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Signature Series

Oak Hills Golf Club's No. 13 hole may yield birdies, but eagles unlikely

SPRING HILL

The name does it justice. That's because Oak Hills Golf Club couldn't be more literal. A golf club surrounded by oak trees and built on hills. "There's plenty of elevation here," director of golf Mike Sussman said. "It has a lot for a course around here." Though Oak Hills doesn't have gas-powered carts for those inclines, it does have enough slopes to change a golfer's strategy. Take the No. 13 hole for example. Not only does it have distance, it's practically a half pipe out there, though not as literal as the course's name. The tee shot does drop down nearly 30 feet, and then the green is raised up another 20. Oh yeah, throw in the massive dog-leg right and this hole is no Sunday parade. Here's the scouting report:

Bombs away

A steady slope down to the fairway greets you at the tee box at No. 13. Sure, it also looks inviting, and actually, it sort of is. It's a wide open tee shot. However, you're going to want to stay right on the fairway. Ideally, a fade shot would be the best bet, though you also need distance to clear the trees on the bend on the dog-leg.

"The distance can play havoc on people's game and score," Sussman said. "This course easily adds to a score, and this hole is usually a bogie."

Sussman adds that if the drive stays to the left side of the fairway, that's just tacking on extra yardage for the second shot, probably leading to a third shot just to reach the green.

Tree-riffic

The problem with the trees is not there are many of them — and they're oak trees, by the way — it's that there are two or three very large ones that partially stick out on the fairway, blocking a cut shot to the green. It also plays defense on a short fade shot, resulting in a low shot around them or having to lay up in front of the green.

"I'd say cheat on this hole," Sussman said with a smile. "You either need to hit it past those trees or to the left of them. It's really, really hard to carry those trees."

Let's be frank: you better have a PGA Tour card in your wallet if you expect to make the green in two shots. Plan on using a hybrid heading toward the green.

Bono had it right

Elevation. There's not an absurd amount, but the green is raised up, meaning check your club. More often than not, clubbing up will be the best option.

"It's usually a club or two more going back up the hill (towards the green)," Sussman said. "It's always further than you think on this hole."

Sussman's right. The green gradually rises up, and despite its vast real estate, the green has a narrow entrance to the pin. On the left is a rather large bunker, and on the right, rough and a small hill. It takes a solid shot — preferably a draw to follow the narrow entrance — to reach the pin.

Green thumb

As mentioned above, the green is large. It also slopes from back to front, with a slight tilt towards the right. Not surprising how this green slopes back to the fairway; however, it really doesn't come into play. If you come up short on the approach, the ball won't drastically roll back down the fairway, if at all. Though it's better to be at the top of the green and coming down toward the hole than having to putt up the slope.

Also, these greens are manicured precisely and faster than a souped-up Honda, so expect balls to run a little hot.

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

His two cents

"It's going to be hard to get there in two (shots). Those trees pretty much prevent doing so unless you get a far drive past them, but you have to have the distance to do that. Getting a birdie is more realistic, but hard."

Mike Sussman, director of golf at Oak Hills Golf Club

My two cents

"Forget an eagle. Don't even let the idea get in your head. Playing it conservative will, believe it or not, give you a birdie attempt. Going for it all will get you in trouble. Play the first two shots right, and your third shot will be a 100-yard approach shot. You'll count your blessings when you circle that four on your scorecard."

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 a Utopia to play? Then 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.

Oak Hills Golf Club's No. 13 hole may yield birdies, but eagles unlikely 05/12/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 6:58pm]
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