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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Drivers Beware At Chautauqua GC


5/20/2006 - When The Post-Journal Champions golf tournament is played on the Hill Course at Chautauqua Golf Club on Sunday, quite a few of the competitors’ drivers might have a light workload.Unlike the wide open Lake Course at Chautauqua, that was designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1924, the newer Hill Course, that was designed by Xen Hassenplug and opened in 1994, is a lot tighter.When it comes to using a driver, Chautauqua club champ Shelly Grant said, ‘‘Probably half the holes I leave it in the bag.’’ Grant is playing in the event open to club champions from regulation 9- and 18-hole course in The Post-Journal circulation area for the 11th time and he has won the title three times. But this is the first time he has competed as the club champ from Chautauqua. His previous appearances have been as the club champ from Hillview Golf Course or as the defending champion.Grant plays plenty of golf at Chautauqua and admits the newer 18-hole layout is growing on him.‘‘I like the Lake, but I’ve gotten so I like the Hill because you have to think a lot more,’’ he said. ‘‘There are so many different shots to have to hit.’’Grant recalled his lowest score on the par-72 Hill Course was a 66 or 67.When playing the Hill Course, he noted his driver stays in the bag mainly on the back nine.‘‘I never hit it on 10,’’ Grant said about the 353-yard, par-4 hole that features a tight landing area. ‘‘And most of the time on 11.’’The 11th hole is a 481-yard, par 5 with a severe dogleg to the left. He avoids the driver there because he can drive through the fairway at the dogleg.Grant also avoids using a driver on the 344-yard, par-4 14th, which also features a narrow landing area. And like at No. 11 a drive could go through dogleg of the 386-yard, par-4 16th hole.Looking back at No. 10, there can be more problems after hitting the drive. It features an elevated green and the approach shot can play 20 or more yards longer than the distance estimated from the pin.‘‘No. 10, it’s definitely long (for the second shot),’’ Grant said. ‘‘Most of the time if you don’t hit a solid shot there you’re going to come up short. That’s definitely my toughest hole on that side.’’And according to Grant, that’s the middle hole in the Hill Course’s toughest stretch.‘‘I would say 9, 10 and 11,’’ he said are the key holes. No. 9 is a 367-yard, downhill par 4 that also requires an accurate drive. And it’s another hole where Grant often skips the driver.When asked to pick a winning score for Sunday’s tournament, Grant predicted, ‘‘I would probably say 1 or 2 over would be a really good score.’’And in order to do that, Sunday’s participants can’t falter on the first four or five holes.‘‘I think it’s very important to get off to a good start so you can have yourself ready for that tough stretch (of No. 9 through 11),’’ Grant said. ‘‘It’s very easy to start bogeying when you get into that stretch.’’The Hill Course also features the longest par 3 among Chautauqua’s 36 holes, the 212-yard seventh hole. But Sunday’s competitors will also get to play the shortest par 3 at Chautauqua. Because a new men’s tee is being constructed on the second hole, the women’s tee will have to be used which leaves the players with a 106-yard shot.The defending champion is Corky Hull, who won the title last year at WoodCrest Golf Course. He is invited back as the defending champion while the remainder of the field won their club titles last year.The field dropped from 17 to 16 this week when Sugar Hill Golf Course club champ Dave Willebrandt had to withdraw. That forced a revision of the tee times and now there will be four foursomes playing.The Post-Journal Champions will again be an 18-hole scratch event and if there is a tie after 18 holes, a playoff will begin at No. 1. Chautauqua is providing the greens fees and light meal for the participants.

The Post-Journal will provide a sleeve of golf balls for each Post-Journal Champions player and
silver bowls to the winner and runnerup.

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