Boca Rio Golf Club
FL, USA

Fourth hole, 365 yards; Should one lay back off the tee and accept a 130 yard approach shot into this green? Or should he try and fit his tee ball between the bunkers left and right and be left with only 100 yards in? Regardless, the sharpest pitched green from back to front on the course greets the golfer, which is saying something as the greens at Boca Rio enjoy verygood interior contours. Anything faster than 10.5 on the Stimpmeter would be silly.

The flag standing at attention lets the golfer know that his short iron approach to the 4th is going to be complicated by the ever present coastal winds.

Twelfth hole, 360 yards; A rarity in golf but this 360 yarder creates as many double bogeys as any another hole on the course. Many golfers elect to stay short of the three left hand fairway bunkers andare left with a 150-160 yard shot into the green. However, too many golfers follow such prudent tactics off the tee with an aggressive play into the green and that’s where the fun begins.The green issomewhat ‘T’ shaped, affording all kinds of interesting sucker hole locations.Many members have concluded toaim at the center of the green regardless of the day’s hole location.

Looks like a fairly straightforward approach shot? Wait til you see the hole in the slender neck on the front or on either the back left or right wing of the 12th green.

Fourteenth hole, 415 yards; A well conceived dog leg to the left, with the golfer tempted to carry the30 yard long inside bunker off the tee to shorten his approach shot. As with many holes at Boca Rio, the golfer needs to know where to miss his approach shot and in this case, it’s to the right as the green slopes well away from its left hand greenside bunkers.

If the golfer carries this bunker off the tee as opposed to laying up beside it, he is rewarded with a 40 yard shorter approach shot. Note the appealing false front to the green.

Fifteenth hole, 445 yards; Thestronger player delights at such an uncompromising hole at this stage in the round. A draw off the tee is ideal as the hole bends slightly to the left past several bunkers. The golfer is then confronted by a green that is wider than it is deep, unusual for a hole of this length. With bunkers both in front and behind and a green that is swift from back to front,the green complexmakeslittle attempt to accommodate anything but a high longiron shot. Unlike the disappointing fate of The Medalist Club one hour up I-95 whose original design is continually softened and compromised for the sake of ‘fairness’, the principal founder of the club Abe Deitch would be delighted tosee that the 15th’s raw challengehas never been reduced.

Do you have the ability to hit a high cut 3 iron to chase after this hole location at the 15th? One benefit of a wide green is in its course set-up flexibility - the approach is likely to call for a draw the next day.

Sixteenth hole, 540 yards; In this day of 300 yard drives, thetiger golfer is accustomedto having his way with three shot holes. A big drive and he figures to have a go at most par fives in two, with a relatively straightforward up and down if he misses the green. This is emphatically not the case at Boca Rio, which explains in partwhy Bernhard Langer’s 68 is still the course record.

With a nest of bunkers cut into a hillside left and cypress trees right, the golfer has to carefully place his 2nd shot at the three shot 16th.

Seventeenth hole, 180 yards; Different architects produce different holes and one of the joys of golf isto stumble across a hole that reminds you of no other hole that you’ve ever seen. The 17th is just such a hole.Despite the hour glass shaped green being a mammoth 13,000 square feet,when the hole is located on the lower tier, it is not unusual to see an ace golfer aim 10 yards left of the green and hope for an up and down.

The unique green configuration at the 17th provides endless possibilities. If the hole is on the top tier, the golfer can use the mounds behind the green to feed the ball close to the back hole locations.

If the hole is on the harder lower tier, the golfer will rue the day he gets in the bunker as the resulting splash shot is across the narrowest part of the green, which in turn slopes into the lake.

Eighteenth hole, 425 yards; The Home hole heads back toward the ocean and as such, it generally plays into the prevailing wind.The already mentioned ‘turboe boost’ mound some 240 yards from the tee coupled with the pond on its right hand side gives the tee ball plenty of interest. However, the green complex steals the show. Once featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the late 1960s, it is connected with the 9th green and together, they cover some 19,000 square feet.The difference between a back left hole location and a front rightone can be as much as four clubsand again, the golfer must give thought to whereto miss it. Short siding the hole is never the play:a chipping area to the right of the greenis preferable if the hole is located on the left and conversely, if the hole is right, the left greenside bunkermay afford the easier up and down.

A perfect drive leaves this approach into the Home green. The player who can shape his shots has a distinct advantage at Boca Rio. In this case, the front right to back left diagonal angle favors a draw.

Von Hagge’s work is sure to impress anyone who plays Boca Rio as the course is full of challenge without ever overwhelming the golfer. Like Pine Tree, the course has a way ofidentifying the better player by the end of the match. Indeed, its similarities with Pine Tree as a player’s course should come as no surprise as Von Hagge worked for Dick Wilson out of his Delray Beach office foreight years until Wilson’s death in 1965. Von Hagge learned well from Wilson during such high profile projects as the Blue Course at Doral and Pine Tree, both completed in 1962, and incorporated much of what he learned at Boca Rio. By all accounts, it is his best work and deserves to be much better known.Pity Hogan didn’t play here too.

The End