Every Hole at Cypress Point

News

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[peaceful piano music]

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[Jim] Cypress Point,

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on California’s Monterey Peninsula, is viewed by many

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as the most beautiful golf course in the world.

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It’s craggy shoreline, bold architecture, and daring nature

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combine to present an experience in golf that’s unmatched.

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It breaks all the rules,

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including back to back par 5s and back to back par 3s

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but Alister MacKenzie’s masterpiece

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is always top three on Golf Digest’s ranking

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of America’s Hundred Greatest Golf Courses.

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Former USGA President Sandy Tatum called it

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The Sistine Chapel of golf.

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It’s beauty and beast, majestic and testing.

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This is no relic overtaken by modern technology.

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It’s 18 holes feature a number of heroic carries

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and alternate routes, making finesse still matter,

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course management richly rewarded.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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Welcome to Every Hole at Cypress Point.

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The opening tee shot plays over 17 Mile Drive,

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though it’s hidden from view

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by a tall hedge screening the road.

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Clusters of cypress trees pinch the fairway right and left,

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serving as aerial hazards.

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Two bunkers on the left about 280 off the back tee

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suggest that MacKenzie anticipated the future.

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Beyond the perched green are grand, towering sand dunes

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that stretch hundreds of yards to nearby Spyglass Hill.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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The second hole is the longest on the course,

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a slight dogleg left over a stretch of waste areas

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that mark the target line on the uphill tee shot.

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Far down the fairway lies a huge bunker on the right,

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eating into the fairway,

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counterbalanced by a smaller one left.

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These are carry bunkers,

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a feature MacKenzie repeats throughout the course.

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The green is long, slender, and sloping from back to front.

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Don’t go long or a par could be hard fought.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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The third is a par three featuring

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a beautiful green complex with scattered bunkers,

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some well short of the putting surface,

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painstakingly restored nearly 20 years ago

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by longtime superintendent Jeff Markow.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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From the tee, the fourth looks like a sea of bunkers

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but the fairway is quite generous,

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in a dense forest of Monterey Pines.

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Though the spectacular bunkers on the left can be carried,

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those farther down on the right can come into play

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on the tee shots for the bigger hitters.

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The green is considered treacherous.

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You must keep your approach below the hole

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or risk slipping your first putt off the green.

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The late cartoonist Hank Ketcham, a longtime Cypress member,

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said, It’s like putting in a bathtub.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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The first of consecutive par fives, the 493 yard fifth,

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can be reached in two by some low handicap players

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courageous enough to challenge

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the bunker complex 280 yards from the tee.

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The fairway dips and crests and tilts

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from tee to two-tiered green

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and tall Monterey pines line the hole.

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For the average golfer, it’s a three shot game of chess,

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with each play more demanding that the last.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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About 30 yards longer than the fifth

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and playing in a different direction, the sixth doglegs left

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with a massive bunker at the turn

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and several more along the left

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to catch shots pulled off sloping fairway lies.

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The green sits at the base of yet another sand dune

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that dominates the landscape.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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Atop the dune seen on hole six is the seventh tee,

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elevated above a valley.

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The green, restored to it’s original shape

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by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw,

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is fronted by a diagonal string of bunkers

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and backed by more exposed hillsides of sand.

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The seventh provides the transition

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from pastoral parkland into genuine linksland.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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The eighth is the first of consecutive holes

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that many consider the two most interesting

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short par fours in the world.

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Eight is a sharp dogleg right,

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climbing up a mountain slope of sand.

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The drive is blind, whether playing straightaway

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with something less than a driver or cutting the corner.

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The well-guarded hilltop green, with four distinct levels,

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must be carried on the fly.

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Listen to your caddy who might tell you

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to aim your putt 90 degrees offline.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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The ascent to the eighth green

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is followed by a hole that plunges downhill.

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Pause for a moment here

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and look around at the beauty of nature.

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At least eight holes can be seen from this vantage point.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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This par four is reachable from the tee

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with a long, bold drive

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but if one plays an iron or hybrid safe

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to the ribbon fairway, the ball must be positioned

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to avoid sand left and right.

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The second is then uphill to a shelf green

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that’s tricky to hole because

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of it’s diagonal configuration and tumbling character.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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Ten is the fourth and final par five on the course.

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It’s also the shortest.

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It begins from an elevated tee

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and it seems like it’s going to be easily reachable in two

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but the fairway is pinched by two glorious bunkers,

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one 280 yards off the tee, the other less than

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a hundred yards off the green,

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and a tiny putting surface is ringed

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by a series of deep bunkers.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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Parallel to the tenth but in the opposite direction

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and often playing into the prevailing wind,

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11 might be the most difficult par four on the course,

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with trees right and left

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and the landing area stopped by two linear bunkers

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in the center of the fairway.

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The second shot might well be a long iron or hybrid

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to an oval green, squeezed by three more bunkers.

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The massive dune containing the ninth green

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provides the backdrop for this hole.

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Like the eighth, this is another sharp dogleg right

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around a windswept hillside of dunes.

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But where the eighth plays extremely uphill,

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the longer 12th plays slightly downhill from the tee.

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Mackenzie’s fairway bunker, far left, is about 260 out.

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It has been restored

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so golfers must position their tee shots.

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The second is over a swale and diagonal bunkers

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to a green that seems to flow out of the dunescape.

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The 12th is claimed to be Ben Hogan’s favorite hole.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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The drive on 13 is over a ridge of sand

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to perhaps the widest fairway on the course.

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Position is paramount, depending on the hole location.

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The approach is uphill to a green

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with bunkers embedded into another sand ridge.

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Along the left, a ridge resembling a cresting ocean wave.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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We go from the widest hole at Cypress

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to the uphill, slight dogleg right 14th,

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with it’s gnarly cypress trees left and right.

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The second is uphill to a perched green that,

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despite all the trees framing it,

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still seems exposed to ocean winds.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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As you walk this narrow corridor,

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look right at the famous octopus tree

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and marvel at our good fortune.

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The best is yet to come.

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You might call this call this hole anticipation.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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Emerging onto the jagged Pacific coastline,

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we find another Cypress Point oddity,

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back to back par threes.

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The 15th is breathtaking, a short shot from 60 feet

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above a diagonal ocean cove containing

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a cauldron of churning surf

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to a boomerang-shape green surrounded

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by six glorious bunkers.

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Get out your camera.

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Some say it’s the most scenic hole in the world

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but wait until you see what’s next.

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The 16th is perhaps the most photographed hole anywhere,

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if not the hardest.

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Mackenzie debated making it a par four.

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It requires a carry of over 200 yards, over the rock wall,

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above an ocean cove, to reach the front collar of the green.

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To most players, the 16th is still the most awesome risk

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in all of golf, especially if the wind is in one’s face.

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Mackenzie thoughtfully provided

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a wide bailout area to the left

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for those windy or less courageous days

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but from there, the pitch onto the green isn’t easy.

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When the course was being routed back in the 1920s,

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Marion Hollins’ influence on the design of Cypress Point,

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and especially this hole, cannot be emphasized enough.

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She casually dropped a ball on the tee

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and hit it on the green to convince Mackenzie

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it was a par three.

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Years later, Bing Crosby became one of the few

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to make a hole in one.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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Next comes a shoreline-hugging par four,

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complicated by the expanse

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of rocky coastline all along the right

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and a shallow peninsula green off in the distance.

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For most of us, the second shot must be played

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over or around a grove of cypress trees

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that gobble up much of the fairway.

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The second must be dead online

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to avoid the vertical cliff on the right

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and a nasty bunker on the left.

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Ocean winds always seem swirling on the 17th.

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The short, dogleg right 18th, with an uphill second shot,

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has scattered cypress trees

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that seem to block out the entire fairway.

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Even the club’s yardage book describes them as a barricade.

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The trees give the illusion

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that they engulf the entire hole.

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In truth, a skinny ribbon of fairway threads it’s way

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between tree trunks from tee to green

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and can be hit by a determined, accurate drive.

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[dramatic orchestral music]

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It’s a unique, unexpected finish to a course

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that provides a lifetime of memories in a single round.

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[peaceful piano music]

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You have completed the greatest experience

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in the world of golf.

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