Precision key to conquer Deer Creek's toughest hole
Now six holes into this series of playing some of the signature golf holes at some of the finest courses in the area, I encountered one that I thought was as beautiful a golf hole as I’ve seen yet.
The third hole at Deer Creek Golf Club in Overland Park features a terraced look that subtly takes you from a higher elevation on the tee box to a large and manageable green at the end of the hole, with rolling hills, trees of all kinds and a small creek along the way.
At 422 yards from the back tees, it’s a beast of a hole (longer than it sounds) and you really can’t even see where to hit it and have to trust landmarks to get your tee shot right.
The two upper tee boxes (343 from the gray tees and 383 from the whites) are angled to give you have a better feel for your path and alignment while you’re standing over your tee shot. But with the tips tucked just around the corner behind them, it dramatically changes the look and challenge of this hole.
The good news there is, no matter where you’re standing, the visual aspect of this hole is absolutely beautiful.
There’s trouble all along the left side with next to nowhere to land if you miss the fairway. And if you go too far right, which is preferred to going way left, you’re going to be facing a coin flip chance of having a clear shot through the scattered trees that dot the hills. There is plenty of room there and you’re less likely to lose your ball. But you may find you have to punch out instead of having a clear and clean shot to the green.
I hit a towering drive that made me feel safe as it flew because of its height. Put another way, I somehow managed to hit a drive with some control instead of spraying it.
Because of that bend, I couldn’t exactly tell where I landed but I knew I was safe. When I got to my ball for my second shot, I was just in the rough but in perfectly fine shape right in line with the 150-yard stake in the fairway.
Seeing the creek in front protecting the green messed with me mentally though. And on my second shot I tried to Incredible Hulk it and hit a lousy, low liner toward the creek.
I’m not sure what I did to deserve it or who was looking out for me that day, but I skulled that ball so hard that it popped up out of the creek off of a flat rock on the right side and landed softly on the fringe like I meant to do it.
Like my dad always said, “In this game, I’d rather be lucky than good.” And that was certainly the case on this hole, with my fortuitous bounce leaving me a long look at birdie instead of a terrible shot costing me a stroke.
My dad also used to say, “It’s not how, it’s how many.” And I think that applies here, as well.
From there, it was easy pickings even if my play didn’t improve much.
One thing about being on the green on this hole: If you look back down the fairway, you see just how sloped and beautiful this hole is. It’s a really cool look at the hole’s layout and it feels like a completely different world than it did standing on the tee box. Take the time to take a peek and you’ll see what I mean about the hole’s beauty. You’ll also see more clearly why it’s the course’s No. 1 handicap.
The flag was in the way back, making my putt as long as it could be. But I’ll take it. With a couple of bunkers joining that creek to protect this hole, safe is safe and that’s where you want to be.
My uphill, left to right putt was long and I left it about eight feet short even though I hit it on a good line and with good pace. I just couldn’t tell exactly how uphill the putt really was, probably because my mind was still stuck on the idea of how this hole gradually declined in elevation from tee box to green.
My par putt also fell off, just burning the front edge and leaving me with a tap-in bogey. I’ll take it. Especially after that second shot.
This hole is a blast. It’s hard but fair and it’s somewhat deceptive, too. The length isn’t the problem at all. You just have to be so precise with so many of your shots to avoid the trouble that surrounds you. Beyond that, the green is no picnic to putt, even though it is large and looks inviting from anywhere you’re standing on the fairway.
It’s really all about your drive on this hole. If you hit a good drive and hit it where you want — right center, right side of the fairway — you’ll find this hole to be much easier and you can attack the flag and go for par or birdie.
All in all, I’m more than OK with a bogey from the tips on the hardest hole on the scorecard and I always will be.
For those who might be curious (Hi, mom!), I'm now 4-over (4 bogeys and 2 pars) through six holes in the Tee Off With Tait promotion.
Be sure to enter this week for your chance to win a free round of golf at Deer Creek Golf Club in Overland Park.
Last week's winner of a round of golf, with cart, at Canyon Farms was Steve Scannell. Congratulations!