Hole #1 “Eli”
410 yards, 383 yards, 350 yards, par 4
Charles Banks in 1925:
“The play of the long and the bold may hug the woods to the right with increased water carry but shorter total distance to the hole and an easier second. The greens at Yale are so huge there can easily be two different styles of greens on the same hole. The green is a huge double green of the Road Hole type on the right and a punchbowl on the left set into a bit of a hollow bunkered left and right. The play to the left half of the green is over a deep bunker about the front and left side of the green, requiring a lofted ball. The play to the right of the green is a direct shot to the high shoulder of the approach with a kick in to the green. The right half of the green has a deep bunker all along the right side but a clear approach permitting a run up. It is evident that the play of the second shot is considerably dependent upon the placing of the first shot.”
The first drive at Yale is certainly intimidating, standing on the elevated tees and looking over the corner of Griest Pond at the severe upslope that begins the fairway. You need a long drive to carry the water and the fairway upslope in order to avoid a blind second shot. A bunker guards the landing area’s left side, and trees line both sides of the fairway, obstructing off-center second shots to the two-tiered green. Scott Ramsey has widened the undulating fairway and extended it around the left front bunker all the way to the left side of the green. The widened fairway brings into play the effect of balls repelling off the sloping fairway, increasing the difficulty of the hole.
The pin positions will determine the flight of your approach shot. The left side of this large green is a bowl protected in front by a deep bunker. The higher, more open right side is protected by two ten-foot bunkers along the right side. In both cases, the bottom of the pin is hidden from the fairway, which makes the second shot deceptively long and causes many shots to fall short.
The flagpole on the first tee was donated by Dr. Allan Brandt, who graduated from the Yale School of Medicine in 1951 and who practiced medicine in Milford for 40 years. At the base of the flagpole is a bench dedicated to Insoo Hwang. As president of the student body of Seoul University following the Korean War he had served as tour guide for Senate Thomas Dodd, then chairman of the Armed Services Committee. The Senator later sponsored Insoo’s immigration, and he taught judo and Taekwon-do at Yale for more than two decades. He was a strong and enthusiastic golfer. The donor, Higab Moon was Insoo’s childhood friend and later mayor of their hometown, Taegu. They played golf together many times, when Higab was an exchange student at Yale. On the left side of the tee is a plaque acknowledging William Beinecke’s gift of the first automatic in-ground watering
system in 1968. Movie footage taken at the tee box during the first Connecticut Open tournament held at the Yale Golf Course in 1931 shows two large bunkers just before the beginning of the fairway on the right above Griest Pond. They do not appear in the construction or in any subsequent photographs.