Take a long look. No, really. It's worth it, and honestly, you won't regret it once you get to the end of t he No. 11 hole at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club. This semiprivate, Tom Lehman and Kurt Sandness-designed course spared no expense, not only on scenery, but on fairways, greens — the things that make and break a course, as well as keep it challenging. First assistant golf professional Sven Nelson calls this hole "picturesque" and he's not just following management's orders. Near the tee box is history and nostalgia: the original water pump used to pump the actual Lake Jovita and a sprawling view of the Saint Leo University campus and its athletic fields, respectively. But it's the view from the top and bottom of the hole, looking down, as well as back up the 100-foot gradual decline that make sure No. 11 doesn't need Lehman (the 1996 British Open champion), Sandness or Nelson's enthusiast endorsements. Here's the scouting report:
ROLLING, ROLLING, ROLLING
Be prepared, that's what your ball will do on this hole. No matter where you hit it — on the fairway, the rough, in the trees — it's going to roll 20-30 extra yards (40 if you're lucky). But, of course, that's an advantage. Here, with a slight dogleg left, it means hitting a fade will be very beneficial. Landing it smack in the middle of the fairway will, obviously, give you a very good second shot, but even landing in the rough, which, quite honestly, is very fluffy, will give you a decent lie. A second shot can be one of two things here: a short lay up, leaving you with a very easy chip on a very generous green, or a all-out swing with a 3-wood or hybrid that will — granted you hit it straight and well — will give you an eagle opportunity.
ON THE LEVEL
Toward the bottom of this expansive fairway, it just pretty much bottoms out about 10-15 yards before the green. This helps with the lay up or if you come up short on the second shot. There can be, however, an area that is susceptible to becoming ground under repair, that is, when the heavy rains come day after day.
No. 11 features, according to Nelson, "six little pot bunkers that can really get to you." He's right. There are tiny, little, and yes, even annoying, sand traps just littered about on this hole. Three right where most drives will land, where you know, it's just magnetized for your ball and this slope, and three others surrounding the green like an offensive line surrounds a quarterback.
THE GIVING GREEN
It's a massive green. Very wide, very open, especially once you take out those three sand traps and then a pesky pond on the right side. Yeah, it's blocked well, but not hard to get to. Once you do get on the green, the one that Nelson calls "very forgiving and receptive," it can run. It's fast, but not as fast as you'd think, and with green sloping from back to front and then the front half from left to right, you want it in the middle of the green, for obvious reasons. But the slope isn't that much of a clip, so it won't take you smacking the ball to get up the hill to, say, a pin placement in the back, when you come up short on a chip.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call (352) 544-9480.
HIS TWO CENTS
"You have an opportunity to go for (a birdie). Absolutely. You just have to chose. You can lay up easily or, depending on your skill, get it to the green. But you have to stick to the left side of the fairway and for most of the hole. Do that and you should be more than fine." Sven Nelson, Lake Jovita first assistant golf professional
MY TWO CENTS
"You might as well go for it. If Sven says it's possible, and I had a shot at it, then more than likely, so will you. If you can hit a good tee shot, pull out a hybrid, because you can club down due to the steep decline. You'll have plenty of extra carry, that pulling out the 3-wood, might just be disastrous with the bunkers and water around the green."
Community sports editor Mike Camunas can be reached at (352) 544-1771 or email@example.com.