Bellerive Country Club is playing host to the games top golfers over the age of 50 this week as the 2013 Senior PGA Championship Presented by KitchenAid makes it way to St. Louis. Bellerive CC becomes only the third course to host all four of the traveling major championships (U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship). The other two courses? Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., also the site of the 2013 PGA Championship; and Canterbury Golf Club, outside of Cleveland.
Play gets underway on Thursday and with rain anticipated in the St. Louis area early in the week, being able to hit the golf ball a long way could play a more prominent role in determining the 2013 Senior PGA Champion.
Bellerive Country Club is definitely a “big boy” golf course. Tee to green players who aren’t able to drive the golf ball for distance will be exposed. Even the best long iron hitters in the field will struggle to position their golf ball consistently in the proper zone on the enormous greens at Bellerive.
Here are the “big” par 4’s that will challenge the players this week –
Hole #5 – 468 yards
This is one of the classic Trent Jones par 4’s. Any kind of par will be much appreciated here, with the rare birdie chance coming when the hole is cut on the left side of the massive green. All tee shots kick to the right, toward an always thick and healthy rough. Unfortunately, the left rough is even harder to negotiate. My advice is to get the ball in the fairway under any circumstances.
Hole #9 – 435 yards
You can take your pick between hole Nos 5, 10 and 15 as the toughest of the par 4’s at Bellerive, but this hole may yield as many bogeys as the big boys. At “only” 435 yards, it’s not the length that makes this hole so challenging. The classic uphill approach to the most complicated green on the course makes it impossible to gauge the right distance to be hole high. If the hole is not cut in the front bowl, do not plan on seeing many birdies here. But, you may see some of most interesting up-and-down attempts or lag putts in the game of golf.
Hole #10 – 477 yards
As in past Championships, the 10th will be played as a par 4, instead of the usual par 5 the members play. At 477 yards, the 10th can be the toughest par 4 on the course. The player must hit the fairway here to reach the green with his second shot, seeing how the rough to the right and bunker to the left are unforgiving. A wide, but shallow green makes par a good start to the challenging back nine.
Hole #15 – 449 yards
A perfect definition of a Jones par 4, the 15th is a tough par, but a reasonable bogey. Quite long at 449 yards and usually into the prevailing southerly wind, a good tee shot gives the player a chance to hit a mid-to-long iron into this wide target. However, miss short-right or over this shallow green and you will find yourself with a most difficult up and down from the bunkers. The steep right-to-left slope makes this a good spot to watch the crafty short gamers.
Hole #18 – 456 yards
The classic finishing hole. Our 18th gives very little, especially when trying to get to the house when protecting a good round or one-shot lead. Again, as stated throughout, getting the tee shot in the fairway is of the utmost importance — otherwise this may be the hardest green to hit on the course. There are no easy places on the green to score; they just get tougher when the hole is back-right. The 18th sets up for good theater as the leaders come down the stretch on Sunday.