Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Concession #7 & #8

The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida was established in 2005 through a collaboration of design between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. The name of the club was derived from the 1969 Ryder Cup Match between the two architects, when Nicklaus conceded a two foot putt to Jacklin that resulted in the first team tie in Ryder Cup history. Jacklin was involved in the second tie as captain of the 1989 team. Jacklin captained four teams (1983-89) and Nicklaus two teams (1983 and 87). They split with each other in head to head competition as captains. Jacklin won the 1985 match as captain. Tony Jacklin played in seven Ryder Cups (13-14-8) to Nicklaus's six appearances (17-8-3).

The Ryder Cup theme is apparent from the time you walk into the eloquently decorated clubhouse, to the practice range where each bag stand displays the record of a specific Cup event, to each tee marker that gives you a piece of Ryder Cup history. Anyone who has played in a Ryder Cup is given honorary membership at the Concession. Paul Azinger and Mr. Jacklin play here regularly.

I have played many Nicklaus courses over the years but this one, in conjunction with Jacklin, is one of my favorites. The front nine has a wonderful assortment of holes and the back nine a stern test of a finishing hole. The bunker design is exceptional along with the firm, fast conditions. There is not any residential development visible from the course and no tee times are needed. Caddies are also available so the golfing experience is one of peace and tranquility.
The seventh hole is a sweeping dog leg left, 537 yard par 5, that is bunkered on the left and right off the tee. From the black tees this course plays to a 77.6 with a 155 slope. It was a perfect day and the last thing I was going to do was ruin it by hitting 200+ yard approach shots all day, so I played the blue tees which still sloped out at 146. From the blues this brings the right bunker into play off the tee if I hit driver, so I hit my 15 degree Cobra to be short of it. If you play to the left side of the fairway you have a shot to go for it in two. My natural shot with the 3 wood is a draw, I am thinking this sits up perfect for me. So, my aim point was the right bunker hoping to end up well left of it. I hit it solid but straight, leaving me 265 yards directly to the pin, just short of the lip of the right bunker. With a side hill lie and 220 to carry the waste/swamp area I choose to play it safe. I laid up to 128 yard mark and hit a fat 8 iron to the front fringe of the elevated green. Most courses I only will ever get to play once, so if there are alternate routes to play a hole I will drop another ball and see how it plays. I dropped a ball over near the left side of the fairway, where I had hoped to end up, and was able to hit a three wood into the left green side bunker. The chances of getting it on the green in two due to this bunker are not good. The ideal spot would be where my third shot ended. From there I putted my first ball up and tapped in for a par. Three out of the four par 5's are reachable in two if you can hit two really good shots. All four give you interesting alternate routes to play.

Since I have been photographing most of the holes played over the past four years my recall of holes is now much better. From the #7 tee this shot reminded me very much of how #3 at Long Cove sits up for a three wood tee shot. The second shot with a couple of lone trees situated on the left edge of the swamp is eerily similar to #16 at Tullymore. They say everyone has a twin, this hole has two par 5 cousins in South Carolina and Michigan.

Hole number eight is one of those great short par fours that can eat you up if you make one mistake. It is a dog leg right from 322 yards. You have much more room on the left than right to play your tee shot. If you hit driver long left you end up in the creek, to far right you are blocked out by large trees. If you are confident you could hit a fade in play, that would be the shot with your driver. Otherwise layup to the left side of the fairway, which I did with an eighteen degree hybrid. I was left with 117 yards to a small sloping left to right green which is surrounded front and right by a creek. Left and long will get you in a huge bunker. Today the pin was upfront and no way was I putting the front creek into play so I choose a club that I knew I could get past the pin. My 9 iron usually goes 125 yards, I hit it about 1o feet long and it spun back to pin high right. If you don't hit the green here and are short or right the slope will take you into the water. Put it in the bunker and you have an impossible shot to hold the green. I was told the best play from the bunker is to hit it back down the fairway and try another whack at it from there rather than risk dunking it in the water. My putt was within 10 feet, but with a steep back to front slope and uphill. Speed was all important, I stroked it a bit to hard and missed it on the right. Today was one of those days when I was striking the ball very well but no putts would drop for any birdies.

Other notable holes: #2, #5, #6, #12, & #18.

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