The 9th hole is an interesting place on the golf course. For stroke players, it often serves as the first “check point.” Because of that, scores are often added after the 8th green, placing a “target” in mind on the 9th tee. Is there a chance to salvage a score with a strong finish? Or are you simply trying to protect a good score?
We’re about to reach the mid-point of our series, and I’m wrapping up my front nine with a pair of birdie opportunities and one “hold on for dear life” offering.
Park Country Club ~ 550 yard Par 5
Nothing raises hope of a strong finish like a Par 5. Throw in the aesthetics of a graceful descent, and Park Country Club has one of my favorite front 9 finishes in the area. If you can navigate the flanking bunkers in the drive zone, you are rewarded with a tempting view of the target below.
But, if you’re not getting all the way home, the last hundred yards or so of the hole provides a high level of interest for your layup. If you’re not willing to lay back beyond 100 yards, then you may draw a severe downhill lie, even in the fairway. Stray a little, and guarding sand may leave one of the most difficult shots in the game, the 50-80 yard bunker shot.
The enjoyable hole wraps up with a significant berm in the back center of the green which can leave some memorable putts.
Ironwood ~ 506 yard Par 5
Like many holes at Ironwood, this one is not busy in terms of fairway hazards, and provides some latitude off the tee. The challenges arise in more subtle ways with the slopes surrounding the greens and the potential of awkward lies in the fairways.
This hole isn’t great because it’s dangerous and difficult to navigate. Instead, it’s a definite birdie opportunity where you may feel like you lost a stroke to the field with a par. If there is a “Par 4 1/2” designation, this one is it. I can get away with a mediocre drive, but I’m more frustrated when I don’t get off a good one, because I know it’s a missed opportunity.
On top of the 1/2 par interest, the hole is just graceful as it follows the natural movement of the land on a grand scale, punctuated by a wonderfully-situated hillside green. The clubhouse veranda overlooking the putting surface is one of my favorite places in the area.
Ivy Ridge ~ 434 yard Par 4
No missed birdie opportunity here. You scrape out a par, and you’re floating on air en route to the 10th tee. The drive is over the rise, bringing an element of uncertainty to the equation, which only compounds the flanking bunkers and high native grasses on either side of the fairway.
But the drive is only half the equation. If you pull it off, this is the challenge which remains.
Even though it looks scary, there is still plenty of bailout available short & right, so this isn’t a “do-it-or-else” scenario.
Normally, when I select 1/2 par holes, they’re usually on the birdie-opportunity side like drivable Par 4s and reachable Par 5s. But, there are certainly enjoyable holes on the “high end” of the 1/2 par scale like this one. A hole which demands execution of not one, but two, challenging shot just to meet the “standard” score on the scorecard. While I wouldn’t enjoy a steady diet of these holes, they are an essential ingredient in a well-balanced golf course providing a variety of experiences.