The Reverse Old Course
by Jeremy Glenn
The Old Course at St. Andrews is the home of golf, and without a doubt one of the most famous and greatest golf courses in the world. However, very few realise that up until quite recently – from the perspective of a golf course over 500 years old – golfers were able to play two courses. The first is the Old Course as we know it today. The second is the Reverse Old Course, where one essentially play backwards – or ‘clockwise’ – starting on the first tee and playing towards the 17th green, then to the 16th, and so on until returning home, playing from the 2nd tee to the 18th green.
While the greatness of the current Old Course is well known, those familiar with the Reverse Course are of the opinion that this second course is at least as good as the Grand Old Lady, if not better.
Let’s take a look at this lost treasure, and see for ourselves.
The actual routing of the Old Course is perhaps one of its most controversial design feature. As it is played now, more than a long corridor, the Old Course is really nothing more than a elongated figure ‘8’ (more accurately an ‘8’ that has been folded in half). Some praise its simplicity, functionality, and quirks. Others denounce those very same quirks, or its monotonous linearity and dubious safety considerations. Whatever is said, however, it is certainly unique in golf.
Yet it is in large part due to its simplicity and linearity that in can be played both ways. As is well known, most greens serve a double function, with two flags being each approached from opposite directions. Furthermore, the vast treeless landscape along the coastline, combined with the close proximity of tees and greens, allows the golf course to be seen as one core entity, rather than eighteen seperate components.
The Old Course as we know it today, which we’ll call the Original Course, is played in a counter-clockwise manner, going out on the right side of the corridor and returning down the other side (much like driving your car on North American roads). The other course, which can be called the Reverse Course, is played backwards, going up the left side instead (as you’d do when driving in England).
This two-sided way of playing works with delicious simplicity for most of the holes. It is only at the first and eighteenth for the Reverse Course, the fifth and 13th holes of the Reverse Course, and in the area known as ‘The Loop’ that conflicts can occur.
Let’s study each those areas.
The first and eighteenth hole of the Original Course work quite well – albeit within a rather narrow corridor. However, for the Reverse Course, we are immediately faced with an abnormality. Leaving the first tee and driving to the Original 17th green works well enough, and creates arguably a better hole than the Original first hole. However, upon returning, we realise that the Reverse 18th (from the Original 2nd tee to the 18th green) crosses the path of the Reverse first hole. On any other golf course, and according to any of the so-called rules of design, this would be unacceptable. But this is St.Andrews, and a simple descriptive text such as this one cannot do justice to the manner in which this course has become so great in large part because it invariably breaks all the rules. Without having seen and lived the Old Course, one would not believe that intersecting golf holes could work. But one can rest assured that this crossroad will become – as it perhaps once was – another one of St.Andrews’ quirky charms.
From a design perspectve, the possibity of building a new first tee at the opposite corner of the property – to the right of the 18th green – would seem at first to be a possible solution to the cross-over issue. However, I believe this would create seperate and perhaps more important safety concerns between the two holes and the out-of-bounds, and would use-up a sizeable area of the 18th green. Furthermore, the unforgettable and momentous first shot under the shadow of the historic R&A clubhouse would be lost for the Reverse Course. The first tee has a certain presence and pride to it that should be maintained for the Reverse Course.
And interestingly enough, historical records are sketchy and conflicting as to the true layout of the Reverse Course. Many claim that the 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th hole played the same way for both golf course, and the ‘reversing’ really only began on the third tee. Yet even if that were true, I find these ‘new’ first two holes of the Reverse Course too great to miss. As such, perhaps autocratically, I have chosen to portray the Reverse Course in such a manner.
The green of the 5th and 13th hole is another area where in reality things don’t run as smoothly as in theory. With the 5th and 13th being one behind the other, rather than side-by-side, playing the theoretical Reverse Course would require that players hit over the flag of one hole to reach their own target. Thus the simplest – and perhaps only – solution to this safety concern is to keep the green numbering as they are now. In other words, the 5th green will be the 5th for both the Original Course and the Reverse, and the 13th green will always be the 13th.
As for ‘The Loop’, comprising of holes 7 through 12, it is quite possible that the Original holes 8 through 11 are in fact part of the old Reverse Course. Indeed, I have yet to find indications on older plans of the infamous cross-over at holes 7 and 11. Nevertheless, whatever the reason of its existence, The Loop works quite well for the Original Course. However, the cross-over and the location of the various tees and greens in that area presents quite a puzzle for the Reverse Course.
In theory at least, the Reverse Course should be played as such:
However, it is obviously a total mess. The Reverse 8th tee sits in front of the 7th green. And there are several cross-overs: holes 7, 12 and 8, holes 9 and 10, and holes 11, 12 and 8. Basically, such a routing would be largely impractical and dangerous. Unfortunately, claiming as we did earlier ‘But this is St.Andrews’ can only hold so much water, and isn’t a good enough explanation to help us out of this one…
The Reverse 7th hole, towards the Original 11th green, makes sense and works reasonably well. The green complex should in fact make it a very good hole. The Reverse 9th hole, generally speaking, also fits in quite nicely. As for the Reverse 10th hole, a new tee on the left side of the 9th green would do away with the cross-over. This has the added benefit of making the Reverse 10th a more interesting hole towards the Original 8th green.
This leaves us with the problematic Reverse 8th, 11th and 12th holes.
There are two options for the location of the Reverse 8th tee. The first is in the area of the Original 12th tee, as the theory would indicate. Yet this would leave the Reverse 8th playing across the Reverse 7th and 12th holes. Feasable, but far from ideal. The second option is to leave the 8th tee where it is now: playing from the Original 8th tee to the Original 10th green. From here, it would be just as interesting a hole, though much safer .
There are also two options for the Reverse 11th tee. The first, obviously, is to use the Original 9th tee, as shown above. The second option, which might create a more interesting hole, is to play from the Original 11th tee. This would also get the Reverse 11th it out of the way of the Reverse 8th hole assuming the latter is to be played from the Original 8th tee.
Finally, the Reverse 12th tee could also be located in two areas. The first would likely be in an area left of the Original 8th hole, between the Original 8th and 9th tees, to avoid hitting over the 7th and 11th green. This would create an very interesting hole, but would still be quite dangerous, playing across Reverse 8 and 11, and directly towards the Reverse 7th. Alternatively, one could use the Original 12th tee, as illustrated below. Perhaps not as interesting a hole in itself, but one that fits into the routing much more smoothly
The last item to reconsider, due to the above revisions, is the location of the Reverse 7th tee. As safety is a concern between the Reverse holes 7 and 12 – as it certainly would be on any other course – one could easily use the Original 6th tee instead. There is ample room in that area to expand that tee complex and use it for the Reverse 7th and Reverse 13th.
In my opinion, this is the best solution for ‘The Reverse Loop’. It combines the most interesting holes with the safest corridors of play, using the maximum number of existing features to their best potential.
The first hole, at 400 yards, plays from the existing first tee to the existing 17th green. From the tee to the red dot it’s 270 yards, and to the green dot it’s 305 yards.
Once again players have one of the widest fairways in golf to hit into, a somewhat comforting thought when confronted with the nerve-racking task of playing at St.Andrews. Not only is the fairway wide, but it is also free of hazards. In fact, it is only for the power hitters that the Swilken Burn will come into play, especially the further a players drives towards the left side. Here the Burn is within an easily reachable 270 yards at it’s closest point (the red dot).
Yet, as it so often happens at St.Andrews, there is a definite decision to be made for the tee shot. Due to the angle of the green and the ominous Road Hole Bunker, approaches coming in from the left side of the fairway are much easier, as they can be run up the throat of the green with a mid to short iron. Of course, care must be taken to avoid killing the ball’s bump-and-run effect on the upslope of the existing 18th tee. For the tee shot, however, this option not only brings the Swilken Burn into play, but the Out-of-Bounds left looms larger and larger as you try to give yourself a more favourable angle in.
The safest play off the tee is to hit towards the fattest part of the fairway. But hitting – and holding – the green from this position becomes quite a challenge, the target being pinched between the Road Hole Bunker and the road itself. This is especially true downwind or if the ball happens to get a forward kick off the downslope of the bunker.
Of course, if the pin is towards the front of the green, the bunker is no longer in play, and the slopes of the existing 18th tees seem to funnel the ball towards the flagstick. As such, as conservative tee shot to the right side might be best used on those days, leaving an easy run-up approach to the pin.
– No revisions necessary.
You’d better be well warmed-up by the second tee to be rewarded with a four on this hole. Measuring 460 yards, it plays from the right of the existing 17th green to the existing 16th green.
The tee shot is similar to the first, as it pursues the general theme at St.Andrews of staying in the middle for safety and flirting with the property lines for an advantage. You’d want to avoid landing in Cheape’s bunker (red dot on map above) staring at you 275 yards away, but apart from that the real decision for you is how straight a dogleg do you want the second to be.
Obviously, staying well away from the out-of-bounds is the safest play off the tee, and you’re provided with plenty of room to do so. However, the further right you go, the more likely you are to take five strokes to handle this hole. Such a drive will leave you with well over 200 yards to the green, with a trio of bunkers between you and the flag, the closest to the green giving you the most problems. The most aggressive and difficult play from there would be to run the ball up the length of the double green – over the countless humps of the existing second green – with a low draw, and threading it through the bottleneck between the two green-side bunkers. More cautious would be to roll it onto the 16th green (the existing second), and hope for a good lag putt, a two-putt being quite a feat.
If you were to attack the hole from the tee, you’d aim for the gap between Cheape’s and the corner of the wall (the Corner of the Dyke?), perhaps staying just short of both. Indeed, the farther you drive, the more the out-of-bounds creeps into play. You’d be stymied behind the wall and the shed should your tee shot leak a hair left, and you’d be ‘hitting three’ should it leak even more. But a good drive into the slot will leave you with a mid-iron to the green. From there you can hit a high approach over the bunker, come in from the left side with a well-judged fade, or perhaps bounce on and through the flat mesa of the existing 17th tee when the hole in the far corner. In any case, getting a four is a much easier task then coming on from the right side, but it can only be done after a courageous tee shot.
Essentially, there are two entrances to the green, as seen below. Whether you come in high from the left or low from the right depends on the hole location, the wind, and your strategy off the tee.
– Construct a low-profile tee complex behind the Reverse 1st green (in the area to the right of the original 17th).
– Trim back rough to the right, between the Reverse 1st green and the Reverse 17th fairway.
The third at the Reverse Old Course is the shortest yet, measuring 375 yards from the back tee, playing from the Old Course’s 17th tee to its 15th green. It is also unlike most other holes, in that the running approach is severely impeded by an assertive guardian that answers to the name of Cartgate. Impeeded, although not impossible.
Off the tee, the landing area is quite generous, 210 yards over the Principal’s Nose and short of another small, blind pot bunker 290 yards away. For the good player, the task is quite simple – or at least quite simple to describe: drive it over the right corner of the Principal’s Nose into the heart of the fairway, then hoist a short iron high over the 7-foot-depth of Cartgate to stop dead on a green falling away from you. This, in most conditions, would seem to be the best way to play this hole, and proper execution might reward the player with a 3.
The shorter hitter, who might not think himself able to carry Cartgate and stop the ball at will, is given the opportunity of bumping onto the green from the left. But to do so he must drive by the left edge of the intimidating Principal’s Nose, hugging the out-of-bounds. Anything safely to the right not only lengthens the hole, but also brings Cartgate more and more into play. Being really conservative in such a case, one could then run it up to an area short-left of the green, and hope for a good chip.
Driving to the extreme right side in the hopes of drawing around Cartgate from that side may at first seem like a clever idea. But doing so can bring some right-side pot bunkers into play, Cargate never really gets out of the way and approaches get deflected away to the right, leaving a long putt to stay in the game. For a good putter or the high handicapper, though, running onto the Reverse 15th green could well be a safe route from tee to green, especially on days when the flag is towards the right.
The direction of the wind will have an important bearing on your decisions. Downwind, it would be quite easy to carry the Nose, from which point you’d run it up to the putting surface. Into the wind, it is both tougher to carry the Nose and easier to stop the ball on the green. Staying in the middle and lobbing it over Cartgate would then be the strategy of choice.
To sumarize, while it may not be the most strategically complex hole at St.Andrews, it still requires good thinking and execution. There are two bunkers that define strategy: Cartgate and the Principal’s Nose. To get onto the green in two shots, you must challenge at least one of them. Which one, of course, is up to you.
Staying away from both will likely cost you a stroke. But landing into either could easily cost you more.
– Construct a low-profile forward tee behind Reverse 2nd green (short-right of the original 16th), along the property line.
If play at the third hole was dictated by two imposing bunkers, the fourth hole’s strategy is determined by two tiny bunkers. By their size, both should be easy enough to avoid. However, they command your attention due to the fact that they sit precisely in the way, buzzing in your head like a mosquito you can’t swat.
Playing at 420 yards, a new back tee would be constructed about 30 yards behind the forward tee of the original 16th hole. From this position, players will face a wide landing area, all but closed off at the far end by the wide Cottage bunker, sitting 275 yards away. Discreetly, 25 yards in front of Cottage sits our first little friend, Sutherland, right in the middle of the landing area. So small, you probably wouldn’t see it unless your ball happens to find it first.
The question is therefore to drive to the right side or to the left side?
Staying to the left of Sutherland, especially when the hole’s to the right of the green, may be the play of choice. And to do so you’d stand on the tee and drive straight towards the flagstick, perhaps with a 3 wood or long iron for the power hitters. The shortest distance is a straight line, so to speak, and the tee shot would be quite simple. For a good player, this would leave a short iron to the green, over some heather and rough. That’s when you would notice our second friend, a pot bunker protecting the front-left half of the green. Since you are on the left side of the fairway, that bunker sits, from your angle, pretty much right in front of the green. You’ll want to make sure to carry this bunker now, but that’s the price to pay for going straight for the green. Then again, you may wish to run the ball up to the right of the bunker, but a false-front set at a left to right angle may kick the ball further right. Or, for the high handicapper, you could certainly run it up the existing 15th fairway towards the front-left of the green, then chip it on.
On the other hand, from the tee, taking aim at the players standing on the Reverse 15th tee would keep you to the right of Sutherland. There is a good bit of room on that side, even though some mounds short of the landing area make it a slightly more awkward target to hit. From this right side, however, the green-side bunker seems to have conveniently moved aside, opening up the approach to the green for an easier shot, even though it would be about one or two clubs longer. Furthermore, the false-front of the green is now facing directly towards you and thus can be used to ‘kill’ the ball before having it trickle on. A large mound to the back-left of the green is now in line with your shot from this angle, and could help slow down any overly enthusiastic approach.
You can see the green’s defense quite well in the picture below. The bunker and the ‘false-front’ combine to protect the green from the left side of Sutherland, but the green opens up nicely from the right side. The key is to fly the ball to the front of the green, and make sure it stops quickly. The green falls away sharply in the back if you go too far.
– Construct a new back tee to reduce any feeling of a ‘forced lay-up’ to Cottage.
– Revise existing tees to accommodate views from the back tee towards the fairway.
– Trim back rough to the front right of the green (between the green and the Students bunker) to accommodate run-up shots.
– Consider a slight expansion of front-left green side bunker into a more imposing and visible hazard.
The theory of the Reverse routing must give way to practicality on the 530-yard fifth hole. According to this theory, one would have played from the existing 15th tee towards the 13th green. However, as we all know, this 13th green is set behind the existing 5th, rather than to the left of it. As it would be dangerous and thus impractical to hit over another green complex, the 5th green of the Old Course will also serve as the fifth green for the Reverse Course. At least the way I’m routing this thing.
Yet the Reverse tee for this hole is nearly 150 yards to the left of the original tee complex. This has a dramatic effect on the overall strategy and playability of not merely the tee shot, but of the second and third shots as well.
Drawing a straight line from tee to green, one would quickly find that this ‘line of instinct’ runs precisely the length of the sharp fall-off that separate the fairways of the 5th and 14th holes. As such, one must decide whether to take the High Road (through the Elysian Fields) or the Low Road (down the Reverse 14th fairway). Either way, due to its length, only the best golfer will be able to get a four on this hole.
The carry, from a newly-constructed back tee to the Elysian Fields, would be 230 yards. This will lead the player to a flat landing area that is a manageable 50 yards wide, between the out-of-bounds to the left and Benty bunker to the right. Once past Benty (275 yards) the width of the landing area expands to an even more generous 70 yards. After a good drive, the player is then left with three choices. ‘Corking one’, as they say, will allow the player to carry the Spectacles and run it up as close to the hole as possible. The shorter hitter will need to give up some ground however, and once again will choose between staying left on the High Road, or heading to the Low Road, short of the Spectacles. Essentially, you’d want to avoid the Beardies – a nasty group of bunkers – and the deep rough and heather in a low area short-left of the green.
Hitting up the flat expanse of the Elysian Field with a mid to long iron would be a good play when the wind is coming from the right or when the flag is cut on the right side, especially the front-right where it often is. It is quite a straight-forward shot, and will leave you about 100 yards to the green, coming in at a sharp angle from the ‘line of instinct’. From there, you will have a great view of the green and the flag, although you will need to hit over some heather and a few pot bunkers to land on ground falling away from you. But with plenty of the ‘football-field’ green between you and the hole, it shouldn’t be too tough a task.
On the other hand, hitting your second shot down to the Low Road, short of the daunting Spectacles, would seem to be the more instinctive choice, even more so when the hole is anywhere near the left-side bunkers. From there, you’ll be left with as little as a pitch or as much as a full mid iron, depending on the hole location and the ever-present wind. Yet this blind or semi-blind shot, with some severe rolls and dips short of the green, can be quite tricky if you’re trying to make your four.
Taking to Low Road off the tee will make the 5th hole of the Reverse Course play essentially the same way as its twin on the original Old Course, albeit with a little Hell thrown into the mix. While an easier target for your drive, it reduces your options for subsequent shots. You’d need a 220 yard carry to reach the landing area, while avoiding the dreaded Seven Sisters to the right of the fairway. ‘Hell’ is not as penal when your playing ‘backwards’ towards the 5th green, but those seven little pot bunkers to the right will cost you a shot and make the 5th hole much longer than it already is. From the landing area, you’ll then be playing the hole much in the same way as it plays now, with two choices available: rip one over the Spectacles to get near the hole, or play conservatively short of them for the same semi-blind approach as described earlier.
– Construct a new back tee 50 yards behind existing 15th tee complex, atop of the small ridge and hard against the property line.
– Trim gorse bushes and revise existing tee complex as necessary to ensure good visibility to the landing areas.
– Consider trimming back rough a few yards near second landing area in Elysian Fields for a more inviting target.
The 6th hole, at 445 yards, is nearly 100 yards shorter than the previous hole. Much like the 5th, however, the main requirement is a good carry from a new back tee. And, much like the most of the holes we’ve seen to date, well-placed hazards – these particular ones are appropriately named ‘The Coffins’ – sit precisely where you’d most like to hit that drive. As such, you can either stay to the left of them or go around them from the right side. The shallow green – the first bunker-less target of the round – has a pronounced tier running across the green and falling away from you, making it a very elusive target for a long approach.What this hole is all about is one of three choices: A very demanding drive, a very demanding approach, or a quite-acceptable five.
Reaching the left fairway can be a very demanding tee shot. 240 yards of carry and a fairly narrow fairway between The Coffins to the right and gorse to the left. However, the reward is a mid-iron second shot from a flat lie, and an unobstructed view to the flag.
Reaching the wider right side is an easier task, though still requiring a 210-yard carry . Not surprisingly, there is a trade-off. Indeed, this side features a number of rolls and hollows throughout the landing area, and the approach will be a semi-blind 200-plus yards long iron or fairway wood over menacing gorse bushes to a target set at an angle. A severe plateau in the green can produce some odd bounces coming in from this angle. Obviously, the conservative play from the right side would be to lay-up short of the green or to run-up towards the Reverse 12th hole, although either way you’re likely to be giving up a shot for your timidity.
Essentially, the strategy is black and white. There is not ‘bite-of-as-much-as-you-can-chew’ shades of gray. If you can carry your usual tee shots 240 yards – not a problem for today’s good players – you go left without even blinking. If not, you go right and for all intents and purposes play for a five. Of course, such strategic setup for a hole may seem quite laudable, and indeed it certainly has merit. Yet I just don’t intend to give it too much credit because most golfers really don’t have any option. While there are two ways to play this hole, most golfers have only one way which, for them, makes any sense.
It is only a small segment of golfers – those who think they can hit it 240 – that must make a choice. And for them I’d say that the advantage of the left-side fairway still isn’t enough to lure them in that direction, so they probably would stay right as well.
Nevertheless, the Reverse 6th hole does present yet another type of strategy, dictatorial rather than elective. Most of the previous holes let the golfer make the decision, luring them this way and that. Here, on the other hand, the hole is clearly segregating the golfers, saying: ‘You, go here; and you, go there‘. The onus is on the golfer to know which group he or she fits into. This new type of ‘strategy’ thus adds to the Reverse Course’s variety.
– Construct a new back tee near the edge of the Elysian Fields.
– Trim rough in front of green, to connect existing fairway with the green surface.
The 7th hole of the Reverse Course is where some serious questions arise as to the best layout for the Reverse Course. Indeed, as our study of the routing has shown, the theoretical flow of the Reverse Course, which has been until now beyond reproach, grinds to a confused halt after the sixth hole. Not being one to shy away from controversy, I came to the conclusion that the Reverse 7th hole would be best played from the existing 7th tee, rather than from the existing 13th tee. Although the walk up to the tee would be a little longer, I thought that the safety consideration outweighed any minor drawbacks from this revision. By and large, the strategy and interest of the hole, towards the existing 11th green, remains unchanged.
More than anything else – from whichever tee you end up using – your drive is determined by the location of the flag. If it is cut to the right, behind Strath, then by all means stay well left. On the other hand, when it is cut to the left of the green, next to Hill, you’d be well advised to keep to the right.
Essentially, what you want to avoid as much as possible, on any other hole as much as this one, is to be faced with the intimidating task of hitting your approach shot directly over some of the most infamous cavernous bunkers at St Andrews.
If your opponent just shanked his tee shot into the nearest gorse bush, the conservative way to get a four would be to hit it about 225 to 250 yards down the middle of the very wide fairway, perhaps a hair to the right of the large mound, thus leaving yourself with a wedge that you’d hit to the fat of the green. All in all, it’s a very straight-forward play, and one that would serve most golfers very well on most days.
However, as with any great hole, things get more interesting when you start playing the angles to try to give yourself a better line for your approach in hopes of shaving a stroke.
When the hole is cut to the right, behind Strath, you’ll notice that approaching the green from the far left side of the fairway allows you to run it up the length of the green. While you still need to flip it over Hill, you have a lot of green to work with. There is no need to get cute. Let the slope of the green feed it to the hole. But to get to this enviable position for you approach, you will need to get a little cuter with your tee shot. A bunker that has very little use on the Old Course sits at the left edge of the fairway, 250 yards from the back tee. You want to hit it as close to it as you dare..
When the hole is cut to the left side of the green, next to Hill, you’d then want the chance to run it up the generous gap between the bunkers, which can only be done from the right side of the fairway. This requires a 230 yard carry over gorse bushes, and even flirting with a few little pot bunkers in front of Shell.
Once on the green, all you are faced with is one of the most treacherous greens at St.Andrews…
– No revisions necessary.
As with the previous hole, I have decided to disregard the theory of the Reverse Routing and opted to use the existing 8th tee rather then the existing 12th tee as the starting point for this hole. From the existing 12th tee, the setup would have been awkward and dangerous with regards to the neighbouring holes, and the hole would have been totally featureless.
Even so, the eighth at the Old Course is arguably one of the course’s most ordinary and uninspired holes. Not a bad hole, just an average one amidst some of the best in the world. And perhaps unfortunately, albeit appropriately, its twin on the Reverse Course presents the same features – or lack thereof. Playing from the existing eighth tee towards the existing tenth green, the player is faced with essentially the same shot on either course, albeit at nearly 200 yards from the new back tee, it isn’t always easy to reach and then hold the putting surface. Of course, while the hole is rather ‘plain vanilla’ in terms of look, strategy and character, it demands nothing more and nothing less than a well planned and solidly struck golf shot.
The play, as Lee Trevino once put it, is to ‘land the ball like a butterfly with sore feet’ after a long carry. While this task is manageable enough on a calm day, it becomes an imposing challenge when the wind picks up. Into the breeze, from the back tee, most player will need to reach for the top of the bag and use as much as a 3-wood or driver, tools with which accurately hitting a green is never easy. Downwind, stopping the ball quickly, even with a short iron, can be next to impossible. All in all, it’s better to be long than short. The area behind the green is one of short grass and flatter lies (notwithstanding a pair of sharp swales back-centre), whereas in front of the green it is quite the opposite scenario.
The green itself befits the hole, as it is essentially large, flat and featureless. If you rise up to the task presented to you on the tee, you could very well score a two.
– Minor revisions to the tee so that its alignment doesn’t visually favour one hole over the other.
As the theory would indicate, the Reverse 9th hole would play from the existing 11th tee towards the existing 9th green, one of only four single greens on the course. The green will sit about 300 yards from a newly constructed back tee next to the Reverse 8th green.
Unfortunately, strategically and visually, from this setup, the hole is rather weak. Some say that the flatness of the green and the lack of visual clues make for judging your pitch a challenge. And certainly Boase’s and the End Hole bunkers sit in the middle of the fairway, but there is plenty of room to avoid them. All in all, there really isn’t much to worry about, as you are likely to make no better than three and no worse than four.
As it stands now, apart from a trio of bunkers about 200 yards from the tee, the right side of the hole is entirely vulnerable. Anything but the most conservative player would drive to the right of Boase’s and End Hole bunkers, over the three bunkers, to a wide, flat landing area (shaded in red above) from where a short pitch, chip, or putt is all that remains. Now I’d be the first to admit that if you can hit an imaginative chip dead near the hole, you deserve to save a stroke. But a flat putt resulting from a chip off a flat lie to a flat green, following a simple tee shot, is not my idea of a fascinating hole.
As such, in an effort to enhance the interest of the hole, I have decided, for the first time to date, to add a bunker. This one will sit about 20 yards front right of the green, or as far as I can tell precisely where you’d most want to hit your tee shot. This bunker will be about 3 feet deep, and the top edge should hide the green.
From this point on, I can count no less than eight ways to play this hole (as shown on the plan):
– Stay short of Boase’s, but towards the left of the fairway, where the green opens up.
– Stay short of Boase’s, but this time to the right half of the fairway. This shortens the hole, but you have the new bunker to contend with on you approach.
– Drive to the left of Boase’s for the same angle as in (1.), but a shorter approach.
– Drive to the right of Boase’s, for the same angle as in (2.), but a shorter approach.
– Drive over the trio of bunker in the right rough, and to the right of the new bunker. This should leave a simple chip to the green.
– Drive the green, by bouncing to the right of the new bunker, hoping to catch a corner of the green.
– Drive the green, by bouncing to the left of the new bunker, between it and End Hole, onto the middle of the putting surface.
– Carry everything, as Tiger would do, and land it on the green.
All in all, this is one of those holes where two golfers can get the same score, and depending on each one’s expectation when standing on the tee, can walk off the green feeling as if they’ve lost ground or gained ground. This can have a pivotal role on how they play the back nine, not the least of which is the next hole.
– Construct a new back tee for an extra 20 yards.
– Remove gorse short-right of the green.
– Add a bunkers 20 yards short of the green.