Playing The Angles
This dogleg right par-four doesn’t require a long tee shot as much as it requires an aggressive tee shot willing to hug a creek running along the right side from the tee complex, extending the length of the fairway before it bisects the fairway just beyond the landing area. An approach from the right side as close to the creek as possible can mean a two- or three-club difference from another rumpled fairway compared to an even longer tee shot that strays to the left away from the water. Any thoughts of cutting the corner off the tee will quickly be dropped as a huge Oak stands sentinel at the corner of the dogleg on the green side of the creek.
A slightly uphill approach is set to a bunkerless putting surface. Any short approaches will find grass hollows that may kick balls to the left toward the same creek that now hugs the left side of the approach and putting surface.
Donald Ross once said, "Should your property happily have a brook running through it, choice treatments can be secured by arranging one hole parallel with it and another so the drive or second shot must cross it." My plan will always be to secure the choice treatment whenever I have the opportunity as they truly are few and far between. That opportunity was present at Braemar but the challenge was to be careful with its use considering the water already present on the site of a golf course designed for public play. But a creek is just too good to pass up and it was central to my routing for the new Braemar.
Typically golfers tend to shy away from hazards that run parallel to the line of play which is why I like to dangle a 'carrot of opportunity' whenever a creek is present. A tight piece of ground did not allow for the chance to carry the creek on the tee shot, which seems to be the default design solution anyway (not as intriguing and too predictable). Rather, by bringing the fairway as close to the creek as possible, the golfer has to re-think the idea of a long tee shot.
For this hole, the shorter tee shot close to the creek edge will reward the golfer with a shorter approach. This hole just doesn't reward a long tee shot and by playing to the safe side of the fairway away from the creek, a much longer approach will neutralize any gains off the tee with a big drive. Threading the needle with a wood off the tee is a challenge most golfers don't experience in their round of golf but is most desired on this hole.