Sunday, 13 March 2011

Template Series - #7 Ridgeline

5th tee at Crystal Downs

One of my all time favourite holes in golf is the 5th at Crystal Downs. I think the reason I love the hole so much is I’m not really sure there is a logical way to play the hole and for me that is a thrilling prospect. For the longest time I thought the hole was a one off. I assumed that the landscape was critical and Mackenzie’s unusual routing was sublime.

I’ve never found such a perfect hole as that, but lately I’ve noticed other similar ideas being used. One of the better ones is the 4th hole at Bandon Trails where Bill Coore used a high diagonal central spine to set up a fascinating driving hole. The concept for the green is different, but they are too holes that I feel are exceptional and unique

The problems stem from the hole being short and players not willing to play very cautiously. The drive over the ridge is uncomfortable due to the high ridge. The player is given multiple clues for lines, but none of the bunkering indicates the line most choose. Since most players play for the ridge or beyond close to the green, they unwittingly take on the toughest shot possible without realizing the unnecessary risk.
From the green looking back at Bandon Trails

There are two other options both shorter and more right, but it’s hard to take those lines when the left seems so inviting. What most fail to comprehend is how much the green is cut back into the other side of the hill and how much it matters that you are well positioned. Throw in the problems of side hill lies and most players struggle with the hole despite its benign length. Only a well placed shot, far to the right can find a flatter lie and easier approach, but few ever venture there.

I always loved how Mackenzie or Maxwell placed a bunker dead on line with the green to suggest the carry to the green was possible, where in reality this line is pretty much certain death, particularly with the fall of the green.

So how do I use this template?

The diagonal ridge is really the key. It’s makes the drive a nightmare since you have the complexity of the angle which forces the ball to be turned over and then the risk of being too short or way too long which can cast a tee shot into big trouble. Since the green is cut on the far side, coming up short is a bad angle with a green going away. Contrastingly long will finds the down slope and unless the ball is turned over will be propelled way long and through the fairway. That’s why a key is to shorten the hole and allowing shorter clubs to be played, it justifies adding all this complexity. There is subtle version of this on the fairway on the 7th at Riviera.


5th at Crystal Downs
4th at Bandon Trails
7th at Riviera

The List:

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

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