Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sahalee Country Club Review

Sahalee Country Club 
Sammamish, Washington, United States

Architect: Ted Robinson (1970)

6,955 Yards, Par-72

Rating/Slope: 74.0/138

My Quick Review: A better championship test than it is an enjoyable golf course; repetitive and difficult, tree-lined holes left me bored and tired by the end of my round.

From the club website:

The 27-hole golf course designed by Theodore C. Robinson, is ranked in the top 100 courses in America.  The course utilizes the foliage, natural topography, and natural soil conditions of the land.  Sahalee provides an all-weather, year round golfing facility on completely seperate, tree lined fairways.  The 27 holes consist of three 9-hole courses of equal caliber (the North, South and East course), any two of which can be combined to a standard 18 hole course - this arrangement eliminates the need for call- ahead staring times and promotes greater freedom of play for all members.  The South-North course was the Championship course for the 1998 P.G.A. Championship, the 2002 NEC Invitational, and the 2010 US Senior Open - World Golf Championships. 


Scorecard Information

1  South    Par 4   Yards: 406

The first  demands a very accurate drive - probably with a fairway wood or long iron. Any drive to the right will be blocked by trees or a drive to the left side will find a fairway bunker at about 250 yards out. A short to middle iron will be required for a second shot into a firm green protected in the front by two bunkers. A mound in the center left and, another, on the back right of the green will make for some interesting pin placements.

Tee shot gives a good example of penal design.  Shots missed right will be blocked out and shots missed left will find a bunker.  I say do away with the bunker.

After a perfect tee shot:

From right side of the (narrow) fairway the view to the green is obscured:

Interesting green shape and contouring, in perfect condition (though soft).  Bunkering could probably be updated.

A look back down the fairway:

2 South   Par 5   Yards: 507

A dogleg left framed by trees on both sides. To reach in two requires an approach over a lake onto a green that slopes from left to right. A bunker is parallel to the left side of the green.

Probably my favorite hole on the course and the hole least choked by trees.  Tee shot actually provides a fair amount of room to miss to the right (the outside of the dogleg).

A very pretty approach to a green protected by a fronting pond.  There is nothing but fairway between the water and the green so there is no buffer for a shot missed toward the water.

Front pin positions are fairly simple.  Back pin positions must deal with both the water and significant green undulation.

3 South   Par 4   Yards: 415

Slightly uphill and bends to the right. Large fir trees guard both sides of the fairway, which widens in the landing area. A large tree 80 yards away shields the left side of the green, which is protected by a front bunker left and right.

Very narrow looking tee shot that makes you feel like you really want to challenge the right.  A little bit of tree removal would probably help here.

Interestingly, a tee shot that does challenge the right is not rewarded but is penalized by having a tree block-out the view of the right half of the green.

After a perfect tee shot:

Looking back:

4 South   Par 4   Yards: 386

A tree in the right side of the fairway 225 yards out, and a bunker behind it, steer the drive to the left. Two-tiered green surrounded by three sand bunkers, and a grass bunker behind it.

One of several holes with a tree in the fairway.  I thought the holes were narrow enough without these centerline 'hazards'. I think the hole would be better without it.  Curious to hear others thoughts.

From dead-centre of the fairway the green is partially obscured.  And look, there's a bunker behind that tree... I don't remember seeing that.  Odd placement for a bunker, isn't it?

Nice, well-protected two-tier green surrounded by bunkers.

A rather severe run-off behind the green:

5 South   Par 3   Yards: 195

Tree-lined  gives the impression of hitting out of a tunnel. A lake curves around the right side of the green with bunkers on the left and behind the green. Rees Jones added a pot bunker on the right side during his redesign.

The one-line description from the Sahalee website has everything that is hated by!  "Hitting out of a tunnel."  "Lake..right with bunkers...left."  "Rees Jones...redesign"

Not a ton to add. Another interesting green.  Sloping around the water and tightly mown areas serve to kick shots toward the water.

6 South   Par 5   Yards: 490

Three bunkers down the right side and one on the left. Drive must favor the left side because of a large tree 175 yards from the green. Approach must carry the bunker in the front of a two-tiered green.

Bunkers left, bunkers right.  Trees left, trees right.  Hit it straight.

Can you say double-hazard?  View from right-side fairway bunkers.

After a perfect tee shot

From 100 yards out - green surface is not yet visible.  Interesting knob protecting left pin positions.

Another interesting green shape, sort-of clover-like.  Allows for lots of easy centre pins, but some interesting tucked pin as well.

7 South   Par 4   Yards: 421

Straight and slightly downhill, with a tree on the right 150 yards from the tee and two trees on the left 275 yards out. Three bunkers surround the green, which is undulating around the edges.

Unappealing looking cartpath, but at least it's not going to affect play.  I actually don't remember this hole, so you'll have to just go with what's in the pictures.

8 South   Par 4   Yards: 444

Dogleg right, with a forest of trees to the right and three bunkers on the left side of a fairway that slopes to the left. Two bunkers guard the front of a green that rises from front to back. Anything above the  leads to a difficult two-putt.

Some more penal architecture.  From the tee it looks like the play is to challenge the right side, but once in the fairway it becomes clear that anything right of the centre of the fairway is partially or completely blocked-out.  The ideal line, which challenges the outside of the dogleg, must deal with a series of bunkers.

From just in the right rough.  Notice flag is visible through the trees.  No option but to chip-out from here.

From the centre of the fairway half the green is blocked-out.

After an ideal tee shot in the left-centre of the fairway:

9 South   Par 3   Yards: 213

Rhododendrons surround the back side of this undulating green that rises from front to back. A large lake with a railroad tie border curves around the left side of the green. Two bunkers guard the front, and the back drops off severely.

A hole that individually is quite strong, but is a little too similar to the other P3s on the golf course.  This is the second P3 in a row that was a 5i from the tee, but instead of water short-left, there is now water short-right.

The green is interestingly shaped with quite a bit of undulations.  A couple of 'wings' protected by bunkers allows for two very difficult pin positions.

1 North   Par 4   Yards: 401

Narrow tee lined with trees on both sides, but opens up about 235 yards off the tee. Approach drops significantly onto a flat green surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped lake, with a bunker front left and back right.

2  North   Par 5   Yards: 546

Dogleg left with trees down the left. The green has a semicircle shelf on the back. Jack Nicklaus made an eagle during his course-record 67 (since broken during the 1998 PGA Championship) by playing a fade over the trees and then a 2-iron through two trees 25 yards apart.

This was one hole where I thought the trees were just a bit too much.  With a centre-line tree and trees intruding from both the left and the right, one can get a feeling of having to 'hit and hope' on the second shot on this P5.  I feel an either/or approach would have worked better here.  Challenge the ability to hit it straight, or challenge the ability to hit it the correct distance.  Challenging both is boring.

3 North   Par 4   Yards: 458

Requires the most accurate tee shot. Fairway narrows at about 260 yards to two fairway bunkers. Tree on the right side of the fairway just beyond the bunker could block the approach shot right, and a tree 100 yards from the green could block a tee shot that strays left.

Don't remember this hole either...

4 North   Par 3   Yards: 176

Green, protected by two bunkers in the front and one in the back, slopes from front to back.

This one I remember. For the third P3 in-a-row, I hit 5-iron.  When you get to the tee you say, "yup, that's a par-3 alright."  Bunkers left, right and long.

5 North   Par 4   Yards: 376

Short but sharp dogleg left. Landing area surrounded by four bunkers about 225 yards from the tee. Second shot slightly downhill to a green protected by a large tree on the front right of the green and bunkers front left and back right.

14 was the start of a three-hole stretch that I enjoyed.  The tee shot makes you decide whether to lay-up off the tee or try to carry the hill.

Noticeable fairway undulation adds considerable interest to the hole.  A tee shot that lays-up to the bunkers will be left with a semi-blind approach:

A tee shot that challenges the bunkers is left with a great look at the green:

But, don't hit it down over the hill or you will be blocked out by, you guessed it, a tree!

6 North   Par 4   Yards: 417

Elevated tee with trees lining both sides of the fairway from tee to green. Two trees toward the center of the fairway about 265 yards out narrows the landing area and looks like a saddle. Any drive left or right is usually blocked by a tree. Slightly elevated green, guarded by two bunkers, has huge mound in the back center.

Another hole I liked with some interesting fairway undulation.  No room for error here.

The typical right-handed miss (short-right) is absolutely dead and will be blocked out by two trees.

The pictures fail to show the severe back-to-front slope on this green.  This green had more tilt than any other at Sahalee and really places a premium on being below the hole.

7 North   Par 4   Yards: 377

Dogleg right requires accuracy off the tee to keep large fir on right side from blocking approach shot. A huge fir tree blocks right side of the fairway, and a bunker left demands accuracy. Approach must carry a large depression to a two-tiered green. Two large bunkers guard the right front and left side.

8 North   Par 3   Yards: 215

Elevated tee looks down on a green with water in the front that wraps around the right side. Grass between green and the lake is cut short to collect balls that miss the green. Large bunker on the left side.

On fourth and final P3 of the round, I hit 5-iron yet again.  A feeling of haven't I seen this before is inevitable as this hole shares a lot of similarities with two of the other P3s at Sahalee.

9 North   Par 5   Yards: 525

Dogleg left after uphill tee shot. Too much of a draw could be blocked by large trees on the left or end up in a bunker on the left side of the landing area. Approach area narrows with two large trees guarding left side. Two-tiered green is 120 feet long with three bunkers surrounding the green.

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