Nearly 22 years ago, a farmer built a golf course on the vast empty land of eastern Pasco County. Today, owner Brantley Smith is the only one allowed to wear jeans on his course, Silverado Golf & Country Club. With its giant oak trees and handful of ponds, the clientele — mostly snowbirds and retirees — find playing it as a par 71, 5,827-yard course as challenging as playing it as a par 72, 6,671-yard one. It's the No. 10 that changes the par score. The hole originally was planned as a par 5, but got bumped down to a par 4 because it lacks a lay-up area before a large pond. "It's even sodded over there, but it's never used," general manager Sean Klotz said. No. 10 also has white tees a mere 167 yards to the pin, transforming it into a par 3 hole. Turns out, most golfers prefer to play it as a par 3. "Actually, the fairway is always in great shape because no one ever uses it," Klotz joked. Here's the scouting report as both par 4 and par 3:
Calling out four
If a golfer does decide to tee off from the silver tees, the hole plays at 442 yards and has a very open and flat fairway. It gets plenty of roll and has no major hazards to worry about. There is, however, a retention ditch to the right (that is quickly filling with water) and then a large tree sticking out on the left side. The tree is 115-120 yards from the tee box, so Klotz says a little draw would be a perfect drive.
"Aim toward the right side of the green and that will put you in perfect shape," he said.
The second shot will be between 150 and 185 yards, depending on the drive. From here, its a shot over a large pond in front of the rather small, hilly green. The distance is deceiving, so Klotz advises to club up to carry to the back of the green.
"There is a bunker that guards it back there," he adds. "That's not necessarily a bad place to be."
If the second shot comes up short, it heads down the hill, back to the pond. The ball won't roll in the water, but will leave a bad lie for a chip back up, easily adding an extra stroke.
As a par 3, the hole becomes roughly a 150-yard shot over the aforementioned pond. Again, Klotz recommends not to underestimate the distance. The hole can be disastrous because of this water hazard.
"It's really an easy bogey," Klotz said. "It's because of how the green sits on the slope."
For either the par 4 or par 3 attempt, Klotz says there is a bailout area to the right of the green, which should help most average golfers play the hole up and down for par.
The ditch on the right side, the trees, the single bunker and, of course, the pond all clearly come into play on this hole. However, taking into account how these sit on the course, they only add strokes on the score if directly hit into. So, obviously, avoid them.
Pinning down the green
It's an oddly shaped green, but has plenty of space. The problem with this green — the hardest green at Silverado, Klotz said — is its slope. It's mostly flat in the rear, but it also has a tremendous back to front run, including a 5-foot hill in the middle right. That's where the pin placements come into play.
Up front, it's difficult because a putt downhill can run forever. In the middle, Klotz calls this a "cruel joke" because it's nearly impossible to land a shot near the hole without it rolling. In the flat back area, it'll be an easier putt.
"This green is a hard complex of multiple pin placements," Klotz said. "It takes work to figure them out and then you can still easily three putt."
Community sports editor Mike Camunas can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 544-1771.