Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Jail at Venetian Bay #5 & #13

Venetian Bay Golf Club is located in New Smyrna Beach. It was opened just after the peak of the great real estate bubble in 2008 and designed by Lloyd Clifton. Clifton has done several courses in central Florida and is to this region what Jerry Mathews is to Michigan. By his own admission this site was going to be a challenge to create an interesting golf course. Maybe this is why he created holes #5 and #13 with the features he did. I thought the par 3's at this course were its strongest set of holes.


Hole #5 is a dog leg right that plays at around 500 yards. If you can hit a big fade off the tee it will allow you to get on the right portion of the fairway and have a go at it in two. Otherwise, your best option would be to layup on your approach well left. My drive ended up in the left rough just short of one of the many bunkers. I laid up to the 100 mark but a bit more right than I liked which brought the front right bunker in play. That alone would not be a problem except of what you see in the picture, about ten large palm trees planted in it. I hit a fat shot with my 51 degree wedge and clunked one of the trees and dropped down in the sand. Continuing my chunkyness, my bunker shot barely made it out and left me with a chip over the front ridge onto the green. As luck would have it, once it hit the green it was tracking right for the hole and 25 feet later it dropped in for my par. Feeling like I was in jail in that bunker, I used my first of two get out of jail free cards and made par.

Hole #13 plays slightly uphill at 430 yards. Off the tee you have plenty of room right but again you find a large bunker right front of the green filled with palm trees. Ideally, you would like to kill a drive down the left side and have an open look at the pin which was on the far right portion of the green. Some days you just can't back up want you want to do with your game. My drive was mediocre down the right side leaving me with a three hybrid. Needing to either play it to the left short or play a shot over the trees I went for the pin and again caught the cluster of palm trees. This time I dropped down to where I was blocked out and had to play a long bunker shot to the left side of the green. Now with over 30 feet left pin high, I rolled in a right breaking putt for yet another get out of jail free par.

Usually I only post my favorite holes, these two were not. Both holes without the palms would be good holes. Adding the palms really makes them both way too penal. #5 would still have a good risk/reward option and allow you a better chance of making it in two with just a lake and bunker to deal with. #13 is a brute of a par 4 to begin with and by placing a wall of 15 palm trees in front of the green now turns it into almost a par 5.

As the architect noted he was going to have to work to make it interesting, using the palms didn't add any more interest but a uniqueness to those two holes. I can not remember playing a course that had more than one tree growing in a bunker. The closest I have seen are the several yucca plants growing in the bunkers at Prairie Dunes. Fortunately, this day I had a couple of get out jail cards in my pocket to salvage pars on these two. Luck somedays beats skill.

Other notable holes: #3, #9, & #16.

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