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Course Flyovers

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Description

Northward. The opener is a straight forward hole typically into the prevailing wind. There are no bunkers, but plenty of undulations. The wide open fairway blends seamlessly with neighboring holes 9 and 18. A well placed tee shot is not as essential as taking care on the approach. Whether you are trying to reach the green in two or three, beware of the bumps and slopes, especially at the right of the green.

Description

Playing out toward San Francisco Bay this par-4 is defined by a green flanked with two bunkers. The better tee shot is kept right of center, not only to avoid the fairway bunker at left, but to set up a more open aim at the green. The danger is straying off the fairway into native rough. Once at the green take care with the left pin locations. Coming up short to the left will lead to a sandy situation.

Description

Playing out toward San Francisco Bay this par-4 is defined by a green flanked with two bunkers. The better tee shot is kept right of center, not only to avoid the fairway bunker at left, but to set up a more open aim at the green. The danger is straying off the fairway into native rough. Once at the green take care with the left pin locations. Coming up short to the left will lead to a sandy situation.

Description

A traditional “Redan” hole where the opening to the green is purposefully narrow, made so by the bunker along the left and the tilt of the approach. A Redan is named after the French word, often used to describe the opening in castle windows where incoming threats must negotiate a narrow slot. Here at the 4th a proper tee shot will usually need to land short of the putting surface where it is then allowed to bounce and roll toward the flag. Keep in mind that the green surface is sloped away, and slightly to the left. This is reminiscent of the original Redan in North Berwick, Scotland. A shot just short and toward the right is most always the best bet.

Description

The first of several short, risk-reward, par-4s at Baylands. Here the key is setting up your second shot. Longer players must throttle back to avoid dribbling into the cross hazard. Take aim off the tee, perhaps with a more accurate club than the big driver. Plan ahead by setting up the iron of your choice to the elevated green. Usually the approach will play one-club more than planned as the green is set 15 feet above the fairway. The green has two pockets, one left and right at the front. The back and center of the green is raised, so knowing what portion to attack is paramount.

Description

Here is where you begin to experience the ever-present wetland habitat that defines Baylands Golf Links. These are not for aesthetics, but to provide habitat and as a measure to keeping water clean and filtered. The 6th about “threading the needle” to avoid peril left and right off the tee. Usually downwind, but still a longish par-4. This may well be the most contoured green on the course. The golfer in the know will take careful note of the pin location. Negotiating the 6th may not be mastered until returning a few times.

Description

Your choices off the tee are many. Play left and straight with a hybrid or iron to set up a simple approach with a short iron. Play even safer with a mid-iron to well short of the bunker where your approach is still not all that long. These two options are safest. The bold player with length may try to reach the green with a bail-out short and just right. The penalty is significant however. An intruding finger of wetland and native grass extends to the green with no forgiveness. Once at the green take note of its long and narrow shape. At the far back is a hollow where the devilish greenkeeper can set a cup when he is most annoyed.

Description

Baylands Golf Links sports five par-3s, a rarity in modern courses. The 8th (our second) can play long, and it is by no means a pushover. The aware player will take note of the hole location for it may play three of more clubs different between far front and far back. The front area of the green is guarded by two bunkers, but more easily reached. The midway portion of the green is a plateau. The back is lower and hidden from view. The best advice at the 8th is to be keen on the precise length and, if possible, shape your shot from left to right.

Description

Homeward-bound. Here the play is downwind on most days and times. The copse of trees and fairway bunkers are only in the way of those seeking refuge to the right. At the approach you will find a particularly popular bunker at the left, so please avoid this at all cost. The bumps and moguls become increasingly more dramatic as you reach the green. Take note that the ridge fronting the green surface may make the target appear closer than it is.

Description

As the course goes back out we are reminded of the California landscape at Baylands with oaks and native brush along the hillside to the left. This par-4 requires planning to negotiate the wetlands crossing diagonally before the green. Play as far off the tee as you dare, making sure to leave yourself an approach you can muster. Clever players will stay well away from the deep bunker at the right of the fairway.

Description

San Francisquito Creek runs along the entire left of this hole with native wetlands and stately Stone Pines providing interest. Stay clear of these! They may be interesting to look at, but no place for a drive. You will find the fairway sloping from right to left. The preferred tee shot is just a bit right of center where visibility to the green is best. A narrow green awaits. Stay clear of the bunker at the right and take note that the left bunker is deceivingly short of the green.

Description

Golf Architect Forrest Richardson has long maintained that “the short hole should not be long,” which is a quote of the famous British golf writer, John Low. The 12th, while it plays into the wind at most times, is a matter of finesse. Brute strength will get you no where to this island that is surrounded by showcase environmental habitat. Play the club that gets you there, but study the yardage carefully. Adjust for a slight cross-wind. Hit away. One more piece of advice: That pesky bunker up front is not your friend.

Description

For those that recall the original Palo Alto course, here we have a hole remaining in its original spot. A par-5, both reachable and attainable. Avoid the fairway bunkers off the tee. Stay steady and straight, opting for a lesser-than-driver club if needed. This is not a long par-5, so one needs to gauge their desire to try the green in two. Play conservative and you will arrive for a birdie putt with little trouble. At all cost stay out of the deep and tiny sand pit that guards the center approach to the green. This is no place for mortal golfers!

Description

Why not two greens to choose from? Before teeing off it must be known whether you will play to the “left” or “right” green for we have two to choose from at the 14th. The tee shot is a matter of positon. It is best that you plan accordingly. If the left green is your final target, go ahead and favor the left off the tee, for a rightward drive may leave you a partially blind approach. If the right green is where you will carry out the putting, hit straight and far. The two alternate greens are a “Jeckle and Hyde” pair. The left is perched along the wetlands with no escape, and it is a small target. The right, quite opposite, is a forgiving punchbowl where balls will often find the middle.

Description

You are now, most always, downwind. A short iron will typically carry farther, perhaps even by two or more clubs. Patterned after many short holes with multiple levels of putting surface, the 15th at Baylands is a prospect of (a) selecting the best iron, and (b) figuring out what kind of putt is best to try at birdie. Position is everything! Leaving yourself an uphill putt is good advice. This is a short hole with no emphasis on distance. Players of all abilities are equal, at least in terms of strength. Think “tee shot” and from where you want to be stroking that birdie try.

Description

Some of the most thrilling holes in links golf are those with limited visibility to the green. Here we arrive at two such holes, both the 16th and 17th. At 16 the tee shot must anticipate the approach. Play left and you will see the green. Take aim more toward the green from the tee and it is likely to be hidden from view. Your choice. For the bold player, hit far and toward the green and you may well be rewarded. Of course, there are risks. Sand, native grass and a valley from which there no guarantee of success, even if you are chipping.

Description

At a place called Lahinch in the west of Ireland there exists a remarkable hole called “The Dell” where the location of the hole is marked by a painted white rock that gets repositioned every day to signify where golfers should aim. Similar in nature, our version of this par-3 invites guesswork mixed with local knowledge. Best of all, the tee shot is contained in a cauldron of mounds that tend to funnel the ball back toward the center. Know your distance. Hit straight and with a bit of luck in your heart. All will be end up well.

Description

Affectionately the finishing hole is called the “Home Hole” for it brings us back to where we began. The 18th at Baylands is a short par-5, sweet and attainable. Downwind. It is there for the taking. Avoid the fairway sand and stay in turf off the tee. For your second, take note of the narrow slot formed by pine trees that thrive in the sandy soils near the Bay. The aware player will play cautiously toward the green so not to be thwarted by these aerial hazards should your shot come up short. There is plenty of room, but you must set your course accordingly. A lay-up can often be the best way to tame the finisher. The green is large, full of movement and requires some planning so you leave a putt that is not full of cross breaks.