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No. 1 at Pine Ridge is a sight to behold

Standing on the back tees of the No. 1 hole at Pine Ridge Golf and Country Club, the most impressive sight is what you cannot see _ the green.

It's too far down the hill.

Elevation _ not exactly common on Citrus County golf courses _ makes this downhill par-4 Pine Ridge's signature hole, talked about in the clubhouse as much for its majesty as its difficulty.

"When you stand on the tee at No. 1 you can look out over the hole," Pine Ridge head professional Chuck Almony said. "There aren't too many holes in Citrus County where you can do that."

The green is not visible from the blue tees, where the hole plays to 380 yards. But the view does include a rolling landscape of trees and sky engaging enough to be a distraction when it comes to matters such as alignment.

"You can stand on the tee and see if the rain is coming at you before you tee off," Almony said.

Move up to the white tees, from where most amateurs play the hole to 353 yards, and the green is just barely in the line of sight, nearly 100 feet below. From the red tees, forward enough to take away a sizable portion of the elevation, the hole is not nearly so daunting, merely 301 yards away.

Beyond its appearance, the hole has characteristics both good and bad for the average player.

The bad news is that the right side of this narrow fairway is lined with leafy danger.

"There's a lot of trees to the right, and everybody hits it to the right because it's the first hole and they're not warmed up yet," Almony said. "The right side closes you out to the hole."

But a true drive will be rewarded by the hole's steep terrain that adds anywhere from 30 to 50 yards in distance.

"Anything downhill is good," Almony said.

Those more adept at controlling the direction of their tee shots can even play a ricochet off a ridge on the right side that will send the ball rolling toward, sometimes even onto, the green.

"If you hit it out just to the right and hit the bank with a little draw you can almost drive the green," Almony said.

The green is guarded by two bunkers, one on each side.

Aside from the elevation, the hole is typical of the layout at Pine Ridge _ not terribly long but tight with lots of trees on both sides of the fairway.

Work currently is being done to make the course longer; tees are being moved back on a number of holes.

In time, these changes will alter the complexion of the 14-year-old course, but nothing can take away from the altitude _ or the ambiance _ of the No. 1 hole.

SIGNATURE HOLE

No. 1 at Pine Ridge Country Club

PAR: Four.

DISTANCE: 380 yards from blue tees; 353 from whites, 301 from reds.

STRATEGY: This is the No. 7 handicap hole, and there are two ways to approach the tee shot. The safer play is toward the left, away from trees and shrubs that line the right side of this narrow fairway. More adept players may want to aim a draw at a ridge along the dangerous right side that can ricochet a ball toward, and perhaps onto, the green.

About the course

PAR: 72 from all tees.

YARDAGE: Blue tees 6,006 yards, whites 5,521, reds 4,939.

RATING: Blue tees 68.6, whites 66.3, reds 68.9.

LANDSCAPE: Rolling elevation with narrow fairways and plenty of trees. There is no water on the course, though a pond is being built this summer on the par-5 No. 11.

SUMMER FEES: Weekdays _ 18 holes and half cart is $15 from 7 a.m.-noon, $10 from noon-4 p.m., $8 from 4 p.m.-close. Weekends _ 18 holes and half cart, plus a hot dog and beverage, for $15.90 until noon, $12.75 after noon. On the Little Pine nine-hole course, $4 to walk nine holes, $6 to ride nine holes or walk 18 holes, $8 to ride 18 holes.

PHONE: 746-6177.

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