Friar’s Head

5th hole, 330 yards; Pete Dye, whom Coore worked for from 1972-1975, stresses variety is the key to good design and this is the kind of frustrating/tempting two shotter that nearby Shinnecock Hills doesn’t have. The challenges off the tee shift with the wind,from being drivable downwind to avoiding three central hazards shy of the green into the wind. The multi-option 5th is proving to be one of the most confusing holes on the course to play. Should one be bold off the tee or not? Frequently, those suckered into hitting driver by the generous fairway width often times regret their decision,as their playing angle into the small green can be worse than if they had laid further back.

Which way to go off the 5th tee? The answer depends on the day's wind and hole location.

An approach from the right to a left hole location is no bargain, thanks to one of the most confounding features on the course: a series of contours culminating in a knob just shy of the green. Though small, the knob dominates much of the hole's play.

An approach from the left is somewhat easier for today's hole location. The rippling ground was generally a lost sight in American golf architecture from 1950-2000 when speedy construction and heavy machinery were the norm.

6th hole, 430yards;A classic dogleg hole around and over a natural depression with an interesting twist:this one is a switch-back hole, with the architect asking the golfer to first draw his tee ball and then fade his approach. This ploy is a favorite of Pete Dye’s but unlike Mr. Dye who would likely bunker the right of the green, Coore did not. Any approach that hits the right or back edge of the green is likely to catch the closely mown bank and drift/bound anywhere from six to twenty paces away from the putting surface. Though the green complex doesn’t look as fiercely defended as many of Dye’s greens, it plays harder in fact.

From the very outset, Coore knew he would incorporate the depression pictured on the left into the routing of the course. The 6th was the first hole found on the course.

The closer one drives to the inside of the dogleg, the more level the stance and the better the angle into the green. No mounding 'frames' the 6th green to comfort the golfer.

7th hole, 540yards;Visually stunning from tee to green as the golfer is re-introduced into the dunes, the real marvel of the hole may be its putting surface. The general outlines of the green contours were uncovered as they cleared the site and their task was to make the abrupt land forms function for golf. Rod Whitman roughed it in and then inch by inch, Jimbo Wright started refining the land forms to that end. Eventually,Jim Craig and Dave Axland also had a hand in the design of this green as well. They continually focused on making the green work – if the golfer has the imagination, there is generally a way to get from one portion of the green to another.

The scale of Jeff Bradley's bunker work was key to transitioning the golfer from the field back into the dunes. The diagonal angle created by the dune in the distance creates the strategic interest for the second shot.

The variety of green shapes, sizes and interior contours has critics claiming the greens at Friar's Head to be the finest set built since the Golden Age of course design.

Though accomplished golfers may reach the 7th green in two, the stunning green as seen from its back left will make them work for their desired score.

8th hole, 170 yards; Theuphill tee ball is hard to gauge as the green is high on the dune.The diagonal ridge in the green exacerbates the challenge and in fact, the left greenside bunker isn’t a bad place to miss when the hole is on the top portion of the green.

Note the exposed sand dune behind the 8th green, which helps reinforce the fact that the golfer has returned into the dunes.

9th hole, 395 yards; Routing a hole along a dune ridge is often not possible because either there isn’t enough space to situate a fairway or because it would compromise how many other holes could utilize the dune. Happily, such was not the case here,allowing the 9th to get off to a rousing start. After crossing the tumbling topography for the first three hundred yards, a dull green would have been a genuine let down but the five foot (!) knob encased within the green makes the approach to 9th green one of the most fun shots on the course.

Coore & Crenshaw routed the first portion of the 9th fairway along the top of the dune before...

... having the fairway dogleg right and drop to the green below.

Almost a full year (!) went into the design and construction of the 9th green complex. It evolved from a potentially bunkerless green that is half today's size into one of the course's most striking green complexes.The knob is completely encased within the green, in contrast to the knob at the 5th which is only partially maintained as green.

10th hole, between 120 to235 yards; As Coore wanders the woods, he comes upon what he describes as a ‘giant ant hill.’ It is such a unique feature that he wants to incorporate into the design and yet, it’s so unique, that once the land is cleared and the ‘ant hill’ fully exposed, the team can’t help but wonder if itis too much, too abrupt. This same team faced similar decisions before (for instance, with the bold land form that was eventually incorporated into the 6th green at Sand Hills). Here at Friar’s Head, Coore recalls the day that Ben Crenshawal so concluded to leave it as is and with the team in agreement, another natural feature was left as they found it.In so doing, Coore & Crenshaw help re-capture some of the thrill of adventure that was present in golf’s earlier years with the links in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The less pronounced natural land forms on most inland courses yield conventional one shotters that pale in interest to a hole like this one.

Horace Hutchinson wrote that 'Naturalness in a course also implies holes guarded by natural hazards, and more particularly by natural turns and twists in the ground designed by the hand of Providence to tease the cut-and-died approaches. We are in danger of monotony on the course which any one of these, or other, artificers plans for us, because they follow good principles too religiously.' The giant 'ant hill' that fronts the 10th green is the precise kind of unique feature that nature yields that man wouldn't dare.

As seen from behind, Bakst intends to take full of advantage of the flexibility that this whopping 18,000 square foot green provides. Played from a short tee to a hole location directly behind the mound, the hole is a mere 120 yard pitch. Played from the back markers to the back hole locations, the hole is over one hundred yards longer.

11th hole,600 yards;Though the 2nd and 11th parallel each other (the holes are separated by the all-world 30 acre practice area and the 35,000 sq. ft. (!) putting green that rivals the Himalayas at St. Andrews for fun) and head in the same general direction, it is hard to imagine two more different holes. The 2nd tee ball is out of a chute of trees whereas the 11th tee is on the edge of the dune. The golfer’s eye is drawn the full length of the 2nd whereas the 11th fairway bends left where a sand ridge bisects much of the fairway at the 320 mark.A fade is the ideal long approach to the 2nd whereas the man going for the green in two at the 11thshould hit a draw to best utilize the right to left ground slope near the green.With time, the author imagines that the collection of three shot holes at Friar’s Head will be spoken in the same manner as those at Pine Valley, Pebble Beach and Cape Breton Highlands as amongst the finest sets in the world.

Ala the 10th at National Golf Links, a hard running draw will take the right to left slope and run onto the 11th green.

12th hole,195 yards; In order to create different playing angles, Coore & Crenshaw initially built two rectangular tees side by side, which have since been combined into one tee that is35 yards in width. From the left side, a draw fits the eye perfectly and from the right, the player may opt for a straight ball, or a even a fade. As compared to the 11th green complex, the one at the 12th appears a much narrower target. In addition, it is routed in the opposite direction as the other one shotter in the field (the 4th), a definite attribute for a course in a windy locale.In fact, every one shotter at Friar’s Head heads in a different direction.

The left bunker is a fooler as it is a good eight paces shy of the 12th putting surface.

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