A Long Walk Home
Hopefully you read my previous post so you have a clue of what is going on here. If not, hit the link and figure it out. On to the inward nine of my Dream 18 otherwise. Hit the halfway house, eat a wiener, and let’s go.
#10 – Inverness – 363 yards, par 4
Are you asking “why this hole” right now? I still kind of am doing that too. The fact is there just aren’t many great 10th holes in our great game. Name one that isn’t Pebble Beach. Go ahead, I’ll wait. And whatever you come up with I probably haven’t played so I can’t use it in this exercise. Nonetheless the 10th at Toledo’s most famous course is an original Donald Ross that plays along the 1st hole down into a fold in the land where the green waits for you.
It is short and strategic off the tee and offers a scoring opportunity to start the 2nd nine as you’ll likely have some kind of wedge into the hole. The 1st and 10th tees at Inverness are mowed together and hug the practice putting green to make a very cool setting near the clubhouse. That alone is worth anointing it has my 1st hole to the home nine of my dream course.
#11 – Cog Hill No. 4. (Dubdread) – 607 yards, par 5
If there is a weak stretch to my course it is the 10th, 11th, and 12th holes. They’re great holes but they’re understated. Cog Hill No. 4 has several holes better than the 11th but there aren’t a ton of other 11th holes that fit the need I have for a par 5 on this side and I’d hate to leave out Rees Jones’ redesigned Dubsdread that I played plenty while living around Chicagoland.
The flyover shows the 11th in all its glory. At 600+ yards it is a true 3 shot hole for us mortals. Before the redesign it played closer to 550 and was reachable under the right conditions. The sub-air system at Cog will provide you with plenty of roll and you shouldn’t play the back tee anyway, but you’re still not getting there in 2. That makes the layup very strategic as you have to play smart and short of the bunkers and play to the correct side of the short grass to give yourself a good angle at the pin. The shaved area behind the green is no bueno if you’re long and the pin is back. All that being said, this hole is usually an easy 5 with the option for 4 if you don’t completely fuck it up. Get a birdie early on my 10th or 11th because they may be your last chance at a red number.
#12 – Medinah No. 3 – 476 yards, par 4
I love this hole and think it may be the best hole that isn’t a par 3 on the number three course. It has length and uses natural topography to challenge players hitting a mid to long iron into a smallish green. You probably won’t have a level lie to strike your 2nd shot from into that green either. The hole takes you away from Route 20 and back toward the clubhouse along an inlet of Lake Kadijah that was dug out during one of many redesigns and restoration projects that have occurred at Medinah. The current 12th was actually the 16th hole at one point back in the in not too distant past.
The angle shown in the image above isn’t a camera trick. That’s an accurate representation of how much the hole slants from left to right down toward the water hazard. The green is at the top of the hill near the upper left corner of the photo. Missing the green right, or even hitting the right side of the green depending on conditions, can result in the ball running all the way down to the edge of the rough along the hazard. I think the hole could be improved by shaving that 2nd cut down to fairway length but what do I know?
#13 – Arcadia Bluffs – 240 yards, par 3
The holes along the water at Northern Michigan’s Arcadia Bluffs rival any course in the United States that isn’t on the Pacific Ocean for aesthetic beauty. The 13th is the par 3 of that stretch that makes you catch your breath as you hit over a ravine that leads down to the beach 250 feet below your target. Once you calm down and focus at the task at hand it hits you that you’re trying to hit a feathery soft 240 yard shot into a howling wind off the big lake.
I’ve played this hole once from a tee other than the 240 yard marker and it wasn’t any easier. The green is huge but even hitting it doesn’t guarantee a 3. The green complex doesn’t allow for you to run a shot up on to it so forget that idea. Commit to your club selection. Commit to your swing. Aim between the two bunkers near the right side of the green and accept the result no matter what and you’ll be fine. All that is of course easier said than done.
#14 – Forest Dunes – 464 yards, par 4
Staying in Northern Michigan, the 14th at Forest Dunes begins a closing stretch of five par 4s that would thrill golfers of all skill levels. Like many of the other courses included in my Dream 18 posts, Forest Dunes has several holes that I favor over the one I’ve selected for my routing. What I mean is, there isn’t a single other 14th hole that I can use based on the courses I’ve already selected and I don’t want to leave Forest Dunes out. The course is too damn good from start to finish. Fourteen on the original course at Forest Dunes is the longest par 4 on the property. It forces you to (typically) hit a mid to long iron into a very skinny and narrow green. Marshland protects the left side of the hole all the way through the green.
The fairway provides a big target to hit off the tee but that isn’t always apparent when you’re standing on the back box. The tall grass in front of you conceals how much fairway is out there. A bunker on the right side comes up fast if you rip it 285+ so there’s that to think about too. That being said, hit the fairway and put a good swing on your approach and you may have a shot at a 3. I’ve made a few here because a broken clock is correct twice a day too.
#15 – Erin Hills – 370 yards, par 4
The last short hole of my routing is the dramatic 15th at Erin Hills. All I have to say to get you to remember this hole from the 2017 U.S. Open is “Justin Thomas”. You didn’t forget that 3 wood he hit to nearly ace the hole on Saturday on his way to a course record 63, did you? Thomas did that with the tee moved up to 288 yards. That’s part of the charm of the hole, you can place the tee anywhere within an 80 yard range every day of a championship and it is still going to thrill the fans, scare the players, and allow anything from a 2 to a 7 on the scorecard.
What makes the hole great for me is the green complex. The green is psychedelic by itself but when you add in the perch it sits on that is complete shaved all the way around it gives the players a buffet of options and ways to play the hole. The 15th was a star at the U.S. Open as well as at the 2011 U.S. Amateur. Kudos to the USGA for being creative with how it plays. The tree you see to the left above doesn’t really come into play on the hole but it is the most noticeable one on the grounds of Erin Hills and helps to make this a signature hole.
#16 – Oakland Hills (South) – 406 yards, par 4
Hogan called the South course at Oakland Hills a monster, but one of the shortest holes on its exhausting back nine makes my routing. The 16th has been famous for years thanks to major championship heroics from Hogan, Gary Player, and Padraig Harrington. Its also one of only two holes on the Monster where water comes into play.
The tee shot is rather benign but after that the hole can and will eat your lunch if you lose focus for a nanosecond. I had a great angle from the fairway and a nine iron in my hand and still didn’t have the balls to fire at the flag over the lake. A pull to dry land isn’t a disaster but your short game will be tested and pitching the ball long back into the hazard is never off the table.
#17 – Kapalua (Plantation) – 549 yards, par 4
Don’t let that number on the scorecard fool you. First, it isn’t a par 5. That isn’t a typo. Second, it doesn’t play anywhere near 549 yards. And third, you’ll probably never play the 17th at the Plantation course from that yardage. The typical wind at Kapalua is behind you on 17 and you’re hitting down the good side of an old volcano. With that in mind, hit anything remotely solid and you’ll hit one of the longest drives of your life on this hole.
Enjoy that and regain your focus because the 2nd shot can make or break you. Depending on the tee you play, wind strength, direction, and conditions you’ll have anywhere from 240 to 180 yards left into 17. From there you’re trying to hit a longer club off a down hill lie over a giant gorge. Thank god it isn’t all carry and there’s plenty of room to bail out short and right of the green. That’s the smart play because most balls hit in that general area will funnel on to or near the green and make a par 4 an obtainable goal.
#18 – Butler National – 484 yards, par 4
Holes 12 to 18 on my course give you one true birdie opportunity at 15. There’s certainly no let up at 18 where you’ll find Butler National’s famed closing hole. The hole was most know for its trademark “Y” shaped tree in the middle of the fairway but the tree was lost about a decade a go and the club decided not to replace it. While it was memorable it was a bit unfair to hit one right down the middle and be stymie right behind it. All things must change and evolve I suppose.
Without the tree the hole is still a bear to make par on. There’s trouble if you miss the fairway to either side and the rough is lush enough to the point where you don’t want to try to advance a 200 yard shot out of it over the hazard that guards the green. The hole is demanding and full of strategy. My only complaint is that the closing hole at a club as prestigious as Butler should have the clubhouse and/or some kind of 19th hole nearby for spectating.
Inward Nine – 3959 yards, par 36
There you have it, my Dream 18 of holes I’ve played laid out in the order they appear at their course of origin. The result is a glorious par 71 that beats you up but makes it fun along its 7300+ yards. How did I do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below with your critiques and submissions of your own holes or courses. Don’t be shy and don’t forget, sharing is caring.