Every time a golfer steps up to the tee of a stunning hole at a magnificent golf course for the first time, his or her brain circuitry comes instantly alive.

The first reaction goes straight to the more artistic right brain: “Now that is one drop-dead gorgeous golf hole!”

Then, with near-light speed, the more logical left brain revs up: “OK, let’s figure out how to play this beauty…”

GolfAnd so another day of joyous play begins, particularly when it’s enjoyed on either the Ocean North or Ocean South courses at The Resort at Pelican Hill.® Both of these famous Tom Fazio-designed layouts offer golfers of all abilities some of the most enticing risk-reward opportunities anywhere, says Glenn Deck, the PGA Director of Instruction at the Resort. Whether you’re a touring pro or a less-skilled weekender, all you need is a bit of derring-do, a little local knowledge and both courses can be yours for the taking.

Come along with Deck on a short tour of four of the most spectacular, and sometimes exacting, holes at the Resort and let your imagination—and both sides of your brain—luxuriate in the possibilities.

Ocean South Course, 5th Hole, Par 4

There are five tee boxes on every hole, placed to accommodate all abilities, but the most dramatic by far on this shorter-than-it-looks par 4 is the box marked by the black tee markers—the farthest back, 359 yards from the pin and high up on a bluff. The tee shot must carry roughly 180 yards over a picturesque canyon.

“A player who draws the ball has to aim at it. It’s a 
matter of confidence and believing in your shot.”
Glenn Deck

“Up on these bluffs, you’ve got to make a decision depending on how far you hit a ball,” says Deck. “You can aim at the bunkers on the left side of the fairway, but long or even average hitters might hit into those bunkers. And everything flows left to right, and there’s a bunker on the right that can be intimidating. A player who draws the ball has to aim at it. It’s a matter of confidence and believing in your shot.”

A safe tee shot for an average hitter: Aim at the left bunkers, but hit a 3-wood. You shouldn’t hit the bunkers and the slope of the fairway will give you extra roll. Long ball hitters can aim for the right-hand bunker, which snakes down most of the right side of the fairway, and give it a rip.

“Your approach shot is going to go a bit left to right—the ball’s below your feet a bit,” says Deck. “The left side of the green has a big opening, so if you want to play safe, you can always go in that direction.”

Ocean South, 18th hole
Ocean South, 18th hole
Ocean South Course, 18th Hole, Par 4

One of the most breathtaking holes in all of golf, this 453-yard masterpiece obliges you to hit your tee shot across a yawning coastal scrub-filled canyon—the carry from the back tees is 180 yards—and then an approach shot essentially across the same canyon. It looks a bit intimidating, but…

“This is by far the most challenging and exciting hole we have at Pelican Hill,” says Deck. “First, it’s important to find the fairway after carrying the canyon off the tee. And if a player wants to take it left to cut off more of the fairway and make the hole play shorter, they would have to carry more of the fairway bunker on the left. This hole’s laid out so that if you draw the golf ball, you can hit right toward the right-side fairway bunker in the distance.”

Again, risk-reward: the farther left you hit your tee shot, the more fairway you’ll shave off for your approach. But you have to carry more and more of the canyon.

“For the average golfer,” says Deck, “a five is a really great score on this exciting finishing hole. Get a par and you can really go and celebrate.”

But with great effort comes great beauty.

“One of the things I really love about #18 South is just sitting on the tee looking at the incredible vista all around the tee. You can see all the way down the coast and experience the greatest sunsets over the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.”

Ocean North, 17th hole
Ocean North Course, 17th Hole, Par 5

This is a substantial and daunting 558 yards worth of stunning beauty that long, accurate hitters can feast on but that mere mortals must play with great care.

“This is definitely one of the great risk-reward holes we have out here,” says Deck. “If you take your tee shot down the left-hand side, the hillside stops the ball sooner and eliminates a potential long drive. If you 
take it down the right-hand side, a long hitter can go for the green in two, but there is a bunker and a lake on the right, which will come into play. There’s a nice open fairway if you want to make it a 3-shot hole into the green, so if you want to be aggressive, get close to the fairway bunker on the right.”

“You’ve really got to know how far you can hit it.”

“Your next shot is really challenging and you have to think about it. There’s a canyon that kind of cuts in, so if you want to get closer to the green you have to go over that canyon and you’ve got bunkers in the far distance both on the right and the left. So it requires a precise second shot also to set up a short approach into the green. If you go left and make your third shot longer, you can take that canyon out of play. You’ve really got to know how far you can hit it. The lone tree standing at the left of the green,” he says, “makes an ideal target for longer hitters if they were attempting to fly the green on their second shot and get a shot at an eagle 3.”

Actually, says Deck, for the average golfer who can play it accurately down the left-hand side, “it’s not a super challenging hole, but he’s got to remember that there’s danger everywhere if he happens to stray off line.”

Ocean North Course, 18th Hole, Par 4

A spectacular 430-yard finishing hole, where the advice of a player’s forecaddie can be quite valuable.

“This one’s a lot of fun and it’s got some challenge to it,” says Deck. “You see the green well below the level of the upper fairway and you think, ‘How am I going to get to it?’ Fazio created an illusion that the green is further than it appears and it pokes out from the arroyo between the fairway and the sand bunkers in front. 
It looks really hard, but it’s not that difficult when you break it down.”

“…the background, the hillsides, the greenery. It’s spectacular, isn’t it?”

You’ll want your tee shot to clear a stand of coastal scrub and land as close to the center of the fairway as possible, he says, in order to avoid a bunker on the right (the fairway slopes left to right). Very big hitters can go down the right-hand side and shave distance, but they’re flirting with the fairway bunker and a canyon, part of which can’t be seen from the tee.

The approach over the canyon to a sheltered green, heavily bunkered on the front, is “everybody’s favorite shot,” says Deck. “You normally take off about a half club for elevation change into this green. Look at the bunkering in front and the canyons down below—just the beauty of the golf shot—the background, the hillsides, the greenery. It’s spectacular, isn’t it? And when you hit a good shot here it seems like the ball’s up in the air forever. You get so excited about it landing on the green.”

Now you have a chance for a birdie and you can tell your friends about this great hole.

Reservations for Golf Academy Schools may be arranged with Glenn Deck at 949.467.5810. For complete details and dates, please visit pelicanhill.com/golf. For tee times, please call 877.624.6035.


The Resort at Pelican Hill VISIT PELICAN HILL