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Signature Series

Hernando course a challenge to golfers

The view from the back of the green at the No. 14 hole at Seven Hills Golfers Club in Spring Hill. The green is flat and fast.

MIKE CAMUNAS | Times

The view from the back of the green at the No. 14 hole at Seven Hills Golfers Club in Spring Hill. The green is flat and fast.

SPRING HILL

Yards and yards away, there's the hole. Oh, it's there, but it won't be easy getting to it. Sure, that's sounds like many other holes at many other courses, but that doesn't make the No. 14 hole at Seven Hills Golfers Club any easier. Despite what clubs you may have, despite what strategy you may use to get down the fairway, you better pretty much rule out eagle opportunities. Though it's not impossible. This hole, however, has a little of everything. Hazards, hills, trees, even a dog-leg right. For the type of course this is — inside a suburb community — and for the normal clientele the course sees — usually retirees or snowbirds — its just an abnormal hole to throw at average golfers. "I would say the average score on this hole is usually a seven," Seven Hills pro shop manager Tim Spangler said. "It's really just not a good hole for your average golfer. It has to be played just right." That sounds about right. Here's the scouting report:

Narrow and narrower

For just a minute, forget that you're nearly 500 yards (the white tees) or nearly half a mile (the blue tees) away. We'll get to that. Right now, you've got to worry about just getting into the fairway, and that isn't easy. It's more narrow than the Olsen twins combined, and even then, you have to stay to the left side. The drive needs to be straight and long, because not only is the fairway about 10 feet up, its shaped a little like a crescent moon. Staying to the left center keeps you away from trees on the left and then the bunker on the right. "The farther placed left, the better chance you're going to have (for an eagle opportunity)," Spangler said.

See, it's not totally out of the questions, but good luck. You need two perfectly hit shots for maximum distance, and they probably need to be ones that come off the clubs of a professional to reach the green. Though you might be able to do it, a birdie attempt will be more realistic.

Dog gone it

What's interesting about the hole is after yards and yards of narrow fairway, there's a random dog-leg right thrown at you just before the green. This factoid is what makes it imperative that you stay on the left side of the fairway. Being over there gives you the best shot/view up to the green. A fade shot is the key on this hole, if you hit a draw — whether naturally or by accident — then you'll be hitting over that dog-leg right of trees. Then it's a shot that will take some extra mustard to get not only over the trees, but the bunker to right of the green.

"You need a heck of a poke to get up to the green in three from the right side," Spangler said. "That shot is usually hard for your average golfer."

Funnel cake

Thanks to that dog-leg, you're going to run out of room quick in front of the green. The fairway funnels — literally shrinks — leading up to the green. It'll come into play when you lay up the second shot, in the fact that you'll just be running out of safe real estate to put that shot. Also, be wary of the two sand traps guarding both sides of the green.

Kidney pie

Ah, a big, wide open green. There's nothing like the sight of it. Sure, there are larger greens out there, but this kidney-shaped green is not only easy to get on — given your third shot, that is — its flatter than an old tire. However, the green is fast, so be prepared to take a little off your putts.

Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at mcamunas@sptimes.com or (352) 544-1771.

His two cents

"Make sure you keep the ball to the left side of the fairway, and then placing your shots is important coming into the green because that will give you the best birdie opportunity, too much to the right, and your score will just go up and up."

Tim Spangler, Seven Hills Golfers Club pro shop manager

My two cents

"Average golfers beware: you will have difficulty with this hole. It's just so hard to play the narrow fairway if you can't fade your shots. Even straight shots aren't particularly safe. I didn't stay on the left side like Spangler said. I was on the right, and my third shot was over those trees. I did make it over and had a birdie attempt, but dang if it wasn't a stressful shot."

Mike Camunas, Community Sports Editor and golf enthusiast

Suggest a hole for Signature Series

Like the island par 3 hole on your favorite course? What about the massive par 5 that seems impossible to birdie? Or is there a favorite hole that just seems like utopia to play? Tell us about it for our Signature Series. We take a hole, break it down and give you tips on how to tackle it. Golf courses and their pros are encouraged to nominate holes to Community Sports editor Mike Camunas. Submission, comments or questions can be sent to communitysports@tampabay.com or call (352) 544-1771.

Hernando course a challenge to golfers 03/03/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:31pm]
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