A par three with bite

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2009

J.C. Dunn is the marshal at Sleepy Hole Golf Course and he’s played at Sleepy Hole since 1975.

The 12th hole at Sleepy Hole might seem to be a cute little par three with a pleasant pond and fountain beside the green. Even just on the back nine at Sleepy Hole, No. 18 is a test known well around the region. Nos. 13 and 14 are tough holes with a lot of chances for penalty strokes and lost balls.

If Dunn says No. 12 “can eat your lunch”, with his experience and countless rounds at Sleepy Hole, golfers of all ages and handicaps would be smart to listen.

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“No. 18 probably is the hole most people think of, and it probably is the toughest hole out here, but No. 12, it can eat your lunch,” said Dunn.

Besides being a marshal, meaning Dunn practically lives on the course anyway, he plays about three times a week.

No. 12 ranges from 110 at the red tees to 180 from the blacks. The entire hole must be an optical illusion. From the tee, it looks to be level from tee to green, or perhaps even a couple feet downhill.

Dunn says the green is actually slightly elevated from the tees, enough so it’s usually an extra half-club than what golfers tend to account for.

“It’s so challenging,” said Dunn, “if you don’t have enough stick, or if you’re short a club, it’s going to roll in the water.”

Any shot short of the green, or even barely onto the front of the green, has a chance of bouncing or rolling down into a pond closely bordering the right side of the green.

A normal bailout spot from the tee is just to the left of the green. Playing it safe and hitting the spot leaves a long putt or fairly easy chip from the fringe. Miss too much to the left, and the safe play can be worse than putting an iron into the drink in the first place.

When Sleepy Hole underwent renovations to the course and reopened in 2002, the water was added on No. 12.

Since that time, Dunn counts only three or four times when he’s missed his tee shot to the left, over on some hills, the cart path, and continuing left, out of bounds, then pitched his second shot through the green and into the pond. At that rate, Dunn is way ahead of most regulars at Sleepy Hole.

“The green runs toward the water, it’s such a challenging hole,” said Dunn.

“If you’re pitching up from the left, near the cart path, and the pin’s down in the front (of the green), just forget it.

“Sometimes you just take your four and walk away,” said Dunn.