Length – 6.724 Course Rating – 72,7 Slope Rating - 135 Walkability – Hard What golfer has never dreamt about building a golf course where he could invite friends to share his passion for the game? In my dreams I would build a links style course with fescue defending the fairways and tricky greens.
Santapazienza is the result of a similar dream combined with a good piece of land and a great architect. What started with a course good enough for most mortals took epic proportions with the arrival on the scene of the legendary architect Tom Fazio.
Santapazienza starts flat with beautiful lakes contouring large fairways and undulated greens. That suddenly changes when the course moves to the top of the mountains via a wood bridge carved in the middle of a small jungle. In my opinion, one of the hardest things in golf is to combine holes with very different patterns without losing the rhythm and consistency. In this case, it is fair to say that Mr. Fazio not only succeeded in the task but also created a course that grows in intensity culminating in the heroic last hole where an accurate driver is the difference between an easy birdie and a double bogey.
It is easy to say that this is a masterpiece, not because it doesn´t have one weak hole but more importantly because it doesn´t have a signature hole, there are at least five suspects fighting for that honor. So let me try to describe my favorites.
The second hole is a majestic 440 yards par four that will require two good shots to reach the green. For me this is a great way to start a round, it will warm you up, stretch your muscles and help to keep your blood pumping. The first par three has a forced carry over a lake and a cascading stream defending the right side of the green. It´s hard to believe that this is the second prettiest par three on the front. The seventh is a par five reachable in two with a 45 yards green protected by huge bunkers. Big greens and huge bunkers are the norm in the first nine and they get even bigger on the second half.
The most dramatic par three is number 12. You play from an elevated tee through a valley covered with trees, you will be lucky if the flag is not positioned on the left side of the green where a small plateau guarded by another huge bunker can make this hole a true test of golf. Now that you are in the top of the mountains enjoy the view and relax because you will need your energy for the longest par five on the course number 15. Even with a tee box 50 yards higher than the fairway this 657 yards hole, with OB on the left and water on the right, will require three good shots to reach the green. If you are able to do that don’t relax because this is not an easy green. Number 16 is one of the most intelligent par 3s that I ever played, with an extremely large and down sloping green this par 3 will play easier if the pin is in the back. With the pin in front you will need to control your distance or you can end up with a 150 feet up hill put. To be honest, in this situation a 3 putts bogey would be excellent.
The heroic finishing hole is not one of my favorites but it is impossible not to mention it. Playing over a 50 yards downhill this par 4 is protected by a lake on the right and an immense and intimidating bunker on the left, the green wraps around a front center bunker and the right side of the green is perched above the pond. This will be a finishing hole you surely won´t forget.
Santapazienza is one of those courses that keeps you dreaming about playing again and again.
Date: March 13, 2016