Fourth in our OGA series about the Most Interesting Holes is the Par 5 18th at Sandpines Golf Links in Florence, Ore.
The 18th at Sandpines is a spectacular finishing hole. While it is the epitome of a “risk/reward” situation, it is also quite punishing if a golfer is just a few yards off line, or has forgotten about the wind.
Fear of the water could push a golfer to the right, bringing dunes with tall grass into play. This could result in some difficult or even blind shots back to the fairway. There is also a series of several fairway bunkers perfectly placed to catch an errant tee shot.
Closer to the green, the fairway narrows, while the pond squeezes in front and tucks the green into the steep dune. If the player goes too far right, the dune makes for some pretty tough recovery shots. Go long to avoid the water and you could end up in the bunker. Now who doesn’t just love the shot coming out of the sand back at water?
From a Course Rating standpoint, we had some interesting decisions to make. The USGA Course Rating System is based on set shot distances for the Male and Female, Scratch and Bogey player. While we know that the Scratch Golfer has better ability and control, and can stay a bit closer to the water to shorten the measured length of the curved fairway, we also must rate the player hitting straight shots to the center of the fairway. We also must consider wind moving from multiple directions especially at coastal courses.
If we rated the Scratch golfer playing close to the lake, it also makes shot to the green even more dubious. A shot from the very left side of the fairway means the center of the green is almost completely water carry to reach it on what is still a significantly long shot. We have to rate this hole as a par 5 with the Scratch golfer playing from the center of the fairway, hitting a fairly short shot to the green. OGA’s trained Course Rating Team considers the average shot, not the lucky or very advanced shot, making allowance for all conditions.
If we rated for the ‘risk’ shot instead of from the center of the fairway, we would end up over-rating the golf course. Did you know that if a course is over-rated, it artificially reduces the handicaps of those who play there? In addition to that, since par is based on how far a Scratch golfer hits the ball, if we rated the golfer hitting the second shot to the green, it would also make this a par 4 hole.
** The 18th hole at Sandpines Golf Links earned 187 fan votes to earn fourth-place recognition in the OGA 2017 Edition of the 18 Most Interesting Holes Series contest. Throughout the year Gretchen Yoder, OGA Manager of Course Rating & Handicapping, will explain what makes each hole unique and describe the ideas behind rating these gems.
Widely regarded as one of the best finishing holes in Oregon, can you stay dry and get that eagle? - Kevin White, Head Professional Sandpines Golf Links
Next Up: Hole No. 2 Eagle Crest ~ Resort Course