We asked the acclaimed sports and golf writer, Grant Winter to give us a hole by hole breakdown in his own words of the “new” Firethorn! Grant has a fabulous writing skill and really knows how to keep it real! We thank him for his input and always look forward to his next visit.
FIRETHORN HOLE-BY-HOLE (Distances from the men’s club tees)
A word of advice: Before you start your round practise some long putts (very long ones!) because these greens are unusually large and it’s not uncommon to have a mammoth 80-footer for birdie (or par, or bogey or – God help you – even worse).
No.1 372m par 4: Hotel and river right, trees and water left. So – it’s quite simple – just hit it straight. Of course there is a proviso: you also have to clear the river with your drive.
No.2 476m par-5: A spectacular brand new par-5 flanked on the right by the river all the way to the green. Don’t try and be Bubba Watson and get home in two. Just play three or four safe shots down the middle and enjoy the ride.
No.3 368m par-4: A dog-leg left and the golden rule is to avoid the nasty bunkers left, right and around the green. Skilfully thread your way past them.
No.4 490m par-5: Dead straight and slightly downhill. Play sensibly and even the higher handicap players can hope for a par.
No.5 158m par-3: This new hole is set up to favour a nice little draw hit between the bunkers surrounding the green. If you can’t draw the ball, well, think Lee Trevino and hit a high fade that stops quickly.
No.6 344 par-4: Gosh, are we in America? This superb new hole could easily be part of of a top course on the PGA Tour. So, imagine you’re Jordan Spieth and rip one down the middle, before wedging in and making birdie!
No.7 380m par 4: Be very afraid, or else just be sensible and play safe. The ever-present river is too close for comfort to try anything silly.
No.8 170m par-3: You hit over the river to a green with bunkers left and right. Huge green where – seriously – you could face an 80-foot putt!
No.9 318m par-4: Superbly revamped short par-4 where the sloping green is skilfully framed with mounds created by internationally renowned shaper Alex Ligowski. Really good on the eye.
No.10 394m par-4: Like the old tenth, a long, tough hole although the entrance to the green for the approach is now much wider than before which is a big improvement.
No.11 380m par-4: Not unlike the old 11th, but the bunkering (keep out of these traps!) is greatly enhanced.
No.12 494m par-5: Firethorn’s old 12th used to have a bunker right up against the front of the green, requiring a Rory McIlroy approach to set up a birdie. Now that trap has been removed and a new one placed about 60m short of the putting surface. With a bail out area, it’s now a fairer hole.
No.13 376m par-4: Like No 12, the entrance to the green is far more player-friendly than before with an inviting approach as there is a much wider gap between greenside bunkers left and right.
No.14 488m par-5: Another brand new hole, with the green surrounded on three sides by sand. Hit a Lee-Anne Pace approach with a little draw and you’re in the pound seats.
No.15 164m par-3: Brand new par-3 aesthetically framed at the back by indigenous bush. Greenside bunkers will catch the unwary but the entrance to the green is a generous one.
No.16 412m par-4: Much like the old demanding 16th but the dam on the left and the green and its surrounds have been given an elegant makeover.
No.17 192m par-3: Another fine remodel of the old 17th. At 204m off the tips it’s a not-so-little, absolute beauty.
No.18 445m par-4: Stroke 1 on the card and it’s grip-it-and-rip-it time. The old par-5 is now an extremely long par-4. Making the green in two is a victory in itself. Then two-putting for par at the enormous green which is full of slope and surrounded by spectator-friendly mounds immediately calls for a pat-on-the-back double at the convivial 19th. Out 3076m. In 3345m. Total 6421m. Course designer Sean Quinn who works for Jack Nicklaus Design. Construction work by Golf Data.