Sunday, 3 April 2011

Template Series - #10 Table Top

7th at Scarboro (Tillinghast)
The 7th hole at Scarbro Golf and Country Club by A.W. Tillinghast is easily my favorite short four in Canada. The hole is 275 yards, yet I’ve watched very few players ever make par or birdie.

The fascinating part for me is to watch a new player look at the hole, then look at the yardage on the card and smile with anticipation. I find ever new player I take there is quick to underestimate the complexity of this nasty little hole. The tee hot is brilliant because at 275 yards to the hole is so full of options. Every option appears reasonable and realistic, so the hole lulls you from the outset.

There are series of subtleties in play that all add up to make this a very cunning and difficult hole to play. The first up is the hole is actually a slight dogleg left but appears straight from the tee. The lay up “must” be played “well” to the right to open up the angle, but more importantly allow the player to hit directly into the green slope. The hole was even more clever in the past since the river used to hug this side before re-routing was done to reduce storm damage created through urbanization around the course.

The second factor is the land. The fairway is part of a valley bottom and is full of lot of subtle rolls and pitches that provide for numerous uneven stances. The fairway also has a large roll in the centre and the hole is so short that it seems hard not to leave the ball inside the 100 yard mark leaving a half or three quarter swing often from an uneven lie.
 
3rd at Lookout Point (Travis)

The magic of the hole is the green. The fact that the green is around 3,000 sq.ft makes this a tiny target. Even more critical is the green is only 8 paces wide making this an extremely difficult green to hit unless you’re perfectly lined up with the angle of the green. The combination of a very steep green, slight left to right cross-fall, a large aggressive false front and two deep bunkers that flank both sides means only the best shot will find success.

The back of the green may be the widest point, but even that can be a bad choice since the green pitches hard from back to front and no putts are made from above the hole. Actually few are made from the side either.  That leaves the front of the green as the ideal spot to play to, unfortunately a foot short leaves the ball 8 feet below the green back on the flats looking straight up at a nasty front slope with a strong false front at the top. Anything short will come all the way back down to your feet.

15th at Jasper (Bad Baby)

So how do I use this template?

This can easily be played out as a three, placing the green on even a subtle angle like the Bad Baby (15th) at Jasper can make this exasperating. That’s why the par three must remain quite short. Obviously this makes for a particularly good drivable par four, but once again runs the risk of being too much once the hole climbs into the mid 300’s. The one fascinating opportunity is using the green as the climax of a short par five where the player will often get the chance to give it a go, but the complications around the green may turn a miss into 5 or 6 quickly.

Influences:

15th at Jasper Park
7th at Scarboro
4th at Woodlands (green is similar but use of short grass on either side is clever spin)
15th at Fenway (Tillinghast create the big drop in the middle of the green this time)
3rd at Lookout Point (drops on either side are nightmarish – angle is more pronounced)

The List:

#1 Riviera
#2 Redan
#3 Azalea
#4 Road
#5 Peninsula
#6 Serpentine
#7 Ridgeline
#8 Sideways
#9 Crown
#10 Table Top

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