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I recently went hiking in Utah. We climbed up and down Angels Landing, an exhausting, breathtaking, and terrifying five-mile trek. In between the sweating, obscenities (out of fear) and heavy breathing, there was also an appreciation of just how gorgeous the views were. It was beautiful.
So when I heard that Golden Tee 2015 was going to a similar, desert-centric area in Utah, I celebrated. Not only because I knew the views would be absolutely wonderful—and they really, really are—but also because I knew this experience would not require me to hang over the edge of a cliff while short on breath.
Stop No. 4 on our Golden Tee tour takes us Rocky Hollow, which is certainly rocky. I’m not so sure about the hollow part (the rocks seem to deliver steroid-like ricochets just fine, thanks).
What can you expect on this course? Here are some of the notables with Golden Tee 2015 approaching.
About Those Rocks…
The green that you see on this course is fairway, putting surface and a hint of fringe here and there. The rest of the course is sand, dirt and rock. It doesn’t play like Grand Canyon and it’s much different than Grand Savannah; it is unique from any desert course Golden Tee has ever had.
The sand and dirt you’re probably used to, although the rocks present add an interesting dynamic to the challenge. It’s not just the huge mounds blocking your direct path to the green; it’s the way this surface impacts shots into greens.
There are also more direct challenges; take this par-4 for example.
You can go under—low tee FTW—over and around (both ways) to get to the green in one.
The rocks can be obstacles, as they were here, and they can also alter the way simple shots that are slightly off the mark end up. You will encounter the hard surface in a variety of ways, so best be prepared now.
I’ll say this: I normally play the Streaks, Golden Tee’s distance, spin-reduced golf ball, and Hole 17 is making me rethink this entirely. This is your classic, end-of-the-round par-3, although we haven’t seen many like this one.
You will hit 3-woods into this hole; you will hit wedges into this hole. It varies greatly depending on the tee boxes, which are scattered throughout. That’s not the part that makes this challenge unique, though.
What makes this hole interesting is the downward slope of the green. Getting your ball to stick with backspin—while managing a high wind in some direction—can be quite the feat. Hence my concerns of playing Streaks, particularly with some of the monster out winds that you’ll be dealt.
The good news, however, is there is no major danger if you miss the green. Just more dirt, more rocks and more plants. So if you miss—and it will happen—par is still a possibility.
That might not be the case with the hole that follows.
I’m not sure there is a tougher eagle to come by in all of 2015. Or better yet, I’m not certain there is a hole that punishes shots that are just slightly off the mark more than this one.
Rocky Hollow concludes with a drivable par-4 that is fair, straightforward and incredibly difficult. Yes, you can lay up—that part’s important. But even then, there are no guarantees when it comes to hitting it on the green and coming away with birdie.
There is green, and then there is rock. The surface that was discussed above plays a significant role here, and anything short, long, left or right of the green will hit this surface. That’s not the diabolical part, though. That comes in the form of a tiny, unassuming stream that flows around the green.
Miss right, you’re going in. Miss left, you’re going in. Miss short, you’re going in. Miss long… you might still go in. This is risk vs. reward in every sense of the word, and it comes at the most critical point of the round. Love this hole, even if I’ll likely grow to hate it.
Four down, one to go. We wrap up our course previews next week, just in time for you to test ‘em out yourself.