Grade “A” Architecture
Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club | Mission Viejo, California
6th Hole / 295 Yards / Par-4
Architect: Casey O’Callaghan and Tom Lehman
One of the most striking aspects in recent years in golf course design is the inclusion of strategic short par-4’s that can bedevil the fullest range of skill levels. That’s not to say short par-4’s — holes generally less than 350 yards — have not been around since golf’s beginnings. However, the renaissance of such holes has truly added a versatility dimension. Short par-4’s, when designed at a high level, provide temptation for the strongest of players to take the boldest of risk with aggressive play off the tee.
The soundness of such holes means aggressive play is fraught with a degree of risk. Unless the aggressive play is executed at a high level it’s more than likely the net result will be a failure resulting in a far higher score than possibly imagined. On the flip side — such holes allow for a great degree of elasticity. Those opting for a more cautious play at the tee may escape the penalties of a wayward tee shot but are still left to produce an approach shot testing the nerves given the nature of the elusive target being sought.
Arroyo Trabuco is located in Orange County and is blessed with wonderful terrain not encased within a housing development as is often the case with a plentitude of Southern California golf courses.
The par-4 6th plays to a max of 295 yards. On the face of it — the lack of distance — would seem to invite a rash of birdie opportunities. Far from it.
The hole rises roughly 50-60 feet from the teeing area. Those who possess the firepower need to decide how aggressive a line of attack they wish to take. The aggressive line of play mandates handling a blind shot to an unseen landing area. Complicating matters is the presence of a narrow alleyway — roughly 10-15 yards wide commencing at 225 yards off the tee
and extending all the way to the putting surface.
The wherewithal to find this narrow strip is quite demanding. The slightest pull will find difficult rough or even be forever lost in no man’s land. The safest route is to play a tee shot that stays short of the alleyway area. Those achieving that are left with an exacting approach shot of less than 100 yards to a diagonally positioned green featuring two distinct levels.
When the pin is cut in the far left or right corners it takes a truly deft touch to settle one’s ball near the pin.
The solid nature of the 6th rests in the range of decisions it forces golfers of all handicap levels to ponder. Every decision is appropriately counterbalanced by a need to execute accordingly. You want the maximum reward? Then take on the highest level of risk. Even if one opts for a lower level of risk you’re still faced to hit a high quality approach.
So much of modern architecture has pushed difficulty to the forefront in which the strength of the player is the central determining factor. The 6th at Arroyo Trabuco shows how a compelling intersection of various skills can be interwoven in such a solid manner. Those who see 295 yards and believe the likelihood that birdie is a foregone conclusion will quickly find out when the hole pushes back in a very strong and clear manner.
Photo Courtesy of Trevor Meyer