Pete Dyes Design Notes:
Old Marsh Golf Club
Hole 1 - Par 4, Tour 368, Champ 363,
Member 338, Mid 316, Fwd 283
Hole #1 at Old Marsh Golf Club is a good
opening par 4 with a wide open fairway and water along the entire
left side that is guarded by a long narrow bunker. Theres
also a knobby mound at the front right of the green, which partially
hides the putting surface, enhancing the character of the hole.
My intention was to provide putting surfaces
at Old Marsh with a half-inch of fall every ten feet or so. The
human eye can detect only a two-and-one-half-inch fall every
ten feet, so I attempt to make a putt appear straight when it
actually has some curvature.
At Old Marsh the approaches to the greens
are generally open in front and roll in and onto the putting
surfaces, and the greens are relatively flat, with the mounds
abutting. One contour on the green is also usually counteracted
by another to prevent the ball from gaining speed at the hole.
Hole 2 - Par 5, Tour 537, Champ 500,
Member 490, Mid 449, Fwd 417
After playing the right to left 1st hole,
the 2nd hole sets up left to right off the tees. This is a downwind
par five that runs over water to a landing area thats plenty
wide. From the members tees, its 150 yards of carry
to the fairway, but for your second shot, theres a liberal
landing area to the right. Because the green runs right to left
creating a double dogleg, I suggest you hit your second shot
toward the right side of the fairway so the green will open up
to you. The 2nd green is shaped like a little upside down saucer,
with one little pot bunker on the left in front. If you play
this short par 5 from the correct tees your third shot should
be a short pitch shot and a good opportunity to par or even birdie.
Hole 3 - Par 3, Tour 200, Champ 194,
Member 170, Mid 161, Fwd 110
Its an easy walk from the 2nd green
to the 3rd tee. This is a hole to make every environmentalists
heart leap. The entire right side of this bulkheaded par three
is man-made, mitigated marsh. So what looks like Mother Nature,
was actually put in there by hand, carefully re-creating a natural
looking wetland. Keep your tee shot left, if anything, because
theres a safe little bailout area to the left of the good-sized
green blinded from the tee.
Hole 4 - Par 4, Tour 401, Champ 371,
Member 343, Mid 308, Fwd 287
This is a relatively short par 4 but
youve got a pretty good carry off the tee to get over the
marsh. Hit your tee shot across the marsh to the right side of
the fairway, even through you can see the flag and the green
toward the left. Theres plenty of landing area right, and
the green is receptive from that side. The giant menacing bunker
left of the landing area will keep your ball in bounds in the
event of a big time hook or a pull off the tee; however its
still shallow enough to allow for a good recovery on your second
shot. But be warned, the 4th green has some significant contours
and is not the easiest green to putt.
Hole 5 - Par 4, Tour 362, Champ 362,
Member 318, Mid 287, Fwd 230
After going east on the 4th hole the
5th hole turns south into the prevailing wind. A golfer could
play this hole 100 times and never really figure out how to play
it. I built this love/hate hole with a short approach shot to
a green hidden behind a huge two story mound. Most golfers who
have traveled to Prestwick in Scotland find the design reminiscent
of the par four Alps hole there.
Before I believed in the design of blind
holes, I mentioned my dislike for them to Tommy Armour. The silver-haired
Scotsman bluntly told me I knew nothing about golf, adding, Laddie,
a blind hole is blind only once to a man with a memory.
Tommy Armour believed blind shots were
effective since they created anxiety in the golfers by delaying
their knowing the result of their shots. I know Ben Hogan hated
them, but I think they can play an important part in the mix
of holes on a particular course.
Players of all levels love to walk up
and look around the mound, check the placement of the pin, and
then try to imagine the line of flight to the green. The whole
experience is topped off when they finally hit the shot and then
race to the side of the mound to see where the ball landed.
Blind Mans Bluff at Old Marsh is
a short par 4 that measures only 320 yards from the back tee,
but there is water to the right that borders the entire hole.
If the tee shot is properly positioned in the middle of the fairway,
a small obelisk rock sitting on top of the mound signals the
line to the green.
To play this hole I suggest you hit the
tee shot 120 yards short of the mound, so that you can then hit
a full nine iron to the green. The wind prevails from the southeast,
so the left side of the green is safe no matter where the rock
is (the rock on the top of the hill gives you a line to the flag
very much like the Dell hole at Ballybunion.). Get it on the
green and go for two putts. But dont use too much club,
because theres a pond beyond the 5th green.
Hole 6 - Par 4, Tour 469, Champ 444,
Member 418, Mid 399, Fwd 349
Continuing south, we mentally shift gears from a short par 4
to a good long par 4. The #1 handicap hole on the course, the
6th hole is one of the few brute strength holes at
Old Marsh where placement and club selection usually prevail
over power. Once again, aim away from the green to the widest
part of the fairway, straight at the bunker on the left. Youll
then have a wide open shot to the smallish 6th green. The long
narrow bunker on the right in front of the green is more to prevent
the players errant shot from going into the water than
it is to provide another hazard.
Hole 7 - Par 5, Tour 556, Champ 556,
Member 540, Mid 500, Fwd 430
Changing direction, Hole #7 runs westward.
Since youre faced with marsh and a long bunker on the right
side of this dogleg right par 5, I suggest that you should hit
your tee shot to the left side of the fairway for best results.
Then, your second shot should also favor the left side of the
fairway, which will provide you with the best angle to approach
the green. Again, the strategy at Old Marsh is to hit the ball
where the percentages are best and thats by no means always
at the green or the flag.
Hole 8 - Par 3, Tour 173, Champ 155,
Member 146, Mid 137, Fwd 116
This is the best little downwind par
three Ive ever built. Although youve got to carry
it over water all the way, once you get there the bulkheaded
green is the size of a football field. The natural marsh on the
right and the deep pine woods on the left should be enough to
force your attention to the pin. When its set on the right,
I usually aim my tee shot to the left side and cut it in over
the marsh, and then putt for a birdie.
Hole 9 - Par 4, Tour 458, Champ 437,
Member 396, Mid 385, Fwd 315
Turning back north again onto the 9th
hole we have now gone all four directions. Even though its
rated the 3rd hardest hole on the course with its bulkhead and
water along the entire left side, this par 4 might be considered
a relief hole from the members tee since it has the widest
approach and fairway on the whole course. If youre playing
from the correct tee, you shouldnt have any trouble carrying
the lagoon to the generous landing area and you could very well
get home in two. Now the 9th green has got some contour to it
but its not that severe so theres no reason you couldnt
get a par on this relatively long par 4.
Hole 10 - Par 4, Tour 313, Champ 313,
Member 300, Mid 271, Fwd 227
After the clockwise rotation of the front
side holes, those on the back run counterclockwise, with wetlands
bordering the left side of most of the holes. You get a great
change of pace coming from the long difficult par four 9th to
the short easy par four 10th hole. Though its the shortest
par 4 on the course, I personally like the 10th hole a lot: because
it so often proves that finesse is more important than brawn
in the game of golf.
At just 313 yards from the very back
tee, the longest hitters may be able to challenge the green off
the tee, making an eagle, two. But its still very challenging
because there is marsh on the left and right, so an accurate
shot off the tee is definitely required. I would suggest that
players laying up would be best served positioning their ball
just left of the small pine and palm tree grove that is about
200 yards off the tee, leaving them with a short wedge approach
to the green.
A large bunker protects the front right
side of the green and also hides the middle and right-hand side
from the players view as they approach. This shot requires a
precise wedge to get the ball close, but you can roll the ball
onto the left side of the green, which is built to the existing
grade. The green also has a lot of undulations and subtle breaks
that require an accurate read in order to be able to hole your
birdie or save par here at #10.
Hole 11 - Par 4, Tour 399, Champ 391,
Member 345, Mid 328, Fwd 278
Eleven is a little bit longer par 4 that
doglegs right to left and has a liberal driving area especially
if you keep it to the right side. Once again, the straight line
off the tee is risky as it means you have to hit over the marsh
on the left. In my opinion you are better off keeping your tee
shot to the right, where youll wind up with an open shot
to the green. The 11th green itself is also pretty receptive
and open in front so you can either roll it in or get the approach
up in the air and carry it in.
Hole 12 - Par 5, Tour 502, Champ 478,
Member 465, Mid 429, Fwd 381
Now for another change of pace, Hole
#12 is a par five that goes dead west. It is the shortest par
five on the course, and the hazards here are chiefly mental.
The marshes and the feeding birds frequently will distract you
from what should really be a not-that-difficult tee shot. The
carry from the members tees is only 160 yards, and the
landing area is very generous. Once there, hit your second shot
to the right, short of the green. The big hitters who go for
it will find a large bunker in front of the green, and disaster
in the form of a marsh beyond the green.
Hole 13 - Par 4, Tour 406, Champ 377,
Member 366, Mid 336, Fwd 274
To mix it up, #12 was a hard hole but
not-so-much a difficult driving fairway, whereas #13 is an easier
hole but a more difficult driving fairway. The most difficult
tee shot at Old Marsh, hole #13 is a dogleg left that runs south
and features marsh on the left and out of bounds on the right.
When you see that flag down to the left, youll subconsciously
want to hit it to that side of the fairway, but resist the urge.
I would aim for the right-center of the fairway because there
is more room on the right than is visible from the tee. Now, greenside, theres a bunker
built along the right and the green itself looks flat, but, we
built the bunker up the way 19th century courses were built with
blind parts of the greens. Thirteen is a perfect
example of the semi-blind green, due to the old-style mound on
Hole 14 - Par 3, Tour 215, Champ 190,
Member 175, Mid 152, Fwd 128
Hole #14 is the longest par three on
the course. There is nothing in front of the green, and to the
right there is a big collar of Bermuda grass. Most often I would
suggest hitting it toward the right rather than to the pin. Thats
how I usually play this hole. The whole thing about Old Marsh,
throughout the course, is to stay away from the marsh. If you
miss it right here for example you can at least keep it in play.
Miss it left, and your ball becomes part of the local ecology.
This bunkerless par three is unique. I love this hole.
Hole 15 - Par 4, Tour 471,
Champ 393, Member 387, Mid 323, Fwd 312
Rated the 4th hardest hole on the course,
the 15th hole is a great dogleg left, par 4 with enough landing
area on the right side for two football fields. But because the
green is to the left, over the marsh, players persist in cutting
off too much of the dogleg. Instead, I would play it straight
down the middle of the fairway, and wind up with an open shot
to the green. From mid-fairway, youll have a medium iron
to the contoured green. If the hole placement is to the rear,
make sure you take an extra club.
Hole 16 - Par 3, Tour 176, Champ 176,
Member 162, Mid 145, Fwd 124
I dont know why, but the 16th hole
is rated as the easiest hole on the course. This par three, over
water, is the tightest bunkered green on the course. Theres
no bailout area, but the green is quite large. Although the bunkers
dont blind the green, some of the contours can fool you.
I will tell you this however; a good iron off the tee will be
rewarded on this green.
Hole 17 - Par 5, Tour 573, Champ 530,
Member 510, Mid 468, Fwd 401
Rated as the 2nd hardest hole on the
course, this long par 5 with water on both sides, has plenty
of room on the left side, so aim your tee shot to the left. On
the canal side of the fairway you notice a distinctive feature
that we maintain throughout the course at Old Marsh where the
grass along the banks of the marsh are maintained at a much taller
height of cut in order to add stability to the bank. But also
as a design feature, it makes the holes play a little easier
by preventing the players ball from going down in the hazard.
Your second shot on this hole should
be a positioned iron shot, aimed towards the right center of
the green. Theres really no reason to gamble here, since
unless you hit it as far as a touring pro, you cant get
home anyway. Whatever you do, dont go left with your second
shot, or your ball will become the property of the resident pair
of Sandhill Cranes who live there. By the way, their names are
Pete and Alice.
Hole 18 - Par 4, Tour 460, Champ 440,
Member 395, Mid 376, Fwd 316
The final hole plays downwind, and is
a mirror twin of nine. This one plays from left to right, and
the member player has the widest landing area. Keep it left,
away from the lake. With the sight of the Old Marsh Clubhouse
in the background, you can roll it on from the front left from
where the contours make it most receptive. But be warned, it
takes an accurate read to hole out on the huge 18th green.