Riverdale Dunes Detail
This review was written from the blue tees. While the length (6430) is relatively modest, the overall layout is plenty challenging for us bogey golfers.
The first couple holes ease you into the course. #1 is a sedate 358 yards. From the tee you can't see the green -- it's tucked sharply behind a left-hand dogleg from about 100 yards in. There is nothing to be gained by trying to hit a monster drive here. Hit something straight down the middle at the 150-yard stake in the middle of the fairway. Anything 200 to 240 yards is plenty, setting up an easy approach with a short iron.
#2 is even shorter at 339 yards, but you start to get a distinct feel for the way the course sets up. From the tee, this fairway looks like a labyrinth of trouble, starting with the pond in front of the teebox. Ignore the pond and pay attendtion to the dogleg right, and all the trouble down the right side. Despite the fact that this is a short hole, it's a good place to start getting used to the idea of taking what the course gives you. The pathway to the 150 yard stake is wide-open and clear, so take it. Hit a fairway wood or a long iron down the middle at that stake, which sets up an easy short iron to the green. This gives you a fighting chance for a birdie. Taking the monster swing with your driver and trying to carry all the trouble on the right sets up a fighting chance at a double or triple.
It's often said that this course really "begins" on the third hole. From the blues, this is a 576 yard par 5 (it can stretch all the way out to 639 from the golds). With this length, the bogey golfer should abandon all hope of reaching it in two, and should pick clubs based on the optimal approach. I like 100 yards, but I'm still okay with 150. To get to 100-150 yards, I'm comfortable with a 200 yard second shot. So I need 225 to 275 off the tee, which for me is the normal range for my driver. The fairway is certainly wide enough to accomodate that, but beware of the bunkers down the left.
The fourth hole is a challenging 185-yard par 3, fronted by a pond and a bunker on the left, and then a bunker on the front right, along with burms and rough, etc., all down the right side. Use plenty of club -- it's better to be a bit long than a bit short...
The next three holes are handicapped 1-3-5, meaning they're the three hardest holes on the front nine. Get ready... #5 plays at 401 yards, and has a bit of a dogleg to the right. The dogleg makes this hole look harder off the tee than it really is. Again, taking what the course gives you, the way is clear to the 150 yard stake. You can safely hit any club in your bag at that stake, including your driver, which I do recommend. The dogleg right is far enough in front of that stake that there's practically no way to run through the fairway. Your approach shot, on the other hand, can be tricky, because there is LOTS of trouble up around the green, so you want that shot to be as short as possible (hence the driver recommendation off the tee). There are bunkers and burms and knee high rough on all sides of the green. If you're going to miss, better miss short! This hole is handicapped as the hardest hole on the course (although for my money the #2 handicap on the back nine is actually harder).
#6 is 393 yards, with a bit of a right-hand dogleg. It's a tiny bit shorter than the previous hole, and just a scotch narrower, but driver is still a good play here, if you've been reasonably straight with it. If not, better back off to a fairway wood -- the rough can be punitive...
#7 is fabulous for visual appeal. It's also fabulous for shot-making. It's 378 yards, and borders a lake which runs all down the left side. The fairway also tips a bit left just because of natural drainage, all of which is to say, "Stay the heck away from the left side!!!!" Hit a three wood, or any other club that you feel confident in hitting straight, and favor the right hand side of the fairway. Not only your tee shot has to be accurate, so does your approach. There's still the pond hard against the left side, and the right and backside are ringed by grass bunkers and burms with knee-high rough. If you're too far out after your tee shot, lay up, by all means!
The next hole is a beautiful par 3, playing 190 from the back, and 153 from the blues. It still employs the same lack from #8, plus it's fronted by bunkers, with native grasses everywhere else. It's target golf, all the way -- no bump and run shots here. Hit it high, land it soft. The green is two tiered, and feeds from the top right to the bottom left.
doglegs left, and the trees keep you from cutting the corner. Big hitters with a bit of a draw will find a long iron is plenty of club here. The rest of us will find this hole uncomfortably narrow, and restricted width-wise to attempt much distance off the tee. Take what the hole gies you. Stay in the fairway, even if it takes you three shots to reach the green.
#8 doglegs back to the right, only this one has a little more width, and you can take a chance on driver. Get all the distance you can, because you really don't want to be hitting a long iron into the green. There's a pond right up against the left side...
#9 is a very short par 5, playing only 465 yards from the blue tees. It's very reachable in two shots, so by all means hit your driver off the tee, and crowd the left side as much as you can (the hole doglegs left, and furthermore falls off to the right into a grass channel). Depending on how good a drive you get, it's decision time: The green sits down in a hole, surrounded on three sides by burms covered in knee-high rough. If you're close enough to feel confident in hitting the green, go for it. Otherwise, lay up. And if you're going to miss, miss short. If you do come up a little bit short (whether intentionally or not), notice how tight the grass is mowed in front of the green. The fairway up close to the green is almost as good a putting surface as the green itself. Strongly consider putting instead of chipping if you're within 10 yards of the green.
The back nine starts out with a relatively benign hole that's almost a replay of #2. It's only 363 yards, and doglegs right around a bunch of trouble (fairway bunkers, knee-high rough, etc.). Again, take what the course offers, namely a clear straightaway path toward the 150 stake, followed by a short iron to the green. Driver is unnecessary (in my case undesirable, because I pulled it dead left, and lost a perfectly good Precept in the rough).
#11 is a 517-yard par 5. Normally I look on holes of this length as being pretty benign, but that is definitely not the story here, especially if there's a headwind. From the teebox, this hole looks very intimidating, because of the narrowness of the fairway. However, as you walk down the fairway you realize that it's actually wide enough in most places, but there are always fingers and burms of rough enroaching from both sides, which gives it a constricted feel. As an added bonus there are some blind ponds on the right side of the green and its immediate approach. Basically if you miss right at all, it's wet. Challenging hole.
#12 is a 166 yard par 3, but pay close attention to the placement of the tee markers, and the pin. The day I played this played more like 180 yards. Plus a raging tailwind came up right as we were teeing off, and everybody backed down two complete clubs, which worked out about right. Missing short and right is trouble -- deep rough, bad lies, etc. Missing long is no treat either.
#13 is handicapped as the second hardest hole on the course, but really, it's probably the hardest. It plays 424 from the blues, and a whopping 476 from the golds. It curves left the whole way, and if you're a big hitter with a natural draw, you're going to love this hole. Us faders have to swallow hard, check our hole cards, do a gut-check, crowd the left side as close as possible, and put a good solid swing without much fade. Either that or treat it like a par 5 and hit three seven irons. I hit maybe the best drive of the day here, and then piddled it away by yanking a pitching wedge into the hay above and left of the green. (Did I pention how punitive the rough can be here?) After one of those shots, it's just hack and hope -- I did manage to salvage a bogey...
After the brutish thirteenth, #14 looks like a breath of fresh air at only 325 yards. Not so fast, Tonto... This is purely a strategy hole. If you're capable of hitting a 325 drive with just the precise amount of hook to it, well knock yourself out. But the smart players hit a five or six iron just past the 150 yard marker in the middle of the fairway, and play a wedge into the green. Don't miss left (ever wonder how I know so much about where not to miss?) -- big trees guarding the corner of the dog leg...
#15 is perhaps the signature hole on this course. From the back tees it's 426 yards, from the blues 386. It's narrow, with a lake on the left side (reminiscent of #7 on the front). It takes about a 90 degree dogleg around the corner of the lake. Ignore the dogleg, take what the course offers you -- hit a fairway wood right of the 150 stake (the fairway tilts left here too), and deal with the dogleg on your approach shot. Speaking of which, in addition to the dogleg over the lake, you also get to think about a big bunker fronting the green. The bailout on your approach is to the right (but not too far right...)
#16 is a short strategic par 5. I guess a big hitter could get home in two, but after you look at what the course gives you (not much), you might decide against that approach. The fairway wanders and meanders around between bunkers, burms and rough. The name of the game on this hole is keep it in the fairway at all costs. I hit a great tee shot, and then sliced my second shot into a fairway bunker, then sliced that shot into the hay right of the green. I was lucky to even find the silly thing, and made a brilliant hack to get back to where I could chip it onto the green. Salvaged a bogey, but it could have been an easy par, if only I could hit my mid-irons straight...
The seventeenth is a great par 3 (he said through clenched teeth). A lake runs all down the right side. Then there's a bunker between the green and the lake. So if you hit a draw, you might have to start it out over the water (gulp). And there's no room for the accidental push or slice. From the blues, it's only 164 yards, but 204 from the golds.
The home hole is a short par 4 (333 yards), but it's dressed up to look longer. Your tee shot is over a lake. I'd recommend you not try to bite off too much of that lake. Get to the middle of the fairway, leave yourself an easy approach shot with a wedge, and ring up an easy par. That's what I meant to do, anyway... Instead I pushed my drive, and wound up carrying the whole lake (barely), and rolled into the hay, had to hack out, chip on, and salvage a bogey. Do what I say, not what I do...
And that's Riverdale Dunes. It's a worthy adversary. Lots of different shots, strategy holes, muscle holes, scenic holes, "gotcha" holes... a rolicking good time! Enjoy!