Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (Gold)-Williamsburg, VA

This older Robert Trent Jones design features many of the design ideas that made Mr. Jones famous. Aircraft Carrier/Runway tees. Solid par three's. Forcing the player to work the ball both ways. Mr. Jones takes heat in some circles due to his later work, much done by associates, but his earlier work where he was most involved is generally very high quality. That is certainly the case here.

Variety of Design: Very good. Great variety in yardage for all holes. Par three's range from well over 200 yards to 169 yards playing significantly downhill. Par five's from from the reachable sixth playing 485 yards to the fifteenth playing 634 yards. Par four's are also solid, ranging fron the 466 yards tenth to the 337 yard eighth. Directional variety is perfect at six right, six left, and six straight. The course also does a great job routing the course up and down the hills. The only negative is that all the par 3's play over water. 8 1/4 out of 10

Flow of the Course: This course does little to really invigorate the golfer on the front nine. The holes are solid, but there is just "something" missing. On the back, the course keeps plugging along, nothing bad, until one gets to the fifteenth tee. From there, the course builds to a very good finish. Fifteen is a very difficult long par 5, followed by a short par 3 to an island green. The view from the sixteenth tee of the green below the player and the seventeenth fairway spanning up the hill in the distance is extraordinary. From here the player is faced with two difficult par 4's to finish out the round. So the finish is top tier, but the rest of the course lacks a bit. 7 out of 10

Course Conditioning: The course was maintained very well. Played in mid-March on the winter rye overseeding, the fairways were solid throughout and not overly damp. The night before play, there had been a large rain storm pass over, but the course still played rather firm and fast. The greens were also as firm as could be expected given the rain and ran nicely fast and true. 7  1/4 out of 10, likely 1/2 point or so better in peak season

Ease of Walking: This course gets downgraded on walking due to the hilly nature of the site and also the small size of the site results in some odd transitions. But for a person of reasonable fitness, this course should not be difficult to walk. 6 out of 10

Atmosphere: Very good atmosphere here. The course is old and traditional and seeing horse drawn carriages on the way in gives it a slight boost. The reasonably high ranking of the course also does not hurt, being top 50 public according to Golf Digest. 4 1/2 out of 10

Total: 70 3/4

Holes to Note
Hole #1: Par 4, 402 yards
This hole is not an exceptionally difficult opener, but it's no cake walk either. The hole doglegs to the right and the player can choose either side of the fairway, depending on the second shot he desires. The play down the right side will leave a shorter approach over a greenside bunker while the play down the left will yeild a slightly longer shot but will open up a longer angle of the green and allow for a possible run-up shot, depending on conditions. Solid opening hole.

From the tee, the player may be tempted to go over the tall trees in the distance. While it would be possible to carry these trees, there is little value to be had in that with additional trees lining the fairway beyond that. The RTJ aircraft carrier tee is visible here.

This player chose to play down the right side for the shorter shot. The opening left of the bunker is visible and flat enough to accept running shots, should the player decide that is the best option for him.
Hole #2: Par 5, 498 yards
This hole gives the player a chance to make a birdie early in the round. 498 yards is very reachable even for modest hitters and with the hole doglegging to the right, some of that can be cut off. The best play for all golfers, going for the green in two or otherwise, is down the right side or the fairway.
From the tee, the player is again confronted by trees down the side of the fairway. The best play is to hit the tee shot as closely to them as possible and even perhaps attempt to fade the ball around the corner a bit.

In a perfect world, the golfer can end up here. This will leave roughly 200 yards to the green. As you can see, that is over water. The shot is also complicated by being played off a downhill lie. Players had better have full confidence in the shot before pulling the trigger here.
Hole #7: Par 3, 206 yards
Mr. Jones seems to have learned from his early partner, Stanley Thompson, how to work par three's into the routing. Mr. Thompson is known to have said he liked picking the par three sites first and working the course from there. That certainly seems to be what Mr. Jones did here. This is a fantastic par three playing over water, though the water should not come into play being 60 or 70 yards short of the green, to a generous green. Depending on the hole location, the player may be able to play conservatively towards the center of the green and fade or draw the ball either way in order to avoid the bunkers fronting the green.

Hole #12: Par 3, 188 yards
Another fantastic par 3. This one truly plays over the water out to a green and angles left to right away from the player. This hole simply gives the player limited options to make an aggressive play because poor execution will result in another shot over the water only slightly shorter than the one before.

Hole #15: Par 5, 634 yards
By far the longest par 5 on the course and the only one not reachable in two shots. Two bunkers flank the fairway in the landing area. From the tee, the player simply needs to hit the fairway. No attempt to the green in two shots is possible (even Bubba Watson would have great difficulty cover 634 yards in two shots) but the player will find himself at a significant disadvantage is playing his second shot from the rough. The second shot needs to be played down the right side of the fairway in order to open up the length of the green and take the green side bunkers out of play as much as possible.
From the tee, there is little that can not be seen. Simply play the tee shot down within the confines of the fairway and move along.
Obviously this player did not know how to play a shot to the fairway. From the bunker it becomes difficult to advance the ball down the fairway far enough to leave a short to mid-iron into the green.
This shot is coming into the green from the preferred angle, but from the rough. The two front greenside bunkers are visible here. This is a very difficult hole and the start to a difficult closing stretch.
Hole #16: Par 3, 169 yards
This hole is one of the earlier island green designs, being done before later designers turned the hole into a cliche. The green is large and well defended with bunkers. In truth, the bunkers likely as as much to save the player from finding the water with slight misses and hazards. This hole certainly allows the player to attempt something aggressive and make a birdie. The seventeenth hole works it's way up the hill in the center of the image below.

Hole #17: Par 4, 435 yards
From the tee, the hole does not appear to work uphill as much as was evident in the view from the sixteenth tee. The best play off the tee is up the right side of the fairway. The hills that are visible in the right side of the image below can be used as kick-slopes if the player desires. From the right side, the length of the green is open to the player. This hole will not give the player any breaks on the incoming stretch, he will need his best here.
From the tee, the green is visible in the distance and the hole looks decievingly flat. The best play is up the right, possibly using the hills to propel the tee shot forward.
From the fairway, the uphill nature of the hole is more evident. There is a small opening between the bunkers if the player wished to run the ball onto the green, but that is likely not the desired option for players who are playing the correct tees.
Hole #18: Par 4, 444 yards
The closing hole here plays level off the tee then downhill to the green and doglegs significantly to the left. The player can choose to play right or left off the tee. The play to the left will open up the length of the green, but the green is not very wide and any shot missing the green left will quite likely result in a ball in the water. Playing right off the tee leaves the player with a longer approach to the green, but gives more directional cushioning.

From the tee, the fairway spreads out in front of the player nicely. He must choose between right or left depending on what he desires to leave for his second shot.
This player chose to play down the right side. From the right-center of the fairway, the green angles away from the player left to right and the steep hill long of the green will filter balls down to the pond between the green and clubhouse. Very solid closing hole with potential for great play and disaster.
Overall, this course gets off to an average start. Though the holes themselves are very solid, there is little flow, little excitement, early in the round. However, the stellar finish makes up for that somewhat and in the end you have a very, very solid golf course here. 6 out of 10.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Internal Contouring vs. External Contouring

This ties back to another article written here about the "ground game" versus "target golf." Certainly it is the belief here that all golf is target golf and the supposed ground game is merely an additional variable that needs be considered once the ball reaches it's intended target. A standard biarritz hole was used in that article to show different possibilities of using ground features to work the ball closer to the hole. Of course, with that hole, there exists the option to land the ball short of the green and roll the ball onto the green. But are ground features inside the green itself just as good as ground features that are outside the green? Do they both cause the player to give thought to the shot, to take a potentially conservative play and work it into something great?

For another standard example, let's look at the Redan hole:

This hole is open in the front with a right to left slope in the green. There is also a significant slope in the top right corner of the green. These features allow the golfer the option to take a conservative route to the hole, which might be positioned back-left, and not challenge the deep bunkers. The golfer can land the ball short of the green, in the approach grass and run the ball on from there. He can also attempt to hit a draw into the front portion of the green and filter it back. And he can fly the ball into the slope and have it kick down to the hole from there.

There is also the Biarritz where the area in front of the depression is maintained as green:
This is the same hole used on the previous post, only from a different angle. All the options remain the same, some being easier to execute and more conservative than others. Land the ball short of the green, land the ball on the front portion, or fly the ball all the way to the hole. This hole, as with the one above, has roll-out options available for balls struck both on the green and off.

But what about holes that only offer one option or the other?

Some holes offer the roll-out option only for shots landing short, like this version of the biarritz:

This biarritz has the front portion of the hole, between the bunkers, maintained as approach/fairway turf. This means the only option for players wanting to land the ball on the green is a lofted shot that will stop near by where is lands. The only run-up option that exists is for the player to land the ball short of the green, run it through the depression that is also maintained at fairway height, and have it filter back to the hole. This hole still has the run-up option, just not as many variations as the biarritz above.
What about holes that offer only the run-up option for balls hitting the green?
 This hole, #16 at Augusta National Golf Club, has the short-of-the-green run-up option removed due to the bunker. When playing to a back-left hole location, typically seen on Sunday during the Masters, the player must take the aggressive line directly at the flag, bringing the front bunker into play or play the ball out to the right, center of the green, and allow the internal contouring to bring the ball closer to the hole, as seen in the illustration.
Certainly the holes that have both options are likely to be better, all other things being equal. But are holes that offer the player the option to work the ball towards the hole using contours, either internal or external, better than those that merely require an aerial play to the green? In most cases, they certainly are. Of course, they answer to that question is not "always" because if we compare the eighth hole at Tobacco Road, where the green has numerous contours that allow the player to funnel balls to multiple locations, to the twelfth hole at Augusta National, where there are no ground contours to utilize, only a delusional individual would say the hole at Tobacco Road is better.
When comparing these holes, internal and external contours, option generators, if you will, should be viewed equally. Both of these options give players the chance to pick a target and calculate ball movement after it arrives at the target. It also gives them the chance to make a conservative play and still get the ball close to the hole. Of course there are potential consequences at play. On either of the biarritz holes, a shot played low that does not make it through the depression will leave the player a difficult second shot. That second shot will be easier on the hole that has the depression and approach maintained as fairway, but it will still not be easy. On the redan, if a ball it hit too high, it may stop on the front of the green, leaving the player a very long putt. At Augusta National, viewers are able to see every year the consequences of the conservative play when professionals wind up with putts that have 5-6 feet of movement in them.
But all of these options and outcomes give the player more possibilities and options to consider during the play of the hole. At no time is having more options available a bad thing. Internal and External Contouring are both equal and both equally good.

Golf Course Epiphanies

It is very rare that you play a course that really works to change your whole perception of other courses. Peachtree was one of those. But how did it make such an impact? This goes beyond the whole club atmosphere and to the heart of the course itself. It showed how good Robert Trent Jones could be at designing golf courses when he handled the work himself rather than letting his associates do the work. The course shows how to test all clubs in the better player's bag while still remaining playable for the lesser player. And the course shows how fairway bunkers are not needed in all spots and huge numbers on order for the course to be challenging.

First, this design shows just how good Mr. Jones could be when he did the work himself. The routing of the course is outstanding. There are a few long walks today due to new tees being built to lengthen the course, but aside from the transition from 16 to 17, the course has no long walks between holes. The course also has an outstanding set of greens. The internal movement is subtle in some places and bold in others. At all times, the contouring fits the shot being played into the green. But the real magic of the course is how it flows through the round. From difficult, to easy, holes to play safe, holes to attack, holes with options to do both, the course takes the player on a fantastic ride from start to finish. Mr. Jones knew how to tell a story on the golf course. Sadly, his later work, especially the course on the RTJ Trail in Alabama, don't reflect much of this. This happened as he began to let his associates take over the day to day design work and lending his name to the courses. Mr. Rulewich, who did all of the courses in Alabama, seems to know how to design holes like Mr. Jones, but what the courses seem to lack is real flow and certainly lack even a serviceable routing. No, Mr. Jones could do fantastic work all around when he did the courses himself. His name has been tarnished over the years due to his associates, however.

Second, the course is a virtual template for how to test every club in the better player's bag while staying playable and fun for the average player. The course does this by using fairway width coupled with green size and contouring. Approach angle is important here due to the size of the greens and the movement within them. This gives the better player something to think about as he plans his shots. But these same things also make it fun for the average player, giving them the chance to find the fairway and green with semi-regularity. Obviously these features make the course more expensive to maintain and that is why many average courses cannot and do not look like this. But overall, size and angling make the course challenging for the better player and playable for the average one.

Finally, the course shows how to be challenging without use of fairway bunkering. Peachtree has five total fairway bunkers, two on the first hole, two on the ninth, and one on the eighteenth; not included are the 4 bunkers that exist within 75 yards of the green on three of the par 5's. Compare this to the best modern course this writer has played (excluding the Bandon courses), Eagle Point. Eagle Point has 37 fairway bunkers. Yet, sadly, at least half of those serve no purpose other than simply being there, and more still do little to enhance the strategy of the course. Even though Mr. Jones began to use more bunkers in some of his later work, he still used fewer than many modern designers. No, with proper width and greens, tying into the second point, fairway bunkers are not always necessary to retain great strategic interest in holes. Mr. Jones figured that out at Peachtree.

So in these ways, Peachtree opened this writers eyes to things relating to golf. However, there is another part to the equation when it comes to these design features is cost. Is it more cost effective in the long run for courses to maintain fairway turf and green turf rather than maintaining bunkers in order to have strategy. The answer to that question is not known to this writer. Logic would suggest, however, that it is more expensive long term to maintain fairway and green space, especially green space. As such, courses wind up having to manufacture strategy with fairway bunkering and giving the players boring greens.

But here, on this course, Mr. Jones did a fantastic job of bring all of his design skills to the table and crafting a great golf course. This course is one of those rare places that may cause a golfer to reevaluate how he views golf courses and their features. Fantastic and thought provoking. What more can a course really be?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Peachtree Golf Club- Holes 1-9

The golf course at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia is most certainly one of the finest courses in the Southern United States. This collaboration between Robert Trent Jones, the designer, and Bobby Jones, the player, is a golf course that has stood the test of time and works to test every aspect of a player's game. The quality of this course cannot be understated, indeed the jury is still out on what the final grade will be. On some holes, the player will be given a single directive as to what side of the fairway allows for the preferred angle into the green. On others, that side will change from day to day based on hole location.

This course is truly fantastic. The greens have tremendous movement internally and substantial contouring and run-off areas in the surrounds. Every club in the bag will undoubtedly be tested throughout the day as will the player's ability to move the ball in both directions. And this club also allows the golfer on some holes to play shots low and run them onto the green from a long distance out, a feature sadly lacking in most southern courses as well as much of Mr. Jones's later work. This course is very close to being as good as it gets.

Variety of Design: Outstanding. The par 5's all give the player the chance to take an aggressive play and attempt to reach the green in two. The 16th hole is unreachable for all but the longest players and will cause them to put great thought into all 3 shots. Par 4's have solid variety overall, but slightly lack in the very long category and the sub-400 yard category; there is no par 4 that is even close to driveable. The par 3's are also solid in the middle of the scale, but lack in short and very long. Directional variety is fair, but not great, having 6 holes going right, 3 going left, and 9 straight. 8 1/2

Flow of the Course: Very good. The course starts off on a high note, eases off for a couple of holes, gives a reachable par 5, followed by a difficult par 3, the closes out the front nine with 3 solid, but not overly difficult holes. The back nine starts with a solid par 5, goes to a difficult par 3 followed by a difficult par 4, then starts into a very solid closing stretch where the player is given 3 holes closing the round where birdie is a distinct possibility. 8 1/4

Course Conditioning: Outstanding. This may be the best maintained course in the South, with only Eagle Point in North Carolina coming close from what this writer has seen. Fairways, greens, tees, everything maintained exceptionally. 9 1/4

Ease of Walking: The green to tee transitions are very good, with only one exception. The hilly nature of the site does it no favors, but overall, this would not be an impossible course to walk. 8 1/4

Atmosphere: Exceptional. From tournament history to rankings to the club in general, this club is great. When you arrive, you will know you are at an exceptional place. 7

Total: 84 out of 100

Each hole will feature two yardages, one from the Championship tees, one from the Medal tees. Images will be from the Medal tees.
Hole #1: Par 4, 410/370 yards
The golfer is given a definite test right out of the gates, though not one that is exceptionally difficult. This hole really sets the tone for the rest of the round. As mentioned above, often times the line of play off the tee is determined by pin position. That is the case here on the first hole. As you can see in the image below, if the hole is cut on the left side of the green, as marked by the orange flag, the best position in the fairway will come from taking a line over the inside corner bunkers to the right side of the fairway. However, a pin cut on the right side of the hole is best approached from the left side of the fairway.

Oddly enough, give that there are only five fairway bunkers on the entire course, on this hole, the bunkers serve little purpose beyond visual deception today. Even from the back markers, they require a shot of only 260 yards to carry, hardly a lengthy shot for a player legitimately capable of playing a 7,414 yard golf course. But as it stands, the bunkers are there, and truthfully, they do look to be a greater distance than that off the tee, perhaps due to the fact that the trees in the background are some 340 yards away. This is an incredible opener to what will be (or at least should be) an incredible round.

 From the Medal tees, the player has this view to start the round. As mentioned above, if the hole is cut left, the play off the tee is directly over the grass that separates the two bunkers. If the hole is cut right, play directly over the walk path.

 From the fairway, the player now sees the large false front that will penalize any shots hit much short of the flag. The crater like bunkers will strike fear into the ones who do not find the proper side of the fairway from the tee. In this picture, the hole is cut in the center of the green, making sides less important.

 This image does no justice to the contouring inside the green. This hole is cut in a bowl, with two feet of rise on either side.

Any player missing the green left will be facing a recovery shot from somewhere in this area.

Hole #2: Par 5, 584/511 yards
This hole was lengthened in recent times to give the player who is playing off the back markers the chance to play the hole as it was likely intended by Mr. Jones. From the 511 yard tees, the hole is almost certainly reachable in two shots by the best players. While it does, of course, provide a great risk-reward option at that yardage, that is likely not what Mr. Jones intended on this hole. No, from the layout of the hole it is likely that Mr. Jones intended this to be a hole that required three full shots while giving the player the option of picking either side of the split fairway to improve angle into the green.

Looking at the image below, the single black dot represents the 584 yard teeing area. From there, the pair of black dots flanking the fairway represent the 300 yard mark off the tee. From there, the green is essentially unreachable. Looking forward, to the next teeing area, you will notice a dark blue dot, then two blue dots flanking the fairway. The blue dots show the 250 yard mark from the same color teeing area. It is likely this was where Mr. Jones intended for tee shots to be played to and second shots played from; in extending the tee back, the club merely brought the intended landing area back into play.

In this case, the trees on the inside of the dogleg give the player definitive orders on how to play the hole. If the player feels he can hit a shot out over 290 yards, he can play up the right side of the fairway. However, anything shorter than 290 will likely be blocked out by the over-hanging limbs; certainly anything less than 275 will be totally blocked out. As such, the safe play is to the left-center of the fairway. This accomplishes two things: first, it opens up the best angle to the right hand fairway for a lay-up and second, gives a straight shot to the green for anyone attempting to go for the green in two. It should be noted that the right side of the fairway from the tee does provide a better angle to the narrow left-hand fairway approaching the green.

From the Medal tees, the long hitter has an extreme advantage, as seen with the purple makers. Those flanking the fairway show 300 yards off the tee, certainly within range of going for the green. The mark on the right, shows the final location for a long tee shot take up and over the large oak trees. Certainly tee shots played to there, leaving 170 yards or less to the green, were not part of Mr. Jones's original plan for the hole.

 From the tee, the player can see the fairway tumbling down to the right and see the green in the distance. Hopefully the first time player has a quality caddie who can steer him down the left side of the fairway, otherwise this hole may become far more difficult than it might otherwise be.

 From 200 yards out the player is faced with this view. The large right fairway allows for an easier lay-up attempt but forces the player to hit over water on his approach. The small left fairway is more difficult to hit but provides what should be an easier approach.

 This is the likely approach location for those players hitting up the right fairway. The player is left to play over the water to the narrower angle of the green. This shot is no bargain.

However, approaching from the left fairway is no bargain either. This shot from just in front of the green shows the massive contouring in this green. The enormous hill can deflect balls in all directions. Indeed, the shot played from here found the water after going over the hill with fractionally too much speed and going past the pin. Par is most certainly the score to play for here; anyone trying to be overly aggressive on this hole risks paying a supreme price.

Hole #3: Par 4, 433/382 yards
This hole gives the player a breather after what may have been a train wreck on the last hole. The entire  fairway slopes down to the left, so the best play off the tee is to start one down the middle and play a fade to hold the ball in the right side of the fairway. From the right side, the player will be give an open look at the green and even allowed to play the ball in low and running if he desires. The black marks below show 300 yards from the tee. The left side of the green is guarded by a deep bunker, making approaches to a left hole location coming from the left side of the fairway less than easy. In general though, this hole does not have much going on, which gives the player a breather after two exceptional, and potentially very difficult, opening holes.

 It is obvious from the tee that the fairway slopes hard to the left and the greenside bunker is also visible. It is plain to see that the right side is the preferred side.

 This drive, however, did not find the right side of the fairway and the player is now facing a semi-blind shot where he is unable to see the bottom of the flagstick.

This shows the entrance to the green with the slope of the land working towards the green allowing for a running shot if desired.

Hole #4: Par 3, 166/142 yards
It is difficult to determine the overall quality of the par 3's here. The variety in yardage is there, but all the holes require aerial shots to rather large greens. The first par 3 here is the shortest. Playing over the water to a well bunkered green. While being very scenic there is little to report on this hole. Pick a yardage, play an aerial shot to the green. This set of par 3's bears a significant resemblance to what can be seen of the set at Augusta National. Bobby Jones's influence is likely the reason for that.

From the tee, the wide green is clearly visible. The green has very subtle movement and is very difficult to putt. There is also a bunker behind the green, barely visible here.

Hole #5: Par 5, 536/520 yards
The second par five of the day is one as difficult as the one before it if only due to the far less severe green. The hole is a hard, nearly ninety degree, dogleg to the right. From the tee, the player has several options. From the tee, marked with purple dot, the player can play straight from the tee to about 250 yards, perhaps a 3 wood for the best players, hugging as close to the treeline as he dares. The second play would be to play down the center of the fairway with a significant fade (or draw for left handers). 300 yards off the tee for the long players would likely end up slightly behind the dark blue dot. The third option is to play over all the trees and out to the fairway. This is no easy shot due to the height of the trees. On a straight line, 285 yards will put the player on the blue dot, 300 puts him on the pink, but any shot carrying less than 280 will likely get caught by the trees.
From the fairway, for players hitting 250-275 off the tee, not cutting the corner, a shot to the green is not likely, especially considering the hole plays uphill and the fronting bunker. From there, the player must again look at the pin position in order to play to the correct side of the fairway. Same as on #1, when the hole is cut right, the shot needs to come from the left; hole cut left, shot needs to come from the right.
On the green, there is significant movement across the huge green. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken from up close to show this. As an example, when played, the hole was cut roughly where the blue flag sits in the aerial below. That is on the top of a large and elevated shelf. This writer's 4th shot from played from the fringe near the bunker (did get up and down for par, btw). While looking at the shot, it was a very real possibility that a shot going by the hole with fractionaly too much speed could have rolled all the way off the green, and possibly 10-15 yards down the front approach. This green is solid.

From the tee, the player can see his options plainly. The straight shot down the fairway/rough line, the fade played on that same line, or the shot played over the trees. The trees are significantly taller than they appear in this picture.
This is the approach shot for the player hitting over the corner and making it about 285 yards. From here, the left side of the green is quite accessible and the right side can be accessed with a fade.

This from the 300 yard range off the tee. This opens up more of the green to players, making approaches to all hole locations easier.

Looking back down the fairway, the movement in the fairway, along with a few of the green contours can be seen.

Hole #6: Par 3, 234/194 yards
This is a hole where a solid run-up option would be an excellent addition. At 234 yards, it would be very difficult to hold a shot on the green when the greens are very firm. Add to that the difficult green contours and this hole has the potential to be extremely difficult for all but the most elite of golfers. But in general, this is a very quality hole and the internal green contours give the player a chance to work the ball around a bit once it hits the ground.

From the 194 yard tees, the hole looks much more inviting than it must from the back markers. Even still, the bunkers provide significant hazards for the player.
Hole #7: Par 4, 445/423 yards
Here we have yet another hole where the player's ability to position a tee shot can directly effect the relative ease of his second shot. From the back tees, all but the shortest of players will have to work a tee shot from left to right. From the purple spot marking the tee to the purple spot in the fairway is 275 yards, obviously the fairway runs out at this point. Certainly 275 yards is not a short distance to hit the ball, but the number of golfers really capable of playing a 7,400 yard golf course and not able to hit the ball that far are few. So the golfer must be able to work the ball off the tee unless he desires to hit a three wood off the tee.

From the purple tee marker, the blue and orange markers represent a shot hit 285 yards off the tee. Again, different hole positions require the player hit to different sides of the fairway, but on this hole, there is an additional run-up option available depending on fairway side and hole location. If the hole is located left, the preferred fairway side is right and if the hole is right, preferred fairway side is right, as it has been on several holes before. Those options are marked with the blue and orange spots to the blue and orange flags. But the front-center and center hole locations, marked with red flags, allow the player the option to roll the ball onto the green when playing from the right side of the fairway.

From the tee, the player will have to shape a left-to-right shot around the corner, the trees are simply too tall to carry. A direct line down the walking path will take the player to the spot where the fairway runs out at 275 yards.

 From the right side of the fairway, the left side of the green opens up and the opening in front of the green for roll-up shots is visible.

Hole #8: Par 4, 409/363 yards
This hole, playing from bottom to top in the image below, is the first hole of the day where the player does not need to focus greatly on positioning the tee shot. The angle to the green is not improved by a meaningful amount based on fairway positioning. The player must simply get the ball in play in the fairway in order to have a reasonable approach shot. From the black spot marking the back tee marker, the pair of golf cars in the fairway represent a shot of 285 yards off the tee. That is a substantial blow on this hole considering the uphill nature of the hole. On the approach to the green, the player will likely need to add two clubs in order to reach the green. There is nothing fancy about the hole, the player is simply asked to hit two straight shots.

From the tee, the player is afforded a plain look at the fairway. As with most holes, there are no bunkers here to steer the player in one direction or the other. Simply hit the ball in the fairway and get ready to hit again.
 This is the view from the fairway roughly 100 yards from the green. The opening between the bunkers is not nearly as large as it seems and the uphill movement of the hole makes the roll-up shot a non-option.

Looking back down the hole, the back to front contour of the green is visible, as is the steep face of the front-left bunker. 

Hole #9: Par 4, 422/382 yards
The two bunkers on the right side of the fairway protect the preferred line of approach to the green. These bunkers were added in recent years, winter 2005-2006 if the historical imagery on Google Earth is to be believed. From the back tee, marked with the purple spot in the shadows to the purple spot located directly above the bunkers, it is a 285 yard carry. The hole plays slightly uphill to there, so that would take a big hit to get past the bunkers from the back markers. 

The orange spot on the left side of the fairway shows 300 yards on the most conservative line. As you can see, even to the far right hole location, the angle of no bargain; certainly the approach shot from the left side is less and less desired the farther left the hole location moves. For the first time on the day, the player is clearly directed to hit the tee shot on a single line in order to have the preferred shot into the green. The roll-up option is also available from the right side of the fairway, even if the elevation change makes it a dicey shot.

 From the tee, the perfect line would be directly towards the pine tree standing alone against sky in the distance. This will give the best angle to the green.

This is the only image taken from the fairway. Sadly the golf car blocks the view of the roll-up approach slope. This tee shot found the left side of the fairway and obviously had a less than ideal approach angle.