Thanks to the Refuge and those on it I’ve spent a lot of time learning about GCA. A lot more so in recent weeks. But it got me thinking: At my local course (Mill Creek Country Club, Mill Creek, WA) what holes could be considered “interesting” or “good architecture?” It’s a Ted Robinson design, traditional PNW course that is fairly tight, although this spring they have removed a lot of excess trees and started widening fairways. However, a lot of holes are of the “hit it straight or you’re punching out” variety.
My first thought on a good GCA hole is #6. It’s a shorter straight-away par 4 at 352 yards but, IMO, it gives you options off the tee. See below.
Originally I was hitting 3W off the tee, usually landing it around 2 but sometimes flaring it out to 3 and blocking myself from the green due to the trees near 3. If you end up near 3 you can aim towards 5 and try to cut it back, but if you land at 5 you will have a tough up-and-down due to some elevated areas off the green and a green that slopes away from you as you hit from 5 towards the green. If you cut it too much then you risk landing in the bunker or catching the slope into the water.
You can take out driver (or a long 3W) and hit it right up the middle hoping to catch the hill just after 2 and ending up at 4 for a 30-50 yard pitch. But there is OB on both sides and your window narrows with the OB on player’s left coming in as you approach the green and trees on the right coming in as well. These are not wide fairways and I’ve only done this successfully once.
I’ve found that the best option is to take a long iron or hybrid and land short of the fairway bunker (position 1), then have a low-mid iron in. This also gives you a chance to hug the left side of the fairway and give yourself a better angle to a back-right pin. This position is the widest point between OB stakes on either side and from anywhere on the fairway you have a clear view to the entire green. From this position, I’ve noticed that my average on the hole is about 0.5 strokes better over the same number of rounds played.
So, in my own conclusions, this seems like a simple yet well-designed hole because it gives you options. You can take on the fairway bunker and trees and hope to catch the downslope towards the green or you can lay back off the tee and have a longer but clear shot to any part of the green. Do you agree? Disagree? Or is this just a simple hole with no real GCA features? Do I need to go back to GCA school? Let me know what you think!