July 02, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- The Old White TPC's 16th hole ranked as the fifth-toughest in the 2013 Greenbrier Classic. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Save the ballerina jokes around The Greenbrier’s Swan Lake. Step to the 16th tee at The Old White TPC and you’ll find anything but a ballet – though it never hurts to fly high and touch down softly.
The 444-yard hole requires a player’s drive to clear Swan Lake – a carry of perhaps as much as 300 yards, depending on your risk/reward appetite.
“It depends on whatever that wind is doing,” said Masters champion Bubba Watson, who just moved into a home built near the famed resort.
“If the wind is downwind, the hole becomes a little easier. But if it's into the wind somehow, you're looking at a carry over the water that is just ridiculous to carry.”
Those who take an aggressive line and stay on the right side of the fairway will be rewarded with a 7-iron or less for his second shot, free from obstacles. A safer route toward the left will leave a longer iron, perhaps flirting with a large bunker left of the green.
No. 16 – named "Cape" – ranked as fifth-toughest of last year’s Greenbrier Classic with a 4.100 stroke average. Though it still yielded 75 birdies (and an eagle), that was the hole’s lowest total in the event’s four-year history.
Of the final six Sunday pairings, only winner Jonas Blixt managed to birdie the hole.
“Sixteen is no gimme,” said FedExCup points leader Jimmy Walker, who shared runner-up honors last year and has two other top-5 finishes in the event. “It depends on what the wind is doing.”
It used to be marginally easier. No. 16 leaned toward the birdie side (3.936 average) when the event debuted in 2010, even sparking Stuart Appleby’s three-birdie finishing flourish on the way to his historic 59. Runner-up Jeff Overton, meanwhile, birdied No. 16 all four days.
Upgrades after the tournament, though, expanded Swan Lake and brought it closer to the fairway.
“So that becomes a par hole,” Watson said, “or birdie-hole chance depending on the wind.”
That also was the year No. 16 required some serious cleanup just days before pros arrived for practice rounds, when destructive “derecho” winds brought a 200-year-old sycamore crashing through the grandstand behind the green.
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