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Hole #9 "Biarritz"

Hole #9 “Biarritz”

213 yards, 196 yards, 166/146 yards, Par 3

Charles Banks in 1925This hole has its original on the Biarritz course at the famous watering hole in France of the same name… There is a 163 yard carry from the back tee. The green proper is behind a deep trench in the approach. The approach is about the same size as the green itself and is bunkered heavily on both right and left with water jutting in on the right front. The fairway is the lake… The green is heavily battered at the back and right and the whole psychology of the hole is to let out to the limit… Correct play for this green is to carry to the near edge of the groove or trench and come up on the green with a roll. The disappearance and reappearance of the ball in the groove adds to the interest of the play.”

Playing again from an elevated tee, the golfer faces another water carry to an enormous two-tiered green, some sixty-four yards deep. What is most interesting in Banks’ 1925 description is that originally the “green proper” was only beyond the deep “groove,” and he considered the flat landing after the water and before the groove to be an “approach” area. It has now been incorporated as the front half of the green, protected on right and left by bunkers.

Club selection and shot height depend entirely on pin location. When the pin is in the front, you need a high soft shot to hold the front part of the green, which is fairly level. When the pin is in the back, you can hit a lower trajectory that will land in the front and run through the swale up on to the back green. Although that part of the green is angled right to left, you are still often left with a very fast side hill putt.

The original short tees were set with the regular tees on the high ground. Only later were two forward tee boxes created near the base of the tee and at the front edge of Greist Pond. Ramsay’s recent removal of trees behind the tee as well as behind and to the right and left of the green has greatly improved turf conditions in both areas.

This hole is dedicated to Widdy Neale, whose name is also honored as the “nineteenth” hole in the Clubhouse. On the regular tee is a bench dedicated to Dr. Hugh Dwyer, who played on the same high school golf team as Tom Watson’s father in Kansas City. He graduated from Northwestern School of Medicine and did his residency at Yale, later working as a physician assigned to care for atomic scientists in World War II at Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Hanford. Dwyer returned to New Haven and was an avid member of the course,always walking and carrying a single-digit handicap. Late in his life, his left arm was amputated to remove a cancer, but he continued to play and continued to carry his bag; his handicap rose only to twelve! As far as we know, he is the only one-armed golfer ever to have a hole-in-one on the ninth hole, which he achieved in an Eli Club tournament in 1985. As he requested, Dr. Dwyer’s ashes were spread on the course.


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