Lakota Canyon Ranch - Course Detail
This writeup was done from the blue tees (6369 yards). I've played it twice -- once in September, once at the end of October. The weather was stellar for both rounds! There are tombstones in the fairways marking the distances at 100, 150, 200, and 250 yards. Bring a camera, and try to pay some attention to the golf, not just the views...
#1 is a 535 yard par 5 with a big dogleg left. There's plenty of room to wind up your driver and hit it hard. If you flub too badly, you can probably make it up on the second shot. This hole has a bit of challenge up around the green though -- short approaches are severely punished by bunkers fronting the green. If you're skittish of your distances and the bunkers, try to bring the hillside on the right into play.
#2 is a 332 yard par 4, but it plays a bit longer since it's uphill (but from another elevated teebox). Driver is a good play here, although there is some trouble on the left. If you hit it right, it'll probably come back down the hillside.
#3 is a downhill par 3 from an elevated tee. Back down one or two clubs from whatever the yardage markers tell you. Oh, and watch the pin placement carefully. That front pin is down a ledge and a good twenty yards short of the middle of the green.
#4 is the first of two par fives one uphill, one downhill. The first one has you hitting off a ridiculously elevated tee box, probably to encourage you to hit your driver. As par fives go, it's not that long (517 yards), but it is uphill. No finesse called for here. Hit your drive as hard as you can, and then keep hitting your longest club as hard as you can, until you get close enough to hit a wedge up to the elevated green. A man's hole...
#5 is a seeming monster par five, playing 583 yards. However, it is downhill, in the bottom of a canyon. When the Sony Playstation came out, they had a game called the Need for Speed, which was basically a racing game through all sorts of creative landscapes. This canyon hole reminds me a lot of one of those courses. Balls that are hit a little bit wide will often get thrown back down to the playing surface, so feel free to air out your woods and hybrids here. Once you get close to the green, you'll see that it's long and skinny. Pay attention to pin placements, and do try for some accuracy with your final approach.
#6 is not a driver hole, mostly because of all the trouble. It's short (360 yards) and downhill, so a fairway wood or long iron will work just fine. Trouble is everywhere, and accuracy is much to be favored over distance (if you can't hit a three wood straight, hit a four iron. If you can't hit a four iron hit three pitching wedges). It's not that it's narrow, it's that trouble is easily reached with long clubs. Also, don't underestimate the carry on your final approach. Those rushes on the right gobble up a LOT of balls!
#7 is a long par 3. It's 183 yards, uphill, over a bunch of burms and bunkers. It's best to just go straight at it. The green is a giant bowl, so anything that's a little wide will usually tend to feed back toward the putting surface. But if it's too wide, and gets on the wrong side of those burms, well look out!
#8 is another "not-driver" hole. It's downhill to an abbreviated fairway that's littered with fairway bunkers. I always aim at the bunker in the middle of the fairway, under the philosophy that the ball almost never goes where I aim. A club that normally gives you 200 yards will give you 220 on this shot, which is plenty long, without putting you over the edge into the junk. This will set up a short iron or a wedge into the green. Again, don't underestimate the carry -- those rushes go right to the edge of the putting surface...
#9 is an easy looking, but impossible hole. It's a short part 3, playing 147 yards. It has a dropoff on the right, which normally would encourage you to hit something to the left side of the green. However, anything hit to the left side of the green, will kick right, and roll off the green completely and down into the junk (I proved this out). A couple of locals said the only way to play this hole is to hit it short, because the front edge of the green (which sits up on a ledge) is actually flat. This is maybe the only hole on the course where I felt cheated by a good shot.
The back nine winds down to the right (the front having meandered up to the left and back). #10 is literally side by side with #1. What you see is what you get. It's a straightaway par 4. Open with your driver, and remember to add a club to your second shot because it's a bit uphill.
The teebox on #11 is so elevated it gives you vertigo. This is a downhill 583 yard par 5. A solid tee shot is a must to get a proper start on this hole. Your second shot can be a mid iron, or anything that misses the bunker in the middle. The fairway wants to funnel shots in to the middle, so don't make its work too hard. The green is pretty forgiving if you miss left a little bit. (A miss to the right is into the rushes.)
#12 is very intimidating. It has a big forced carry off the tee, plus it bills itself as being 451 yards. It is, however, downhill, so you get a lot of help from gravity. But you do, absolutely, need a good solid drive to open things up.
#13 is a bit tamer (no forced carry). It's also downhill, but shorter (355 yards). Trouble comes into play pretty quickly on the right, so favor the left side of the fairway, and try not to hit any big slices.
#14 comes back the other way up the same hill. It's only 317yards, but driver is a good play to set up a short iron into the green.
#15 is a gorgeous par 3, across a big lake, to a green surrounded by bunkers. Spraying it right is an automatic bath. Pulling to the left will leave you trying to hit a short lob off a stance that would challenge a mountain goat. It's only 170 yards, but very intimidating. Take an extra club to alleviate your fears and insecurities, and commit to the shot!
#16 is one of the "interesting" holes. It's a 373 yard par 4. and you must (MUST) hit a decent tee shot. It doesn't have to be especially long, but it does have to be in play. No room for wide shots here. Furthermore, your second shot requires a forced carry over a barranca. If you're hitting your driver straight, stay with it, but again, you don't need length so much as you do accuracy here.
#17 is a downhill par 3 with trouble left, trouble short, trouble right, and difficulty long. First advice is to land it on the green. Anyplace. Having said that, there are three or four clubs of depth to the green, so if you're full of confidence, then you can start calculating distances. Nominally, the blue tees are 163 yards from the middle of the green. Back off one club for the downhill elevation change, but be very mindful of windage.
The home hole is another "interesting" hole. It requires an accurate tee shot (trouble down the right, plus there's a bit of a forced carry). It's a par five playing 499 yards, and if you hit a solid tee shot, you'll be faced with a risk-reward opportunity: go straight at the flag on your second shot, or lay up off to the right in the second fairway. The straight-at-the-flag shot has no margin for error. You can't count on a thin shot getting enough roll to reach the green because of the tall native grasses in your way. On the other hand, as the crow flies it's not that long a hole. Pretty interesting...
This is a fun course. Great golf, lots of hole shapes, lots of design features, breathtaking views. Certainly worth building an expedition around!