A Golf Pro’s Perspective on Playing at Gray’s Crossing

Looking out my window this morning, I couldn’t help but realize 2013 is surely shaping up beautifully for golf! The birds are chirping, the temperature is unseasonably warm, and the course is vibrant green (a shade of we aren’t used to seeing till mid-June). As our opening day (May 17th) rapidly approaches, I begin sleeping less and less, not due to stress, but excitement; I could not be more thrilled to open this season! Come experience everything Gray’s Crossing has to offer this year, and you’ll be happy you did.

Ever since I took up the game of golf at the age of five, I’ve always walked off the 18th hole by reflecting back on my day. If you’re like me, you may immediately think of all the bad decisions you made – the hooks that didn’t hook, the fades that didn’t fade, and above all others, the missed three-footers. After a four-hour front nine in college with renowned sports psychologist Dr. Coop, I realized that was the worst thing for my golf game, Jack Nicklaus would attest. I challenge you all to walk off the 18th green and think about the one phenomenal shot you hit that day. The one high draw, the one perfect fade, or that one three-footer that went straight into the back of the cup. Not only will your game improve, so might your life. For those of you looking back at your day without much success in finding a memorable shot, check out PJ’s, the alpenglow on Mt. Rose is sure to clear the most negative of thinking quickly!

Over the last six years I’ve had the pleasure of playing Gray’s Crossing numerous times. Each round was completely unique to itself. Perhaps it’s due to Peter Jacobson’s course design, maybe the summer breeze, or my ever-erratic golf game; the one constant throughout the years is FUN! When I play Gray’s Crossing, I feel like the kids in the movie The Sandlot. The smiles are endless and the memories last a lifetime. Whether you catch a sunset at PJ’s, the dew on the first tee, or call it home, Gray’s Crossing is simply a special place that’ll keep you smiling for ages. I can’t wait for this summer and the mounds of joy I’ll have at Gray’s Crossing.

To help you feel that same sense of giddy anticipation, here’s my hole-by-hole virtual tour:

Hole #1 – A drive down the left side of the fairway is best, as it will funnel right off the slope. You will prefer your second shot to be short rather than long. Play it towards the left middle of the green and allow for some roll.

Hole #2 – With trouble on both sides, hitting the fairway is more important than distance on this short par 4. Play your second shot to the left side of the green and allow it to release to the right. Avoid the fairway bunkers at all cost.

Hole #3 – Play your tee ball down the left side of the fairway. This will give you a much better view of the hole. Be cautious of the hazard cutting across the fairway. When laying up, avoid the bunkers to the left. If you have the guts to go for home, play a shot just over the right side fairway bunker and allow it to run down the hill and onto the green. A safe bailout is left because if you go right, you’re a goner.

Hole #4 – Take dead aim! Be aware of the ridge in the middle of the green. Anything left will spill left; anything right, will continue right. Use the slope to your advantage.

Hole #5 – A drive down the right side is the safe play. Bigger hitters will want to aim at the solo tree on the right side to take of advantage of the sloping right to left fairway. Play your second shot short right of the green and allow the slope to carry it onto the green. Anything airborne past the middle of the green is dead.

Hole #6 – A traditional risk reward par 4. The safe play is down the left with a long iron or fairway wood leaving a short iron into the green. Thrill seekers will aim over the most right fairway bunker. Play your tee ball 20 yards short of the green due to a strongly sloped approach. Avoid the bunkers and you will have a great shot at birdie or better.

Hole #7 – Play your drive down the left side for the best angle of the hole. Whether attacking the green in two or laying up, keep your second shot as high on the left as possible; everything will roll right. Keep your ball on the correct half of the green as a large ridge in the middle separates the front and back.

Hole #8 – Water left and a bunker right make keeping your ball on grass key. Play to the right-center of the green as the ball will roll left towards the water. A safe bailout is the hill on the right. If you’re lucky, you may find yourself with a birdie putt.

Hole #9 – A narrow fairway with trouble on both sides makes a straight drive key. If you find yourself in between clubs on your second shot, go with more, it plays slightly uphill.

Hole #10 – If you can hit a draw, now is the time. Keep left of the fairway bunkers down the right side. Play your second shot away from the bunkers guarding the left hand side of the green.

Hole #11 – Avoid missing the green left. Use the slope off the right side of the green to your advantage; most shots hitting the hill will find their way onto the green. Pin location is important because this green is nearly 40 yards deep.

Hole #12 – A generous fairway asking you to grip it and rip it! A drive just left of center is ideal. Be cautious of the big greenside bunkers short right and pin high left.

Hole #13 – The left side of the fairway is your target. Drives missing down the right side will kick into the water hazard. Play your second shot a ½ club long to avoid the water hazard guarding the front of the green. Walking away with a par here will feel like a birdie.

Hole #14 – Two options off the tee: shorter hitters will play to the right of the bunkers, setting up a short iron into the green; longer hitters will want to take a more aggressive line over the bunkers, and even towards the green for the big dogs. Be careful not to leave an awkward length pitch shot as you are playing to a narrow green. Be careful of the back portion of the green as it aggressively slopes away.

Hole #15 – Bombs away! Give it all you’ve got off the tee. The ideal drive is up the right side. Play your second shot high up the right side. If you go for the green, be cautious of a hidden pot bunker in the center of the fairway. The only way to attack this green is by landing short right of the green and allowing the slope to bring your ball onto the green.

Hole #16 – A long tough par 3. Play your tee shot just shy of the posted yardage as it does play slightly downhill. Running the ball up the fairway is a great play. If you can keep it out of the bunkers, you’ll have a great shot at par.

Hole #17 – Be sure and leave your tee ball short of the wasteland in front of the green. The farther right you play, the more room you will have. Be cautious of the fairway bunker down to the right, if you take this route. Stopping your approach can be very difficult as this green slopes strongly from front to back. Try and hit a high soft shot to the front edge of the green. If things don’t work out, the front bunker isn’t the worst place to play from.

Hole #18 – A drive down the left side of the fairway is perfect. If you have the length to reach the fairway on the right take it, it will benefit you greatly. If not, favor the right side of the fairway with your lay up. This will leave the shortest distance in on your approach. This green is very shallow in depth, but long in width, so club selection is key. When in doubt, play long to avoid the hazard.

And when you’re walking away from that final hole, remember to reflect on your favorite shot or shots of the day. Run your own personal highlight reel through you head and you’ll see some huge improvements in your play on your next round at Gray’s Crossing.