Friday, May 6, 2011

Course Tour - Hole #15

Hole #15 description on the Kingsley Club web site is here.

Never has such a small green caused such large fits!
Here is my commentary from A Fan's Photo Tribute on

The 15th is a par 4
465 from the gold tee
421 from the blue tee

This is a hole that can draw a strong reaction (only one on the course, right??)  It is a long par 4 that plays even longer than the yardage on the card.  The green is small and nearly impossible to land and hold - if you can even reach it.  If you hit the green in regulation on this hole you either have some serious game or you are playing a set of tees that is too short (like maybe the reds at 370.)  [Author's Edit: OK, so my big hitting buddy Jason McOlgan proved me wrong in 2010 by blasting his driver to leave only 130 yards to the green.  He then stuck the approach to 3 feet and walked away with his birdie.]  The best thing about it is that the putting surface is relatively tame with a good opportunity to make a one-putt par.

Mike told me as we walked the hole that this one draws some harsh criticism from good players.  Some strong players feel that two well struck shots on a hole should entitle the golfer to a GIR, and that isn't the case on this hole.  The strong player will still have an ample opportunity to make a par with a good up and down, but there probably aren't too many birdie putts per day from the tips on this hole.  Like #9, some may call this hole "unfair."  I thought it was terrific!  Except for the stupid tree that Mike decided to leave on the right side of the fairway... that was a bit unfair.    Just kidding; you had to be there.

The hole plays as a subtle dogleg left if played to the center of the fairway.  Aiming down the left edge is the most direct line, but missing more than 10 yards left will put your ball in the scraggly stuff, and also potentially bring a giant wall of trees in play.  The left side of the fairway also has a nice sized hump in it.  Balls will funnel hard right, and once the hump starts it continues on up the left side to the green site.  The right side has plenty of room.  Just don't leave your ball directly behind the lone tree as I did.  It makes the nearly impossible long approach totally impossible.

There is ample space to miss the tiny target on the left.  There is a tight grass recovery area (or grass hazard - take your pick with terminology) that will funnel shots closer to the green, but which could also leave for some tricky downhill lie chips.   

The green sits several feet above the fairway.  Even with the firm and fast conditions found at Kingsley the front of the green compounds the fabulous problems the golfer faces with his approach.  If you've got enough heat on a shot to run up the face, it is probably equally likely it will run all the way through this small green.  If the shot doesn't have enough oomph it will not find its way up in the first place.  The greenside bunkers are all guarding the back half of this green.  I would suspect that more mis-played third shots find themselves in the bunker than second shots.  The green itself is tamer than many on the course, but still interesting.  There is a small "mini bowl" that makes up the front left section - you can see it around the pin in the photos below.

Chalk this up as one more hole that is beautiful from behind the green.  Looking back, the green fits wonderfully into the surrounds on both the left and the right.  The photos from behind the green are amongst my favorites on the course.

John Mayhugh and I teed off +4 on this hole in our match against Alan Gard and Mike DeVries.  I made back to back pars on #13 and #14 to give us what we thought was certain victory...  Alan and Mike each made a par from the tips (Mike had to do so in order to prove the hole was fair) which completely swung the momentum of the match.

From the tips
From the next tee forward

The center of the fairway.  There's still some work to be done!
A closer look at the approach.  
One more look at the approach from an even shorter distance.
Similar view with better lighting and shadows
From directly in front of the green.  Notice the rise to the putting surface.
From behind the green looking back at the tiny bowl in the front of the green
A wider view of the entire green complex and fairway
A similar view but from down lower where the rear bunker is hidden.
Looking back on the 15th green with the 16th hole and green on the right side of the photo.
A look from the bunkers bridging the 15th and 16th holes

Another angle from the bunkers between the 15th and 16th holes with a good look at how the fairway runs out all the way left of the 15th green.
 Comments on #15 from Mike DeVries:

"The 15th turns around and smacks you in the face, with its long four to the smallest green on the course.  The tee and landing area are at the same elevation, but the drive feels all uphill due to the long gentle slope of the hole from in front of the tees.  A good drive will find the shelf on the left side, giving the player a better angle to the green but still requiring a mid-to-long iron approach.  Indifferent drives slide to the right and present a good lie but demanding a cut shot around the trees on the right.  A good second shot play here is safe to the front or side approach or to a distance one is comfortable playing for a precision pitching wedge.

Most third shots are from somewhere around the base of the green, facing a variety of shot options to a small target on top of a domed shelf.  It is an unnerving play and even I have been subject to going back and forth a couple of times (never did get to double digits, though).  The small green has quite a bit more contour than you would expect for such a demanding hole and pars are well earned while birdies are few and far between.

The contrast of the short par four 13th with its huge green, the reachable par five 14th, and the long par four 15th with its small green makes for an enjoyable sequence of holes and I really like the juxtaposition of options available on all of them."

More on some of the green sizes:
"The 15th green is about 3700 sq. ft. -- smallest on the course, although 8 others (#2, 6,8,9,11,12,14, & 18) are from 4000-5000 sq. ft.  The average green size is 6000, due to the 3 large greens -- #3 @ 10,500, #4 @ 12,300, and #13 @ 12,400."


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