Getting Off The Tee Key at Shawnee Country Club
Rolling hills and tons of trees line all corners of Shawnee Country Club in Topeka and those traits were a big part of what makes No. 11 such a fun golf hole.
Standing on the championship tees at what is considered to be the course’s second hardest hole, you really get a good look at all that you’re getting into.
Three or four sets of intersecting hills line your vision before you even see the fairway and there’s a giant cluster of trees dead ahead and all kinds of trees and trouble to the left.
The initial thought I had while taking in the view from the box on this hole was to aim at that cluster of trees and hope to hit a little draw to bring it back to the fairway.
It’s a sound strategy for any golfer and one that most should feel good about given the fact that those trees are quite a ways out there. So at least you’re starting from a good spot with something to aim at.
However, when I went to tee it up, I stepped all the way to the right of the tee box and found a completely different view waiting for me. You still can’t quite see the hole, but you do see more of the fairway from here and it gives you a better glimpse at just where to hit it. The draw into the trees is still a decent strategy, but from this vantage point, you can take a more aggressive approach and try to bang it out there to the fairway.
I did just that, hitting a towering drive that bounced at the end of the third hill and took a huge hop forward and onto the fairway. I loved it.
When I reached my ball after a 240-yard drive, I was still a good 210 yards out, but I was safe and I had a straight shot into the postage stamp green that sits in front of a few tall trees and is protected by bunkers on each side.
My 3 iron is the best club in my bag so I wasn’t at all worried about what to hit or how I would do. I knew I could reach with a perfect shot but also knew that if I didn’t, I’d be right up there and in a good position to go up and down for par.
My second shot did reach but just went right of the bunker, leaving me a good spot to chip from. The bunker was in my line of sight but not enough to worry about it.
With the flag in the back, I wanted to be well right of that with my pitch because of the way everything funnels down from the back of the green to the front. If you don’t hit it high enough, you could easily watch it roll all the way off the front of the green.
My chip was strong — and right — and landed right at the cup and rolled to the fringe in the back past the flag. I’ll take it.
It was a slippery putt and I had to be extra aware of not missing it on the low side or else it might run all the way off the front.
I hit my putt exactly where I wanted to hit it, on the perfect line, but having to putt it through the fringe to start took away some of the speed and left me two feet short. I cleaned that up for bogey and walked off the green smiling — partly because I played the hole exactly the way I wanted to play it from tee to green and partly because it’s just that fun of a hole.
It’s all about the tee shot here. Without a good drive, you’re not going to have much of a chance at par. But if you’re able to get off the tee without any trouble, anything from birdie to double bogey is automatically in play.
The fun is in the challenge in this hole and it really has the feel of one that you could play 100 times in a row and play it differently each time.
Be sure to enter this week for your chance to win a free round of golf at Shawnee Country Club in Topeka.
Last week's winner of a round of golf, with cart, at Deer Creek was Lisa Redwing. Congratulations!