Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Template Series - #6 Serpentine

The hole from the tee

I remember coming off the 3rd green at Bethpage Black and being stopped in my tracks as I looked out over the 4th tee and up the entire hole to the flag. It wasn’t the awesome bunkering that catches most people’s eye that I focused on, but some of the most beautiful serpentine curves I had ever seen.

The architect himself said this of the hole, “It should prove one of the most exacting three-shotters I know of anywhere. In locating and designing the green, which can only be gained by a most precise approach from the right, I must confess that I was a trifle scared myself, when I looked back and regarded the hazardous route that must be taken by a stinging second shot to get into position to attack the green.”

From above

The tee shot on the 4th calls for an aggressive play down the left hand side. This can be achieved by carrying the single diagonal bunker on the left, or by using the cant of the land and employing a strong draw designed to use the land to skirt around the bunker. The more aggressive the play the easier the second shot or the better the opportunity to go for the green.

The second shot is a second carry angle, but this time in the opposite direction. The longer and further right you dare to go, the more chance you have to open up the green. The big risk you take on is the bunkers which are around twenty feet deep and so enormous that it’s easy to misjudge the carry and be left with a tough recovery.

At the second landing area the hole once again bends back in the opposite direction to reveal a green located behind a small rise covered in bunkers. The green mischievously falls away from the direct line and only by playing well right on the second shot can you find a receptive angle for the third shot.
4th approach from middle of hole

What always impressed me about this hole is all the contrasting land forms and carry angles. I love how each one was emphasized by Tillinghast’s enormous bunkers. This is a hole where placement and character are rewarded over length and I’m always looking for concepts that work well uphill. This is the best uphill hole that I know.

So how do I use this template?

This hole is all about contrasting angles and reinforcing those angles with impactful bunkering. The bunkering makes each carry angle or diagonal visually stimulating for the player which makes attempting the carry very compelling. Since they have serious depth the bunkers reinforce the strategic value of each shot. The fact that original hole climbs makes the carry and depth even more dramatic, but this concept could make it to a flat site and be just as effective. This is definitely the best par five template that I know of because it involves no water.


4th at Bethpage Black
6th at Monterey Peninsula

The List:

#1 Riviera
#2 Redan
#3 Azalea
#4 Road
#5 Peninsula
#6 Serpentine

1 comment:

  1. I thought you might have been stalled out. Good to see The Serpentine.

    Other ideas...the diagonal carry (Kiawah 13 for example), the diagonal green complext (Pinehurst #2 5, Seminole 4), short par 4 with shell-backed green (Cuscowilla 5), and the semi-blind par 3 green (can't htink of hte exact holes but Paiute Wolf and Pinehurst 8 have these holes).