This edition of "Closer Looks" examines another of Long Island's split-fairway holes. Not quite as dramatic, scenic or penal as our previous double-fairway installment -- #16 at the Lido Golf Club -- the 400-/385-yard 13th hole at Bethpage's Red Course is an interesting change of pace from the series of long par-4s that precedes it. And unlike other dual-fairway holes that offer a clear contrast between the safe, conservative option and the risky, shot-of-the-day shortcut, the Red's A.W. Tillinghast-designed 13th offers very little delineation between routes and simply asks, "Well, good angle or bad (or bunker)?"
The primary feature is an eight-trap, 125-yard-long bunker complex in the hole's center that forces the main fairway to diverge about 220 yards from the back tees into two roads equally traveled. Each branch of fairway is similar in width and the entrances to the two sides are unprotected. Of course, the mounded sand area is a legitimate threat to any shot that goes even slightly offline. Here, the dreaded straight drive carries the worst penalties if executed.
The less obvious but more significant aspect of the hole is the diagonal green site. With a large trap on the short side of the angled green and two smaller ones on the far side, the hole places those approaching from the right fairway at a tremendous disadvantage. So, if the fairways are so similar, why would anybody choose the option offering a poor angle into the green?
Simple deception comes into play from the start. Standing on the tee, players see the bunker complex in the center of an open expanse, along with the roomy right-side fairway. To the left they see, well...they don't see much. The experienced player knows there's a fairway out there to the left, but novices find little else besides sand and trees. Even the sand is hard to detect -- mounding and wispy grasses keep the severity of the center hazard a secret.
Meanwhile, a near-left bunker with otherwise no bearing on the hole (it's about 100 yards from the tee) sits atop a mound and obscures any view of the ideal path. With no landmarks (other than the closely infringing treeline) serving as a guide to the meat of the left fairway, many players are baited into driving toward the side of the hole they can actually see.
[TOP RIGHT: The center hazard area and the two fairways become more clearly defined as you start up the fairway. Note the flag barely visible in the distance beyond the hazard. ABOVE LEFT: Approaches from the right-side fairway must go up and over one bunker, stay short of two others on the far side and steer clear of the treeline deep and to the side. ABOVE RIGHT: Tillinghast doesn't reveal much to players standing on the tee. The nature of the center hazard is disguised by mounding, and the left-fairway route is hidden behind the bunker in the foreground. Right appears to be the way to go. RIGHT: Straight drives leave a mess that will be a pain to clean up.]
A 250-yard, right-side drive that remains clear of the sand and fescue to the left and thick rough on the right nets an approach of about 150 yards. But the poor angle becomes apparent as the green gets closer. Not only is there a gaping trap protecting the flag -- plus two more deep and out of sight -- but a right-side treeline behind the green runs parallel to the line of play. Shots sent right of the green or long can easily bury themselves in the woods.
Over on the left side, the same drive lands players in perfect position between the rough and hazard. To get there, aim tee shots over the right edge of the near bunker. The green's entrance is wide open and allows for a variety of attack options. Drives closer to the left rough also benefit from a crystal-clear view of the green with no distractions from the mounds and sand in the center. One danger here is a tee shot that goes too far left underneath the treeline. In that case, some shots might be disrupted depending on position amongst the trunks and overhanging branches.
[LEFT: A look back from the green toward the left fairway, which is unseen from the tee. The fairway is about 20 yards wide in the drive zone. RIGHT: A clear view and open entrance means you can pick and choose how you want to attack the pin from the left side.]
PREVIOUS CLOSER LOOKS:
Great Rock Golf Club #11 -- (5/31/2012)
Bethpage Yellow #12 -- (1/5/2012)
Stonebridge Golf Links #7 -- (9/15/2011)
Lido Golf Club #16 -- (8/25/2011)
Stonebridge Golf Links #4 -- (7/29/2011)
Great Rock Golf Club's new 12th green -- (6/6/2011)