Pacific Grove Golf Links: Holes 10-12

Hole 10: Par 3, 109 Yards

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The memorable back nine of PG Golf Links begins with a forgettable pitch-and-putt par 3. After the long and difficult eighth and ninth holes, however, you may be grateful for a breather.

You will not be able to see the back bunker from the tee, but you will reach it only if you massively over-club. From a design and maintenance standpoint, this trap may be a bit of a waste. Filling it in and placing a small bunker front left would give this one-shotter more strategic interest.

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The 10th green slopes back to front and left to right.

If, during the somewhat dull stretch between the seventh and 10th holes, you become restless, take heart. The dunes are coming.

 

Hole 11: Par 4, 303 Yards

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From the raised 11th tee, you will get your first full view of the west-facing coastline and the extraordinary duneland through which the back nine travels.

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From the front tee of the 11th hole, the view you have been waiting for

The fairway is wide and inviting: only a snap hook over the OB fence or a push slice into the scrub will hurt you. So most players will pull driver and try to send one into the sky. For the sake of pure fun, go ahead and try this shot. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching a drive soar over this sea horizon?

Your approach to the 11th green will require more finesse. The green is shallow and benched into a high dune. Anything short will likely roll back down the slope, leaving a delicate uphill chip.

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The tricky 11th green complex

After you play the 11th hole a few times, you may learn the virtues of restraint off the tee. About 70 yards from the green, the fairway descends into a small valley. Tee shots over 225 yards will come to rest at the bottom of this hollow, leaving a kind of pitch that many golfers dread: a 30- to 60-yard sand or lob wedge from a tight lie to a semi-blind, shallow, head-high target that rejects short balls and pitch-and-runs.

If, however, you hit your 200- to 220-yard club off the tee, you will have a three-quarter to full wedge from the same elevation as the green. Some players may feel more confident in their ability to stick this type of shot close.

 

Hole 12: Par 5, 513 Yards

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One of the most photographed holes on the course, the par-5 12th bends through the dunes adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. The tee shot is both beautiful and intimidating.

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The rocky beach is not in play from the 12th tee, but Sunset Drive — and the windshields thereon — may be

The 12th is the first in a series of five holes in which the dunes dictate strategy. For a chance to reach in two, you will need to carry a mound of sandy waste that juts into the fairway about 230 yards from the tee. From there, you will have a blind second shot, likely from an uneven lie, over another, larger dune that obscures an elevated green. Suffice it to say that most play this hole as a three-shotter.

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The rolling landing area of the 12th fairway. The middle of the green is over the left shoulder of the dune in the distance.

But even hitting the green in regulation can be a challenge. In order to avoid a blind approach, your second must reach or carry a dune-formed ridge 75 yards from the pin. That means your first two shots need to traverse about 440 yards — a tall order for many players, especially given the severe undulations of the fairway.

Carved into a dune, the 12th green will turn back any approaches that land short. Once you are on it, though, the putting surface is straightforward.

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The ridge in the left middleground of this photo is the key strategic feature of the 12thhole. Fail to carry it with your second shot and you will probably have to get up and down for your par.
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