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In an updated Timesland Dream 18, local golfers and readers have voted on their favorite area holes.
SAM OWENS | The Roanoke Times
Ole Monetery’s 16th hole is named “Valley of Death” on the club scorecard. It measures 259 yards from the blue tees.
SAM OWENS | The Roanoke Times
The lengthy par-3 No. 16 at Ole Monetery Golf Club in Roanoke emerged the winner as readers voted on approximately 75 nominations for the revamped Timesland Dream 18.
Courtesy Olde Mill Resort
The par-5 fifth hole at Olde Mill Resort also joins the Timesland Dream 18. The course, which opened in 1972, was designed by Ellis Maples and renovated by Dan Maples in 2010.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
In 2008, The Roanoke Times solicited a blue-ribbon panel of 15 golfers - some known for their playing proficiency, others known for their affinity of golf-course architecture - to select the area's top "Dream 18" holes.
When we recently decided to resurrect the list, it immediately became apparent that the "Dream 18" was down to "Dream 16." That's because two holes on the original list succumbed with the demise of Roanoke's Countryside Golf Club and The Homestead's Lower Cascades in Hot Springs.
Countryside's par-3 16th, No. 7 on the 2008 list, is gone. The Lower's par-4 third hole, No. 18 on the list, has checked out, too.
So where would The Roanoke Times go to resuscitate the "Dream 18?" The answer was as easy as a gimme putt. Go to the readers. They have all the answers, right?
Based on results of approximately 75 nominations submitted by readers the past few weeks, the two winners have made it to the house. Their scorecards have been totaled up, signed and attested.
Drum roll, please. The top-vote getter?
Try the longest par-3 hole in The Roanoke Times' coverage area, which includes all or part of 20 counties. Give it up to
No. 16 at Roanoke's Ole Monterey, which measures 249 yards from the white tees, 259 from the blue tee tips.
The other hole making the cut comes from Olde Mill Resort in Laurel Fork. The honoree there is the par-5, fifth hole, which stretches 520 yards from the whites and 575 from the blues, with a green guarded by water left and a gigantic rock wall on the right.
Ole Monterey No. 16
The name of this hole on the club scorecard is "Valley of Death.'' Obviously, golfers/readers are sadists.
On a brighter side, the aforementioned subsets adore breathtaking scenery.
"The most beautiful view in the valley,'' reader K.P. Wright said.
"One of the longest par-3s out there, the view is stunning,'' reader Jim Paxton noted.
Ole Monterey PGA pro Kelly Crovo, who has managed the northeast Roanoke public course the past nine years, concurred with the hole's backers. Standing high on a hilltop on the teebox, a golfer can see the towering Wells Fargo building and other parts of downtown from approximately 3 miles away.
"You can definitely see the Wells Fargo tower and you can see remnants of the [Mill Mountain] star,'' Crovo said. "The star is a little more prevalent on the 17th and 18th tees. I think the reason why everybody says 16 is because you have more out in front of you short prior to the mountains and the skyline. You're looking down 16 and you see [No.] 13, you see the higher grass inside the property, then you see [No.] 17 fairway and green and [No.] 12. You see a lot of green space that's underneath you."
Forget the greenery. Many golfers walk off the hole with red faces. While the hole doesn't play as long as the yardage says because it's all downhill, the postage-stamp sized green and a large grass bunker on the left side present problems. Twenty yards over the green is dead in the high grass.
"Put it this way, when we had the final round of the [Roanoke Valley] Hall of Fame men's tournament [June 9], it was the second-hardest hole,'' Crovo said. "The hardest shot in golf right now is long irons, which have been replaced by hybrids. Most golfers are either using a longish iron or one of these new utility clubs there. And outside of the driver, it's one of the hardest shots.
"I know Aaron Eckstein [of Salem] hit a 3-iron or a 4-iron there in the Hall of Fame. These young guys who are still bombing it out there can still get there with an iron. Old people like me, I'm bumping a driver or I'm careering a 3-wood, one of the two, to get there.
"I think it's an intimidating hole. I would say that most people would say give me a '3' and I will take my chances on the last two par-5s going birdie-birdie and I've done my round justice.
"What makes it so hard, I think, is the pressure of standing on the tee trying to hit that thing to a green that's so small and so far away. Then, in the back of your mind you know that it's not only the tee shot, but it's going to put pressure on your short game because in the back of your mind you know that you've got to get up and down for a par."
Leave your tee shot left of the green and you're basically done, Crovo said.
"The average golfer, if they hit it left I could give them 10 balls and I would be willing to bet any 10-handicappers and above that they wouldn't get up and down but maybe one time."
Olde Mill No. 5
Welcome to golf's answer to playing Black Jack here. Do you take a hit on 14? Or do you split your "7s'' and play for a double winner?
Smack your drive 260-270 yards straight down the fairway and a player must decide if they're going to try and get home in two, or lay up down a steep hill and try to wedge it close for birdie.
"Number 5 is that great risk-reward hole,'' said longtime Olde Mill general manager Hagan Giles. "If you want to hit a driver off the tee and you get it out there far enough you can take the chance to go for the green. Any hole that gives you that option is exciting.
"At the top of the hill, still in the flats, you're looking at 225 over the water. The winds shifts on you there. Once you're on top of that hill it's always in your face even though you don't feel it on the tee."
Olde Mill's fifth-year PGA pro Bo Goins grew up in Laurel Fork and started playing the course when he was 8.
"You start off with a driver it doesn't look like it's going to be anything much, just got those bunkers on the right side and the hill on the left,'' Goins said. "If you hit it short, it's a blind second shot down there. Once you pop over that hill it gets your attention with the water and the green and the big rock boulder on the right-hand side of the fairway. I've been behind it only once, I was directly behind that thing and the sorry thing had me going backwards. Nobody is moving that thing. I would say it's two tons, at least."
The hole is truly unique in almost every sense. Goins said he's about seen it all at No. 5. One day a player in his group hit his approach well right of the green, but the ball slammed off the sideboard rock wall and caromed straight into the hole for a double eagle-2. "He got a skin on that one,'' Goins said with a chuckle.
"It's definitely one of a kind. Ol' Ellis definitely did a good job on that one! He saw something else that nobody else did, that's for sure," Goins, referring to course designer Ellis Maples of the layout that opened in 1972.
Maples' son, Dan, renovated the layout in 2010. Maples' added touch on No. 5 was building a 4-foot-high stone wall that surrounds the edge of the green from the water.
"He got all the stone from the Olde Mill property,'' Giles noted. "It really set off it off as a gorgeous hole. It's always been a great test of golf, but now it's gorgeous with that rock work in front of the green. I really makes it stand out in people's mind."
Plus, there's local history on the hole. In the river bottom just before approaching the green on the right is the old gristmill which the course was named after. Local folks ground their corn there from the early 1900s to the 1960s, Giles said.
The readers loved the hole enough to give the course located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Carroll County a second hole in the Dream 18 lineup. The other is the picturesque par-4 10th in which players tee off from an elevated teebox to a peninsula-shaped fairway with water bordering each side.
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