Behind the Design: Elkhorn Ridge
Golden Tee 2016 Heads to a Canadian Mountain

Welcome to our five-part installment of our Golden Tee 2016 course preview. As is tradition, we will be taking a deep dive into all five new courses and what you can expect. Tune into to read all five.

Wikipedia tells me that Mt. Robson, Canada is place experienced climbers go to get their climbing fix. Because Wiki is never, ever wrong, let’s go with that. This is a nice place to vacation if you like climbin’ mountains. In Golden Tee 2016, we’re headed to this very spot on Elkhorn Ridge.

We’re going across the border, gear in hand, and we’re teeing off on a place that celebrates all of nature’s offerings. Now, the interesting thing here is we won’t actually be climbing. Well, sorta.

You’ll see the mountains in the distance and certainly appreciate the beauty of the views. And while you won’t need oxygen tanks or anything that you’d probably lose anyway, your play will be impacted by this lovely bit of land.

Let’s explore.


Elevation, Elevation, Elevation

At the very first tee box, you see it. You look down to the fairway deep below and realize that this is not your typical opening shot. The elevation on this course starts on Hole 1 and really doesn’t stop after that.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the opening shot on the first hole into a par-4 allows you to get really, really close to a green you don’t have any business getting close to because of the positioning from above. This could end up being a really fun hole as a result.

Elsewhere, the elevation changes make for more thinking. On par-3s, you’ll have to drastically change your club selections based on wind. This is also the case on a handful of drivable par-4s. It just adds some more thought—something that gets easier with experience, of course.

I think often times we hear elevation changes and we’re immediately intimidated by the thought: you shouldn’t be here. If anything, it gives Elkhorn character that is really hard to duplicate. Sure, it will cost you some shots, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a blast of a challenge.


The Par-5 Puzzles

I have a very cool job. I get to play the 2016 courses ahead of time and then put words together and tell you about it. I do not take that for granted when writing these previews. When I play a course, I really try to crack the code in an effort to give you things to look for. I can honestly say that I have yet to crack the Elkhorn par-5s.

Now, these par-5s—and let’s group them together for now—don’t have secret cave passageways that you need to find. In general, the appropriate areas you need to land are laid out right in front of you or at least not far off.

What makes these designs so interesting is that there are multiple ways to tackle most of these designs in order to walk away with an eagle. More specifically, you’ll have to adjust each round based off of tee box and wind.

A lot of thought went into making these designs both fair and challenging. And because they offer up such great options, threes will have to be earned. That’s how it should be. You’ll like these a lot.


Your Classic Par-3 17th

Over the years, course designer Jim Zielinski has added variety to his creation arsenal while also celebrating a few familiar traits. These traits are welcoming because they are familiar; there’s also something about maneuvering through a round knowing the kind of obstacles that are ahead.

No obstacle is more synonymous with Golden Tee than the classic diabolical par-3 on the 17th hole. You know these designs well, stretching all the way back to the start of the game. Elkhorn does its part to carry this torch forward, although it does so with a bit of a twist.

At times, this hole will be a relative breeze. You’ll get a comfortable wind/pin, hit it close and move on. Nothing to it.

But the shape of this particular green also guarantees madness. Just look at the image above and the two cutouts on the bottom and the bottom left. These small circular areas will house pins regularly. Not only can they be difficult to get close to, but oh buddy some of the putts you’ll have going down toward them will be a gut-check to say the least.

Strategy here will be almost as important as the shots themselves. Do you go for it all? Do you trust your putting stroke? Do you simply avoid the blowup and play for par? The choice is yours. 


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