One of golf’s greatest architects, Dr. Allister MacKenzie (designer of the Augusta National Golf Club and Cypress Point Club) believed that the first hole on any golf course should be fairly easy, allowing golfers to “ease into their round”. Such is the case at the first hole at Elk Grove’s Emerald Lakes Golf Course.
Hole #1: At only 288 yards, the first hole can be fairly simple for the advanced player, but tricky for the beginner. With water on the right, the golfer needs to stay left off the tee. Birdies are plentiful here. Head Golf Professional Nelson Hirst, PGA likes to say: “I feel I need to birdie the first hole because #2 is always a demanding hole, perhaps one of the hardest par threes in the valley”
Hole #2: At 195 yards, the hole almost always plays longer due to the predominant wind known as the “Delta Breeze”. The green slopes from right to left, so the preferred route into this green is a fade for the right handed golfer. Par is always a good score on this hole.
Hole #3: A good place to “get one back” with birdie. Watch out for the large bunker short and right of the green and take note of the numerous cottontail rabbits that call this hole home. Numerous “holes in one” here yearly.
Hole #4: A shorter par five by today’s standards, but plays longer due to the prevailing Delta Breeze. Par is always a good score on any hole, but birdies here for the advanced player are quite common. Watch out for water down the right side of the fairway and the grove of redwoods that separates this fairway from hole #6.
Hole #5: This is the hole that seems to stick out in players minds. Similar to the famed “Island Green” at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, the shortest hole on the course often plays as one of the hardest for the beginner. The green is mostly surrounded by water with areas left and right of the green sloped and mowed tightly allowing balls hit just a bit off line to roll into “a watery grave”. As Ken Venturi used to say on CBS golf television: “take your three and walk quietly to the next tee”.
Hole #6: Water left, trees right. A good play off the tee is to hit a long iron or three wood to the right center of the fairway, as balls hit down the left side often end up in the water. Once you’re on the green, the many slopes on this green make for difficult putting. Par is always an excellent score here.
Hole #7: Take enough club! As the tee is protected from the wind, most golfers usually come up short here. Look at the water to your left and watch which direction the current flows; there is often a head wind. Very few balls ever go over this green on the first shot. Watch out for the large bunker on the right.
Hole #8: At only 267 yards, a long hitter can reach the green on the tee shot. Care must be taken to avoid the two bunkers short and right of the green. This hole is deceptively long when playing into a spring north wind. Birdies are plentiful here.
Hole #9: 362 yards of shear golfing terror! Maybe the hardest hole to make a par on when it counts. OB left, water right, this hole is what golf is all about: “Risk and reward!” Take the driver and try to cut the corner of the lake or lay up with a 190-yard tee shot and have 170 left over water! It’s your choice. (Note: This hole was recently expanded from 335 yards to 362 yards, hence the difference on the score card below.)
Many beginning golfers choose to play this hole from the red tees! (240 yards.)