July 21, 2011

W17L Creates A Golf Course, Possibly The Greatest Golf Course Ever

     A lot of times when I watch golf, I always think about how awesome it would be to design my own course.  So after my post about bizarre things I would add to the game of golf, I decided to do the next best thing:  design a hypothetical course and put in online for everyone to see.  Though the name of the course would depend on where it is, for now let's call it Walden Hill.
     Walden Hill is situated on two relatively flat pieces of land separated by an 80-foot incline.  The higher half of the course is bordered by a cliff that drops to the ocean (or maybe it's a lake).  The challenge of this par-72 course is not in its length (just under 7000 yards) or its greens (most of which are pretty simple).  The challenge lies in the various obstacles of each hole, which make it "the greatest spectacle in golf".  Walden Hill requires excellent tee shots, and has rewards for longer hitters.

Note:  There are random slopes and trees on this course besides the ones in the diagrams.  They just aren't that important.

Hole 1:  The First Encounter  (Par 5, 507 yards)
     The first hole starts with an elevated tee shot that must carry the hill 270 yards away.  Shots that are too short will either hit the hill and just barely bounce over it, or roll back down.  If the drive makes it over the hill, players are left with a second shot of 220 yards or less that makes for a great eagle chance.  Players who don't make it over the hill will find themselves roughly 320 yards from the hole with a second shot made more difficult by the hill towering over them.

Hole 2:  Volcano  (Par 3, 132 yards)
     The second hole features 4 hole locations on top of steep, 2-foot-high mounds reminiscent of a miniature golf course.  The 130-yard approach is not difficult, but putting can become very frustrating.

Hole 3:  Cliffhanger  (Par 3, 123 yards)
     This short par-3 features a shot to a green that is roughly 100 feet below the tee.  The island landing area is about 50 yards across both ways at its widest.  It's difficult enough to judge the distance correctly on a calm day; when the wind is blowing this hole will produce many high scores.

Hole 4:  Mini-Sawgrass  (Par-3, 43 yards)
     The third of three consecutive par-3's, Hole 4 was inspired by the 17th at TPC-Sawgrass.  The Walden Hill version, however, is much smaller, involving a 43-yard shot that must land on an island maxing out at 11 yards across both ways.  Golfers must have the control to not only land the ball on the island, but also keep it from rolling off.

Hole 5:  Looking Up  (Par 4, 283 yards)
     The first shot on Hole 5 is all about maximizing distance while getting enough loft to make it back up the cliff 95 yards away.  While it's possible to hit the fairway with an iron, the safest play is to just use a sand wedge and worry about the second shot once the ball has safely hit land.  On especially windy days, this hole might start out on the blue tee, which is elevated to make it easier to get up to the cliff, or the white tee, which eliminates the cliff entirely but leaves an awkward approach to the green.  The second shot is 190 yards or less, and as long as it's straight there shouldn't be any issues.

Hole 6:  The Pit  (Par 4, 522 yards)
     The main feature on the sixth hole is a huge valley on the putting surface, 11 yards across and 6 feet deep, surrounded by a 2-yard-wide ring of flat green.  This allows the hole to play two different ways depending on pin placement.  The first version of the hole is a long par-4 with the cup in the middle of the green.  With two well-hit shots, an eagle is very possible, and most third shots will roll into the cup for a birdie.  The evil alter-ego of this hole is a 382-yard par-4 played from the blue tee.  In this setup, the pin is located on the edge of the pit, so any approaches or putts that fall to the middle of the green will take at least two shots to get back in the hole.

Hole 7:  The Snake  (Par 5, 594 yards)
     The seventh hole begins with a shot to a snaking fairway, and there's a chance that the ball will bounce off the rough and create a longer second shot, or even settle in the rough, making the hole even more difficult.  The fairway straightens out 285 yards away from the tee, so longer hitters have a huge advantage here.  At 570 yards from the tee, it's possible to hit the green in two, especially with a long landing area for the second shot.  However, missing it short is very costly with a lake resting in front of the green.  Turning the 7th into a three-shot hole is much safer, and with a solid lay-up the third shot is very easy.

Hole 8:  Getting Rough  (Par 5, 503 yards)
     At Walden Hill, we believe that having a fairway to hit to is a privilege, not a right, which is why the 8th hole features almost 500 yards of rough.  The second shot is a doable 220 yards or so, but because we're nice, we allow an extra shot to make the green.

Hole 9:  U-Turn  (Par 4, 515 yards)
     The good news:  The green is only 70 yards away from the tee.  The bad news?  It's almost impossible to reach from a tee that's nestled up against the small forest that protects this hole.  The thing that makes this hole great is that there are so many ways to attack it.  Do you hit a long drive to the left side of the wide fairway, leaving a weird angle for the second shot?  Do you hit it short and to the right and try to follow it up with an iron play over the trees?  The method of solving this hole depends on the skills and instincts of each player, but every way takes precise ball striking.

Hole 10:  Greenbridge  (Par 3, 169 yards)
     The 10th hole involves a large green and a 7-yard-wide green that lies on an island.  The two putting surfaces are connected by a narrow, puttable bridge.  Like the pit hole, Greenbridge has two different personas based on the pin placement.  With one of the two easier setups in place, the 10th hole is nothing more than a straightforward par-3 with a decoy island.  With one of the two difficult setups in place, golfers must choose to aim for the small island or drive it to the large green and putt it across the bridge.  The edges of the bridge are sloped toward the water, so any putts that take a poor angle to the bridge will end up in rough or in the water.

Hole 11:  Going Downhill  (Par 4, 515 yards)
     The 11th hole begins with a tee shot toward the hill, 270 yards away.  Drives should get a boost by either carrying over the entire hill or by rolling down it.  The next shot is around 170 yards long, and involves a choice between a tough play over the front bunker or a safe play to the left side of the green, leaving a long putt.

Hole 12:  Extreme Bunker  (Par 4, 326 yards)
     Continuing in the tradition of the 8th hole, the drive on number 12 goes into a massive sand trap.  To prevent golfers from aiming for the rough on either side, those areas are designated as out of bounds.  Depending on the abilities of each player, the second shot is somewhere between 20 and 80 yards.

Hole 13:  Tree Wall  (Par 4, 302 yards)
     The 13th is another short par-4 made tougher by a crazy obstacle.  In this case, it's a wall of trees just 20 yards away from the tee that requires a lot of loft to get over.  In a unique twist, the easier tees are located behind the black tee because they allow for less loft, and therefore more distance.

Hole 14:  Tilt  (Par 4, 440 yards)
     The length of this hole runs along the hill instead of being perpendicular to it.  The tees are on level platforms constructed on the middle of the hill.  There is a narrow stretch of fairway on the high side that gets wider the farther it gets from the tee.  Any drives that miss to the right will roll away from the green, so aiming for the rough left of the fairway is a decent option.  The approach to the green is approximately 150 yards from the high side of the fairway, and as much as 230 yards from the low side, which can get pretty difficult with bunkers surrounding the entire green.

Hole 15:  Hill Green  (Par 3, 191 yards)
     Walden's trademark hill has already made many appearances on fairways.  Now it's showing up on a green.  Though listed at 191 yards, Hole 15 plays at either 155 (to the top part of the green) or 220 (the bottom).  The hill makes putting on the top section very worrisome, but can be helpful when the pin is located at the bottom.

Hole 16:  The Behemoth  (Par 5, 760 yards)
     A 760-yard hole may sound intimidating, but this one is pretty straightforward and not threatening at all.  With a 300-yard drive to a double-wide fairway followed by a 280-yard second shot, the player would be left with a diagonal, 185-yard approach to an enlarged green.  Though eagles are virtually impossible here and birdies are even hard to come by, Tour golfers should be embarrassed by any score over par.

Hole 17:  Fork in the Road  (Par 4, 449 yards)
     The possibilities are endless with three fairways are three greens.  The left fairway is pretty accessible but any mishits are costly as bunkers and deep rough line the sides of it.  The middle fairway is the safest and leaves clean lines to all the greens, but it's only 15 yards wide.  The right fairway is wide and devoid of hazards, but shots that are too long or too far to the right will roll down the hill.

Hole 18:  The Minefield  (Par 5, 598 yards)
     The final hole at Walden Hill begins with a drive that carries over the hill and must enter "the minefield", a fairway littered with trees, rocks, and small patches of rough, sand, and water.  Fans sitting directly between the lake and the hill are treated to a unique view of tee shots flying directly overhead.  The safest play into the minefield is a short drive over the rock in the center, that rolls either through the center rough or not quite to it.  From there, hitting the green in two is impossible thanks to the tree in the way, but an easy three is a lot better than risking a hit into a hazard.

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