I don’t think there is a finer opening hole than the 1st at
. What I love is the hole allows you to attack or accept the situation and play a smart. It all comes down to what you’re trying to shoot. Pine Valley
The opening tee shot features 80 yards of fairway straight ahead. On the right side of the hole is an enormous waste area dotted with copses of Pine and Oak. Because the hole is a dogleg right, the waste are creates a spectacular diagonal off the tee that can be flirted with to shorten the hole. The obvious play is straight out with a 3 wood or even rescue club, but the diagonal compels you to consider taking on the corner.
As much as I like the tee shot, it’s the approach that is absolutely brilliant. Everything leading to the green is at the same elevation as the green which allows for a running approach. The player has the option of playing short to remove the trouble at the sides and back and trying to get up and down for par. Par is tough from here, but possible, but you’ve eliminated any big number by being prudent.
But if you are trying to open with a solid par or birdie, you are more likely to attack the green and that is when you bring the potential for disaster into the equation. The green is deep and the pins tend to be towards the back. While the green is wide open at the front and tremendously inviting, the green narrows as you move towards the back making an aggressive approach very dangerous.
What I particularly like is how the drop off gets steeper the further back you go since the green is also narrowing at the same time. It’s a very subtle way to create something nasty that appears almost easy on the approach. I love the idea of lulling people into a massive error in judgment and this concept delivers that in a large way.
This hole is easy to build on any ground making this a very clever template.
So how do I use this template?
The hole is so easy to re-create that it begs the question of why is this not more commonly used. The key factors are the opportunity to play aggressively over the diagonal which allows players to attack and take risk, the availability of an easy longer and safer route around the trouble, the approach is inviting and on the same grade as the green, the green has enough depth to require players playing deeper into the green, there is nothing to stop the ball from rolling over the edge, the fall off gets worse as you go back making the most aggressive miss the worst penalized.
12th at Banff Springs (green site but with River)