Championship Course Setup:
Here in horse country we believe in fair starts; holes 1, 2, and 3 are all short par 4’s that reward good tee shots with birdie chances but can punish errant ones with bogeys or worse. This stretch presents an interesting set of choices for the jockey, I mean player. He can either push hard out of the gate with driver trying to get a short wedge in his hand for the approach, or play conservatively with iron or hybrid off the tee and deal with the longer second shot.
(363 Yards) – Par 4
The first here at SCC is about as straight forward as a golf hole can be. As is the trend for most of our golf course there is a premium on keeping the ball in play. A tee shot that misses the fairway will likely leave the player in tree trouble; that paired with thick rough and bunkers guarding the front of the green will make punching a ball onto the putting service very difficult indeed. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that lots of players will be hitting something other than driver off this tee box. When planning the approach the pin location is extremely important. The green is divided into two tiers by a massively severe slope. Being on the wrong tier can easily lead to a 3-putt or worse.
(371 Yards)– Par 4
Fenway Park has the “Green Monster” and we have the “White Giant”. While avoiding the water on the first hole is fairly easy, doing so on the second can be a little more difficult. Our “vertical water hazard”, AKA water tower, serves as a significant obstacle for those players who like to work the ball from right to left. The hole bends gently to the right and is even more closely guarded by trees than #1. The Pro tip here is to take lessclub off the tee and play to the widest part of the fairway (about 150 yards out). This will give players a wider margin for error off the tee and still leave a manageable downhill approach to the large and relatively unguarded green. P.S. missing this green long will almost certainly result in a bogey.
Forward Tee 1.35 Furlongs (298 yards) – Par 4
Formerly the narrowest tee shot in Kentucky the third of our starting par 4’s is by far the most difficult. Being aggressive off the tee can leave a horrid downhill lie to a very difficult two-tiered green. Mentally prepared players are going to base their tee shot on the pin location. With the pin on the relatively unguarded lower level driver off the tee can lead to a great birdie opportunity. If the hole is cut on the top tier behind the bunker players are better off laying back to the flat section of the fairway in order to deliver the second shot with significant spin. Of course all bets are off when the forward tee location is used and this hole becomes reachable off the tee.
The Opening Stretch → Holes 4, 5, & 6
Fast starts at SCC are rare; you might say our track favors the closer over the speed horse. In 2010 when Shelbyville’s own Brandon Brown set the Course Record 59 he began with 4 straight pars. Of course the 4 eagles he posted later in the round made up for the “boring” start.
The par 3’s at SCC can be menacing and this one is no exception. For a tour player this hole isn’t too daunting on paper; as is often the case in golf the devil is in the details. 198 yards downhill and generally downwind is usually a simple middle iron to this large green. The only hazards are greenside bunkers that actually help more than hurt by preventing balls from reaching the treachery behind the green. The real challenge on this hole is the putting surface. There isn’t a straight putt to be found and the creek behind our property provides some mind-boggling breaks. The running joke is that the book on reading #4 green is written in braille.
The 5th hole boasts one of the most picturesque tee shots on the golf course. The back tee is nestled in the trees and has players hitting out of a shoot into the fairway which doglegs to the right. The genius of the design is that the tee shot is blind in that players can’t actually see the landing area, but the contour of the tree line provides a great visual of the fairway’s shape even though it’s hidden by the gently rolling hills of Shelby County. Once the tee shot is conquered players face an uphill approach to a very deep green. It’s hard to make yourself take 2 or 3 extra clubs but a back flag location and a prevailing wind in your face may call for just that. When putting players will do well to respect the pull of Clear Creek to the front left of the green.
The 6th hole is the first par 5 on the golf course. Even from the deepest tee location the green is reachable in 2. If you want to see some fireworks, hanging around this green is a good idea. The loss of several trees down the right side of the fairway has left very little to deter players from “gripping and ripping”. The only bad miss is left so most Tour Players are going to be swinging away on this one.
The First Turn is the Toughest → Holes 7, 8, & 9
Holes 7 and 8 are SCC’s version of Amen Corner.
The 7th is a signature par 3 with a back tee stretching the tee shot to well over a furlong (220 yards). The shot is all carry, and being on an elevated tee right next to Mary Ross Lake means that the wind will often be a significant factor. Add in the fact that this green is very difficult to read and you’ve got a hole that even the finest players are happy to escape with par.
The 8th is the most difficult hole on the golf course. The par 5 has out of bounds all down the right, water all down the left, and players must play over hazards twice before reaching the putting surface. Depending on the wind direction long hitters may be able to clear the first hazard off the tee if they can fly it 1.2 furlongs (approximately a 260 yard carry). If they do so, they will have the option to go for the green in 2. This is an even riskier proposition. The green is guarded left and front by water and the approach shot will be blind unless the players chooses to lay up. However, taking the safe road isn’t always safe. The fairway slants grossly to the left and can cause what seem like very conservative shots to end up under a tree in the left rough. This hole requires 3 well- planned and well-executed golf shots, no exceptions.
Your reward for surviving the 7th and 8th is a respite at the 9th. Number 9 is a drivable par 4 which crosses the main entrance to the Club and favors the right-to-left player’s shot shape. Those hungry for an eagle may hit a driver or fairway metal around the corner and have a legitimate shot of reaching the putting surface in one. The safer play is to hit a long iron off the tee and leave a simple wedge approach to a large, unguarded green.
While there are no hazards, back flags can be dangerous. Watch for players to avoid hunting deep pins and instead play to the center of the green and try making birdie with their putters. Any front pin location is a green light for wedge shots to get close.
The Back Side Stretch → Holes 10, 11, and 12
For mere mortals #10 is a short par 5 but some “Tour Jocks” play it as a long par 4. The tee shot is narrow with trees lining both sides of the sloping fairway and the lake punishing any shots lost too far to the right. The unique thing about this hole is the green’s defense. There is water front and right and one giant tree in the middle of the fairway 50 yards from the green! Often the tree’s only role is punishing players who find trouble off the tee and are forced to lay up. Generally speaking long hitters are going to be flying 5, 6, or 7 irons way over it. This green’s slope is incredibly severe in the front third. As is common on old American style golf courses, below the hole is the best place to be.
The 11th is a very short, very simple par 3. The green is large, unguarded, and almost any pin location is accessible with an 8 or 9 iron. The only significant difficulty on this hole is judging the wind. The peak of the short iron shot is going to be above every tree and house in this part of the county and thus will be drastically influenced by any noteworthy gusts. Flighting the ball down with more club may well be a reasonable play on a breezy day.
The 12th was added in the early 80’s when additional land was acquired during the construction of the Brentwood subdivision. The resulting product is a picturesque hole that is surrounded by beautiful homes and isolated from the rest of the golf course. The fairway is straight away for short hitters but bends sharply to the right about 2/3 of a furling (~150 yards) from the green. Compared to most of the golf course there aren’t many trees on the hole but there are still several that can punish a miss-judged or miss- struck tee shot. After finding the fairway players will be facing a narrow and deadly green. The right side slants from back to front and the left finger is crowned almost to the point of unfairness. If players are unfortunate enough to find a pin on the left side of this green they will do well to aim for the center and accept the 2-putt. Oh, and if you’re going to miss off the tee, miss right, The Club President’s house is on the left!
The Final Turn → Holes 13, 14, and 15
#13 is a masterfully designed par 3. Multiple teeing grounds and a deep green allow tournament officials to vary yardage from as short as 90 yards to as long as 185 yards.
The green is narrow and deep with the fairly flat rear portion complimented by a dastardly sloping front third. Front hole locations can play at least a stroke more difficult than rear ones. The collection area to the right leaves players facing a marginally difficult up and down but still represents a far more forgiving miss than hitting the tee shot left into the lateral hazard. Making birdie here is a huge bonus. If a player escapes the 12th without incident and is able to stuff a ball close for a birdie here, he might be worth following all the way “down the home stretch…”
While several holes on the front encourage the left to right shot shape, the “home stretch” rewards players who can move the ball from right to left. For a right handed player hitting a draw off this tee box is an absolute must. Even with the proper shape a tucked tee location can leave the player facing a long approach into one of the most interesting green complexes on the course. The putting surface is guarded by 3 bunkers, one 20 yards short on the right, one just off the front left portion of the green and one off the back right. Depending on the hole location bunker shots can be straight-forward and simple or deadly difficult.
The 15th plays as the longest true par 4 on the golf course. Once again right to left is the preferred shot shape and hitting the proper draw can add enough roll to allow the tee shot to chase to the top of the hill. Failing to get up the hill off the tee will leave shorter players with a blind approach, from a slightly uphill lie, often dead into the wind.
Judging the distance and direction correctly is extremely difficult. The green doesn’t have many subtle breaks but the severity of the slope around the front hole locations can lead to unforeseen 3 putt double bogeys. After putting out on 15 the players have made it through the toughest part of our track.
The Home Stretch → Holes 16, 17, 18
This is where we cook the bacon, the last chance for guys to make some birdies and push for the finish line. This is where the “closers”, the guys who have paced themselves, bided their time, avoided chasing sucker pins, played smart off the tee, ground out the difficult holes, and saved some gas in their tank can make their move.
The 16th is a birdie hole for sure. For the third time in a row the tee shot favors a right to left shape. A simple long iron played down the fairway with a slight draw will chase down the hill and leave a short iron approach. For players who need to play aggressively, there is the option to bust driver on a direct line over the trees and leave only a flip wedge to the green. The putting surface is large and save the false front completely unguarded. This is one of the few chances players will have to virtually make birdie off the tee. It’s a great hole to start the home stretch and provides “late breakers” a chance to begin to “circle the field”.
One of my personal favorites at SCC is the 17th; a moderate par 5 that rewards a well struck tee shot with a legitimate chance to get home in two. However, length alone won’t get it done. A miscalculation of how much to cut off of the dog leg can leave a long player facing a stymied 2nd shot. Even after a good drive players are generally facing a blind second shot to a citadel-based green. Three bunkers surround the putting surface, there is a hazard far right, and any miss long is almost certainly in the water. Add in the fact that any wind will be totally unblocked and speeding across the surface of the lake and you’ve got a real nerve tester. Thankfully once you get the ball on the putting surface there aren’t any really tricky breaks. But let’s face it, after you’ve navigated all the other obstacles aren’t you entitled to a fair look at your eagle putt? We think so.
A Nostalgic finish to a classic American golf course
The 18th is the only original green on the golf course. Players have dealt with the twists and turns of Shelbyville Country Club only to find themselves facing the simple yet difficult task of knocking a mid-iron onto a tiny putting surface. The tee box is somewhat sheltered but balls will be completely exposed to the wind as they cross Mary Ross Lake for the final time. A miss left leaves a difficult pitch to a green running full out away from you and a miss right is flirting will real disaster among the half dozen trees standing guard. This folks, is where we separate the yearlings from the stallions. Who will have the stature to stand up and face down this difficult finishing tee shot?
Who will have the nerves to stand over a delicate downhill chip with confidence? Whose putt will break 4 inches straight down to the bottom of the cup for a victory? We hope you enjoy finding out.