By Philip Sokol, Director of Operations (Sports Network)
Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean Course)
HOLE ONE - Par 4 - 396 yards: One of only two par fours on the course under 400 yards, albeit just four yards short of that figure, the first hole is a dandy opener. Playing fairly straight, the key is avoiding the sandy waste area down the entire right side, which boasts several tall trees. Left of the landing area is no bargain either, so three-metal off the tee is your best play. Just a short iron remains to a fairly simple green, guarded short and right by sand and water. Approach the left side of the putting surface to set up your best shot at birdie, as the green is only 27 paces deep.
HOLE TWO - Par 5 - 557 yards: Although 557 yards from the tips, the second hole is a very demanding par five. There are three distinct landing areas. First, the tee shot on this dogleg left must find the wide fairway. Cutting the corner can set up a play to go for the green, but this is extremely risky. The second shot is either to an 80-yard long strip of fairway or going for the green or attempting to reach the third landing zone, short of the putting surface. All three zones are surrounded by sand, waste area and marsh, so pinpoint accuracy is key. The green is long, but very narrow as it sits above the fairway. Any shot just offline will roll back down into a collection area. As you can read, not a simple par five.
HOLE THREE - Par 4 - 390 yards: The last par four under 400 yards, the third is a dogleg left with a 190-yard carry over marsh from the back buttons. The fairway is quite wide, so avoid the sand and scrub left, as you will be blocked by trees towards the green. Just a wedge should remain to an elevated green devoid of sand. The putting surface is just 26 yards wide and very narrow with the wet stuff long and left. Club selection is critical in your efforts to make birdie.
HOLE FOUR - Par 4 - 458 yards: One of the most difficult driving holes on the course, the fourth is a rugged 458-yard par four with three devilish pot bunkers down the right side of the landing area. The fairway runs out at 295 yards, so the big hitters must use three-metal off the tee. The entire hole is surrounded by marsh, so any ball off line is gone. A long iron or fairway metal will remain to a green with subtle undulations. The putting surface is guarded by two traps right, so err left if you have any doubts. Making par here is a great score.
HOLE FIVE - Par 3 - 188 yards: The first par three, the fifth features the longest green on the course at 49 yards deep. To complicate things, the putting surface is divided by a huge ridge, so depending upon pin placement and wind, the correct club off the tee must be chosen. Sand down the entire left side can spell doom for an errant shot, especially with a back-left flag.
HOLE SIX - Par 4 - 480 yards: If you haven't gotten the message after the first five holes, the sixth will surely clue you in. At this hole is when you decide wether you have picked the right tees to play from. Stretching to as much as 480 yards and usually into a breeze, the sixth requires a mighty blast off the tee just to reach the fairway. Even with a successful shot, a long iron or fairway metal will remain to a long, undulating putting surface. As with all the holes on the Ocean Course, a sandy waste area surrounds the entire hole, so club yourself wisely.
HOLE SEVEN - Par 5 - 579 yards: The par five seventh is reachable if you're able to cut the corner of the dogleg right. Having written that, you must avoid the sandy waste area down the right to have any shot, as it sticks out like a sore thumb into the fairway. The hole then narrows all the way to the green, with sand dunes left and gnarly scrub right. The putting surface is pretty easy and should yield a birdie or two.
HOLE EIGHT - Par 3 - 198 yards: It might not seem like a break, but the par-three eighth could be construed as such because the green is accessible and fairly wide, accepting most shots easily. The putting surface does slope from the center to the back and the green is surrounded by waste area, front, right and behind, so be careful. The more I think about it, you better pay attention to this one or you'll make double-bogey in a heartbeat.
HOLE NINE - Par 4 - 494 yards: Despite its length, the ninth is one of the easier driving holes on the course. A wide fairway on this dogleg left should be a simple task. The difficulty remains with the length, at a whopping 494 yards from the back marker. A long iron or fairway metal might be needed to attack the green, however, any shot left will end up in the sand while approaches right will feed away from the putting surface. The back-to-front sloping green is quite slick and requires a deft touch. What a ride, and you're only at the midpoint.
HOLE TEN - Par 4 - 447 yards: A long walk or modest cart ride is needed to reach the 10th tee after completing the front nine. The 10th is an intimidating hole, however, don't be fearful, as the landing area off the tee is open to the left. The key is not to miss your tee shot to the right, as a long waste area will gobble up any and all miss-hits. The huge wall will force you to layup well short of the green. A good drive will set up a short iron to a putting surface that is long and narrow. Deep of the green is jail, so play towards the center of the green, especially when the pin is back and left.
HOLE ELEVEN - Par 5 - 593 yards: Yet another three-shot par five, the 11th winds left, right and left, like a snake in the grass. Missing the fairway to the right off the tee will, just like No. 10, spell trouble and force a premature layup. The proper play is left fairway off the tee, medium or long iron for your second shot and wedge to the green. This will set up a birdie chance and take all the danger out of the mix. The elevated putting surface has severe drops, but it will hold your approach. Look for birdie, but par is just fine.
HOLE TWELVE - Par 4 - 412 yards: Probably the widest fairway on the course, the 12th can be had, but only if you land in the short grass. Danger lurks right, as a canal runs the gambit through the green. You certainly won't fare better missing left, as sand dunes and scrub await. Your approach to the green plays slightly downhill to a putting surface that runs away towards the rear. Let your second shot run to the flag, otherwise bogey or worse could ruin your round.
HOLE THIRTEEN - Par 4 - 497 yards: One of the most picturesque and difficult holes on the course, the 13th is a great par four. Water crosses in front of the tee box and then wanders down the entire right side of the fairway past the green. A solid tee shot must favor the left side of the landing area to set up any realistic chance of getting home, however, stay clear of the two pot bunkers. A long iron or hybrid could be the call for your second shot, but beware because the green is long with bunkers and dunes left and water right.
HOLE FOURTEEN - Par 3 - 238 yards: As you begin your trek home, the 14th offers an outstanding view of the Atlantic Ocean. Another par three over 200 yards, this gem features an elevated green with a diabolical sandy waste area to the right (trust me on this) and severe dropoffs right and deep. The green is very large and undulating, making a two-putt extremely difficult. Missing the putting surface will certainly test your short game, and your mind.
HOLE FIFTEEN - Par 4 - 444 yards: With the wind at your back, hopefully, and the ocean to the right, the 15th requires a 200-yard carry over the dunes to just reach the fairway. Left-center is the call off the tee, however any shot missing the short grass will be deep in sand and difficult to recover from. A mid-iron should remain to a fairly small green, just 30 paces deep. The putting surface is not to tricky, so any shot near the center could result in birdie.
HOLE SIXTEEN - Par 5 - 581 yards: Another shot at birdie, the 16th is a strong par five, stretching 581 yards from the back tee. Water to the left of the tee box necessitates a big blast if you play down the left, however the smart shot is right-fairway to take advantage of the slope that traverses down towards the hole. Sling a fairway metal down the right for your second and you'll get home in two. The difficulty here is the dunes right and the massive trap left. The putting surface is miniscule at 29 paces and is slightly elevated from the fairway. This hole can be had, but only with pinpoint accuracy.
HOLE SEVENTEEN - Par 3 - 223 yards: One of the greatest par threes in golf, although Mark Calcavecchia might disagree, the 17th is all about carry and club selection. Very intimidating off the tee, especially from all the way back. Water encompasses the entire right side of the hole, so bail out left if you must and try to make par the old fashioned way. Two deep traps guard the left side and the green is a massive 46 steps deep (that's 10,000 square feet). Depending upon the weather, you could hit five iron or five wood on this great hole. During the 2005 PGA Club Professional Championship, the 17th played as the most difficult hole during the event with a scoring average of 3.586.
HOLE EIGHTEEN - Par 4 - 501 yards: Your final hole on the Ocean Course completes a back nine that measures 3,936 yards! At 501 yards from the tips, this awesome par four needs a tee shot to favor the right side to set up the best angle to the green. In 2002, Pete Dye moved the green complex 25 yards to the right and closer to the Atlantic Ocean. The second handicap hole on the course just got harder. A myriad of deep bunkers guard the landing zone, so accuracy and strength are needed here. The second shot will require a long iron or hybrid to reach the undulating putting surface. Any shot left will be trapped and any shot right, well, the Ocean calls.