Hidden Creek Golf Club
NJ, USA

Fifth hole, 395 yards; A modern day architect has many tricks up his sleeve to challenge the golfer. Some ways aren’t so subtle like forced carries over water (by the way, there are no water hazards at Hidden Creek) and others are subtle, like creating depth perception problems. In the case of the bunkerless fifth, rather than cutting a bunker into the slope at the right front of the green, Coore & Crenshaw brought in piles of dirt and built a feature that obscures much of the putting surface. Where Coore & Crenshaw excel is in making a man-made hazard like these mounds appear natural by having them be irregular and haphazard in appearance which is in stark contrast to other modern architects who create heinously uniform and symmetrical features. Remember: There is nothing uniform in nature so features shouldn’t be either. As it relates to the playing quality of this hole, the green is the second deepest one on the course at 48 yards and without a good view of the putting surface,  good players struggle in gauging the right distance for their approach shots, especially to the back hole locations.

The fifth fairway is a hog's back with balls being kicked both left and right. However, unless the golfer finds the left side or middle of the wide fairway, his approach to the deep, skinny fifth green will be obscured by the right front mounds.

Sixth hole, 445 yards; Similar to Alister MacKenzie and A.W. Tillinghast, Coore & Crenshaw design long two shotters that remain fun for all levels of player as they always provide plenty of room to operate, especially near the green. In the 1960s and 1970s, architects were fond of tightly bunkering greens both left and right, forcing the player to play one type shot. Not true here or any other Coore & Crenshaw course for that matter. There is lots of tight short grass all around this green complex and the golfer is free to decide for himself what kind of approach shot he would like to play. Of course, central to the enjoyment of such holes as this one, the eighth at Chesseessee Creek and the ninth at Cuscowilla is that the playing conditions be fast and firm. And in Green Keeper Jeff Riggs, Hansen has the right man to insure that the course plays as Coore & Crenshaw intend. With  twenty-five years in the course maintenance field, Riggs appreciates what will and won’t work in the climate of south New Jersey as he had been at Blue Heron since its inception in 1993. Also, with Head Golf Professional Ian Dalzell being from Portrush, Northern Ireland and Hansen’s love of links golf in the United Kingdom, the key people are all firmly in place at Hidden Creek for promoting fast and firm conditions through the green.

 
 

The large bunker that visually dominates the sixth is well forward from the green. Coupled with firm running conditions, the golfer is given plenty of options on how to play his approach shot.

 

 Eighth hole, 330 yards; A multiple route short two shotter with the day’s hole location dictating which side of the central bunker to play. With the hole left, the player should go left off the tee and with it right, the player goes right. Matters are complicated up ahead where a large mound in the green’s center can send approach shots or putts any which way. With the central bunker and the mound in the middle of the green, the architectural merits of placing the challenging features down the center as opposed to on the sides are highlighted as multiple playing angles/strategies unfold. Coore & Crenshaw have devised many, many great short par fours but one element that this one possesses that most don’t is that of mystery. Hopefully, the golfer sees his tee ball vanish over the crest of the hill but then, who knows? How hard did it pitch forward on the downslope? How did it react with the large mound in the green? Perhaps it curled tight to the hole for a short eagle putt? Only after walking 240 yard does the fate of his tee ball become clear to the golfer. Finding ways to create suspense by delay knowing an outcome is a wonderful feature to bring to any course.

A bunker way right, a bunker in the middle of the fairway, and the top of the flag nestled in its own little dell are what the golfer sees from the tee.

Given today's hole location, the play off the tee is to the right of the middle bunker.

Once past the central hazard, this view from behind the green shows how tee balls receive forward kicks, hopefully onto the rolling green for a putt for an eagle.


Tenth hole, 475 yards; A drive that passes the two bunkers down the right can catch a ‘power slot’ and be propelled well forward toward the green. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the golfer is still left with a long shot into a target that shows very little interest in receiving it! Not unlike the feared tenth at Oakmont, before playing one’s approach, the realistic golfer needs to consider where around the tenth green complex is the best place from which to play his third shot given the day’s hole location.

A draw at the two bunkers in the distance gives the golfer his best chance at reaching the green in regulation.

Drapped over the crest of a hill, the fallaway tenth green is an elusive target. Playing long past the hole often times leaves an easier third shot as the golfer can play uphill toward the hole.

 

Eleventh hole, 120 yards; In the classic Donald Ross give and take mode that make his courses such a delight to play over and over, Coore & Crenshaw constantly mix up the demands of the holes at Hidden Creek. The reachable three shot third is followed by a long and difficult one shotter, the 470 yard two shot sixteenth is followed by another reachable par five and here the tiny eleventh is sandwiched on either side by brutes of golf holes. An absolute charmer, this tiny hole is many people’s favorite on the course.

The eleventh calls for a crisp pitch up the hill to a skyline green, which at 4,400 square feet is the smallest on the course.

The knob like eleventh green is a hard one to recover to with short-siding yourself a particularly poor idea.


Twelfth hole, 465 yards; Overstating the excellence of Coore &Crensahw’s routing at Hidden Creek is impossible and it’s highlighted at the twelfth where its fairway effortlessly flows across this rolling portion of property.  The tee is on the crest of one hill, the landing area on the broad crest of another, and the green further ahead on yet another. All this makes perfect sense when playing the exposed hole of today yet try finding this playing corridor within 750 acres with the land shrouded in hardwood trees and underbrush! It is the kind of natural hole that would have been impossibe to find on a flat site like  Blue Heron Pines.

The tee shot plays across a thirty-five foot deep valley while the ...

... the approach plays over a shallower one. The hole feels like it could have been there for a hundred years and its timeless quality is derived from how the site's natural elements were incorporated into the hole.

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