Don't be fooled. You'll look at the scorecard, see the No. 11 hole at Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club and it'll be marked as the 17th handicap for the course. At 458 yards from the black tees, it's rightly so at the bottom of the most difficult holes to play at the San Antonio links. "It is a par-5, but it isn't overly challenging in length," head professional Tom McKone said. "It challenges you on your tee shot, your second or third shot for that matter. All around, even with the low handicap, it's no easy hole to grab a par because it can play tricks on you." It also has more water than a ditch in the Netherlands. Strategically placed, it keeps you to one side of the hole and makes, as McKone said, your fairway shots a bit of a challenge. This is no walk in the park for being a low handicap and its not even the longest par-5 at the course. "I've always thought this was a challenge because of where the water is," McKone said. "I've been here eight years and you'll see people just get too close to the water." Here's a scouting report:
Dogging it out
This hole starts off with a huge dogleg right. It's actually a bit of a curve that's just shy of a 90 degrees. It is, however, very open on the left side of the hole. Not a tree or a bush to worry about, or even sand traps. As a matter of fact, to the left side of the hole is where you're going to want to hit. With the amount of the water on the right-hand side, being a left-wing ain't a bad thing, and even in the rough is being safe on this hole.
You may not need a scuba suit to handle the water on this hole, but it should still be a concern. That water, as seen on the graphic and photos, runs all the way up the right side of the fairway and up to the green. McKone says it "creeps" up in front of the green, hindering layup shots just short of the green. In fact, you either have to nail your second shot, or lay up very short, then chip over water to the green.
"Make sure you're not short because you'll either be wet or having a difficult shot over water," McKone said. "If your short game isn't the best or up to par, you're not really going to be wanting that."
There are four sand traps to keep in mind. Two at the very end of the fairway, which will be easily avoidable unless you shank it on your second shot, and then two by the green, one on each side. Those two are small, minor bunkers that are easily avoidable, especially when steering clear of all that water that will be weighing heavy on the brain. "I think most golfers can relate on just how difficult it can be to avoid water sometimes, like the ball just wants to go there," McKone said.
Greens here are well kept, some of the best McKone says he's ever seen. However, they are not particularly fast. No. 11's green slopes from front to back and from back left to front right. Coming up short, on the green that is, will not roll you back into the water, just the fringe in the front. However, missing the green may just put you back in the water. The key here: get to the back of the green and come down hill to the hole, especially if the pin placement is in the front.
Community sports editor Mike Camunas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 544-1771.