All four 18-hole golf courses in Lawrence are up and running and lush as can be from all the rain. One complaint about all the courses: It's too difficult to break 100 with any consistency.
Too many sand traps, too many difficult breaks on the greens, and too many ball-magnet trees and ponds.
Too many swing flaws? No, that can't be it. Definitely not it.
Drawing from Alvamar Country Club (private), Alvamar Golf Course (public), Eagle Bend and Lawrence Country Club, here is the look at the 18 holes that, if put on the same course, would make a most challenging par-72, played from the tees second from the back:
No. 7, LCC: Miss right, and you're likely to be in a pond. Miss left, and you're knock, knock, knockin' on someone's roof. Before the beautiful renovation of the course, this start-high, finish-low hole was even tougher, so much so that former Oklahoma State coach Mike Holder demanded all his players lay up and go for an up-and-down par. It's still a viable approach for talent-challenged golfers, but most are too proud for that.
No. 8, EB: Long and into a prevailing south wind with water on the right, this hole also features a green that can have tough downhill puts.
No. 2, LCC: The new, fast, immaculately groomed greens aren't yet deeply rooted, so it can be difficult to hold the green. Chipping onto the green from deep rough on a steep slope from behind is a nightmare. If the tee shot is short, make sure the chip isn't, or it will roll right back to you. Beautiful hole.
No. 11, ACC: It looks so easy, so why does it always play so hard? Maybe it's because the green is surrounded by trouble in the form of sand and trees and rough. From the tee box, this hole smiles invitingly at you. By the time you're done putting, it's laughing at you.
No. 6, AGC: This long dogleg right just keeps going uphill, and the fairway slopes, so easy lies are difficult to achieve.
No. 4, ACC: It's a long uphill trek to a wicked green, behind which sits a beautiful castle-like home with so many windows. Reaching the green in regulation is no safe par.
No. 18, EB: The wind blows hard into your face, and trouble awaits those who miss left or right on the second shot.
No. 4, LCC: Good luck trying to reach this one in regulation.
No. 14, AGC: The trees hugging the left side of the tee box need to be removed by whatever means at whatever time of the night. Immediately. Another option: Move the tee box closer to the 17th green, after removing a couple of pine trees. Those who slice are doomed because the right place to put the drive is to the right side of the fairway. Even then it's a tough shot to an elevated green.
No. 7, EB: Long hitters don't mind this one. The rest of us view it as a Par 5. Watch the trees to the right on the drive.
No. 16, LCC: Nailing the blind drive is required to even think about going for the uphill green that is much wider than it is deep, instead of laying up in front of the water that guards it.
No. 16, ACC: If it's not the coolest hole in town, it's certainly in the conversation. The man-made pond serves as a moat for the left half, and then some, of the green. The smart play is to come in from the right, but the slope of the terrain pushes the ball left, toward the water.
No. 15, EB: Careful not to snap the tee shot into trouble on the left and careful not to push it right because it's out of bounds. Even after a good drive, it's a long, long way home.
No. 6, LCC: Place the drive well enough, and reaching in two shouldn't be a problem. Putting twice is the issue.
No. 17, AGC: Many an exhausted golfer has dropped a ball or two into the pond in front of the green, this after already getting into trouble by pushing the tee shot right, when hitting it left is the right play.
No. 5, ACC: The drive through the tunnel after the fourth green offers a nice opportunity to shake off that three-putt. The hole sets up beautifully to the eye. And then the stress returns.
No. 14, ACC: It's difficult, partially for the wrong reasons. Heavy hitters leave the driver in the bag for fear of ending in the ravine that cuts across the fairway, which slopes drastically to the right, causing many second shots to find the rough.
No. 12, LCC: Out of bounds off the tee is one fear on this uphill marathon. Just because you might get to the green in three doesn't mean you're home free.