Playing Advice | The Fifth Holes on The Bend, The Bay, and The Bog
Birdie putts and bogey saves are both common occurrences on the three #5 holes at Willowbend, all of which are par 3s. Despite their similarities on the scorecard, each of these holes plays remarkably different. You can swing with confidence, playing a shot high and aiming toward the right on the fifth hole of The Bend, for example; but you’d be better served hitting a low runner that favors the left-hand side of the green complex on The Bay. And then there’s The Bog course, where most tee shots are a hit-and-hope scenario.
Fortunately, Willowbend’s Director of Golf, Michael Carroll, and Assistant General Manager, Mike Vidal, are at the ready to share advice and offer guidance. With their help (and perhaps some luck), you’ll hopefully see more birdie opportunities on these one-shot holes in the future.
THE BEND – HOLE 5
On any golf hole, you can only have a putt for a birdie if you first hit the green in regulation; but the odds of making a birdie—even when you have a putt—vary greatly from hole to hole and from putt to putt. On The Bend’s fifth hole, a player’s chance at a birdie is better than most given the rather benign contouring of the putting surface. “There’s not a lot of big movement on this green,” says Carroll. “The breaks are all subtle.”
With a split tee box, the daunting nature of the tee shot on this hole can vary greatly daily, based on where the tees are placed and where the hole is cut. But for forward-tee players who are nervous about the water that must be carried—or, for that matter, any player intimidated by the pond—Carroll advises prudence over heroism. “I encourage players to favor the right side of the green,” he says.
THE BAY – HOLE 5
The first par three on The Bay course is hardly a pushover. At 210 yards from the back tees, the hole is a stern test for its length alone; however, number 5 is all the more challenging due to the fact that the long green slopes from front to back. That can make it difficult to hold the putting surface with your tee shot, especially since most players will likely be hitting mid- to long irons off the tee. “The smartest play might not be to fly the green,” says Carroll, “but to hit a low shot that will run.”
That advice is especially pertinent to golfers who tee it up on the forward tees. For those players, Carroll acknowledges that the front greenside bunker is in play, so he advises them to favor the left side—even left of the green—since a moderate slope will funnel balls back to the right. “The safe play is out to the left, seeing if the ball can ride the contouring,” he explains. “It’s closely mown over there, so worst case forward-tee players will likely still be putting, even if they miss the green.”
THE BOG – HOLE 5
Whereas the fifth green on The Bend represents a good chance for birdie (or at least a par), the fifth on The Bog is just the opposite. Here, you will have played the hole exceptionally well if you’re able to mark a 3 down on your scorecard. “This hole is rightly intimidating,” says Carroll. “The green itself is one of the toughest of any hole at Willowbend. If you’re not in the right quadrant, you’ve got a lot of work left—even if you’re on the putting surface.”
Of course, getting to the putting surface is just as challenging. From the back tees, players face a shot that’s basically a forced carry the whole way over the cranberry bog. Golfers playing the forward tees are gifted a tee shot with little to no forced carry, but that doesn’t mean the hole is any easier for them. “There’s no good miss here,” adds Carroll, “other than the short left.”
And don’t ignore the breeze. “Every player needs to factor in not only the elevation change but the prevailing wind,” says Vidal, who when playing this hole has hit everything from 3-wood to pitching wedge depending on the conditions. “If the wind is in your face, this hole plays exceptionally long.”