Top 10 Toughest Shots In Denver
"These guys are good."
That's this year's PGA Tour slogan, and it held true during Sunday's round at The Masters. Watching Mark O'Meara drain his birdie putts on seventeen and eighteen made me want to go out and spend thousands of dollars on Taylor Made equipment. What I really got out of my fifteen or so hours of viewing was how impressive these guys are when it comes to hitting perfect golf shots under knee-shaking pressure.
It got me to thinking: what are the toughest golf shots we face here in the Denver area? This is my list of Denver's ten scariest golf shots.
10. #16, City Park Golf Course. This is a par-3, measuring just over 200 yards. The par-3s on this golf course are all demanding, but number sixteen is by far the hardest. The player is forced to hit a long iron to one of Denver's smallest greens. The green slopes from back to front, there's a bunker on the right and anything long is dead. This green's diminutive size makes it one of Denver's meanest par-3s. (Plus, last time I played it somebody honked in my backswing.)
9. #8, Meadow Hills Golf Course. OK, technically Aurora, but close enough to count. The tee shot on this long, downhill par-4 must be almost dead straight or it's just plain dead. Trees right and a lake on the left make this the most pivotal shot on the front nine. In order to keep the ball in the fairway, some players club down to a fairway wood or a long iron, but this hole is too long to lay back too far. Scary.
8. #2, Hyland Hills Gold Course. Doesn't matter if you're teeing up from the tips or the red tees, number two at Hyland Hills will strike fear into even the longest hitters. Another long par-4, this tricky tee shot must find a resting place between a bunker on the left and a huge lake that creeps in from the right. The only bail out area is short, but you'll have nearly 200 yards left if you take too much off your drive. The approach here is no peach either, but the tee shot is the one that'll have you reaching in your bag for another ball.
7. #13, Buffalo Run Golf Course. I know, Commerce City, but it's such a good hole that it still counts. This par-3 can measure up to 260 yards from the tips. Need I say more? This is not one of those holes that allows for a topped shot that rolls 200 yards up to the green. There is a colossal bunker sitting front left, and another one left of the green. You must either be short and right or fly one to the green. Probably one of the best par-3s in the state.
6. #15, Kennedy Golf Course (new nine). I'm talking about the tee shot on this long, dogleg left par-5. From the back tees this shot must be struck with a draw to have any chance at the green in two. Want to lose a ball? Hit your tee shot left. Do you like fairway bunkers? Miss it just a little to the right. No bail here, either. This is a perfectly designed hole because the tee shot determines if you will make birdie or one of those dreaded "others" you hear about on television.
5. #11, Riverdale Dunes Golf Course. Sure, it's in Brighton, but it counts. The tee shot on this par-5 is easily one of the most wicked shots you can face. This is a relatively straight hole, but the fairway slopes drastically from left to right, taking any ball hit to the middle of the fairway down into the right rough. Long hitters must be careful of the water that lurks to the right. The ideal shot here is one that lands just inside the left rough and ends up in the right side of the fairway. Any shot hit too far left will end up in the waste area; not the place to be unless you like enjoy sidehill, rocky lies.
4. #18, Kennedy Golf Course (new nine). I love the tee shot on this par-5 that's bisected by a huge ravine. You must make a decision on this tee box. Either try to bomb a drive over the gap or lay up short. It's a decision you must face a lot in golf: do I try to career one over the snakes and bushes, setting me up for a birdie to win some serious cash from my friends? OR should I hit one short of the trouble and take my chances from there? Great golf holes are chock full of decisions like this one.
3. #8, Wellshire Golf Course. This is a short, narrow par-4 with out of bounds left and trees right. Some people think this is an easy hole. They're wrong. This is another shot that requires the golfer to make a decision on the tee box. Think about it. How many times are you actually forced to think on the tee box of a par-4? Not too often. Most of us just grab the driver and swing away. Do that here and you're asking for trouble. What makes this such a great golf shot is the risk/reward involved. Most golfers should lay up here, but they don't.
2. #18, Buffalo Run Golf Course. Approach shot. This par-5 finishing hole is almost perfect. The fairway slopes from right to left, kicking any hooked tee shot into the waist-high crud on the left. It doesn't matter if your approach shot here is your second or third on the hole, either way you are face-to-face with the same type of shot the pros see every day. Fairway bunkers lead to greenside bunkers on the right, and to the left is a small pond, which has probably one or two layers of balls at the bottom. This undulating green is tilted from right to left, and there is another bunker just over the pond by the left side of the green. Longer hitters are faced with a second shot here that tempts them to go for the green, but the danger everywhere makes it a difficult decision. This is a wonderfully designed hole because a solid approach shot will yield birdies or pars, but a poor shot will be penalized. A perfect way to end the round.
1. #15, Riverdale Dunes Golf Course. Play this hole from the tips if you really want your handicap to skyrocket. This par-4 is bordered along the left by a huge lake that makes its way all the way up to the left side of the green. The fairway slopes severely toward the lake, and out of bounds guards the right side. The only bail out area here is the end of the tee box. This hole suggests a draw from the tee, but the sloping fairway suggests you rethink that strategy. Try to hit driver or three-wood down the right side of the fairway, leaving you with an approach shot that will leave you wondering why you played the back tees in the first place. Simply put, this is the most demanding tee shot in the Denver area.
Tough, demanding golf shots that make the player use his or her mind are what can make or break a round of golf. Remember that next time you're facing one of these holes, or any like them. Play smart, make up your mind, and hit your shot. It works for the pros and it will work for you. Also, keep one thing in mind next time you're coming off of a triple-bogey and teeing up your ball on a hole like #15 at Riverdale: it's still better than being at work.
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November 30, -0001