Architect's Hole Descriptions

Hole 1 – Par 4 “Welcome”

An admittedly scary looking opening tee shot across a deep ravine on the first hole will help players get oriented to the correct set of tees before playing Ballyhack. Although perilous looking, the first provides a generous landing area and requires the player hit an uphill second to a large but undulating green. The player should try to favor the left side of the fairway for a better look at the green.  Take plenty of club on your second shot, as a shot coming up short may end up right back at your feet. Long is the place to miss. Par here is a good score.

Hole 2 – Par 5 “Skyline”

The second at Ballyhack provides one of the best views of the golf course and the Blue Ridge Mountains. This distinctive hole is reminiscent of the some of the great links holes of the old country with its random bunkering and multiple routes of play. The player needs to hit a good drive over one of the three fairway bunkers. From there, the strategy of the hole is dictated by the location of the flagstick. With two distinct openings to the green, the player needs to pick the best angle to approach the hole and leave himself a comfortable distance for his third shot. Once on the green, the player will be afforded one of the best views in modern golf. Birdies will be awarded to the player who plays smartly. 

Hole 3 – Par 3 “Dell”

The first of the par 3 holes at Ballyhack, the third makes a bold statement. This long par 3 three plays into a small valley and is bordered by Saul Run on the left side. The player must have an accurate distance shot to get close to the hole because the green is large but sectioned by undulations. A right-to-left ball flight will have an advantage in most cases here. Bunkers surround the green and a par is a good score here.
Hole 4 – Par 4 “Terrace”

The fourth hole offers the player multiple routes by virtue of a four-terraced fairway protected by Saul Run on the right side and trees down the left. The player should try to hit it long to take advantage of the steep fairway terrace, past the hillock, in the middle of the landing area. Hitting this will give the player a chance to ride down the slope and gain yardage, shortening his second shot to the green. Playing to the right of the hillock will leave the player a more level shot into the green. Play to the center of this undulating green and work for your two-putt, as leaving your second in a greenside bunker will probably ensure a bogey.

Hole 5 – Par 4 “Fortress”

The fifth is a true links-style hole in that it allows multiple driving strategies to a huge fairway – but only one way to attack the most ominous looking green on the front nine, through the air. A controlled-distance drive with a utility club down the left side of the fairway (landing on a level plateau) will leave a longer, but more level, shot into the green. For those who must hit driver, playing straight at the green over the fairway bunker leaves a much shorter shot into the green, although more significantly uphill. The large green, looking like a medieval fortress on the hill, is protected by bunkers all around and multiple tiers in the putting surface. If you come up short, double bogey is possible.

Hole 6 – Par 4 “Gamble”

 A wonderful short hole, the sixth at Ballyhack allows the gambler either a chance to drive the green or potential for certain calamity for the attempt. Although the wind will sometimes dictate the decision, the player will have the opportunity to make a low score here. The downhill drive must negotiate the Horseshoe Moor to a fairway that gets increasingly narrow as it approaches the green, which is protected by deep bunkers. The disciplined play from the tee is a moderate length long iron or utility club shot towards the Angel Bunker in the hillside. Anything to the left of that starts running out of room across the fairway but puts the player closer to the green. This hole will yield many birdies.

Hole 7 – Par 3 “Ledge”

Ballyhack’s seventh hole is a mid-length par three which plays across the Horseshoe Moor to a large green that sits on a ledge above the lowlands. A straightforward hole, usually buffeted from the prevailing wind, the seventh allows the player to take dead aim at the flagstick. The only places to miss here are short of the green or through the green. Avoid the bunkers at all costs and you should make par here.

Hole 8 – Par 4 “Sycamore”

Hole number eight at Ballyhack is a picturesque hole demanding precise shots to make par because Horseshoe creek bisects the fairway in the landing areas. Named Sycamore because of the specimen sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) trees throughout the low grounds, this hole can wreak havoc. The percentage play is down the left side of the fairway to the wide side of the landing area, past the largest sycamore on the hole. This option leaves the player with a medium-to-short iron to the green on the other side of the creek. Those who feel the need to hit driver can opt to drive the ball over the dunes to the right and try to eliminate the creek altogether. Once reaching the medium-size green, most players should have no problem making four, which is a good score on this understated hole.

Hole 9 – Par 5 “Pitzer”

The ninth hole is another hole that requires thought off of the tee and precise execution of shots to achieve success. Most days, this medium-length par 5 plays into the wind and requires the player to avoid going right off the tee. Taking aim at Ballyhack’s iconic silos across Pitzer Road will most often be the line of charm. The player must avoid the hell bunker in the middle of the landing area. After the first shot, the player can advance as far down the hole as comfort allows, again avoiding the right. The third shot will usually be a short iron to an elevated green with two distinct tiers. Play to the proper tier for the best chance at a birdie. Par is a good score here.

Hole 10 – Par 5 “Rim”

Probably one of the most memorable and beautiful holes at Ballyhack, the tenth provides incredible views of Windy Gap Mountain and the “gap” beyond. This sweeping par five is extremely well defended and set the tone for what’s to come on the back nine. The drive should be aimed at the left side of the fairway. The second shot requires the player to decide which second landing area is preferred, short of the dominant fairway bunkering on the left or beyond. Playing short leaves a deceiving view of the green. Beyond leaves the player with a shorter, more level shot into the green but brings the “rim bunkers” which are perilously placed along the edge of “the crater” protecting the green. A shot to the correct section of the green will yield birdies if the player can concentrate on golf instead of the picturesque surroundings.

Hole 11 – Par 4 “Sentinel”

A more traditional looking hole, the eleventh at Ballyhack is a medium-short hole with an abundance of risk/reward. Try to drive the ball as far up the narrowing fairway as you can. Some will even try to drive the green, which is possible. Any drive hit left and off the hole is finished. The only thing the player MUST do is avoid the “sentinel bunker,” which stands guard in front of the green. The conservative play should leave a short iron into a narrow but deep green. Precision in placing the second will determine the score but this hole should give up many birdies.

Hole 12 – Par 4 “Saddle”

The twelfth hole at Ballyhack is the first of the long par 4’s on the back nine. Playing most times with the wind hurting, a good drive should land over the horizon using the saddle as a guide. To get a more level and visible shot at the large green on the next hill, the smart player will keep the ball from bounding down the hill by hitting a 3 metal off the tee. The second shot must avoid the large bunker on the left of the green but the small bunker on the right of the green is also no bargain. Birdies will be available here.

Hole 13 – Par 3 “Crossover”

The Old Course at St. Andrews inspired the 22,000 square foot double green at the thirteenth and fifteenth greens. The thirteenth starts the series of holes which “crossover” to take advantage of changing elevations and winds for the next three holes. By using this distinctive technique in the routing, at least one tee shot and at least one second shot will be played into the wind. More importantly, depending on the wind direction and strength, every hole in the crossover (13-16) will test the players resolve. Avoid the series of bunkers around the green at thirteen by aiming for the middle. A shot played into to the “divide” between the greens will usually result in a very difficult two-putt. Par is a good score here.

Hole 14 – Par 4 “Plateau”

Hole fourteen is a short par 4 that plays to a natural “plateau” fairway across the Ballybrook. The player can be as aggressive as he chooses in taking his line to the green which sits beyond the brook. The second shot is played to a green that is one of the smallest targets at Ballyhack and is carved into the hillside. The place to be is below the hole as the green also has the “plateau” characteristic of many historic courses and has a bold pitch from back to front. Birdies will be made here, but too aggressive a play may result in double-bogey.

Hole 15 – Par 5 “Chasm”

This par 5 provides one of the most beautiful views of the mountains, as well of the one of the most intimidating drives on the course. The fifteenth hole drops over 100 feet in elevation from tee to green and gives the player many routes to the hole. With the prevailing wind usually against, the player can elect to hit a shorter drive to the “short porch” of the fairway in front of the daunting “chasm/” This will lead to a longer, but more direct, second over the hazard to a very generous landing area. A bolder drive down the fairway will leave a shorter, but more complicated, look at the landing area short of the green. This green is the other half of the thirteenth and is generous in size in the front but gets very narrow towards the back.  Avoid the “divide” between the greens and birdies will be plentiful.

Hole 16 – Par 4 “Cape”

Hole sixteen at Ballyhack is situated on one of the most interesting landforms on the property. This natural “cape” provides another opportunity for feast or famine on the inward nine. Again, the player can bite off as much landing area as he dares, but any shot too far right may go into the Ballybrook that travels the entire length of the hole. Once in the fairway, the second shot must avoid two hazards – the one that cuts across the landing areas and the Ballybrook on the right.   The green is precariously positioned on the end of the feature and appears difficult to hit. Over the green (long) will leave a nearly impossible recovery. One of the more subtle greens on the course, the sixteenth will allow birdies. 

Hole 17 – Par 3 “Short”

The seventeenth at Ballyhack is the scariest, although the shortest, hole on the course. This uniquely contoured green is precipitously located across the “abyss,” one of the deepest ravines on the property and is surrounded by trouble. Any shot hit short or right is lost. The green is trisected by a hogback feature demanding a precise short iron to the proper section of the green to have a reasonable chance at birdie. A shot to the wrong section of the green almost guarantees bogey.

Hole 18 – Par 4 “Valley”
The home hole is a long par 4 nestled in an idyllic valley leading back to the clubhouse. A good drive will favor the left side of the fairway to circumvent the ancient oak tree guarding the right side. Most players will be left with a medium-to-long uphill second shot into the largest single green at Ballyhack. Placement is crucial, as this putting surface is well over 20,000 square feet and split by a large trough running through the green. It is easily possible to have putts over 100 feet in length here, so par is a good score.  

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