the cant must be strong to have the full impact.

The Lay-up Approach

The hole requires a fade off a draw lie on the approach which requires tremendous skill to accomplish. This rewards shot making and so does having to work the ball in both directions to attack the hole. The green site with the creek warping around the front all set against the hill is something worth emulating all on its own right.

Special note: In today’s day and age where we are no longer allowed to set holes on a creek, I would expect the best opportunity to create this hole would be using a valley edge to replace the creek off the tee and another valley sedge to represent the creek at the green. This template will be hard to find, although it would be easy to create if a creek/ditch is required to deal with a high water table. And that is where I expect to use this idea, possibly sooner than you might think.


13th at Augusta National

The List:

#1 Riviera
#2 Redan
#3 Azalea


  1. I am struggling with this exercise. It's much harder than picking your favourite holes.

  2. What about the one shot par 3, interesting thoughts about the redan. I dont care much for the idea of trying to work the ball the other way from a lie that sets up for a draw. You already have to work the ball off the tee. Considering that you have other elements happening around the green that place a premium on approach and pitch shots do you need the increased difficulty in regards to the fairway lie. The green sets up for a fade approach so why not just leave it at that in asking the player to work the ball twice in order to challenge par.

  3. Considering this day and age's obsession with length, the need to shape the ball twice into a shorter par-5 seems completely reasonable. This is an excellent defense to 'par' and also an opening to score for a player capable of shaping the ball both ways. We need look no further than Zach Johnson's win at the Masters to see that the hole can be played effectively while laying up.
    The Masters is known for excitement because of holes like this on the back nine.