Posted by: randyhaaggolf | May 13, 2010

THE BACK NINE AT SPYGLASS- PICTURES AND HOW I PLAY THESE HOLES

The back nine at the Glass starts with a challenging tee shot on #10 which has always tortured me. Ideally this is a slight draw off the tee that will assist the ball in skirting past the trees that guard the middle right of this fairway. Even a strait tee ball will usually result in a side hill lie out of the rough to a very small target usually into the wind. This green is to be respected and not attacked like some of the others. Caution to the center of the green is the prudent play here. Over the 600 times I’ve most likely played this hole over the past 30 years, I would say that I’ve seen more bogeys made on this hole than pars, including myself into that statistic!

This year for the first time ever I actually aimed for a tree in the distance and hit 3 perfect tee shots until the sudden death playoff where i didn’t aim at anything and took a very poor swing resulting in…yet another bogey on this hole.

Second shot to #10

The great thing about #11 is that you have many ways to play this hole off the tee depending how your driving the ball. If I’m in complete command of my driver, I will take a right line down the corner of the fairway to shorten the hole unless I’ve been missing my driver right I’ll take a straight shot down the middle. The next big decision is where to hit the 2nd shot? lay up and leave 100-120 yards or take my chances and see if I can get a shot in position on or around the green for a doable up and in. The far right pin position is the “sucker” go for it pin, and would require a very short shot in to justify going for it. Even if you get the ball on the left side of the green you are more likely to 3 putt the green than if you had 100 yard shot from the fairway. I’ve seen this mistake made time and time again (even I still make it with my aggressive style of play). When the pin is on the left side of the green is when you have a better chance of being aggressive and getting a ball up and in from off the green.

2nd shot from 240 yards away from this par five 11th hole

The 12th hole can play anywhere from 140 yards to over 200 yards depending on the pin position and the wind. This is a very challenging par three as the water on the right is very close to the green and in years past actually snagged some balls that landed on the green while spinning sideways into the hazard. The hazard is to be avoided but how? Again after playing this hole over 600 times over the past 30 years I would say the shot is NOT best executed by among left and trying to draw the ball towards the water. I’ve had better success on this hole by aiming slightly left of the hole and making sure the ball does not turn left. A solid shot at the left side of the green will carry onto the green and usually give you a nice uphill putt. The shots right will usually give you a more difficult putt, sometimes resulting in a bogey anyways. A trick I learned long ago on downhill shots is to ALWAYS aim at a target that’s at eye level in the distance if at all possible. Looking down at a target will usually throw off your swing plane and result in a missed shot (I do the same at #3 at Olympic). Ultimately you need to block out the water and make a solid swing here, as a bad miss right is as bad as a ball in the lake.

tee shot to the downhill par three #12 hole

The 13th hole is a demanding uphill par 4 that can play as long as 500 yards or more long when you play into a headwind. The key to this hole is the tee shot which looks like you need to draw the ball when really a straight shot is sufficient. Sometimes the attempted draw drive for a natural fader or straight ball hitter will backfire into an over hook or a push right. Pick a target here and swing through the shot with confidence! The second shot plays 10-15 yards uphill and is usually under clubbed by most. Walking off with a 4 on #13 is a very satisfying score!

The demanding tee shot on #13

uphill shot to #13

The par five 14th hole is another risk reward hole like the other par 5 holes. The tee shot will dictate if you have the distance and angle to perhaps go for this green, but 90+% of the time it will be a 3 shot hole that requires the most attention on the 3rd shot to this tricky and undulated green. The mistake I commonly see on this hole is the 3rd shot is usually played left of the pin leaving the player with a very difficult downhill, side hill putt. Personally I’d rather have a longer uphill putt from the right of the hole that I can aggressively attack, as opposed to a lag and prayer putt from the left.

3rd shot to par five #14 hole

This tricky little downhill par three 15th hole is not to be taken lightly! there are many very tough pin placements on this green that make it a true challenge. There is also some risk/reward here with a far left pin, a miss left can leave a very difficult 2nd shot. The wind also plays havoc on judging the distance here, but over the years I have become more comfortable with the type of shot I try to hit with each of the typical pins we see on this hole. 15 gives a player a chance to make a birdie with a well executed shot or waste a shot on the shortest hole on the course.

tee shot on this short downhill par three 15th hole

BLACK DOG #16 at Spyglass is a very famous and special hole. Many matches in the NCGA amateur have been decided or swung on this awesome par 4 hole. The tee shot is the key shot and requires one to decide how much of the right side they want to bite off. Extremely long hitters have a huge advantage on the Black Dog as they can hoist their tee ball over the intimidating trees down the right side, leaving a short or mid iron to this large green complex. Those players that take the conventional route down the middle are left with a 2nd shot ranging from 190-220 yards usually into the wind. This 2nd shot will need to be solidly struck and well placed to reach this downhill green and allow for a chance at a par or birdie. This is a very tough hole that will produce many bogeys or worse!

2nd Shot into #16

The 17th hole is another final chance at a birdie, but think about the tee shot before you decide to whip a 3 metal or driver short of this green. If you have any front pin and leave yourself with 70 yards or less you will have a more difficult shot than a full shot from 90-110 yards out from this severely sloped green from back to front. I have won this hole many times laying way back to a comfortable yardage that I know I can confidently give a full swing to as opposed to guessing and being tentative with a shorter shot.

2nd shot to #17

The 18th hole is a great finishing hole as it requires a very accurate tee shot followed by a very precise 2nd shot to a steep uphill green guarded on all sides by deep bunkers. The tee shot sets the tone on this finishing hole, but even after a successful tee shot your work has only begun. After a second on this sloping two tired green with a 30 yard false front, accuracy and distance control is at a premium here. The front pin allows for a great birdie chance, but also will torture you if you go past the pin. This hole has provided some memorable drama for the past 30 years, usually it hasn’t gone my way on this hole…but this year it was my partner Darryl Donovan that made a 9 foot curler that enabled us to win the NCGA two man Championship last Sunday. The team we played off against also had a great finish with a tying birdie on this great hole to send us into overtime.

2nd shot to this 18th uphill green

I love getting your thoughts and comments on these courses and hearing your views which I WILL share with the other readers. Recently after I posted the front 9 and said that Spyglass Hill was in my personal top 5 courses in the world, a fellow Olympian wrote back and said that although Spyglass is a great course, it’s not a top 5 course because of the downhill par three holes and the risk/reward that they present. I think every comment is valid, but for me personally when I’m on the 4th tee overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Bird Rock with perhaps the scent of the kelp, I cannot think of a more beautiful setting anywhere with perhaps the exception of the 15th-18th tee box on Cypress just a few thousand yards away. This is some of the most beautiful coast views anywhere in the world I’ve ever seen, and it’s different everyday!

What do you think?

Stay tuned for the sheer beauty of the Preserve coming up next stay tuned and thanks!!

Randy


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