Holes One and Ten
This hole tests your confidence off the tee - any round starting with a par 5 usually does! When playing the first, you face 210m of water down the left, out of bounds down the right and a bunker approximately 170 metres up on the right hand side of the fairway. When teeing up on the tenth, it is a mandatory shot across water, with a fairway which seems much smaller than the first - and the bunker looks bigger from here too! If you are dry, the second shot may still be across the corner of the lake, or need to be shaped around large tree protecting the inside corner of the dog leg. The long hitters should find themselves in good position from either tee, although be wary of the wind as many a ball has found its way into the lake after being pushed left or hitting a brick wall for those game enough to take on the 200m carry off the tenth tee!
If you're in a good spot near the corner of the dog leg, you'll have a fairly straight shot of about 150m to the thin elevated green. Don't get too confident if you strike it nicely, as if it comes up a little short don't expect it to run onto the green as the slope in front of the green will put the brakes on pretty quickly regardless of how dry the conditions are and you will end up with a chip or bump and run to make the short stuff. Once on the green, keep an eye out for the tricky slopes from front to the middle and then from right down towards the lake on the left. Be happy with a par, many have had much more than that!
Holes Two and Eleven
Three lots of water, a green with dead zones left, right and back, and a green with a severe back to front slope, make this par 4 a challenge for any player.
From a well protected tee box, the first shot looks easy enough with a nice fairway laid out before you. Don't be fooled! If you top your drive, there is a creek waiting to collect the ball. If you hit it well and the wind is off the right, just watch as the ball drifts into the lake splitting the first and second holes. If you hit it well and miss the fairway right, you may not find your ball in the rough and if you do, you will have another lake to contend with as you move the ball toward the green. The long hitters who end up right, will have this third body of water to contend with!
Once you're ready to play your last shot into the green, just beware that there is trouble around most of this green. Sometimes the safest approach is to run it up through the 10m window at the front of the green. You'll need to be accurate though as a little left or right and the ball will end up in the two valleys on either side of the green for a tough up and down. Hit it well and end up over the back? I hope you have got some Phil Mickleson magic stored up as trying to stop the ball on the down slope of the green is a challenge many have failed!
Once on the green the slope from back to front is severe and obvious for all players. Remember to account for the wind which if it is into your face on the tee, will be helping push the ball towards the front of the green. Many missed putts have rolled off the front of the green in dry windy conditions!
Holes Three and Twelve
The first par 3 looks pretty simple from the tee box, but you had better have great distance control as it is only just over 10m deep from front to back. Ending up short is the play here, as like the second hole, left, right or over the back make it a tricky up and down.
The green slopes from back to front and is one of the more forgiving greens on the course with few surprises as long as you line up the putt well.
Holes Four and Thirteen
Another par 5, but be wary, this one can bite, and bite hard!
From the tee box, particularly when the markers are set way back, the view of the fairway is obstructed left and right! Not so bad, but it is what is not visible which you need to worry about. There's another lake down the right hand side of the fairway with a nasty little slope which sucks any ball close to the edge down to the muddy depths! If you try to avoid the lake by aiming a bit more to the left, keep in mind there is an out of bounds which if you're lucky your ball may just escape the clutches of the long grass and bounce into play, but for anything looking like it is heading left, just tee up a provisional and hope that one is in play!
If you find yourself in the fairway, great job! If you're looking around and thinking I am just gonna smash it as close to the green as I can BEWARE! There is a creek which cuts diagonally through the fairway about 60m short of the green. The divots in the last 20m before the creek are an indicator of how many balls end up in the water! It is suggested that unless you are fairly confident of getting across the water, that you lay it up and give yourself a nice 80-100m shot into the elevated green.
When firing for the green, be wary of heading anywhere but onto it! You have more leeway than on a couple of other greens, but there is long grass waiting beyond the first cut and you may find yourself buried in it or sitting pretty with a nice fluffy lie - not the good kind, the kind which sees you slash the grass underneath the ball and look down to find the lie a little tighter as the ball goes nowhere!
Up on the green you won't find any major surprises and once you have your line just step up and fire away. Whilst there's no major surprises be wary of a few small ones so don't take it too personally if you see your ball sail past the hole!
Holes Five and Fourteen
Hopefully you didn't end up in the water on the last hole and can approach this tee without any negative thoughts! Playing this par 4 hole the first time through is much easier for both sexes! With the men having an extra 50m and the ladies having an extra 100m or so the second time around!
The tee shot looks fairly straight forward, but down the left there is an out of bounds. If it is in the warmer months be wary trying to find a lost ball in the long grass as there are a few little slithery tigers around! If you don't head left, but take the scenic route right, be sure to call out fore to warn anyone playing to the first green that they should cover the important parts (that decision is theirs and theirs alone!) or risk having them hit by a little white ball.
If you find yourself in the fairway, the next shot should be fairly straight forward. If you're going to miss, miss short or left, but pay attention to the wind direction as the green is slightly elevated and has a big slope at the front which sees many balls which come up a little short roll back or left to the first cut of grass. Another thing to consider is the size of the green. This one is long - close to 35m, which could be three different clubs depending on the flag position. That slope at the front I mentioned, well once over that in the first few metres, the rightside of the green stays about the same level, while the middle and left feeds down towards the back left corner. If the pin looks like it is left middle, landing it at the top of the slope could see your ball feed down towards the hole nicely. Miss it though and you face a long putt or worse a chip or bump and run to get back onto the green if it feeds off. Go long on this hole and make your acquaintance with the drop zone. There is water off the back of the green.
If you manage to hold the green, be prepared for a tough putt if you're anywhere outside of 10 feet. The slope is not consistent. What might look left to right, can easily become right to left closer to the hole. Maybe just save yourself the trouble and hole out from anywhere but the green!
Holes Six and Fifteen
The only other par 3 in the layout is arguably the least daunting tee shot, with a nice clear view of another large green. But to be honest, the one thing you won't find much of when you're down on the green are pitch marks! I'd love to say it's because everyone repairs them as they should, but the truth is, this is a tough green to hit.
Playing from an elevated tee, which is protected from the wind, it is easy to see your tee shot go sailing left with the wind or come up well short as the unrecognised headwind stops your ball dead in its tracks. Leaving you looking sheepish in front of your playing partners. Of course, don't tell them the club you hit, or if you do, drop it back a couple and watch them club up and end up short too! All's fair in love and war!
When you make it onto the green, take notice of the slope! What makes this course tough is the greens and this is among the tougher greens to putt out on. The only thing which is almost guaranteed on this green is you won't be aiming for the hole! A two putt here is a good result for anything outside of a few feet.
Holes Seven and Sixteen
Hit it long? Why not go for the green off the tee? Come on do it! Live on the edge!
This par 4 is a fairly open tee shot with the fairway which opens up in a direction which is right of the straight line to the green. If you make a mistake and head left, don't be surprised if your ball ends up in the water hazard or lost on the mounds which divide the water from the fairway. The writer of this would be willing to name the hazard after his wife, as both make a mockery of him regularly and yet he is magnetically drawn to both!
As you're playing to the green, take note of how raised this green is. There is a good 6 feet elevation from the front of the green and half that again from back to front. You had better not put too much backspin on any shots into the green, otherwise you might just find yourself watching as your ball rolls back to the fairway, leaving an uncomfortable up and down. Or up, up, up and down if your chip shots keeps coming up a little short. The positive is you wont have to worry too much about retaking your stance as the ball gently rolls it way straight back to you.
Once on the green, if you are anywhere but pin high, get ready for a putt which moves. If you are above the hole, be very careful, particularly when the greens are fast. if you're below the hole don't forget to put a little extra oomph into the shot!
Holes Eight and Seventeen
A nice par 4 as the second last stop for the round as missing this drive left or right doesn't throw too many spanners into the mix. Obviously straight up the middle is best, but if you're going to miss anywhere on this course, save it for this hole! It runs right up the middle of the seventh and ninth holes and the green is accessible from most spots, unless you are really unlucky and have to avoid the trees and shrubs which loosely line the fairway.
From the tee, the large tree to the left of the fairway indicates the crest in the fairway and is a marker for the location of the green. If you hit it long, go straight over this and you will have a short chip into the green. If you aren't as long, aim for the tree which is further away and to the right of this one. If you keep it in line, you'll end up near enough to the middle of the crest in the fairway with approximately 100m to the green.
When aiming for this green, if you need a bailout, make it short or at worst right. You do not want to go over or left of this green unless of course you think that the highest score on the hole is the winner! And if this is you, please seek me out and we can put some money onto a few holes!
This green is tiny. it again slopes from front to back so if you can control your distance well, come up short. I'd go so far as to say, being short of green is better than being past the hole on some occasions when the green is super quick. This green can be quicker than others as it does get exposed to a bit of wind and dries out more than a few of the others around the course.
If you're above the hole and your putt is longer than a few feet, please try and just get it close. Go for the hole at your own peril and leave the flag in and hope that it hits it square if you have a bit of pace on the ball.
Holes Nine and Eighteen
Teeing up on the last par 4 you can't help but notice the trouble which lies ahead. The tee box directs you toward the fairway, but with its elevated outlook, you can't miss the lake and the driving range which is out of bounds down the right hand side. That lake I mentioned, you had better hope that you don't top your tee shot as it cuts in front of the tee box used for the eighteenth hole and has swallowed a few balls as they tried unsuccessfully to split the reeds which lie in the shallow water. If playing the ninth, just aim for the middle of the fairway and hope for the best! If you're a long hitter and the wind, stars and your god are all aligned, when playing the eighteenth, take the Tiger line between the trees on the right of the fairway and the driving range boundary fence! There is a nice view to the green with a nice short second into the green if you manage to find the fairway attempting this!
If you have a good tee shot, be prepared for a long 150m plus second shot into the green. There's a reason this is one of the toughest holes on the course and it isn't just that you gave up caring 15 holes ago and just want to get home! The hole shapes to the left off the tee, then there's a chicane dog leg which sees the fairway curve right then left again. The fairway for the most part is lined by trees and some fairly challenging rough. Find yourself anywhere but on the fairway at any point on this hole and be prepared to look foolish as you duff it forward half the distance to the hole or need to play it sideways out from the trees.
As you approach the green, be wary that the green slopes from back to front and right to left. Unless you are going to stop the ball on a dime, factor this into your shot! As with most holes on the course, if you're going to miss, miss it short. Left is okay but off the back and right can create a tough up and down as you need to deal with deep rough and a down slope on the green. If right, you do have an up slope to play off, so that does make it a bit easier than off the back!
When you finally make it onto the green, beware of any putts above the hole. There will be plenty of roll with some sideways movement to factor in.