The Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola will celebrate 40 years of the LPGA Tour in Portland, Ore. when the event tees off Friday, August 19 on the Ghost Creek Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore. The picturesque and challenging Robert Cupp-designed Ghost Creek Course will play host to the LPGA for the third consecutive year.
Two main changes will be made to the course set-up this year. The par-5 8th hole will be moved back a tee, stretching the hole from 507 to 566 yards. The 8th hole ranked the easiest at the 2010 Safeway Classic, yielding a hole-score average of 4.666. The par-4 9th hole, which ranked the 15th easiest in 2010 and the easiest in 2009, will change from a 474-yard par-5 into a 375-yard par-4.
The par-4 18th proved the most difficult hole at both the 2009 and 2010 Safeway Classics, yielding a 4.359 and 4.407 hole-score average respectively. Closely trailing 18 in degree-of-difficulty was the par-3 11th which ranked second hardest in both years.
Here is a hole-by-hole breakdown of what the players will face in the 40th edition of the championship.
1. PAR 4 | 399 YDS
Ghost Creek starts tough with a bigger-than-normal hole, a par-4 of near maximum length with a large green that is difficult to hit because it is raised. Over the back would make for a poor start. The hollow behind the green is six-feet deep in places.
2. PAR 4 | 398 YDS
The second requires a good tee shot because it is slightly uphill and there is a succession of trees both right and left. It is difficult to judge distance to the green because the green is a few feet higher than the player. It looks smaller than it really is.
3. PAR 3 | 169 YDS
Three has some surprises because of the elevation change and the subtleties around the green are difficult to read from the elevated tee. Club selection is critical.
4. PAR 5 | 522 YDS
Four is a definite birdie possibility if you position the drive and then don’t get too greedy with the second shot. It is not what it appears. The fairway is a lot wider than it looks, and it is a good idea to get within a sand wedge for your third, because the green plays like three different putting surfaces. If you’re going to birdie here, it will be because you played smart. Trying to overwhelm the hole may give you a big number because there is plenty of trouble left of the green.
5. PAR 3 | 184 YDS
Ghost Creek jumps up to bite at five, a big par-3. The length dictates a long iron and the green is immensely wide, making it possible to have a 120-foot putt.
6. PAR 4 | 371 YDS
Six is a bit of a breather, though a little nerve-wracking given the creek and the woods. A too-safe tee shot makes the shot into the green more precarious. Missing to the left puts you 30 feet below the green. Missing right is in the creek. Play up to the bunkers in the fairway with whatever club you need to get close. From there it’s just a wedge.
7. PAR 4 | 409 YDS
The tee shot at seven should turn a little left to catch the slope, and remember the bunkers at the green are “fore bunkers.” They are well short of the green and the purpose is to diffuse the perception of distance to the green. Since the bunker blinds the distance to the front collar, the tendency is to come up a little short. No matter what your yardage chart says, the tendency will be to hit it softer. This curious Robert Cupp feature might make you think a little harder.
8. PAR 5 | 566 YDS
Eight is a textbook par-5. Put it by the bunker on the tee shot and the view to the green is complete. You will know what to do from there, but remember the green is the smallest on the course and looks a little farther than it is. There is plenty of trouble at the green, so the best chance at birdie is to wedge it close enough to one-putt. Because of the green size, getting on in two is not a high-percentage shot, and the hollows and bunkers at the green are tough enough to keep you from making birdie.
9. PAR 4 | 375 YDS
With the hole changing from a par-5 to a par-4 this year, nine could prove the most difficult hole on the entire property. The bunkers tell you the best angle to the green is from the left side of the fairway, unless you enjoy hitting a long iron or a fairway wood to a target with water left and slightly behind which is what you will face from the right side. From the left, the green is backed by dry land. The putting surface is somewhat forgiving with space to the right of the green.
10. PAR 5 | 495 YDS
Ten typically plays with the prevailing wind, so a good tee shot may leave you only with a medium long iron into the green for a second. While the creek winds its way across the fairway, it is not really in play. There is a little trouble around the green, but the tenth is definitely a birdie chance.
11. PAR 3 | 175 YDS
Eleven can be disastrous with the creek. It seems to break up the perception of length because it is slightly uphill. Beware. Club selection is everything, especially if the hole is back right. Much like #12 on Witch Hollow and that other #12 at Augusta, getting on the stick when the hole is back left takes some courage and talent.
12. PAR 4 | 414 YDS
Twelve shows you the line off the tee, but the tendency is to try to cut the corner which is not a high-percentage shot. A little drifter down by the bunkers on the left side of the fairway works well. The green has a nose that juts into the putting surface from the left and separates the back flagstick. If you don’t hit it well off the tee and the flagstick is in the back you might be better advised to just play to the middle of the green and take four. When the hole is in the back, the best approach is from as close to the green as possible. In other words, grip it and rip it, or just play for par.
13. PAR 4 | 386 YDS
Thirteen can give up some shots, but don’t get it off line on the tee shot or you’ll find yourself hitting some trick shots to get on. If the flagstick is back, it’s best not to be too bold, because over the back is a likely bogey. The green falls away from the player, making it a difficult green to hold.
14. PAR 3 | 205 YDS
Fourteen is the first in a stretch of final holes that were specifically designed for championship use. The 14th is a long, downhill par-3 that plays tough and is followed by three holes where scores can go in either direction depending on a player’s level of courage or degree of desperation.
15. PAR 5 | 540 YDS
Fifteen can yield some birdies and your chances are enhanced if you play up around the right fairway bunker on the second shot. This will put you in position to play into the slope of the green with a short iron. The green is not complicated, making this hole a likely birdie opportunity.
16. PAR 3 | 139 YDS
Sixteen is intended to be a devilish par-3 which entices you to play directly at the flagstick. But that might be just a little too dangerous, especially if the wind is blowing. Over the back here is a sure bogey and the shot plays downhill, so over-clubbing is a real possibility.
17. PAR 4 | 334 YDS
Seventeen is perfectly placed for championship use. Those who play safe may criticize the hole, commenting that it is too short. Those players will probably make a par. If you want to make three, you need to go after it with a driver. Players walk away from 17 either completely pumped or totally devastated.
18. PAR 4 | 431 YDS
On the tee at 18, all you have to do is hit a perfect drive about four miles, followed by a long iron into the prevailing wind with water on the right side of the green, just to get on the big dance floor with a hope for a par. As a matter of fact, some players choose to be more aggressive on 17, just to make up for what they might do on 18.
Topics: Safeway Classic