Hole #17 “Nose”
437 Yards, 395 Yards, 390/242 Yards, Par 4
Charles Banks in 1925 “The play from the tee is over the last of the six water fairways at the far side of which is a lift of 20 feet from the water’s surface. The carry to the top of the lift opens up the hole. The ground from the edge of the left slopes down to the green at a good angle so that a good roll may be expected. The green is composed of three plateaus with an opening at the back between two of them and upon the low one. The approach to the green on the left is guarded by a mound flanked with bunkers, one on the left, one at the right, both visible from the playing ground fro the second shot and a third behind the knoll next to the green which is hidden from the player making the second shot. This hazard is known as the Principal’s Nose and originates on the St. Andrews course. The approach on the right is smooth but not broad and travel that way may present a putting hazard unless the pin is on the low plateau.”
Originally, all three tees were found where the present long tees are located, but subsequently, the regular tees were moved to the front edge of the pond, and the new short tees were built at the top of the hill tucked into the right corner. Banks noted a “lift of 20 feet above the water’s surface” across the pond from the regular and long tees, but he neglected to warn that this lift was actually an exposed rock ledge that rejected low drives back into the swamp. During the drought of 1965, the swamp was converted into a pond and the ledge became a steep hillside by pushing the swamp muck up against the ledge.
Nonetheless, the drive across the pond requires height and distance to clear the top of the hill and gain the fairway, which then slopes gently down towards the green. Scott Ramsay has cut back the native grasses on either side to widen the fairway in its landing area, but drives to the left and right can find rough, fescue, and the woods. The three bunkers around the “Principal’s Nose” have all been restored, as well as the bunker along the entire right side of the green. Ramsay has extended the fairway around the Principal’s Nose and is keeping the grass on the Nose cut short.
The green itself is typically expansive and tiered both to the left and in the back right, requiring an accurate approach shot to avoid a treacherous putt. In 2006, when Rees Jones came to tour the course for the first time in several years, this was the green he most wanted to see again, to determine if it was as difficult as he remembered. (It was!)