Sizing up Fox Chapel Golf Club
Fox Chapel is an old-style golf course that has a lot of similarities to Merion Golf Club, where the U.S. Open was just played. The 6,696-yard course offers its share of birdie opportunities, but it also punishes players who aren't both smart and precise when making their way around the Seth Raynor-designed track. Here are five holes to watch in the Constellation Senior Players Championship:
No. 3, 197 yards, par 3
Players must clear water and hit into a green that is guarded by bunkers. The greens are Fox Chapel's biggest defense, and this may be the most difficult of all. There is a false front, making the hole play longer. The slope, from back to front, is so severe that it is imperative for players to keep their ball below the hole. Par will be a good score here, and the hole figures to produce its share of bogeys.
No. 4, 485-yard par 4
Essentially as long as No. 2, a par 5, this is a replica of St. Andrews' famous Road Hole. Bunkers shouldn't be an issue on the tee shot, but a fairway that slopes right to left brings the creek that runs alongside the hole into play. The green is 50 yards long, and there is not a lot of room behind the putting surface, causing a lot of players to hit their approach shots short, particularly if the pin is in the back.
No. 8, 475 yards, par 4
Another long par 4, this hole can stand the test of time because of its length and narrow fairway. A bunker on the left comes into play for most on the tee shot. Even those who find the fairway likely will face long iron shots into a green surrounded by bunkers. This is another hole where par will be a good score. It also is one of three holes on the front side that is at least 450 yards.
No. 17, 231 yards, par 3
This is a great hole for players and spectators alike. Its signature is the biarritz, a 5 1⁄2-foot valley that bisects the green, and the hole is why Fox Chapel's par 3s compare favorably with those on any course. There are bunkers on the left and right. If the pin is tucked in the back, it makes for a long tee shot without a lot of room for those who go over the green.
No. 18, 574 yds, par 5
This is a classic Raynor hole, as it offers different options as far as setup. The tees could be moved up Sunday, giving players a chance of reaching the green in two, but there is plenty of trouble, including water. It plays uphill, and that is not the only reason players tend to fall short on their approach. The green slopes back to front, and anyone who goes over the putting surface will have a difficult time getting up and down. This should be a terrific finishing hole.