7 RUSSIAN DOLLS
The first hole or two of a well-designed course should be a bit easier as the players are just getting going. Slightly downhill with a wide fairway are desired features that lengthen tee shots and boost confidence without being overly penal on poor shots. Extreme elevation changes or narrow fairways should come later in the round. The opening hole at Cypress fit the bill, and added in a clump of Cypress trees on the right that knocks down shots, but did not eat them since there was no undergrowth. There were several balls in the right rough from the range, another down home detail in a place full of them. Were they playing the second highest ranked course in the world, or their local nine holer?
Shots do not travel well in the thick air of seaside courses; they travelled like gutta percha balls in the seaside fog of Cypress that morning. Though their tee shots were better than they thought and fairly easy to find, their second shots felt two clubs longer given the weather, and stung their hands from mishits due to no range time. Finally reaching the green, not in regulation, they then feared putting on Mackenzie-designed greens. Thankfully, there was not an impending club tournament, so they were not cut to their shortest, quickest speed, and the fog further slowed them down by adding friction to their surfaces. But they were still hard, and the first hole yielded only three and four putts due to its severe back-to-front slope. Even with caddies, lack of local knowledge would hurt them all day, but missed putts were never so enjoyable.
Walking the few steps from the first green to the second tee box solved a months-long mystery. From satellite photos, the middle brother had placed this tee box farther away from the first green since there did not seem to be enough room right beside it. There was, and also for the fourteenth tee box, along with a wonderful reverse view of the thirteenth green, arguably the most unique and memorable on the course. A Russian doll of greens and tees. And the ingenious routing provided a way to play the best five hole round in the world – the first hole, and then fourteen through eighteen. The caddies called this the Whisky Run.