Sand Hills Golf Club

Fifthhole,410 yards; The merit of placing a tee at a diagonal to the fairway is evidenced here. The hole is more fascinating from the back tee than the middle tee, simply because of its 45-degree angle to the fairway. Therefore, the line of play differs from day to day (even morning to afternoon), dependent on the wind. The middle tee points more in direct line with the fairway and thus,playsin amore straightforward manner.

The view over the 4th green from the back markers to the 5th fairway.

One of the meanest bunkers on the course is on the inside of the dogleg at the 5th; interestingly enough, it is directly in line with the green from the tee.

Sixth hole, 200 yards; On a property with pronounced land forms, blind shots add to the enjoymentand variety of the challenge. However, too many blind shots and a course may ultimately lose some of its appeal. Conversely, too few blind shots andthe opportunity for the architect to create some uncertainty and mystery has been lost.Coore & Crenshawstruck the perfect balance at Sand Hills, with one example being their use of a ridge sixty yardsshy ofthe 6th green that obscures the left front half of the green.

The bunker in the foreground is sixty paces from the front of the green. However, its face is tall enough to obscure the left front of the green to the point where the day's hole location is blind.

Seventh hole, 285 yards; Nobody comes to Sand Hills Golf Club for just one round. Most members and their guests stay for several days and seemingly one of the worst things that can occur at the start of such a stay is to drive the 7th green. Downwind, this is not an uncommon occurence for a good player. However,the bravado it affordsall but guarantees that the golfer will have a disasteron this hole at another point during his stay, such is the penal nature of the green’s location on a knob and the deepbunker to its left.

Though a storm is approaching, the view from the 7th tee remains one of tranquility. After a few rounds, the golfer better appreciates the narrow green's menace with its deep bunker left and sharp fall off right.

A pull from the 7th tee leaves this golfer with a 60 yard lob shot over an eight foot deep greenside bunker to the narrow part of the green that then falls sharply away. Throw in wind and the chance of a satisfactory conclusion to this shot/hole rapidly diminishes.

Eighth hole, 365 yards; Much was initially made of having a pair of short two shotters back to back like this but such comments only highlight the general sad state of golf course architecture in the early to mid 1990s. Two more diversegreen complexes – eachposing widely different challenges – cannot be imagined than the ones at the 7th and 8th at Sand Hills.

Unlike the 7th green complex perched on a knob, the 8th sits down in a natural amphitheater.

The brilliantly conceived boomerang 8th green is a favourite of Ben Crenshaw's. The green functions well and the thinking golfer can use the back to front and right to left contours to work the ball toward most hole locations.

Many golfers conclude that it is better to lay back in the fairway and hit a fuller shot into the green, using the back to front pitch of the green and spin to work a ball close to the hole than it is to mess with the front central bunker.

Ninth hole, 400 yards; Sand Hills possesses an absurdly high number of world class holes, anywhere between 6 and 12 depending on one’s own personal definition.Though the 9th is not considered among them, it is one of the more uniqueholes on the courseand handsomely adds to the overall variety of the challenge. Principally, the large fairway enjoys the most humps and bumps on a human scale of any on the course. The chance of drawing a level stance for one’s approach to the green is slim and the potato chip green shrugs balls off onall sides. The need to control the flight of the ball off an uneven stance cuts to heart of the game’s origins.

Standing on Ben's Porch and looking down, the golfer sees the spine that feeds onto and into the 9th green.

Tenthhole, 470 yards; Lay of the land architecture at its best, as thishugetwo shotterfollows the tumbling land down the side slope. An ideal approach may pitch some twenty yards short and bound right and onto thewide green, atact that Coore & Crenshawhad successfully recently employedat the 5th, 17th and 18th holes at thePlantation Course at Kapalua. As with all Coore & Crenshaw designs, the architects encourage the golfer to try shots and just ‘play’ golf. The fact that golf is a game and it is meant to be fun is very much in evidence throughout the design at Sand Hills.

How rolling is the 10th fairway? A group of golfers are actually in one of the fairway hollows.

With deep bunkers along the right side of the green, using the natural left to right pitch of the land is the prudent way for working the ball onto the 10th green.

Eleventh hole, 410 yards; A wonderfully deceiving hole with everything in clear view from the tee – or is it?

The entire dogleg left 11th unfolds before the golfer from the elevated tee.

A long drive down the right hopefully stays in the fairway and leaves the golfer with... uphill approach to a horizon green...

...with deep bunkers eating into the left of the green. These bunkers are evident from the tee but not on the approach shot.

As seen from behind, the rub of the 11th is that its green is angled back toward the tee. Thus, any approach from right of the center of the fairway is at an oblique angle to the green. The golfer needs to be mindful of that fact. For instance, any shot missed right of the flag in the third photograph above is kicked into a grass swale, from which recovery is difficult.

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