The Army GC is currently hosting the Hampshire County Championship at fairly short notice and proved to be a solid test for the County's best. The first hole is a short par 5, which although looking intimidating from the tee, has plenty of room at the landing area for drives. It's a straightforward, relatively easy start which is a good design feature for an opening hole. The next 2 holes are shortish par 4s which need to be taken advantage of as the 4th is a 450 yard dog leg right to left par 4 and the 5th a robust 220 yd par 3. The 6th is a long iron then wedge to a very slopey undulating green which is very tough but fair enough considering the length of hole. The approach is attractive with banking to the back and left of the green. Holes 7 to 9 are ok, perhaps only utilitarian. The back 9 is the pick of the nines in my view and starts with a very attractive strategic shortish par 4. The 11th (stroke 1) is fairly straightaway par 4 of 455 yards which is just a strong, superb, no nonsense hole. This hole with the 4 and 16 (more of this hole later), represents the variation and contrast to the cohort of short par 4s. The 12th is a dog leg left to right very gettable short par 5. Holes 13 and 14 are brilliant risk and reward short par 4s where the numerous little brooks and streams are used brilliantly as the "risk". The 14th has a stream 260 from the tee ( holes is 320) and further streams dominate the right side on the lay up at 200 yards. Brilliant design. Hole 15 is very attractive medium length par 4 which moves gently from right to left with more streams both short and right of the green. The 16th could be great, but is arguably unfair. Having observed first hand scratch ( and plus ) golfers trying to figure out how to play this hole was fascinating. The hole is a 435 par 4, which moves right to left, with trees very prominent on the left hand side at the dogleg. There is plenty of room right but any tee shot between 240 and 260 to the right will be blocked out by trees. Possibly the trees were not a factor when the course was constructed but they are an issue now. The only way of playing the hole in an orthodox way, with driver / 3 wood, requires exemplary accuracy as lthere is a 15 yard area where the green is accessible. There is more width (of course) further back but it leaves a 220 / 230 uphill approach. A couple of the big hitters went over the trees on the left which requires both supreme length and nerve, especially as you don't see the balls landing. I like quirky and every course should have tough holes on them but I would suggest that this hole is overly penal. The 17th is an excellent par 3 of 200 yards slightly downhill and the finishing hole a strong par 4 left to right with internal OB on the right. A couple of observations. Firstly, both playing the course and caddying in the counties, the course has grown on me to a level of fondness. Secondly, I don't think I've played a course where the choice of pin placements can have such a profound impact on how a course plays. It goes without saying that a tree lined course uses trees as it's overarching defence, however the Army has its greens fulfilling a similar role also.
Date: June 08, 2019