One of the unique joys of establishing a long-term relationship with a golf course is the development of pet scoring strategies on certain strategic holes that, over time, almost become like secret recipes.
For instance, were I to give my scoring strategy for the dogleg-left par-4 15th at Twin Oaks in recipe form, it might go something like this.
Go easy on the rescue off the tee. Aim for the upper fairway and let the ball settle nicely into the lower fairway, just short of the pond. Then give it a full gap wedge with a dash of backspin into a receptive back-to-front sloping green. Finish with preferably one putt, but sometimes it takes two. Recipe can make birdie, but mostly makes par and the occasional bad batch – a bogey.
Just as tastes differ, so do strengths and strategies, but the beauty and fun is finding what works for you.
I had a wonderful opportunity during my round at Twin Oaks on Wednesday to sample the array of ways to approach No. 15.
For those who haven’t played it, this hole is a sharp dogleg left with a pond and two fir trees lurking on the left. The fairway is tiered with collection bunkers looming at the end, about 250 yards out. The hole plays to 350 yards from the blue tees, 332 from the white.
The variable here is wind coming from behind the green, which we didn’t have on Wednesday. With that wind, no one’s getting home in one here.
But on our windless Wednesday, Austin, a strapping 20-something and the big hitter in our group, nearly pulled off the driver’s dream at this hole, which is risking the water and reaching the green with a power draw. His ball settled just below the greenside bunker on the left.
I faithly executed my tried and true, which left my playing partners fretting for a water ball, but my Titleist stopped short. Always does.
Then the two senior members of our foursome, Johnny and Peter, hit driver and 3-wood, respectively, from the white tees to both find the upper fairway with a bird’s-eye view of the green.
Four different approaches, three different outcomes, but each shot executed to each golfer’s optimal outcome. Easy game, huh?
I’d love to report four birdies. Or three. Or two. Or one.
Alas, regrettably, they all got away. Two pars, two bogeys and four golfers shaking their heads. Last names are being withheld to protect the innocent, save for Johnny Georgedes from Poway, who has played No. 15 for more than a decade and still professed an affinity for the hole post round.
“I like the fact the designer (Ted Robinson) designed it so you can play it with anything from a six-iron to a driver,” he said. “And as I’ve aged, that’s what I’ve transitioned to. I hit my driver about 235 yards now. I play it between the two center traps and then let the hill take it further. And if it doesn’t, I’m 135 out playing on a flat lie.”
Georgedes has a reason for preferring that second shot besides it being an optimal wedge distance.
“I just love the look of the hole from the up there,” he says. “It’s a really pretty shot looking down on the pond. It’s a very aesthetically pleasing golf hole, especially when you score well, but even when you don’t.”
Twin Oaks Head Professional Troy Ferguson says the versatility of No. 15 makes it one of the great strategy holes in JC Golf. Ferguson says the options even include, for those who play a fade, hitting it at the water.
“Take your 130- to 150-yard club and hit your pull-slice and you’ll end up hitting your second from a perfectly flat spot at a comfortable distance,” he says.
For some golfers, that would be eight- or nine-iron off the tee, which means everything above wedge truly is an option.
But Ferguson mostly espouses playing the hole straight away.
“Your best bet is to just hit it straight and long and let the contour of the course work for you,” he says. “ If you push it right, the hill likely will kick you into the upper fairway. If you hit the right fairway, you might end up on the lower left fairway. Either way, you’re set to go pin hunting.”
Players who decide to hit driver and go for the green need to weigh that decision, Ferguson says, in part based on how their round is going and factor in past success.
“Play to your strengths and build on what your game has been telling you all day,” he says. “Don’t expect to be able to hit a big draw around the corner if you haven’t been able to hit a draw all round.
“No. 15 offers you the opportunity to play whatever ball flight you have been playing all round.”
JC Golf would love to hear your favorite strategies and success stories for No. 15 at Twin Oaks. Feel to post a comment and share your experiences at www.jcgolf.com.