6/24/14 by GolfonLongIsland.com
On the heels of our overview of a long par-3 fashioned out of a once-short par-4, we take a detailed look now at a similar par-4, one that presents a green within a driver's reach and coaxes you to pull the big stick and get yourself into trouble.
Where #6 at Tallgrass Golf Course used to encourage for-the-glory drives to a visible, elevated green that would often roll off a backside slope or simply fly out of bounds toward the neighbor's yard (which ultimately led to the hole's par-3 conversion), #5 at Mill Pond Golf Course in Medford ups the risk and the reward because the green is out of sight from the tee. Though a drive toward the green is a rather careless play, fantasies about rounding the bend and finding your ball 10 feet from the pin for eagle do exist.
Mill Pond #5 -- formerly the 14th hole, before the course's 2009 reconfiguration -- is a 322-/308-yard dogleg that makes a near-90-degree right turn toward an open green. A firmly struck long iron or hybrid sets up a short pitch to a putting surface that might as well have a welcome mat on the front apron. The only significant concerns from the tee are the presence of out-of-bounds down the left side and a rough- and sand-strewn berm on the right. From prime position in the fairway, the target is a large, round green with a single bunker.
The wild card for some macho drivers, of course, is that the direct flight to the green is shorter than the conventional route and considerably more fun. Golf On Long Island contributor Anthony Dimino has walked from the white tees to the green and estimates a straight-line distance of 275 yards. Aerial imagery indicates the distance is around 270 yards from the white tees, 290 from the tips.
But not only is this a blind shot, it's one following a path disrupted by thick, tangled rough, buried lies and sand. And that's just short of the green.
The berm up the entire right side of the hole frames #5's fairway and, no matter the tee shot, its rough is heavy enough for balls to be lost or buried and second shots to be severely impeded. It acts as a large, rough-covered hurdle for those willing to go for the flag. Atop the berm, players prepare to tee off on #2 under the protection of a strand of short trees. On the far side of the hill, though the green is not far ahead, the ground is severely sloped with more coarse rough.
Drives that clear the hill and all its rough can still find problems. Mill Pond recently modified its right-side bunker and strengthened its role as a shield against drive-the-green attempts. Previously the trap was laid out along the front apron; now, it's been relocated closer to the green, with a high lip pressed up close along the entire length of the surface.
the far side of the green, the short grass quickly gives way to thick rough and mounding. Keep in mind, these are the hazards that come into play on dead-straight tee shots that are merely short or long. Any aggressive drive gone astray can slice as far off as the first hole.
Still, despite all the reasons not to tee it up with visions of an eagle putt, some will point their driver toward the top of the hill and hope for the best. Good luck with that -- we'll be aiming a hybrid to the far end of the fairway (and probably pushing it into the side of the berm anyway).