East Lake is a first class golf course and a club with a proud history. Alexa Stirling, Watts Gunn, Charlie Yates, Charles Harrison and of course, Bobby Jones called it home (as does current Open Champion, Stewart Cink). From the moment you get through the main gates, you are treated like royalty; from the excellent caddying to the complimentary ginger biscuits in the locker rooms! Since being extended in 2008, the clubhouse features a large bar/restaurant area, serving great food and an amazing selection of drinks. As you would expect from the venue for the finale of the PGA Tour season, the course is genuinely challenging (especially after several changes were made in 2008). Three of the four par 3s play over water, including the famous 6th with its signature island green. The 7th is a killer uphill par 4, severely extended recently to include a deep hollow, which swallows anything landing on the right edge of the green. The par 4 8th might seem driveable for long-hitters, but a long bunker and a very tricky green punish approaches which are off-line. For many regulars, the par 5 9th is the gem of the course. A downhill tee shot presents a difficult decision as to how far over the lake you need to play the second. Lay up too short and you face a daunting approach to a smallish green; too long and you flirt with a large bunker catching balls in the left half of the fairway. The ideal second shot will leave you around 120 yards from the left half of the fairway to a pin which usually sits on the highest part of the green (back right). Much of the back nine alternates up and down a steady hill, including the energy-sapping par 5 15th, where a decent drive could set-up longer hitters with a birdie chance (if they can keep their breath up the slope). Probably the most radical change on the course in 2008 was on 17. Stewart Cink describes it as 'one of golf's best tee shots'. The drive starts over part of the lake before landing on a pristine fairway which slopes right to left, all the way down to the water's edge. Here's where it gets tricky: The new 17th green is a small, raised crown green, running towards the water with a surface which makes it almost impossible to stop most approaches from outside 100 yards. The pros have real difficulty here and so will you! East Lake's finishing hole is an uphill par 3 (again, over water) and is by no means an easy par. It's difficult to judge the distance from the tiered tees and bunkers await on either side of the green to gobble up stray shots. Anything can happen! If you can ever persuade a member to take you out at East Lake, you must jump at the chance. You'll never forget it.
Date: May 24, 2010