The 11th hole has tremendous character and is a challenging hole. The tee shot is somewhat generous with some room on the right, a miss left is not the side to miss this tee shot. The second shot will again give the player an element of risk reward with its two tiered sloping green. When the pin is in the back tier I still do not recommend that a player try to fly a shot into the very small ledge on the back of the green. A shot 2/3 of the way back will leave a tricky uphill putt. The false front provides an issue when the pin is up front. The bailout here is right which will leave a tricky downhill, side hill shot. During the 4 round Stocker Cup my goal is to play this challenging hole at even par.
The 12th hole usually is back into the breeze, but I still feel is a chance at a birdie. The tee shot gives you a generous fairway to shoot at, but pick a target and don’t get lazy as a badly missed tee shot will cost you a stroke. The second shot is slightly uphill to a sloping green from back to front and in from the sides. A shot short is to be avoided as the false front will send your shot back down the fairway. A second shot slightly left of the hole will usually leave a makeable uphill putt. This is yet another beautiful hole in a stretch of some great golf holes. The second shot usually plays an additional 10 – 20 yards uphill with the breeze in your face.
The 13th hole is a medium length par five over a ravine. The tee shot has ample room right, but a big drive left could leave a player a chance to reach 13 in two. If the headwind is stiff it’ll be a three shot hole that should be played with some awareness to the trouble that awaits an errant shot on this hole. A beautiful Oak tree sits approx 75 yards short of the green on the right side that guards the entry to this green from the right side. Your approach shot to this green needs to be accurate as a long range putt here is asking for trouble. There is a steep slope in the middle of this massive green that separates the two segments of this green. I always look to position my 3rd shot below the hole leaving a makeable putt.
The 14th hole at the Preserve is a great par three hole that requires a player to hit a solid shot in the proper direction. There is a segment of the green that is around the corner on the right out of the players view from the tee. However a missed shot to far right finds the hazard to the right of the green. This is yet another very sloppy green with side and back undulation that will make any long range putts very difficult. The key off the tee is to find the position on the green that will leave you an uphill putt. Although the green is slightly elevated from the tee box I usually play the yardage to the hole as a shot missed over this green is not going to be desirable.
The 15th hole I would say is the signature hole at The Preserve, but also is a bit controversial as well. This long uphill par 4 is usually plays into a headwind making it play over 500 yards from the back tee. The first challenge is the tee shot which is well bunkered on the left side, but a tee shot to the right leaves a longer side hill shot to this very difficult green. Many horror stories have resulted from this extraordinary green complex that I will be unable to accurately describe to you. I will tell you that I’ve seen more putts knocked off this green than any hole I’ve ever played. The severe false front plays havoc on the players when there is a pin anywhere upfront. A back pin placement provides a different challenge, but at least in the back portion of the green the fear of watching a putt roll 50 yards down the fairway is eliminated.
After surviving a very tough stretch of holes, the 16th hole gives you a chance a birdie after a short iron to this 138 yard par three hole. Beware again of the false front that will take short shots and bring them back into a very difficult position. The key again is to get the uphill putt that will give the player an excellent chance at picking up a shot to par here.
The par 5 17th hole is a beautiful hole that has many elements I enjoy. The tee shot allows you to take a risk and go deep down the right center, or play safer off the sloping fairway on the left side. The second shot can be placed atop the hill or you can attempt to chase a shot down the slope towards the green. Long hitters may be able to fly a shot onto this green that is not receptive to long shots. I’m not trying to sound redundant but again we have a green that will challenge any player of any skill level. This is a legitimate birdie hole that will set you up well before taking on the finishing hole at the Preserve.
The finishing hole at the Preserve is a fun hole to play and will challenge you to hit two ore good shots to get to this green in two. A tee shot left center leaves the shorter shot to the green, but brings the fairway bunkers into play. A tee shot right will leave a side hill second shot to a fairly wide green that is long and slopes from back to right. Of course you’ll be faced with a slight false front and a ridge that runs through the middle of the green. A solid par 4 is a great way finish a round here.
I had the pleasure to play this gem with my three good friends host Steve Hoffman, Brendan O’Neil and Tom Hitchcock (the Chief). Along with us was the absolute best caddy you could possibly have Mr. Kenny Howe. This beautiful place is a real gem and a treat to play. I’ll be following all the action later in October where the members of the Preserve are gracious enough to provide their course and facility for The Stocker Cup.
Stay tuned coming up next is Bayonet and Black Horse for the AmateurGolf.com Monterey Bay Championship this weekend.