Playing Advice | The Seventh Holes on The Bend, The Bay, and The Bog
They say seven is a lucky number. There are also plenty of instances throughout a round of golf where luck can make a difference. For the most part, however, the seventh holes on The Bend, The Bay, and The Bog don’t offer much in the way of terrain or topography where luck can play a role. On these holes, only well-hit golf shots and sound strategy will produce favorable outcomes.
When it comes to hitting good shots, we can’t help you much. That part is up to you. When it comes to sound strategies, however, Michael Carroll—Willowbend’s Director of Golf—has happily offered some insight that may allow you to see these holes differently the next time you step up on the tee.
THE BEND – HOLE 7
If you’ve played the seventh hole of The Bend—even if only once—you understand the challenge that it presents. In Carroll’s opinion, the 165-yard par 3 is arguably the most difficult one-shot hole at Willowbend. “The hole features a raised, table-top green, which amplifies a miss,” he explains. “It’s going to kick your ball farther from the putting surface, which is likely to make your next shot more difficult. It’s either hit the green or deal with the consequences, and the consequences are unfavorable on all sides.”
Should you be left dealing with the consequences, you’ll need to exhibit some great touch with a wedge. And while Carroll points out that a player’s short game will need to be dialed in on this hole, the types of shots that will be rewarded are very limited. “This green just won’t accept a bump and run shot,” he says. “You have to fly it onto the green, otherwise your ball is going to be rejected.”
THE BAY – HOLE 7
Much like the seventh hole on The Bend, the second par 3 on The Bay doesn’t present much of a mystery. What you see on this hole is more or less what you get, especially from the back tees, which play from an elevated position. From those tees, the hole requires a forced carry over the collection of greenside bunkers guarding the front of the putting surface; and as Carroll points out, shots that approach the green with a steep angle of descent are likely to produce the best outcomes.
From the forward-most tees, golfers are rewarded with a slightly better angle toward the putting surface, one in which they can hit lower-lofted shots into the mouth of the green. And once on the green, players will encounter a relatively benign putting surface with only subtle contouring.
As much as players might be intimidated by the sprawling stretches of sand guarding much of the front-right portion of the green, bailing out to the left can be calamitous. “One miss to avoid on this hole is left or long and left,” Carroll acknowledges. “Anything that misses there is one bounce away from being a lost ball.”
THE BOG – HOLE 7
Although the seventh hole on The Bog can be daunting for first-time players, a bit of experience reveals it’s far more forgiving off the tee than it appears. Players who choose to hit their tee shots to the section of the fairway before the bog would be wise to lay up again, effectively playing this hole as a three-shot par 4. But those who choose to take on the bigger tee shot will discover that the more expansive section of the fairway after the bog welcomes a variety of shot shapes and trajectories. “You have a lot of room out there to work with,” Carroll says. “The best target for most players is the middle of the fairway bunker that they can see from the tee. That’s usually a pretty safe bet.”
Forward-tee players are gifted an utterly different angle into the larger section of the fairway, albeit with a modest forced carry over the bog. “They can play at the green or the greenside bunker,” Carroll says, “and they’ll have the entire length of that landing area to play with.”
Where this hole gets challenging is on the approach into the green. Missing left isn’t an option, since the green abuts a penalty area on that side, and missing too far to the right, as Carroll observes, “leaves a daunting downhill chip or pitch shot from a vantage point where the ball is usually positioned on a downslope.”
The green can receive a low, running shot, so long as it approaches the green on the right side. In that scenario, the mounding on the right side of the green will funnel a ball down toward the center of the putting surface. Players’ most common mistake is being too intimated by the penalty area to the left of the green and bailing too far to the right. “Members often end up in the tree and woods between the green and the 8th tee boxes,” Carroll says. “It’s very easy to lose a ball in there. Anything landing to the right of the retaining wall won’t be found.”