Sammammish, Washington, USA
Architect: Tom Fazio,
Par 71, 6,885 Yards
My Quick Review: Varied terrain, the boldest Fazio greens I've seen and a great set of par-4s make this a must-play in the Seattle area.
Hole 1: Par 4, 417 Yards
Playing #1 - The play for the longer hitter is directly over the bunker on the left side (A). This will leave a short approach shot to a two-tiered green. The shorter hitter should aim towards the right bunkers (B) and approach the green from the right side, taking the water out of play.
Tee shots up the right give a better look at the open green front:
Playing #2 - The play on this par 3 is for the center of the green regardless of where the flag is located. A ball landing short left will funnel down to the rough leaving a treacherous chip/pitch/flop. This green tends to slope to the center.
Playing #3 - A three-shot par 5, the play off the tee is anywhere between the left and right-side fairway bunkers (A). Longer hitters should stay towards the right side as the bunker can be carried. Shorter hitters should aim towards the left as the fairway is more accessible. The second shot should be played just short of the fairway bunkers on the left (B) to avoid being blocked from the green by an overhanging cedar tree (C). This green slopes predominantly left to right due to a ridge on the left hand side of the green.
Playing #4 - This hole requires accuracy as well as distance. A shorter tee-shot will be easier to place properly but your approach will need to be precise as this green is very tricky. Longer second shots should try to approach this green from the left side as the bounce is usually favorable. Going over this green could be disastrous.
Playing #5 - The tee shot calls for a long, hard fade around a slight dogleg right. The fairway is very wide and the only trouble spot is a fairway bunker at the corner on the left side. A shot that ends up on the right side will have access to any flag on this green. This green has a false front and slopes from back to front.
Playing #6 - Like the second hole, your tee-shot should be played towards the center of the green. There is a second tier on the upper left corner of this green that is well protected by a bunker left and slope behind the green.
The tee shot is more visually intimidating than it is difficult. One of those holes that when you get to the green you say, "I didn't realize there was that much room up here."
Hole 7: Par 5, 503 Yards
Playing #7 - A reachable par 5, the tee-shot can be placed anywhere in the fairway. The fairway bunker on the left side can be carried by the longer hitters. Try to keep your approach shot short of the flag as this green has many breaks, but predominantly is sloped back right to front left. There are good up-and-down possibilities from the short-left bunker but it is very difficult to play from the short-right bunker.
Decision time. The green is well-protected with bunkers right, short and left. The approach sets up very well for a draw and there is a small neck in the fairway that will allow a draw to run onto the green.
Playing #8 - Depending on where the tee is located, longer hitters can cut the corner just left of the tree (A) but the prudent play would be towards the right-hand fairway bunker with a slight draw. The second shot is significantly downhill to a green that is very difficult to hold on the left side. This green has many slopes.
Playing #9 - A long but narrow green is the feature on this short par 3. The front side of the green is flanked by bunkers left and right which make up-and-downs very difficult. There is a second tier that is not very deep and slopes significantly from right to left.
In particular, I noticed the contouring in the front portion of the green (and thought it was great). The front of the green is very narrow, maybe 12 yards wide(?) and the at the edges of the green here will serve to funnel shots at the edge of the green toward the middle. However, these same slopes mean that shots that miss just a bit too much left or right and find the bunker means that the recovery is basically impossible.
Playing #10 - The fairway narrows at the 100 yard mark so the easiest play is just short of the fairway bunker (A). The green slopes from back-left to front-right with a large tier. Putting from below the tier is better than chipping from over this green.
A fairly simple tee shot to a wide fairway with a single bunker protecting the right and hazard down the left. Take note of the pin location as this will dictate where you want to hit your tee shot. I do not believe one can get to a left pin from the left side of the fairway.
Playing #11 - The play on this three shot par 5 is to the right of the fairway bunker (A). A second shot played from the right rough is still better than playing from the deep bunker. The fairway is widest at 100 yards and the approach shot must be precise since this is the toughest green to putt on the course. Like many approaches here at Aldarra, keep your third shot below the hole.
A single well-placed bunker makes a simple tee shot interesting. The fairway slopes right to left so there is no need to challenge the bunker, but still many players will be tempted to skirt the bunker to squeeze a couple of extra yards out of their tee shots.
Playing #12 - Any tee shot in the fairway will give you a chance to reach the green in two on this downhill par 5. A second shot guided down the fairway will bounce and roll towards the green and open up the green for any short approach shots. Putting from well short of this green is not unheard of since the ball tends to funnel towards the center of the green.
The tee shot is plenty wide and is perhaps the easiest on the course. Other than a bit of pressure since you know this is a birdie hole, there is zero reason to miss this fairway. Bombs away.
Playing #13 - Although ‘The Gauntlet’ doesn't begin until #15, now would be a good time to be sharp with your play. This downhill par 3 has trouble on both the left and right sides. Shots landing short and right may receive a favorable bounce towards the green. There are deep bunkers left of this green and a large slope on the right.
The contouring short/right of the green will assist the player by kicking the ball toward the green. But, the close proximity of the trees both left and right add a serious intimidation factor.
Playing #14 - A decision needs to be made on this dogleg left par 4. A tee-shot carrying over the bunker with a draw (A) will get an extra 20-30 yards of roll but will leave an awkward second shot. A tee-shot played towards the right side (B) will leave a flatter lie, but a somewhat longer approach. The right side of the green slopes toward the left and the slope behind the green will put you in the hazard if you go over this green.
Playing #15 - ‘The Gauntlet’ begins with a long and very difficult par 3. There is a very deep bunker protecting the front of this two-tiered green. The tier separates the left and right sides of this shallow green. The left side slopes severely from back to front whereas the right side, although smaller, is relatively flat. Because the green is not very deep, a recovery shot played from behind this green could very easily run off the front and back down the fairway. Par is an excellent score on this hole.
There really is no easy pin on this green. They range from hard to really hard. Front-left pins probably fall in the 'hard' category, and are much more difficult than they appear. Shots missing right find the very deep front bunker. Anything not carrying onto the green will roll back down the false-front. And anything long enough to carry onto the green but pulled will find the left bunker. Only options: hit it perfect, or hit it long-right (any righties out there ever do that? I don't).
Playing #16 - The play on this long par 4 is just short of the right-hand fairway bunker. This will give you the best angle to a two-tiered green that is protected on the left side by another deep bunker. The lower tier slopes towards the front whereas the upper tier slopes slightly away from the player making an approach shot very difficult to stop.
Playing #17 - Even though this par 4 is one of the shortest on the course, don't let the yardage fool you. Your tee-shot needs to be left of the large tree on the right hand side of this fairway (A) and must be long enough to carry up the hill. Although this will leave a short approach, the shallowness of this green as well as the protecting ‘British Open’ style pot bunkers in front will force you to be very accurate with your wedge. This green has many slopes as it is very wide with three separate tiers.
Playing #18 - The finishing hole at Aldarra may be the toughest in the state. Both length and accuracy are required off the tee. There is a fairway bunker on the left side of this fairway catching any wayward shots struck to avoid the hazard that runs down the right side of this hole. Your lengthy second shot must traverse over a 30 yard-long hazard that crosses the fairway 100 yards short of the green. The green is well protecting on both the left and right sides by deep bunkers and the green itself slopes predominantly front-right in front and back-right towards the back.