Braemar Golf Course - Hole #1
A Precise Approach
The opening hole at the new Braemar Golf Course begins from an elevated tee tucked into a hillside, providing the golfer with a complete view of the starting hole as well as several surrounding holes. The rumpled fairway leads golfers toward a green pinched by two mounds, both of which bleed into the putting surface and serve as the transition between two tiers.
In a nod to simple greens of a century ago, the approach seamlessly dissipates into the putting surface. The simplicity ends on the green, though, as a precise approach is necessary for anyone seeking a short putt. The most challenging pin placement is the lower front-right quadrant, which is tucked behind the hole's lone sand bunker and pinched on the right by one of the two aforementioned mounds.
The site configuration allowed for a north-facing orientation, which should always be done on an opening hole when the opportunity presents itself. Although we cleared out many of the random trees on the site, we preserved enough to take advantage of an existing corridor to define the direction of the hole.
Very little shaping was done to the fairway, just enough to create a subtle roll that doesn't look out of place with the flat nature of this portion of the property. Even though I wanted to start simply, I did want to create something memorable and, for this hole, that was the putting surface. I began with what I would call a "pre-golden age" feature for the approach, which is a straight connection from the fairway directly into the putting surface that is dead flat. I've always been intrigued by the simplicity of this feature and enjoyed attempting a putt literally from the fairway to the putting surface with no elevation change.
The green itself is two-tiered with the slope defined by a pair of offset mounds on each side of the green that bleed into the putting surface at different angles. The back tier is more like a crescent than a straight line across the space. During construction, the mounds on each side grew larger than originally conceived, primarily to provide some much-needed vertical dimension in such a flat, open area.