U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Executing Strategy Paramount on Dunes Club’s ‘Waterloo’ Hole
May 24, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.
By David Chmiel, USGA
Waterloo is scary, but it doesn’t have to be a battle.
Two weeks from the 202nd anniversary of Napoloean’s infamous downfall, the competitors in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship won’t be surrendering any time soon to The Dunes Golf & Beach Club’s signature hole.
“That hole has earned its reputation among our members and higher-handicap players,” said Dennis Nicholl, head golf professional at The Dunes Club. “Don’t get me wrong, it can cause the best players trouble, especially because it is the rare par 5 in which the most important decision might be made on the tee box.
“But when you look at the top players, like those in the field this week, we see that once they play it, they understand how to approach it.”
The 13th hole at The Dunes, Waterloo is a severe dogleg-right that wraps around Lake Singleton and is widely renowned as one of the best holes in the country.
“It's more of a three-shot hole,” said Amanda Minni, 17, of Canada, after she and partner Ellie Slama, finished their first practice round on Thursday. “You can't hit it too far down on the left, because you could still hit it in the water [on your second shot] if it fades just the slightest bit. But if you go too far right, you're definitely in the water.”
Slama, who like her partner will be a freshman at Oregon State University in the fall, said the key to success is playing it safe. “The water kind of sneaks up on you. It comes out a lot farther than it looks like it will. It's a pretty long carry.”
The hole, which is shaped like a boomerang, will likely be a three-shot par 5 for most, if not everyone, in the field. But Nicholl warns against any competitor who thinks the water – and the resident alligators who inhabit its banks – are the primary dangers.
“Once they figure out the strategy, players will have between 100- and 150-yard approach shots into the green,” he said. “But that is really where the hard work starts.”
The green, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones and reworked in 2013 by his son, Rees, is protected by fronting bunkers on each side and bracketed by a wide bunker in the back. A ridge from front to back means an errant shot can take a bite out of any team’s momentum.
“The game begins at the green,” Nicholl said. “I’ve been right on the ridge where I could just as easily play a big right-to-left breaker or a left-to-right bender and still gotten to the hole. It might work, but it’s not the spot you want to be in if you need a birdie.”
David Chmiel is manager of member content for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.