Newscenter 16 is debuting a new summer golf series, where Sports Director Alex Wilcox plays one hole at local public courses with the course pro. Up first: Warren Golf Course - the site of the upcoming U.S. Senior Open.
We met Greg Helmkamp, one of the PGA Golf Professionals at Warren, and he took us to the 18th hole, the final hole of the tournament. Normally, the 18th hole is the 6th hole, but Warren and the USGA did extensive re-routing of the course to make it suitable for tournament conditions.
Championship Hole 18 is a 473-yard par 4, with a slight dogleg right. The course website describes the hole as "defined by a series of deep bunkers on the right and two large bunkers guarding the front portion of the green. As with many of the holes, a run-up option is presented for entry into the green." It also adds that the hole will be a "nice challenge to any player attempting to hold on to a 1 shot lead, come Sunday."
"I think it's a pretty neat hole," Helmkamp said. "It's where the championship may be decided in a couple weeks, so I wanted to highlight this hole and let people see where they may be crowning a champion in a couple weeks."
After an initial drive that went about ten feet, I hit a second drive into the rough on the left side of the fairway, about 180 yards to the hole. Helmkemp went the opposite way, in the weeds to the right of the fairway.
Helmkamp described Warren as a "second shot course," meaning it's the second shot of the hole that's either going to make or break you.
It broke me.
My second shot also traveled about ten feet. I did though, follow that up with a six-iron shot that landed a few feet short of the green. Helmkemp hit his second shot into the right bunker surrounding the green.
Suffice it to say, this will not be an easy way to finish a major championship.
"Saturday and Sunday, when the pressure's on, the nerves are there, [the hospitality suites] are full of people and you've got 1,500 seat grandstands behind [the hole] and everybody behind watching you - especially if they play that back tee and they've got a long iron in their hand, to try to hit this green, which is very well protected is going to be a challenge," Helmkamp said.
From my spot just shy of the green, I three-putted to card a double-bogey score of 6, while Helmkamp hit a beautiful shot out of the sand and then two-putted for a bogey.
For both professionals competing in the U.S. Senior Open and casual golfers alike, the 18th hole is one where par should be celebrated.
The U.S. Senior Open comes to Warren Golf Course June 24-30th. The course will close to the public June 8th to put on the finishing touches before the tournament.
Rates to play Warren are as follows:
Weekday (Tues-Thurs): $55 walking, $75 cart
Weekend (Fri-Sun): $65 walking, $85 cart
Mid-Day (2pm): $45 walking, $59 cart
Sundown (5pm): $35 walking, $49 cart
The course is closed on Mondays, and tee times can be made up to 14 days in advance.