NEW PORT RICHEY
It's a turn that can easily become a drag. No. 3 on the Champion Course at Seven Springs Golf and Country Club is a par-5 hole bordered on the left side by water. There's just no avoiding looking at that water and thinking, "I bet there's a million golf balls in there." And you could make it a million and one, if you're not careful. "This really is a risk/reward hole," Seven Springs head PGA professional Mark Haluska said. Haluska means a golfer can either go for glory and try to reach the green in two shots, or take the safe route and lay up to get on in three. Both can work out, and both can be done. But plenty of golfers think they can Tiger Woods this hole because of the short course yardage (6,431 yards) and the fact that this hole isn't considered very hard (only a 9 handicap). It's just a matter of not dragging down the score in the process. While eagle and/or birdie attempts are available, so is a snowman.
The scouting report:
To the left
This fairway breaks to the left between the 150 and 200 yard markers, but then it rounds its way to the green. On the left is all that water and massive cypress trees that can't be hit over. Better find a way to hit about a 200-yard draw shot to make it to the green. Even then, the pin placement might be in the back that day.
"This is really a hole that can jump-start your round because the first two aren't really birdie holes," Haluska said. "It's really going to come down to how aggressive you can be from the tee and on your second shot."
Meaning it can be done, it'll just take some work as well as skill.
Don't forget luck. The green is tucked behind the trees and water. Unless the drive goes 300-plus yards and stays on the fairway, it's a tough shot to reach the green in two.
There's no shame in laying up, as most of Seven Springs' clientele does, according to Haluska. Some golfers just can't carry that yardage to the green. No worries, though. There is plenty of landing area for laying up on a spacious fairway that stretches wider than the green. Then get ready to use the short game.
Life's a beach
There are just two sand traps to worry about: one on the right at the end of the fairway and one on the left side of the green. The one next to the fairway hardly comes into play with all the shots going to the left. But the one by the green can play havoc because second or third shots can hook in there. Also, keep in mind that the right side of the fairway is lined with trees. None stick out, but it's buh-bye to the ball if it goes in there.
The grassy knoll
The fairly large green slopes from back to front and slightly left to right. The greens at Seven Springs are deceivingly fast. Pin placement determines the difficulty. If the pin is in front, the green is mostly level there, but if the pin is in the back and the ball is in the front, it's an uphill putt that will take a lot of oomph. That's why laying up can be crucial. It gives the golfer more control of where the putt will take place.
Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 544-1771.