Chapter 10

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Unlike the vast majority of courses, the ninth hole did not end back at the clubhouse, but there was not a need for a quick bite here to refresh them. A stiff drink or cold shower to calm their sensory overload made more sense. The tenth hole nicely provided just this type of tonic. A moderate length par five starting from atop the course’s shoulder gently slowed their pulses as they headed back into the woods for the last time. With the dune ridge below them and then at their backs, and no elevation change on the approach shot, they were able to stay in this lower gear.

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Not surprisingly, there was a modest halfway house next to the eleventh tee providing simple fare consistent with how things were done there. Though a bit shorter than the par five sixth, the eleventh was its twin with an almost identical approach shot a little downhill to the base of the same dune ridge. However, these were fraternal twins because there was not an elevated tee shot and dogleg left, and the eleventh had large bunkers in the middle of the fairway. So it was a twin that was a head shorter than its sibling, but not lacking a lick in looks, and with a leg up in smarts.

The walk to the twelfth tee was around the left of the ridge, which quite literally and visually closed the door on the woods collection of holes for the round. Since they were not as famous or flashy as the ocean and dune holes, these five holes were easy to overlook and underappreciate. But it was just pleasant to play them in muted sun and muted sounds, with towering trees to draw your eyes and thoughts up. With the rest of the course being helicopter skiing or Mavericks surfing, this was rowing or swimming – a quieter way to get an excellent workout with less injury risk and more time to reflect.

If the sixth and eleventh are twins, the eighth and twelfth are cousins. Also a dogleg right over the edge of a dune to an elevated green out of sight, the twelfth was longer than the eighth with a visible landing area off the tee, and was not completely surrounded by sand. And while the eighth was the observation deck of the course, this was the boiler room – the lowest point on the course in the valley between the second hole on one side, and the eight and ninth holes on the other. It played long into the prevailing wind, hitting the small and slightly elevated green was not easy, and the cost was high for missing it with dunes on the right, and a drop-off left.

Approaching the green, they then felt the full looming presence of the north valley wall on the right. A falling rocks sign would have made sense. This deliberate diminuendo of the round, which would continue for the next three holes, also further heightened the coming, explosive crescendo. Perhaps a good part of a roller coaster’s thrill comes from the slow, clanky ride up in cars with straitjacket restraints after long waits in line. The screaming may be as much from finally ending the wait as from plummeting down. Screams were coming.

Being right next to the third hole, the twelfth let Cypress add another drink to its bar of loops – to go with the five-hole Whisky Run, this was the ten-hole Brandy Run, which included holes one through three, and then twelve through eighteen. Both are definitely high-proof experiences, and consumption should probably be limited to have any chance of maintaining sobriety.

On a course with several one-of-a-kind holes so far, there did not seem to be room to add a new one at all, let alone one near the top of their list. So the late charge by the thirteenth near the last turn in the race was unexpected. The view from the slightly elevated tee was impressive, and felt similar to the eight and ninth with a fairway tossed in among a dunescape. With stronger winds coming off the nearby ocean, the fairway was thankfully wider, and their pushed and pulled tee shots all found it. The scouts now made their way to the green of circled wagons, and they looked forward to setting foot in camp.

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NBA players look fairly normal size from the rafters; they are astonishing up close. The thirteenth green was distinct from the tee; its design and size were on a different, compelling scale as they made their way up to it. The bunkers carved into the dune that circle the back of the green were its signature characteristic. Like a good photograph, the hole’s simple, clean lines added as much to its impact and appeal as the beauty of its design. Only an artist could make so much out of so little. The Bandon architects are most proud of their inland holes since they feel almost anyone can build a nice ocean hole.

Climbing above the thirteenth and once again reaching the course’s belt, they looked back into the belly of the course, but no longer through a keyhole like earlier as the fog had thinned. The holes were now familiar after they had crisscrossed the area like a boy delivering papers. Almost all golf holes look different from behind, and architects must enjoy seeing them this way, and then feeling like they had built two holes every time instead on one. Thirteenth from behind was so different that had to check their scorecards for what hole they were on. From the front, only the hole complex itself was visible with a narrow accent of ocean behind it. From behind, a continent-full of landscapes filled the horizon with the oval-shaped green they thought was circular from the front.

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