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Playing Advice | The Second Holes on The Bend, The Bay, and The Bog

On paper, the second holes on The Bend, The Bay, and The Bog don’t look that difficult, but the two par 3s—on The Bend and The Bog—are deceivingly tricky, while The Bay’s first par 4 intimidates players for what they can see and penalizes them by what’s less visible. Scoring well on these holes requires plenty of course knowledge (and some prudent advice from a trusted guide). Here, Michael Vidal, Willowbend’s Assistant General Manager, and Michael Carroll, Willowbend’s Director of Golf, offer their perspective on these three holes.

THE BEND – HOLE 2

With a 13 handicap rating, the second hole on The Bend course is mostly innocuous—both on paper and in perception. Yes, players must carry a water hazard to reach the green on this fairly long par 3, but according to Carroll, there are about 20 yards of solid ground between the water and the front of the putting surface. Despite that margin for error—or maybe because of it—players most often miss the green with their tee shots. “This hole tends to play a little longer than the number,” he says. “So a lot of players come up short of the green.”

When played from the forward tees, this hole presents a much less daunting first shot, though a small portion of the pond must still be cleared if a player wants to have a putt for birdie. But as Carroll acknowledges, players who want to avoid the pond entirely can do so, they’ll just need to get up and down for par, as there’s no direct path to the green that doesn’t require hitting over the water.

There’s nothing wrong with a par on this hole, and the best way to get it is to take a little more club on the tee box and aim for the middle of the putting surface. “It’s a big green so just go for the center,” Carroll advises. “Don’t get cute and try to go pin-hunting on this hole.”

THE BAY – HOLE 2

Although just an average length par 4 on the scorecard, the second hole on The Bay feels longer due to its shape—a sharp dogleg left with a water hazard protecting the entire inside of the dogleg (and more water beyond the fairway on the right side after the corner). The fairway also slopes significantly from right to left, which oftentimes penalizes players who aim down the left side in an attempt to give themselves a shorter shot into the green.

“Everything rolls toward the water [on the left],” Vidal acknowledges, “and players generally don’t hit their drives far enough to the right, so their balls end up rolling down the slope and into the hazard. You need to play it out to the right side and your ball will still roll down toward the left side of the fairway.”

When it comes to their second shots, golfers will be rewarded by aiming for the left side of the green, even though that means flirting with the water, which guards that entire side of the putting surface. “From the left side,” says Vidal, “you’ll almost always have an uphill putt at the hole.”

However, if you’re a shorter hitter—or someone who likes to hit low running shots into greens—you’ll want to do just the opposite. “The neck of the green is closely mown and pretty wide,” says Carroll, “so a low, running shot is welcomed, as long as you can favor the right.”

THE BOG – HOLE 2

What you see is what you get on the second hole of The Bog course. And as Carroll points out, most members and guests end up hitting their tee shots either into the water hazard in front of the green or into the bunker that’s wedged in between the water and the short grass. There’s plenty of playing area on the mounds and hillside that slope up from the putting surface behind the green, so don’t let a forward hole location seduce you. Take enough club to reach the middle of the green or even beyond. As Carroll says, “you’re better off being a little long than a little short.”

That advice is especially true for forward tee players, who face an intimidating forced carry over the pond. In that scenario, those players will always benefit from having more club in their hand, since it increases the odds that they’ll clear the hazard with their tee shots. “It’s a forced carry no matter where you play from,” Carroll acknowledges. “But it’s a big green from front to back and there’s a tiered slope that can slow down shots that roll toward the back of the putting surface.”

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