Sunday, April 14, 2013

Highlands Links Golf Course, Ingonish, Nova Scotia - Course Review - Back 9

Because of the length of this review, I have split Highlands Links into Front-9 and Back-9.

To see the front-9 review and photos, click here

Hole 10: Par 3, 145 Yards -- The 10th is the shortest hole on the golf course, but it is often subject to a vicious crosswind and the added airtime because it plays downhill makes the green a difficult target to find.  As noted by Ian Andrew, the green was initially drawn by Thompson to be located across the Clyburn, making the hole play some 230 yards.

Hole 11: Par 5, 512 Yards -- The 11th was originally designed as a 400 yard par-4, and those that play the white tees will play it as such.  The blue tees require a short carry across the Clyburn.  This was my least favorite hole on the golf course, played over flat land to the least interesting green on the golf course...

Hole 12: Par 3, 240 Yards -- The 12th can play as a monster par-3.  With a green that is some 35 yards deep, playing to the pin pictured required a tee shot of some 255 yards!  Thompson often included a very long par-3 on his golf courses, and this one (specimen tree aside) is one of his best.

Hole 13: Par 4, 435 Yards -- The current blue tees are not original but believe it or not the hole originally played shorter and was a par-5 (original tee location displayed in second picture). The 13th is another example of Thompson's mastery in embracing extreme landforms.

The land tilts not-so-gradually from the right. Golfers that challenge the high-side of the fairway are left with a longer approach but are rewarded with a preferred view and a much flatter lie.

Before the landform flattens, it narrows, allowing golfers to run a straight shot onto the green. Be wary though, slightly wayward approaches can carom a long way off-line.

Ran's review notes that this green is not original, replaced in the 1960s because of poor drainage. Hopefully Ian has a photo of the original.

Hole 14: Par 4, 398 Yards - It wouldn't surprise me if the 14th was the most forgotten hole on the golf course, but that is likely because the holes that bookend it are world-class. The 14th is bunkerless and flows masterfully with the rumpled and rolling terrain. From the tee the land appears to tilt right..

But once the first hill is crested the golfer sees leftward tilting land!

The approach plays far more uphill than it looks and the open green front is welcome on this longish par-4.

Hole 15: Par 5, 540 Yards -- Have I mentioned Thompson's genius in embracing extreme terrain? The 15th falls some 50 feet from tee to green and crosses another massive landform that crosses the hole on a diagonal and adds strategy to the tee shot. Most golfers will play to the right portion of the fairway, from where the approach is blind, but the best and boldest among us can attempt to carry the hill on the left, some 250 yards from the tee.

Second shots from the right are completely blind...

While tee shots that crest the hill will turbo boost to near the 200-yard marker...

The 16th plays uphill but at only 460 yards is within reach in two after a well-struck tee shot. The fairway is lined on both sides by dense forest, but there is ample fairway width. Contouring in the 16th fairway is unlike anything I have seen before with a unique combination of extreme micro-contouring and broad and steep macro contours. Playing left leaves a flatter lie, but playing to the right shortens the hole and leaves a preferred angle for those trying to reach the green in two.

Second shots will be played over a deep valley in the fairway to a green surrounded by fairway that will repel any shots slightly short or left.

An unforgiving false-front awaits...

Once 'up-top' the green is plenty deep, though there's no way to no that from the fairway!

A look back at the highly contoured fairway

The 17th plays 200 yards downhill to a green set in a natural amphitheatre. The green lay at an angle to the tee, with the difficulty of the hole increasing as the pin moves farther back and right into the green. Flat portions in the front-left and centre of the green make for easier pins as the green's contours can be used to funnel balls to these low points. A back-right portion, however, is near impossible to get close to.

The 18th is a 410 yard down-then-up par-4 with out of bounds running the entire right side of the hole. From the tee, golfers will want to challenge the left-side bunker to leave the ideal angle of approach.

Approaching from the left side of the fairway, the golfer has a clear line into the green and even has the opportunity to challenge right side pins.

From the right side of the fairway, the golfer will do well to find the putting surface

One more rolling green at Highlands Links

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