LedgeStone Golf Club
12th hole / 398 Yards / Par-4
Branson West, Missouri
Architect: Thomas E. Clark (1994)
Finding mid-length par-4’s capable in holding the interest of both low and higher handicap players is no easy task. However, the 12th at LedgeStone is a superlative hole offering a wide range of strategies for all types of golfers to contemplate.
The hole commences from an elevated tee. As you stand and look out over the fairway below — you see a solitary fairway bunker on the right side. Strong players may consider driving over it — the carry is roughly 270 yards but plays a bit shorter because of the elevation drop. The main issue with such a play is that if successfully carried the ball will likely scamper in any number of directions — many of them not favorable.
Even if one’s aggressive play remains on the fairway you then encounter a completely blind approach to a green that’s appreciably elevated.
The smart play for many will be to play towards an area of fairway just left and short of the fairway bunker. From this position you can attain a relatively level lie for the approach. The distance will range anywhere from 130-150 yards depending on how close you wish to play before the fairway drops off as previously mentioned. What’s also crucial is avoiding going too far left. At that point one’s ball can be blocked out by trees to that side.
Proper club selection starting at the tee is super crucial. Wind can be especially unpredictable when starting from such an elevated area of land too.
The approach shot is also one requiring proper execution. The green is set on a slight diagonal and the front right portion is narrower than the rest of the putting surface. Two bunkers guard the front area of the green – with one behind the target for those taking too much club. When the pin is placed to the extreme front left area it takes a finely played approach to achieve the proper distance and have plenty of stopping power. The slightest pulled shot left to such a pin placement will have you scrambling to escape with no less than bogey as the fall-off to that side is quite severe.
The putting surface is contoured but not excessively so opportunities to leave the green with a smile on your face is clearly possible.
Appropriately named “Sidewinder” because of the terrain’s impact both visually and strategically, the 12th is a golf chess match hole. One needs to accentuate positioning over sheer power. Ledgestone is rated among the best available courses one can play in the Show Me State and this hole certainly does.
In this day and age when longer and longer holes are the norm it’s certainly refreshing to see a hole still resonating with such enduring characteristics centered around prudent thinking and sound execution.
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