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Alvamar assistance: Members give advice for tackling the upcoming city tournament

July 1, 2012

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Alvamar Public Course (Lawrence city tournament — Saturday, July 7)

Editor’s Note: Ross Randall, coach of the Kansas University men’s golf team for 28 seasons, played on the PGA Tour for nine years. In 1967, his senior season at San Jose State, Randall was one of six NCAA All-Americans, joining Bucky Henry (Georgia Tech), Hale Irwin (Colorado), Johnny Miller (Brigham Young), Hal Underwood (Houston) and B.R. McLendon (Louisiana State). Retired from KU, Randall gives private lessons at Alvamar. To aid golfers participating in the LAGA city tournament, Randall agreed to give his take on how to play the 18 holes on Alvamar’s public course, his favorite track in Lawrence. The first of two rounds will be played on the public course Saturday, July 7.

"Jayhawk" nine

No. 1, Par 4, 392 Yards — Drive left-center to avoid second-shot tree trouble on the short-right of green. Usually against prevailing wind, so hit an extra club for your approach shot. Fairly flat green.

No. 2, Par 5, 505 Yards — Great birdie chance. A slight draw is required on this dogleg left to get past the left corner trees and to take advantage of the left sloping fairway. A good drive leaves you a chance to reach the green in two. Most people will under-club on their approach shots. Long green actually slopes away from the player at the back of the green.

No. 3, Par 4, 380 Yards — Slight dogleg right with a hazard on the left (Quail Creek) the entire length of hole. The green is elevated so make sure you hit enough club for your approach shot. The green slopes from back to front so be careful with fast downhill putts.

No. 4, Par 3, 182 Yards — Long, with the prevailing wind usually blowing left to right. The wind makes the hole play longer for most right-handers. There is a pond short and to the right of the green. The left side of the green is severely sloped and quite fast.

No. 5, Par 4, 381 Yards — Straight, usually into the prevailing wind that can play much longer than the yardage. There is a hazard (Quail Creek) along the entire left side of the hole. A long row of trees runs to the right of the fairway, making chip-outs common. Make sure you hit enough club to avoid the two front bunkers. Green is slightly uphill from front to back.

No. 6, Par 4, 405 Yards — An uphill dogleg to the right that is the most difficult par 4 on the front side. The fairway slopes from left to right so you need to drive left center to avoid rolling into the right trees off the tee. The uphill second shot plays much longer than the yardage. Hit enough club, as very few second shots will bounce forward short of the green. The green slopes from back to front, causing some putts to break a lot more than they appear.

No. 7, Par 3, 210 Yards — A long, downhill hole usually against a prevailing wind. Hit enough club to avoid the front bunkers on the left and right. The huge green is deceptive as the back half of the green actually runs away from the tee.

No. 8, Par 5, 471 Yards — A sharp dogleg left that runs steeply uphill the final 100 yards. Drive it down the middle, avoiding the heavily treed left rough. A good second shot leaves a tough-to-judge, uphill pitch shot to a blind green. Watch the slopes, as this green can be fast.

No. 9, Par 4, 389 Yards — Straight, with a fairway bunker on each side of the driving area. Usually downwind, the hole can play fairly short. However, the three-tiered green can make for difficult pin positions.

• • •

"Quail Creek" nine

No. 10, Par 4, 386 Yards — Straight, with out-of-bounds on both sides of a wide fairway. The second shot is downhill and usually with the wind. Two bunkers on front right of green usually don’t come into play. Fairly level green.

No. 11, Par 5, 496 Yards — A dogleg to the left after a straight drive. Keep your drive right center to avoid huge trees on left side of fairway. Long hitters can reach the green in two shots, giving a good birdie opportunity. The very wide green is fairly flat, except at the very back of the green, where it slopes away from the front edge.

No. 12, Par 3, 168 Yards — A good hole, with prevailing wind coming from the left. A front bunker can catch some shots, while the bunker on the left is usually out of play. The wide green is fairly flat. This is the last of the easy holes at Alvamar. The final six holes can be a real challenge if the wind is blowing and the greens are running fast.

No. 13, Par 4, 430 Yards — Long and against the wind with an uphill tee shot and a downhill second shot. The out-of-bounds on the left can come into play. The second shot is usually blind, where the player might not be able to see the flag. The large green slopes to the front, to the left and to the back right. A four is a good score.

No. 14, Par 4, 387 Yards — A crazy hole, curving to the left off the tee and the fairway sloping to the right. Tall trees protect the left dogleg so you have to bomb a high tee shot over the trees or lay up to the right and be satisfied with a 190-yard second shot. Quail Creek is a hazard on the right side of the hole off the tee and then it comes into play left of the green for your approach shot. A large, fairly flat green with one bunker short-right.

No. 15, Par 3, 183 Yards — Long, usually downwind. Hit enough club, as a large bunker protects the front-center of the green. Tough pin positions can cause really fast putts, as the green slopes from back to front.

No. 16, Par 4, 358 Yards — Short, narrow and plays much more difficult than the yardage indicates. The narrow fairway slopes severely from left to right, sending a straight drive into a group of large, overhanging trees in the right rough. Usually into a prevailing wind, the large green is protected by one front bunker on the right and has several subtle slopes.

No. 17, Par 5, 538 Yards — A true three-shot hole that demands excellent shots to give you a chance for a birdie. Your drive must stay left-center on this dogleg to the right. A tee shot to the tall trees on the right forces you to chip out to the fairway, preventing you from reaching the green over the fronting pond on your third shot. You will want to hit your second shot far enough to reach the flat section of the fairway, avoiding the steep up-slopes, if possible. The third shot is uphill, over a pond, against a prevailing left-to-right wind, to a fast, sloping green. Easy, huh!

No. 18, Par 4, 375 Yards — Demanding, long and forces you to layup short of a pond, making your uphill second shot a lot longer than you would want. Keep your layup tee shot to the right-center of the fairway, away from the pond on the left side of the hole. Be prepared to hit a 170-to-200-yard second shot uphill to an elevated green, guarded by three bunkers and a left-to-right prevailing wind. The large green slopes from middle to front for the first half of the green and then is fairly level for the back half. Whew, its over!

• • •

Alvamar Private Course (Lawrence city tournament — Sunday, July 8)

Editor’s Note: Three men known for fancy footwork and floating through the air — dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, basketball star Michael Jordan and moon-walking astronaut Neil Armstrong — have played this tight course lined with huge trees and dotted with many doglegs. Putting the ball in the right spot takes precedence over length even more than on most courses. The greens have big slopes as well, so local knowledge is a must. Who better to provide that than Alvamar Country Club members? Eighteen different members tackled one hole apiece to supply city tournament players with pointers that will help to keep them from having to read a bloated number next to their names in the newspaper.

"Sunflower" nine

No. 1, Par 4, 354 Yards — Dogleg left, from an elevated tee box. This hole would be considered to be one of, if not the most open hole on the private course. The tee shot can set the tone for the balance of your round. A tee ball moving slightly right frequently will be pushed well into the trees by the prevailing southern wind. Take too aggressive of a line down the left and invariably the trees will catch your ball, leaving you little choice but to punch out. Consider taking something less than a driver from the tee. A 230-yard three-wood from the tee will leave you with only 125 yards to the middle of a generous green that slopes from the back to the front. Get a 4 on your card and then hold on as the trees at Alvamar close in on you!

— Scott Buxton

No. 2, Par 3, 135 Yards — Shortest par 3 on the course, this hole requires an accurate tee shot to enhance the possibility of a birdie or par. When facing the green, it slopes from back to front with the majority of putts moving from left to right. The green provides two distinct tiers for the pin placement with a steep, short distance between the two levels. It is difficult to judge the speed and break of any putt that has to be made from one tier to the other. Obviously, the key to this hole is to place your tee shot on the same level as the pin. You will also notice a deep creek that runs in front of the green and around the right side. A narrow dry area between creek and green requires roughly a five-foot elevated shot to the surface. Notice two bunkers on the right side of the green: one at the green’s mid-point, the other above and to the right, which rarely comes into play. Have fun.

— Gary Leonardi

No. 3, Par 4, 359 Yards — On this short but demanding hole, par is always a good score. A ninety-degree dogleg right, this hole requires two good shots to reach the elevated green. The tee shot is a true risk-reward decision: cut the corner right over the trees that guard the corner for a short second shot, but risk leaving a chip out from the trees, or play safe down the fairway and leave a longer shot to the green. The crowned green has subtle but demanding contours that make two putts from a long distance difficult.

— Chris Davis

No. 4, Par 4, 349 yards — As you approach this tricky hole, there are no hidden surprises — what you see is what you get. A hazard on the right and out-of-bounds on the left makes this a hole players must drive accurately. An accurate drive favoring the left side may get you more roll, but the middle to right side of the fairway will position the player with a chance to land on the green without penalty. The second shot plays uphill. The green is guarded by a large bunker on the lower-left. If you miss the green it is best to have landed on the front apron. Due to this merciless sloping green, players blasting beyond the green may find themselves chipping again due to the severe breaking slope. This hole may be short but not so sweet.

— Lisa Reushhoff

No. 5, Par 5, 472 yards — This hole, once rated as the No. 1 handicap, requires a carry of 225 yards across the lake to the middle of a right-to-left sloping fairway. Big hitters can use the slope for extra roll helping them reach the uphill green in two. Trouble lurks with trees on the left and out-of-bounds on the right, making it a medium-to-high risk attempt to go for it in two. Long shots will leave you in the brush behind the green; the slope on the right of the green will kick your ball out of bounds. Once on the green, don’t be fooled, some of the best putters have three- and four-putted this sloping green.

— Bill Renick

No. 6, Par 4, 377 Yards — An L-shaped dogleg that requires accuracy on every shot, it is the No. 2 handicap on the course. Trees border both sides of the fairway from tee to green. Your tee shot requires length and accuracy to reach the corner of the dogleg. A tee shot that is short or long will find trees blocking the approach to the green. The second shot could be 150-180 yards to a green that has a bunker guarding the right side and large trees hanging on the left. It’s a large green with a false front. The green slopes from front to back. If your approach is short you’ll have an uphill pitch and if you’re long, you’ll role off the back. Getting through with a par will feel more like a birdie.

— Tim Van Leer

No. 7, Par 5, 527 Yards — Although it went from the No. 3 handicap to 10 when the course was re-rated, it is no pushover. To be consistently successful on this slight dogleg left, it must be played from the right side whether you are going for the green with your second or third shot, particularly if the pin is on the left half of the green. Dense trees just to the right of the green make going for the green in two risky. The green is elevated in front and on the right and protected by large trees on the left so accuracy is a must to be successful on this hole. When the pin is on the left side of the green, par is a good score.

— Jim Clark

No. 8, Par 3, 153 Yards — Downhill and plays at least one club shorter than the yardage. The best tee shot is to carry past the hole which provides an easier birdie putt. A large bunker left and a small pot bunker right protect the green, which also runs downhill from front-right to back-left. Most putts are influenced by the downhill nature of the hole, but a well placed tee shot will provide a good opportunity for a birdie.

— John Wachter

No. 9, Par 4, 376 Yards — This is a tough finishing hole for the front nine as it takes a precise drive which leads to a mid-range iron to an elevated green that is sloped from back to front. Other than that, it’s a pretty easy dogleg left hole. Your drive will take a driver, three-wood or hybrid depending on the location of the tees to a tough-to-hit landing area. A south wind will oftentimes move a drive left into a creek. A sliced drive is jail also as the right side is guarded by thickets and trees. If the drive is successfully maneuvered, then you’ll have anywhere from 150-200 yards depending on how close you hit it to the creek. But make sure you add an extra club for this shot as it is deceptively uphill into an elevated green with a false front. Your approach shot should ideally be below the hole as the green slopes severely from back to front. A par on this hole is a great score. It’s not the No. 4 handicap hole on the course for nothing.

— Mike Scott

• • •

"Hidden Valley" nine

No. 10, Par 4, 345 Yards — Short but demanding buttonhook dogleg left. Long hitters who drive in the fairway to within 80 yards of the green will enjoy a short, unimpeded approach pitch. However, the tree-lined fairway slopes right-to-left, and even straight drives often bounce left and leave an approach stymied by the trees at the corner. Veering starboard off the tee is no picnic either, due to four large trees that line the right side of the fairway. A conservative tee shot to no closer than 125 yards out permits a lofted approach shot even from the left side of the fairway. The large green is slightly wider than it is deep (80x70 feet) and guarded in front by a treacherously high-lipped and oft-cursed bunker. Approach shots that carry long will typically bound into the woods behind the green. Recovery from a poorly placed tee shot can be accomplished by playing to the right of the green to set up a crisply nipped pitch or chip. Tournament pin placements typically take advantage of subtle and difficult-to-read breaks in the green that vex even long-time Alvamar members.

— Chris Anderson

No. 11, Par 3, 167 Yards — Looks can be deceiving. Downhill. Hole plays about one club less than yardage. Try to avoid the bunker in the front left. Very speedy green that slopes from the right to the left.

— Linda Randall

No. 12, Par 4, 379 Yards — This hole is one where most leave their driver in their bag. Slight dogleg right with a blind uphill landing area at about 200 to 250 yards. The fairway turns right, slopes left, and is downhill to the green. The fairway is narrow off the tee, with the right side protected by thick trees and the left side by a rocky downslope and trees. The green is hidden at 200 yards out. The green is protected behind with dense foliage and a green-side bunker on the left front. If you want to challenge yourself with a driver, be sure to hit a slight fade and crest the hill. Be careful though, you will only have a 20-yard wide, ideal landing area downhill toward the green. The risk-benefit however is low as the approach from 150 yards out is sufficient for a good score.

— Jeff Sigler

No. 13, Par 4, 351 yards — The key to this dog-leg left hole is drive position. Regardless of the tee played, short left will force a challenging layup second shot (or third if you find the creek on the left). The perfect drive is center of fairway, just short of the creek which defines the dogleg. A second shot to the proper tier of the two-tiered green makes par or even birdie possible, as long as the shot is below the hole. Above the hole, especially on the upper tier with the hole on the lower — watch out! Ugly scores are possible on this typical Alvamar hole.

— Mark Praeger

No. 14, Par 5, 512 Yards — This slight dogleg right, handicap 1 is a hole you should play with patience and accuracy. You don’t have to be long, so some players may opt for less than a driver depending on conditions. Stay away from the creek on the left, and the woods on the right. The trees on the right extend further than you think so be careful on your drive. For your second shot, target the right-center of the fairway. Play it as a three-shot hole and take a little extra club for your short-iron approach. This green breaks to the right, so stay left of the flag and you may come away with a birdie.

— Jerry Magnuson

No. 15, Par 3, 150 Yards — Guarded by water to the front and along the right side. A small creek runs along the back side of the green, but only a bad club selection can bring this hazard into play. This is a nice-size green sloping to the front and right, with little or no elevation from tee to green. The spring and summer winds are crossing left to right. Target the tee shot to the left of center. The distance between the front water and the putting surface is only nine yards, so don’t be fooled by a sucker flag location down front; middle is better every time.

— Jerry Waugh

No. 16, Par 4, 301 yards — This hole is not for the faint of heart. The effective drive hugs the tree line on the right side of the fairway to put the ball in position to reach the green without facing too much of a challenge. The second shot then can be played out to the right to run down the slope to the green. However, the fairway slopes severely to the left where a pond guards the green. The danger is playing the ball too far right into the trees or hitting short. A short shot will land you in the water hazard or hitting over it onto the green. From here, your approach must be accurate as there is a bunker behind the green that is not visible. Once on the green, it does not get easier. The green is deceptive and must be looked at from all sides before putting. This hole rewards accuracy and the golfer willing to take risks.

— Jaime Keating

No. 17, Par 5, 502 Yards — Appears longer from the members tee than it really plays. Your tee shot can be on either side of the fairway and many errant tee shots can still be used to salvage a par or even birdie. The key to this hole is to play your second shot to a comfortable distance for a full shot to the green. Favor the left side of the fairway for a straight-in third shot. For better players, this is where the hole really begins. Depending on the pin placement, it is important to put the third shot on the green because the subtle undulations on the green make it a bit difficult to one-putt and getting up and down from around the green is difficult. Be aware that approach shots in front of the green seldom make it on to the green. So, play that third shot correctly and birdie and par are available to you.

— Cecil Kingsley

No. 18, Par 4, 332 Yards — At a modest 375 yards from the back tee, traditionally plays into the south, summer breeze. A hole which shapes right to left actually slopes left to right making for an awkward tee shot. Drives should be played to the left side of the fairway. This also avoids a fairway bunker designed to capture tee shots up the right side. Approach shots must remain below the hole and avoid the greenside bunkers to the right. Putts above the hole are fast and difficult to judge. Stay patient to secure par on this tight, difficult finishing hole.

— Steve Randall

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