Jerry Pate knows golf. He's got eight wins on the PGA Tour, including the 1976 U.S. Open, and he's an accomplished course designer. Throughout the season, he'll be stopping by Devil Ball to offer an inside-the-ropes look at the week's upcoming course. Today: Quail Hollow, coincidentally enough the site of this week's Quail Hollow Championship.
The "flow" of a golf course refers to the balance and positioning of the various types and difficulties of holes throughout the round. Quail Hollow Country Club is so well-liked and respected by the players because of its interesting flow, particularly on its incoming nine.
Players approaching the final nine of this golf tournament looking to protect a lead or make a run up the leaderboard must be successful on the attackable holes or be forced into aggressive play on the final holes that should be played more defensively.
Players can expect to be aggressive on the downhill par-5 10th and the short par-4 11th. Missed opportunities on those holes can be made up possibly on the middle length par-4 12th and par-3 13th. Players would like to get through these four holes in 2-under par.
The driveable par-4 14th and the reachable par-5 15th are definite opportunities to make up ground. However, they are well-designed holes in that they provide significant risk for aggressive play with the large lake on each hole's left side. A player who missed opportunities earlier on the nine, knowing that 16 through 18 are very difficult, may be overly aggressive with his tee shot on 14 or 15 and end up in the lake.
The 16th is a brutally long par-4 where par is a good score. Seventeen is a long par-3 that requires a long carry over a lake which also wraps around the left side of the green. Disaster can strike when players are forced to be aggressive on these two holes. Eighteen is also an extremely difficult finishing hole with a creek up the left side and challenging bunkers on the right.
The tee shot is the most important shot. Don't expect to see many birdie finishes on the 18th. If you expect to win, you need to come to the last hole with a one-shot lead.
Jerry Pate has been designing golf courses for more than 30 years. His portfolio of work includes Old Waverly Golf Club in Mississippi, site of the 1999 United States Women's Open; Trump National Golf Club Colts Neck (formerly known as Shadow Isle) in New Jersey; Kiva Dunes on the Alabama Gulf Coast; and Rancho La Quinta Country Club in California. See more of his work at www.jerrypategolfdesign.com.