Kristen Samp, a Class A teaching professional at Lawrence Country Club, golfed at the University of Missouri (1992-1996), spent 11 years as a touring pro (LPGA and LPGA Futures tour) and is in her fourth year at LCC.
Samp finished as high as third in the Big 8 championship and knows the keys to going low at LCC, a course that is neither particularly long nor tight, but is mined with trouble.
“If I had one piece of advice for LCC, it would be that long is wrong on every shot,” Samp said.
More than one LCC member favors keeping track of aprons in regulation to tracking greens in regulation because the best strategy on many holes is to aim for the apron and settle for an up-and-down par because the greens don’t hold hot shots.
Samp’s take on each of the 18 holes of the par-70 host course for the Big 12 championship that starts with a practice round today, followed by scheduled rounds Friday, Saturday and Sunday:
Hole 1 (Par 4, 359 yards)
It’s the prefect preview of what is to come from the other 17 holes. The fairway is generous, the hole is not very long, but once you approach the green, the degree of difficulty greatly increases. Most players will want to favor the left side of the fairway for the best approach to the green. A deep greenside bunker and limited area around the green require an accurate iron shot to the green. The approach shot plays uphill into a two-tiered green. Missed shots long or to the right often end up in tall fescue with unplayable lies. There is a false front on the green so players will want to make sure they hit enough club into this difficult putting surface. The green slopes toward the fairway and the tiers can help to create very quick putts.
Hole 2 (Par 3, 156 yards)
It sits in the side of a large hill. The green is shallow and it is challenging to see the hole on many parts of the green. A deep bunker in the front left and a steep embankment on the right make hitting the correct distance imperative. The player must pay attention to the speed of the green. Putts traveling to the southern part of the green are not near as fast as putts going the other direction.
Hole 3 (Par 5, 500 yards)
This represents the first great chance of making birdie. This manageable hole rewards long hitters who can go for the green in two shots. The player will want to hug the left side of the fairway because they will run out of fairway down the right side. A four-acre lake sits about 80 yards from the green. Players will have to weigh the risk/reward factor of going for the green in two carefully. If one chooses to layup, the best spot is at the 100 yard marker. This allows for a simple, short shot into a receptive green. Beware though, an overly aggressive shot could find out of bounds over the green. Deep bunkers short and left of the green will catch any shots hits askew. The green has three distinct areas separated by mounds. Finding the correct one greatly increases the chances of making a putt.
Hole 4 (Par 4, 402 yards)
This challenging, long par four plays much longer than its yardage. The uphill hole dog-legs slightly to the right. Players will want to stay in the middle to left side of the fairway to ensure a chance at being able to hit the green. The second shot plays uphill with few balls bouncing firmly enough in front of the green to get on the putting surface. There are two bunkers in the front right and front left of the green. A steep hill behind the green will often catch balls hit long before they find the tall fescue. Locals will tell you this is one of the more deceptively difficult greens at Lawrence Country Club. Putts running from the back of the green to the front are exceedingly fast. Holing out in four on this hole could put you ahead of most of the field.
Hole 5 (Par 4, 363 yards)
After the difficulty of the fourth hole, players will find the downhill fifth much more manageable. The fairway curves around two bunkers creating a picturesque view down the hole. For the longer players, carrying the left fairway bunker is the best play off the tee. The left side of the fairway offers a better angle into the green than the right. The green is angled from a southwesterly direction to a northeasterly direction. There are two greenside bunkers near the right side of the green. To the right of those, you will find the 10th green. As is common at Lawrence Country Club, a shot over the green can be devastating as there is a cart path and out of bounds. The green slopes to the left front. A hole location in the front third of the green is more difficult than it looks.
Hole 6 (Par 4, 353 yards)
It starts the journey back up the hill toward the clubhouse and parallels the 10th hole. The play is to hit the ball to 110 yards. For many, this will take driver out of their hands. A medium-sized pond crosses the fairway at 100 yards. For tee shots finding the fairway, navigating the pond is a cinch. If the player’s ball fails to find short grass there will be a tough decision on whether to go for the green or lay up. The second shot is uphill into a narrow, but long green. A bowl just off the green to the right catches many shots hit that direction. A steep incline on the left with the green running away makes for a difficult up and down if the ball is missed there. A large mound in the middle of the green will keep poorly struck shots from reaching a back hole location. Once the ball is in the proper section of the green, holing putts is uncomplicated.
Hole 7 (Par 3, 162 yards)
After a long walk up the hill to the tee, players will find our most striking par three. The steep downhill hole is surrounded by obstacles. Down the right side is a lateral hazard that turns into a small pond near the green. Down the left side and very close to the green is out of bounds. Prevailing winds can play havoc on even the best struck shots. Short of the green is the only safe place for a poorly struck shot. Once the player finds the green, a simple putt awaits them. The green gently slopes toward the front right.
Hole 8 (par 4, 374 yards)
This remarkable hole is lined by trees and out of bounds. To the left the player finds a row of dense trees and then out of bounds. The right side is lined with towering trees that hang over into the fairway. The fairway slopes hard from right to left. The perfect tee shot starts down the right rough line and then lets the natural slope of the land bring the ball back to the middle. Once the player has found the fairway, they are faced with one of the more difficult approach shots. A deep bunker guards the front of the green requiring a lofted shot to a front hole location. The bunker left makes for difficult up and downs. The collection area in the front right part of the green is the safe bailout. Beware of going for back hole location as thick fescue and out of bounds await. A large tier in the middle of the green defines two distinct areas. Putts hit toward the left portion of the green are extremely fast.
Hole 9 (Par 4, 335 yards)
Completing the front nine is a short par four that offers two possible fairways separated by sand bunkers. The fairway to the left is higher and gives a better view into the green, but the landing area is smaller and guarded on all sides by bunkers. The right fairway is much more open than the left, but does not give as good a view of the green. The approach shot is a short one but very important. Long shots will encounter a steep embankment beyond the green. A simple bunker shapes the front right portion of the green. The green has a large mound in the middle creating two distinct portions of the green. Putts run away from the middle of the green and can be very quick.
Hole 10 (Par 4, 388 yards)
It plays much longer than the distance. A fairway bunker down the right side keeps even the longer hitters from being able to cut the corner on this dogleg right. The green angles away from the fairway in a similar fashion to the 5th green, which is just to the west. This causes the green to be shallower than it looks. It is protected by two bunkers short, mounds right and left, and out of bounds long. The green is one of the flatter ones at Lawrence Country Club. Even longer putts are often holed.
Hole 11 (Par 3, 142 yards)
The shortest hole on the course can get tricky when the prevailing winds start blowing. It is guarded by our largest lake on the left. A severe slope to the water causes balls missed in that direction to take a swim. There is no room to bail out right as out of bounds and homes line the right side of this hole. The greenside bunker on the back right side of the green will catch all balls rolling long. A back hole location gives the player little room for error as this is the smallest part of the green. A tricky spine runs through the front portion of the green making green reading challenging.
Hole 12 (Par 5, 487 yards)
This lengthy par five travels uphill all the way to the green. The player will have to drive the ball between two deep fairway bunkers. Out of bounds line the entire right side of the hole and can come into play with each shot. The 12th offers one of our more diabolical greens. There is a huge swale in the middle. Players will have to weigh the risk/reward factor in going for a back hole location. Going over the green can make for a treacherous up and down but trying to lag putt to the back of the green can be just as difficult. The player must make sure they get their ball on the proper part of the green if they hope to one putt. Out of bounds encroaches on the right side of the green and the terrain slopes severely from right to left.
Hole 13 (Par 4, 343 yards)
The fairway is difficult to see as is the fairway bunker on the right side of this slight dogleg right. Players will want to avoid the trees and out of bounds on the right. The best tee shot is toward the towering trees on the left. This offers the best shot into the green. Again, the green is closely guarded by two bunkers and out of bounds to the right and long. This is one of LCC’s longest greens so distance control on the approach is essential.
Hole 14 (Par 4, 364 yards)
The green is not visible from the tee, but the views from this hole are some of the best on the course. The downhill hole is lined by trees on both sides. The fairway slopes from right to left throughout the hole, although it is hard to see that from the tee. A well played tee shot down the right center of the fairway sets up the best approach. The downhill shot into the green makes getting the ball close to the hole a little easier. The green has two tiers. The back tier slopes severely away from the fairway and to the left while the front tier has a more subtle slope.
Hole 15 (Par 4, 365 yards)
Back up the hill. Although it measures the same as the previous hole, it plays completely different. An uphill, blind tee shot will test the player’s focus and trust. Tall, dense trees line both sides of the fairway. A well struck tee shot can set the player up for a shorter shot into a receptive green. A bunker guards the front portion of the green. The out of bounds is only steps away from the back of the green, so players will need to guard against overly aggressive approach shots. The green is very similar to the 13th green in that it is deep with a ridge running through the middle. A ball ending up on the proper half of the green has an excellent chance of being holed.
Hole 16 (Par 4, 405 yards)
This is Lawrence Country Club’s signature hole and it requires very disciplined course management. The player will have to decide how much, if any, of the corner to cut on this sharp dogleg right. A ball that strays too far right can kick off the severe slope and bounce into tall fescue. The player will also want to avoid going through the fairway as another bunch of tall fescue waits. The second shot is where the fun begins and offers one of the more beautiful views of the course and clubhouse. The severe downhill approach requires perfect distance. A ball hit short of the green will end up in the water hazard. A ball over the green presents a very difficult up and down situation. The green slopes from back to front with a large ridge running through the middle. The upper left portion of the green is the most severely sloped and challenges even the best putters.
Hole 17 (Par 3, 169 yards)
Once the player navigates the wind and sneakiness of the uphill shot, she will find three distinct sections to this green. Getting the approach shot in the appropriate portion of the green is essential. The green slopes severely to the left toward the small lake. A deep bunker protects the left side of the green. A deceiving bunker is about 20 yards short of the green and can test the golfer’s ability to hit long bunker shots. Along the right side of the hole you will find more of the treacherous tall fescue. Another large ridge defines the front and back portions of this green. The ridge can make lag putting quite difficult if having to go over it. Putts traveling toward the front of the green are very fast.
Hole 18 (Par 4, 371 yards)
The final hole at LCC offers one of the best finishing holes in golf. Every shot requires precision and quality execution. On the right side there is out of bounds and a severe slope that can bounce golf balls back to the middle of the fairway. Beware of the ball getting caught up in the tall rough though. The fairway continues to slope left bringing the lake and fairway bunker into play. Once the tee shot has been negotiated, players are faced with a mid-iron to a narrow green that slopes from right to left. A green-side bunker near the front left will catch any shots that are not hit solid. The front left hole location is the most challenging as the green slopes hard from right to left. With a solid approach shot, birdies are often made on this finishing hole.