Cahoon’s No. 11: Accuracy over power

Published 11:15 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2009

At the Tour Championship this weekend, par fours at East Lake Golf Club will top out at 469 yards, 481 yards and even 520 yards for the world’s best golfers.

Closer to home and for more mortal duffers, Cahoon Plantation Golf Club in Chesapeake has a couple holes that could match up well with a course set up for Tiger and the rest of the Tour. Cahoon Plantation boasts a 617-yard par five, a 228-par three and two par fours that are around 470 from the tips.

Often times though, the most creative, most strategic holes on a course can be par fours that are modest on the scorecard, but call for shots golfers don’t often use.

Cahoon Plantation’s No. 11 is such a test. At 338 yards from the white tees and up to 401 from the championship tees, it’s nothing special until a golfer stands on the tee box. Or worse yet, maybe not until after a golfer’s put his drive into trouble.

“The main thing with 11 is it’s just tough from start to finish,” said Cahoon Plantation’s head golf professional Brad Solis.

Off the tee, from the blue or black tees most of the right side of the fairway and all of the green is hidden from view. From the white tee box, the hole opens up a little more.

Accuracy is the name of the game. A drive too far left finds a large waste bunker, or more to the left, water. Bail too much to the right, and there’s out of bounds.

“On the right, all the way is out of bounds. At some spots there’s only about 20 feet to work with,” said Solis.

Along with hitting it straight, golfers must manage their drive. From the white tee, there’s about 220 yards before finding, a pond, rough, sand or maybe, by chance, a small lane of fairway to the left of the pond. From the tips, it’s about 280 yards before running out of room.

If the drive finds a nice spot in the fairway, the likely second shot is 140-160 yards into a green guarded by the pond, a lone deep sand trap short of the green, and many grass mounds and bunkers.

Depending on the mood of the course’s greenskeeper, if the fringe to the bunker’s right is closely mowed, a shot missing the bunker and barely missing the green could roll down into the drink.

Even once on or around the green, the hole isn’t finished, but that’s more because of what makes everything challenging at Cahoon said Solis.

“The rough is thick. Basically you can add a stroke most of the times you go into the rough,” said Solis.

The 11th green slopes from back to front, making it a little easier for irons to stay on the green, but all 18 greens are “always quick”.

For many courses and at practically every pro tourney, the simple answer to “how to make the course tougher?” is to make it longer. Cahoon Plantation’s No. 11 is a fine example of creativity over “grip it and rip it.”