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First impression of LCC: challenging

July 24, 2011

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Former Lawrence High golfer Jon Cohen, who will be playing golf at Grinnell College, plays the Lawrence Country Club for the first time Tuesday July 12, 2011.

Former Lawrence High golfer Jon Cohen, who will be playing golf at Grinnell College, plays the Lawrence Country Club for the first time Tuesday July 12, 2011.

When the city’s best golfers approach the first tee at Lawrence Country Club today, they will see what I saw for the first time Tuesday, a course with as many challenges as opportunities.

I played LCC with the intent of noting the key features of the course, which will crown the city champion:

No. 1: This short par-4 offers a chance to make birdie, while the dense trees right and tall grasses left bring high numbers into play from the outset. But as with many holes at LCC, the real battle begins on the greens, which ought to be rolling at the devilishly quick pace of 11 on the stimpmeter.

No. 3: The first of two par-5s, this hole will be reachable in two for many players in the top flights. However, the second shot must negotiate the water in front to reach the putting surface.

No. 4: An absolute monster of a hole that kicks off a stretch of three straight par-4s. Even a well-struck tee ball will leave a long iron into this elevated green.

No. 7: I stepped to this tee box and grinned. A marvelously designed par-3 with a green wedged between the course boundary to the left and a pond on the right. I was delighted to walk away with par.

No. 8: Another beast of a par-4. Out of bounds is certainly in play along the left side as the steeply pitched fairway is likely to jettison more than a few balls out of play.

No. 9: I love this short, split-fairway par-4. In hindsight, I think the left fairway is the optimal path for most. It grants a much better angle of attack to a rock-hard green.

No. 11: The back nine opens with six relatively easy holes. However, there is still plenty of trouble. This par-3 is a prime example. It’s the easiest hole on the course, but there’s water left. Yet, at only 161 yards from the tips, expect a lot of birdies.

No. 12: This is the longest 500-yard hole I’ve ever seen. This slight dogleg right seems to climb back uphill forever, and two fairway bunkers really limit how a player can attack this hole. It will take three solid shots to reach this par-5 in regulation.

No. 13: The next three holes are mundane par-4s, but it’s not unreasonable to think the championship will be won and lost over this stretch. The last thing anyone wants is to have to make up ground over the final three.

No. 16: This severe dogleg right may entice the long hitter to cut the corner, and the freak may even attempt to drive this green. But the champion will probably play down the middle of the fairway and leave himself an ultra-intimidating, downhill shot over water, to the green. It sounds hard, and it is.

No. 18: This ribbon of a fairway is definitely the hardest to hit on the course. A miss left brings a pond and nasty fairway bunker into play, and right is no good either. This par-4 is short, though, so a drive in the short grass offers an opportunity to end the tournament with a birdie.

I don’t know who will win the title with five-time defending champion Conrad Roberts not in the field, but whoever takes home the hardware will have earned it on an inscrutably fair golf course.

— Jon Cohen, a summer intern at the Journal-World, is on the golf team at Grinnell College.

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