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LinksGems Shinnecock Hills GC Photo Tour

JON CAVALIER’S LINKSGEMS 2018 U.S. OPEN PREVIEW

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

The rich tradition of championship golf at Shinnecock Hills continues this summer.  The collaboration between Superintendent Jon Jennings and Coore & Crenshaw has brought out every ounce of the brilliance of William Flynn’s Long Island masterpiece.  Shinny is ready to test the best.

Once again, Jon Cavalier has provided us with a hole-by-hole preview featuring his stellar photography and commentary.  My course doodle has been included for your reference, and additional resources are at the end for an even deeper dive.  Enjoy!

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SHINNECOCK HILLS GOLF CLUB

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(click on image mosaics to enlarge)

No. 1 – 399yds – Par-4

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A relatively easy dogleg right with an ample landing area to open, and certainly one of the better birdie opportunities on the course.  However, long is serious trouble – bogey or worse lurks behind this green.

No. 2 – 252yds – Par-3

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A new back tee installed for the 2018 Open stretches this monster uphill par-3 to over 250 yards to a green guarded by bunkers on both sides and a false front.  Make par here and you’ll gain on the field for sure.

No. 3 – 500yds – Par-4

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This par-4 has been lengthened via a new back tee and narrowed from the left side, bringing the bunkers on the right very much into play.  The open green slopes mostly back-to-front but abruptly falls away behind.

No. 4 – 475yds – Par-4

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“Pump House,” so named for the outbuildings the hole doglegs around, has seen its fairway tightened up.  Its real challenge is the undulating green, which features a false front and falls away on all sides.

No. 5 – 589yds – Par-5

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“Montauk” is the first three-shotter of the round, but rest assured, many will be going for this green in two despite the narrow fairway and the large bunker guarding the dogleg. Distance control is key, as once again, long is dead.

No. 6 – 491yds – Par-4

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“Pond” features the only water on the course, a retention pond unlikely to see a single ball this week, and a scruffy waste area right of the fairway that will.  The green is among the toughest at Shinny.

No. 7 – 189yds – Par-3

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This Redan, built in 1931 by William Flynn on the site of C.B. Macdonald’s original, is a hole as intimidating as it is beautiful.  Playing at a more oblique angle and with a smaller opening than most makes this tilted green incredibly difficult to hit, hold, chip to and putt.  Any misses to the right will be lucky to save bogey.  In 2004, Kevin Stadler putted from 2-feet into a bunker. Buckle up.

No. 8 – 439yds – Par-4

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“Lowlands” is likely the flattest hole at Shinny, and at “only” 439 yards, players will be looking for birdie here before the brutal 9-10-11 stretch.  Beware the green though, which is among the most undulating on the course.

No. 9 – 485yds – Par-4

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“Ben Nevis,” named for the highest mountain in the UK, is one of the world’s greatest uphill par-4s, and the start of the heart of this golf course.  A dogleg left at the clubhouse to a heaving fairway, and then up to a green seemingly perched on the edge of a cliff, mere paces from the steps leading in to Stanford White’s iconic shingle-style clubhouse.Par is a good score on this breathtaking hole.

No. 10 – 415yds – Par-4

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The aptly named “Westward Ho” plays to a fairway cut through a dune hiding a precipitous drop, a left turn and a green with 50 yards of false front.  Short is dead, long is deader; better be dialed in on distance.

No. 11 – 159yds – Par-3

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The 11th at Shinnecock has been called many things: Hill Head (its official name), the shortest par-5 in golf, and the best uphill par-3 in the world, among others.  What it has never been called, is easy.  The green sits atop a small dune ridge exposed to the wind and falls off to all sides.  Standing on the tee, the landing area looks impossibly small.  A hole that could determine the Open winner.

No. 12 – 469 – Par-4

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After surviving the crucible at 9-10-11, players will be looking for birdie at this downwind, downhill par-4.  Playing across Tuckahoe Road, the approach is slightly uphill to an open green.  Look for big drives here.

No. 13 – 374yds – Par-4

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“Road Side” once again changes direction and plays back over Tuckahoe Road toward the clubhouse.  The shortest non-par-3 on the course, the 13th is a prime candidate to be shortened to a drivable par-4.

No. 14 – 519yds – Par-4

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One of my favorite holes, “Thom’s Elbow” has been lengthened by a whopping 75 yards, turning this well-bunkered two-shotter into a monster that should require driver off the tee from the entire field.  The saddle-shaped green at the 14th is more receptive than most, and will direct balls from its flanks to the middle.  Shots hit too firmly will scoot through and will leave a difficult up-and-down.

No. 15 – 409yds – Par-4

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The 15th is one of the most beautiful holes in golf, its tee set high on the glacial moraine that serves as the backbone of this astonishing golf course.  Finding the fairway is critical, as the green is small, sloped and well-guarded by six terraced bunkers in front (one of the few greens fronted by bunkers at Shinnecock).  Simply put, this is just a breathtakingly beautiful golf hole.

No. 16 – 616yds – Par-5

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Shinnecock, the eponymous 16th, begins our home stretch.  The second of Shinny’s two par-5s, this hole has a new tee which adds 76 yards in length, but downwind, players can still have a go at this green.  As with so many holes at Shinnecock, the defenses of this hole are found around and on the green.  Five bunkers guard the layup zone and ten more guard the green.  Most players will happily take par here.

No. 17 – 180yds – Par-3

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A devilishly tricky one-shotter frequently buffeted by confounding crosswinds and featuring a pushed up green with no background to help with judging distance, the 17th may well determine this week’s winner.

No. 18 – 485yds – Par-4

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A new tee 35 yards back brings the bunker at the dogleg back into play, but Home is all about the approach and the wickedly sloped green, which will return anything indifferent 20 yards back into the fairway.

And there you have it – all 18 holes at one of America’s very best championship venues, an iconic piece of golden age architecture.  Hope you enjoyed the tour, and that you enjoy the 118th United States Open!

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Bonus Aerials

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Copyright 2018 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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2016 Geeked on Golf Tour

A pattern seems to be developing.  As I watch the snow fall out my window, I reflect back and think, “It can’t get any better than this year’s golf tour.”  And then the next year comes around, and it does.  That was the story of 2016.  Just when I thought golf adventuring couldn’t get any better, it did.

I got around quite a bit this year.  First the stats: Played 51 courses (30 for the first time), including 6 U.S. Open Venues, in 15 states.  Gloriously exhausting, and tremendously rewarding.

Before getting into detail on the courses played, a few takeaways from the year:

This was the year I realized that I don’t like playing alone all that much anymore.  I would rather be in the company of a fellow geek or two.  Being able to share these adventures with kindred spirits makes the experiences richer, including geeking out about golf on long car rides or over a well-earned meal and drink.  This year, I had the good fortune of deepening existing friendships, and creating new ones around the country.  Golf is magical that way.

Golf has always been a walking sport for me.  This year, I came to realize that riding in a cart takes too much away from the experience for me to do it.  Even if it means that my game suffers a bit from fatigue, I prefer to walk.  Hiking around Sand Hollow, 81 holes in a day and half at Prairie Dunes, 45 holes at Sand Hills – sure, these walks were taxing.  But I like the exercise and the experience of the courses is significantly more vivid.  There might come a day when I am no longer able to walk and play.  On that day, I will take a cart.  Until then, it’s walking for me.

Although I did play in quite a few fun matches with friends, I did not keep score once this year.  In 2016, it didn’t seem to matter, so I didn’t bother.  It was quite liberating.  I was still plenty happy to make pars and birdies, but there was no pressure to do so.  Instead, I was freed up to attempt creative shots that, when pulled off, are the golfing memories I cherish the most.

Finally, I fell in love with the replay this year, or as my buddy Peter says, “Going around and around.”  My weekend at Prairie Dunes, and replays of great courses like Shoreacres, Crystal Downs, Sand Hills, and Boston Golf Club brought this into focus for me.  Playing new courses is great, but I find myself yearning more and more for the depth of experience that comes from the replay.

Enough philosophizing, on to the course highlights of 2016.

One course cracked my Top 5 favorites this year – Sand Hills.  Those who have been know how magnificent it is.  It is perfect.  Beautiful land, with 18 wonderful holes laid upon it.  For a photo tour, check out my September to Remember post here.

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Two additional courses cracked my Top 10 – Myopia Hunt Club and Prairie Dunes.

Playing Myopia is like stepping back in time to an era that pre-dates formal architectural styles.  It is a special place.  For much more on Myopia, check out Jon Cavalier’s course tour and my June Buddies Trip Recap.

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My weekend at Prairie Dunes was an all-timer.  After 81 holes in a day and a half, I got to know the course well, and I am grateful for the chance.  Strategy and variety abound, and those greens…oh my.  For a complete tour of Prairie Dunes, check out my visit recap here.

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Four additional courses cracked my Top 20 – Philadelphia Cricket Club, Oakmont, Kittansett Club, and Ballyneal.

Keith Foster’s work restoring Tillinghast’s Philly Cricket is off the charts.  It is breathtaking and all the right kinds of challenging.

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Oakmont is of course, Oakmont.  It was a neat treat to get to play this incredible course in a U.S. Open year.  Many hours of sleep were sacrificed for the experience, and it was worth every minute.

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Kittansett Club, with the benefit of a Gil Hanse restoration, blew me away.  This William Flynn design might be the best flat-site golf course in America.

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Like so many do, I fell in love with the Ballyneal experience.  Great golf-geeky membership, and my favorite Tom Doak course to date (yes, I have played Pacific Dunes).

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My quest to play all of the U.S. Open venues continued this year, and I knocked six more off the list – Glen View Club, Myopia Hunt Club, Philadelphia Cricket Club, Oakmont, Erin Hills, and Inverness Club.  A wide variety, all wonderful courses.

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I had high expectations for most of the courses I played this year, but there were a handful that exceeded my expectations.  My biggest surprises of the year were Orchard Lake, Sand Hollow, Whitinsville, Highland Links, George Wright, and Sweetens Cove.

After coming across a photo tour of the newly renovated Orchard Lake Country Club on GolfClubAtlas, I was dying to see it.  What Keith Foster and Superintendent Aaron McMaster have done there is jaw-dropping.  For even more on Orchard Lake, check out my C.H. Alison appreciation post here.

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Sand Hollow is one of the most unique golf courses I have ever played.  The terrain is amazing, it has great holes – it is just plain cool.  I already have a return visit planned for February, 2017.  For more photos, check out my Las Vegas trip recap here.

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My golf buddies were a little skeptical when I added a 9-holer they had never heard of to our Boston itinerary.  After the first time around Whitinsville, they asked if we could stay the whole day.  They simply do not make courses like this anymore.

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The early morning trek out to the end of Cape Cod was worth the effort.  The Highland Links waits there, nearly untouched by time, and perhaps America’s only true links course outside of Bandon, OR.

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Boston has an embarrassment of riches in private golf, but it was a public track that pleasantly surprised me the most this season – George Wright.  The story of its creation as a WPA project, with Donald Ross as architect blasting holes out of the rock with dynamite is terrific.  In recent years, this gem has been getting the polish it deserves.

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Every golf geek I know who has made the pilgrimage to Sweetens Cove has come back a convert.  Count me among them – Sweetens Cove is everything that is great about golf, and golf course architecture, all packed into 9 holes.  For more about Sweetens Cove, check out my interview with Rob Collins, including his course tour.

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Toward the end of the season, it became evident that I have developed a fascination with 9-holers.  Winter Park CC, The Dunes Club, Whitinsville, Marion GC, Highland Links, Sweetens Cove, and Eagle Springs were all highlights for me in 2016.  I intend to include as many 9-holers as I can in my adventures going forward.

After another year of unbelievable golf experiences with great people, I am tremendously grateful.  Many thanks to those who have pitched in to make these adventures possible.  Time to start lining up 2017…

Happy New Year!


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Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Myopia Hunt Club Tour by Jon Cavalier

MYOPIA HUNT CLUB – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

South Hamilton, MA – Herbert Leeds

I had the pleasure of playing an early morning round at the one-of-a-kind Myopia Hunt Club outside Boston.  To put it mildly, it was well worth the drive up from Philly (smooth sailing when you leave at 1am).

Suffice it to say that I loved Myopia.  There is a vibe emanating from certain of these old clubs that I find quite appealing, and Myopia, like Garden City, has it in spades.  The building that houses the bar and dining areas was built in 1772.  The course is virtually unchanged from 19th century origins, save for a bit of added length.  It’s an incredible place.  I hope that you get a sense of that in these photos.  Enjoy.

The Entrance

You know when you arrive at Myopia that you are in for a special day.  As you make your way down the long entrance drive, you pass polo fields and horse barns and other areas that reveal that, unlike many other clubs of its ilk, Myopia still maintains strong ties to its equestrian roots.  And then there’s that outstanding logo.

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Like Yeamans Hall, Myopia’s entrance road lets you know right away what kind of experience you’re in for.  Horse barns are to your left as you drive in.  No parking, please.

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Horses are not the only creatures roaming the grounds at Myopia.

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That said, there are plenty of horses.  The 18th fairway is in the background, bordering the grounds.

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The Scorecard

In fitting with the overall theme of the club, even the scorecard looks old.

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The Clubhouse

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This view from behind the 18th green shows the wraparound clubhouse/locker room building, along with the putting green.

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No bartender – serve yourself.

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Fireplace signage

I can honestly say this is the first advertisement for a sled dog race I’ve seen at a golf course.

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Myopia’s weathervane

Locker Room

For me, Myopia’s locker room facilities rank right up there with Garden City, Merion and National Golf Links.  Myopia’s facilities have a more modern feel, but they’re still very unique.

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MYOPIA HUNT CLUB

Hole 1 – “First” – 276 yards – Par 4

Myopia opens softly, with a short, uphill par-4 with a blind but wide fairway.  The small green is easily reachable for some, but it can be treacherous, with its severe right to left slope.

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The angle that most wedge approach shots will see into the first green reveals the necessity of avoiding the miss right.

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The view from the first green – wow.

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Hole 2 – “Lookout” – 488 yards – Par 5

A very unique half par hole, the elevated tee allows a full view of the all the interesting obstacles presented.  The first in a three hole stretch of great golf.

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The second shot is blind to the green, as is the cross-bunker between the two mounds.  The flag in the background is on the 7th green.  The 2nd green is sunken below.

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The green and bunker are revealed.  This hole reminded me a bit of Emmet’s 4th at St. George’s on Long Island.

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The 2nd from behind shows the recessed nature of the green.

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Hole 3 – “Brae” – 252 yards – Par 3

A monster par-3 reminiscent of the 8th at Oakmont, only short doesn’t work well here.  In truth, the third of three half-par holes to open the round.  Anything long is dead.

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A small green for such a long par-3.

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Hole 4 – “Miles River” – 385 yards – Par 4

A fantastic and beautiful par-4, and one of the most widely recognized holes at Myopia.

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Beautiful bunkering.  The photo does not reveal just how much the green slopes from back right to front left.  I was told that this green has less pinnable area than even the tiny green on #9.

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From behind the green.

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Hole 5 – “Lone Tree” – 417 yards – Par 4

The fifth is a tough par-4 divided by a stream.

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The approach, with the morning dew still glistening.

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The reverse view reveals hints at the subtle demands of the fifth.

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Hole 6 – “Brook” – 255 yards – Par 4

Another brilliant short par-4.  By this point, the player knows he’s playing a course meant for match play.  This hole is drivable, with the caveat that the green slopes from front to back.

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The look back, with the rock wall as yet another reminder of Myopia’s timeless New England style.

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Hole 7 – “Myopia” – 401 yards – Par 4

The course’s namesake provides a capsule view of what you’ll find at quirky Myopia.  Good luck finding a level lie in this fairway.

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The approach view on the 7th from the top of the hill.

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The view from the green back shows the elevation change and side-slope.

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This panoramic view of the 7th hole, taken from the 4th fairway, gives a good idea of the challenge of the slope in the approach, and shows the many background elements that add to the experience at Myopia.

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Hole 8 – “Prairie” – 473 yards – Par 5

The hole begins with a drive over a small rise to a blind landing area.

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The second shot is obscured by an Alps-like rise in the fairway that hides the green.  The very top of the flag is visible here.

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Like the 4th, the bunkerless 8th green is built with severe slope from high right to low left.  Anything to the right of this pin can easily be putted all the way off the green.

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Hole 9 – “Pond” – 136 yards – Par 3

One of the best short par-3s in golf.

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The green is a mere 9 paces wide at the middle, and the creative bunkering results in some interesting recovery shots on misses.

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Hole 10 – “Alps” – 404 yards – Par 4

The “alps” here are carried off the tee.  The blind tee shot makes for an uncomfortable drive, since anything missed right …

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… ends up in a really bad spot.  Note that the landing area is wider that it would seem from the tee, but the price for missing is quite high.

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The 10th also has some great contour and bunkering around the green.  One of my favorite holes on the course.

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Reverse view, showing the wonderful green complex.

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Hole 11 – “Road” – 349 yards – Par 4

An uphill par-4 with trouble down both sides.  The tee is to the left of this photo, which shows the gorgeous red fescue that abounds at Myopia.  Any left to right tee shot here is in danger of running off the canted fairway.

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This green view reveals another great use of a cross bunker.  There’s room between the bunker and the green to land a ground approach, but you won’t get away with a skulled runner here.  Along with 4 and 8, the 11th is one of the most sloped greens on the course.

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Hole 12 – “Valley” – 451 yards – Par 4

A picturesque tee shot back down into the valley, the 12th runs parallel to the 8th and 7th holes.  The red fescue frames the hole beautifully.  Another half-par hole.

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The view of the green on twelve shows the danger of missing right.

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This view back toward the 12th tee reveals the rugged nature of the terrain at Myopia.

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Hole 13 – “Hill” – 358 yards – Par 4

Playing back through the valley of the 2nd hole, the 13th requires proper placement of the tee shot to have a reasonably playable angle into the elevated green.

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The approach on 13.  Straight up the ridgeline.

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Anything short of the green will roll back off the front of the green, ending up as far as 30 feet from the putting surface.  You really don’t want to be long here either.  The bottom line – hit the green, or else.

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Hole 14 – “Ridge” – 393 yards – Par 4

The landing area on this par-4 is flanked by more of Myopia’s signature ground features.

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The green is defended by bunkers from which recovery is no easy task.

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Hole 15 – “Long” – 529 yards – Par 5

The slight rise in the fairway hides the fairway bunkers up the right side.

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Likewise, the bunkers fronting the green are hidden from view on the second shot.

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Myopia’s seeming simplicity masks nuance that is discovered over many plays.

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Hole 16 – “Paddock” – 192 yards – Par 3

A gorgeous par-3 with the clubhouse as a backdrop.  Once again, many of the greenside bunkers are hidden from view.  The 18th green is seen behind.

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The view from behind the 16th green, with the first fairway in the background.

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This view from a different angle behind the 16th green better shows the great bunkering on this hole.  The pro shop is just out of view to the right.

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Hole 17 – “West” – 394 yards – Par 4

The green is not in view from the tee, nor is the bunkering on the right of the fairway.

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The 17th green, tucked in among the trees and bunkers.  Not much room for error.

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Hole 18 – “Home” – 400 yards – Par 4

Great courses have great closers, and Myopia is no exception.  The 18th here reminded me a little of the finishing hole at Oakmont.  A ridge runs the entire length of the right side of the hole.  Horses run the left.

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Double bunkering fronts the green on the right.

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A final set of signature Myopia bunkers guards the greenside and runs from front left to back right.

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The view back down the 18th – beautiful.

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Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf