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Published: Sunday, 7/3/2005

Highland Meadows has bevy of hide-and-seek holes

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Golfers climb the hill after hitting their tee shots at Farr Classic's No. 11 hole at Highland Meadows. From the tee, the landing area is out of view. Golfers climb the hill after hitting their tee shots at Farr Classic's No. 11 hole at Highland Meadows. From the tee, the landing area is out of view.
SCHUKAR / BLADE Enlarge

Imagine bowling without being able to see the pins.

Or, try serving a tennis ball without being able to see the court on the other side of the net.

Golf is as much a test of what you can t see as what you can, and there are few places where this is more the case than Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, the site of this week s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

Blind shots, they re called, where you can t see the fairway landing area from the tee or the green from the fairway.

The 80-year-old Meadows was Harold Weber s design gem. He was Toledo s first great amateur golfer and a founding member of Inverness Club, where he watched closely as the legendary Donald Ross renovated and added to the existing course in 1917-18.

There is much similarity between Inverness and Highland Meadows in some of the greens design with false fronts, shaved edges and subtle run-offs.

Ross also liked the occasional blind shot, such as the tee shot at Inverness 10th hole and the approach shot to his classic raised green at No. 7, one of the country s very best par 4s.

However, course changes at Inverness have eliminated some of Ross other blind alleys. The old No. 8, which no longer exists, was a risk-and-reward par 4, just 316 yards long, where big hitters of the era could try a blind shot over a rugged valley in an attempt to drive the green. The 17th hole used to feature a blind downhill approach shot until architect Arthur Hills, during a renovation prior to the 2003 U.S. Senior Open, shifted the fairway to the right and shaved the top of the hill descending to the green that opened up a sweeping view of the putting surface.

Weber watched Ross at work, often walking the course with the master designer during his on-site visits, and was surely influenced by his use of blind shots.

Weber, a four-time Ohio Amateur champion, later became a course architect and one of the earliest, and certainly the best, of his known efforts was the Meadows, which opened in 1925.

There, he became the master of the blind shot. No fewer than seven holes feature such shots, four of them from the tee box and three on approaches to greens.

There are more of them here, I think, than you ll find at most courses, said assistant pro Mark Bixler.

Highland Meadows members, of course, hardly even notice them.

You really don t think about it, said Dean Myers, who first joined the club in the late 1970s. There are certain trees you use as markers to line up with and then you hit to certain areas. But I imagine somebody new coming in who hasn t experienced it much would find those shots pretty tough. I m sure the lady pros have some trouble getting lined up right when they first get here.

Indeed, when rookies or first-time competitors arrive at the Meadows, the blind shots are something they always talk about.

That s when practice rounds and caddie help is really important, Bixler said.

Weber started the Meadows with two blind tee shots right off the bat. Remember, though, that the Farr Classic reverses the nines for tournament play, so our list of blind shots will go in the order the LPGA pros will play them.

  • No. 3: After two finesse tee shots to start the front nine, the ladies can let it fly here, but they won t see the ball land as the hole rises immediately with the fairway shading to the right around a grove of big trees.

  • No. 5: Golfers can see the green from 160 yards and in, with the top of the flag visible from 170 yards out. So this is really a problem only in the event of a poor drive, since the ladies play the hole at 392 yards.

  • No. 9: During the other 51 weeks a year, this is the Meadows wonderful finishing hole where the top of the flag stick on a sharply elevated green is all that s visible from the fairway. Bleachers behind the green actually give the pros a depth-perception advantage that members don t enjoy. Hitting to a certain yardage is paramount.

  • No. 10: A blind tee shot into the valley fairway is well defined by trees. There are high pines left and right and the golfers will try to split them.

  • No. 11: The fairway is well defined by a mowed area that follows up the high bank from a recessed tee. The shot is complicated by out-of-bounds to the right.

  • No. 16: Outside the 150-yard marker all the golfers will see is a tall, extended flag stick and sand traps behind the green. From 175 yards out, it s a completely blind shot. The ladies play the hole at 400 yards, so a tee shot of at least 225 yards is needed to get a peek at the top of the flag.

  • No. 17: It s a par-5 birdie hole, providing you smartly place your blind, uphill, right-to-left tee shot.

    Farr Classic director Judd Silverman won two district match play titles, one as a junior and another as an adult, at nearby Sylvania Country Club, which also features a bounty of blind shots.

    I think anybody would rather be able to see the target and see where you want to land, he said. But good players, especially professionals, have such command of their shots and are so good with accuracy and playing to a distance that blind shots shouldn t bother them too much.



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