Braemar Golf Course - Hole #6
Video footage courtesy of TwinCitiesGolf.com.
Playing Towards The Trouble
The second of the trio of front-nine par-five holes moves to the left downhill from the Oak Savanna ridge into a valley framed by more oaks along the left and a hillside on the right. The golfer who assumes the fairway bunker cut into the base of that hillside should be avoided will miss a great aiming point off the tee. That hazard denotes what is actually the safer, albeit longer, path to the green. The play from as close to that fairway bunker as possible is the wiser choice as the route opens up from that side, eliminating a bunker further down the left side from consideration as well as both tree lines.
The shorter route cutting the corner to the left requires a play over a swale running along that side. The next shot along this line to the green can best be described as uncomfortable as the route is blocked by that second fairway bunker in addition to more oaks matched on the right side by an additional tree line.
That said, a third fairway bunker jutting out from another ridge on the right approximately fifty yards out conceals the right half of the putting surface. The line of play bisects the green with a dramatic ridge that transitions the high side of the green into the lower left side of the green. If an approach finds the wrong side, a putt traversing a three-foot tier will demand excellent touch.
What stood out for me most with this hole was that one could kick a tee shot hard off a large ridge along the right with a big right to left spin. Coupled with Oaks that could potentially line both sides of the hole and the need to start thinking about how to get back to the clubhouse for the turn, my decision to route the hole along this line was an easy one.
To me, the hole is very golden-age starting with the tee shot as it plays downhill off one hillside and carries a natural drainage swale to a slightly elevated fairway (banked hard against the ridge on the right). That swale continues down the left side of the hole for the first few hundred yards.
The placement of the fairway bunkers reminds me of how someone like Ross would juxtapose his fairway bunkers (short one side and long the opposite side) as opposed to someone with a more modern approach like RTJ, who would simply pinch a landing area.
I started developing the hole's strategy by fitting both fairway bunkers on the right into the ridge along that side. Countering that side, the left fairway bunker, set in between the landing areas, conceals the green from the golfer who decides to cut the corner. It also visually pinches the second landing area. The tendency is to automatically cut the corner, but the best strategy here is to flirt with the right fairway bunker as much as possible as the angle into the green opens up more.
Strategy 1 - Flirt With The Bunkers (Best)
Strategy 2 - Cutting The Corner
The green juts out from the ridge on the right. In order to fit it in the ground as natural-appearing as possible, it was necessary to create a stiff ridge running along the north-south axis of the surface. Wedge approaches will have to be accurate to avoid being on the wrong side.