The par-4 17th at Karsten Creek played as the toughest hole during the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Women’s Championship.
Over four rounds, the hole yielded a 4.49 stroke average, almost a half-shot over par.
The Forecaddie anticipates that the hole could play tougher for the men this week.
At 500 yards, the hole is 110 yards longer than it was for the women. Golf Channel had to move its television tower behind the 16th green because it could have potentially interfered with the back tee.
“That’s a man’s golf hole,” North Carolina State’s Stephen Franken told The Man Out Front.
Not only is the hole long, but it also features trouble on both sides of the fairway. There is water left and heavy woods right. The length of the hole could also make shots that barely trickle into the rough cost some players a chance at hitting the green.
“It’s probably the tightest tee shot on the course on the longest par-4, so that’s a tough challenge,” Vanderbilt’s Theo Humphrey said. “And really, the green might be the biggest challenge; it’s super severe. … The hole is not impossible. It’s very fair, but you just have to hit two good shots. It’s a hole where you make four 4s and you’re going to gain a lot of strokes on the field.”
Humphrey believes most players will be forced to hit driver on the hole if the tee is back, and then have a 6-iron or longer in. Every player will likely have to take the big stick if the wind is blowing against the hole, like it did during Thursday’s practice round.
“There will be some birdies, but it’s a par-4-and-a-half,” Franken said.
Added Alabama coach Jay Seawell: “They can play that at 400 yards and it’s a hard hole.”
Seawell said that if his players can take nine or fewer strokes on Nos. 17 and 18 – the latter is a difficult par-5 with a 270-yard carry over water from the back tee – he’ll be pleased. (TMOF would be happy with a 13 over those two holes.)
While there should be some high numbers in stroke play at No. 17, once the championship moves to match play, that closing stretch should produce plenty of excitement. Buckle up, golf fans.