As Trinity Forest begins its era as the new home for the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament, the links-style course may take some time for the players to get used to.
According to co-designer Bill Coore, "Trinity Forest is not a straightforward, point-A-to-B-to-C golf course to be played almost exclusively in the air. It does not reward or encourage only one style of play."
Different strategies will need to be used as the course "asks questions with multiple answers."
"The vision and ability to use the ground, the slopes, the wind and gravity will be a distinct advantage," Coore said. "It is our hope that the longest and shortest of hitters in the competition at Trinity Forest will see the course and think, 'I can win here.'"
To help get some familiarity, here's Trinity Forest Golf Club's hole-by-hole strategy guide to playing it's course.
The first shot out of the gates on this short par 5 requires a decision. A driver well struck can sneak between the fairway bunkers on the right and the rough on the left leaving the player with a mid to long iron to the green. Players that choose to lay up short of the bunkers will still have an option to go for the green with long irons and fairway metals, but the green’s severe undulation on the front right will make hitting the green much more challenging.
The long par 3 second will require a mid- to long- iron to this green that is 50 yards. Shots missed short or long will have fairly easy pitch shots or putts to save par. Misses to the left will be challenged to navigate a large roll along the left side of the green. A tee shot missed to the right will end up 3-4 feet below the green on a tightly mown surround making par saves difficult.
The 3rd hole is a short par 4 that asks the player to either lay up short of a large cross bunker or play away from the line of the hole, left of the bunker with a driver or fairway metal. The decision on the tee is influenced by the hole location as the second shot difficulty is greatly impacted by the angle to the hole relative to the wind.
With one of the most demanding tee shots on the course, the long dog-leg right par-4 4th hole will again require a decision off the tee. Long hitters may decide to challenge the large mound down the right side, as a shot that carries far enough down the right side will set up a short iron or wedge into this perched narrow green. A driver off the tee that moves too far left will find the left fairway bunker or the native grasses leaving a difficult approach shot from a poor angle into this green. Tee shots down the left side of the fairway will also require to player to negotiate the front left greenside bunker.
The uphill, usually down-wind, drivable par-4 5th hole presents the most options off the tee of any hole on the course. With the green only 315 yards away, players will be able to attack this hole with drivers and fairway metals or lay back with mid-irons leaving wedges for their approach. Players that choose to go for the green will need to carry the large bunker that sits 40 yards short of the green. Those attempting to drive the green must barely carry this bunker, otherwise the ball will likely bound over the green. Players that go over the green will be left with a very challenging chip shot to a perched green that is the smallest on the course and is sloped back to front. Whereas players that hit their tee shots on or near the front of the green will have a great opportunity to make birdie. The 5th green along with the nearby 15th green are nicknamed the evil twins as they were shaped by Bill Coore at the same time and have a very similar look. Both are small, slope back to front, are severely perched (especially from the back) and neither has any sand traps. At first glance they look easy, but in fact they are anything but.
Depending on the hole location on this very large green complex, players will choose to either play down the left side or the right side of the bunkers that sit in the middle of this very wide fairway. The play down the left side requires the golfer to thread the needle between the two bunkers down the left side and the middle bunkers. Successfully doing so will reward players with a superior angle into difficult hole locations on the left side of the green. The fairway on the right side of the middle bunkers is very generous but could leave a more challenging second shot to certain hole locations. The player has to understand the hole location to make a good decision on the tee.
The second par 5 on the course presents opportunities for eagle with the correct strategy and execution. A driver that challenges the hazard on the left side will be rewarded with a superior angle to attack this green with the second shot. The safer drive down the middle or right side of the very wide fairway will be forced to play back to the green with the hazard coming into play for shots that do not hold the green. Also, from this side of the fairway, shots that come up short will have to navigate a very difficult spine that runs down the right side of the green making an up and down very difficult. Players that miss the green short and left (challenging the hazard again) will have a far superior opportunity to get up and down.
The shortest hole on the course requires a precise short-iron or wedge into this small green that is divided by a hogs-back that creates a small target to the left and a small trough on the right. Players that miss this green will be required to get very creative, possibly playing chip shots away from the hole allowing the slopes to help the player save par.
This long par-4 again requires the player to take on the hazard down the left side to set up a far superior angle to the green. However, in addition to the hazard down the left side, there is a smallish pot bunker sitting 165 yards from the green in the middle of the fairway leaving the player only 25 yards between it and the left hazard. The green is severely sloped from right to left and is well guarded in the front by a large roll. Players that play tee shots down the safe, wide right side of the fairway will be left hitting approach shots over a deep bunker that sits 20 yards short of the green. If conditions are firm, shots that carry onto the green from this angle will likely go over long or left. Under almost all circumstances, approach shots should be played to the right side of the green.
A medium length par-4 that typically plays back into the prevailing south winds. The right side of the hole is defined by buffalo grasses and bunkers. The left bunker in the distance is a good target, sitting at around 280 yards, leaving a short-iron from a good angle into this green that is protected by a roll in front and a valley to the left. Longer hitters should try to cut their tee shots just off the right edge of the left bunker to leave a short wedge from an ideal line to the hole.
Played as a long par-4, the players will need to play drivers down either the left side or the right side of this hole to set up the best angle to the hole location with hopefully a mid-iron. The green on the 11th hole is the largest most contoured green on the course that can leave the player with very long, challenging lag putts after misplayed approach shots. A very large mound sitting on the front middle of the green will send shots bounding away from the hole if not approached from the right angle or avoided. Approach shots that end up short of the green near this mound will find an up and down to any hole location very demanding. However, depending on the hole location the player can take advantage of large slopes to the right, left and back that may act as backstops, helping the ball roll close to otherwise very challenging hole locations.
The 12th is a long par 3 that typically plays downwind into a very deep green with large mounds on the right side and a hazard and bunkers catching errant shots hit to the left. Players should use the mounds on the right to send balls down to hole locations on the left. However, players that miss the green to the right will risk losing multiple shots to par.
Given the length of this long par 4 the player is asked to hit a driver to set up a mid-iron approach. However, the fairway ends at less than 300 yards if the ball is inadvertently played down the right side. Balls played down the left side that challenge the bunker and hazard will be rewarded with an additional 50 yards of fairway and a superior angle into the green. The green complex offers a very safe bailout to the right of the green; however, a spine down the right side makes an up and down very difficult (especially to hole locations on the right side of the green). The sand traps on the left side of the green may in fact be the safer miss.
The longest hole on the golf course presents the players with infinite options and decisions throughout the hole. The first decision is how to deal with the very large bunker that divides the fairway into a left and right side. Depending on the wind conditions, players could attempt to carry the bunker leaving an opportunity to go for this hidden green complex in two. If the player successfully carries the bunker they will be left with a blind fairway metal or long iron to a downhill green that is hidden by the slope of the hill. There are also bunkers short and right of the green that leave difficult, long bunker shots. Tee shots played down the narrower right fairway will be left with a shorter distance to the hole and may also be able to get home in two. Tee shots down the left fairway will likely be followed by a layup shot ideally played down the right side of the fairway. Layups down the right side must challenge a series of bunkers in order to set up the best angle to this green complex that is guarded on the left side by two large mounds and runs severely left to right. Green-side shots finishing left of the green or approach shots that come in from the left side of the fairway will have to deal with the challenges of these slopes.
This demanding uphill par-4 will require the player to challenge bunkers down the left side of the fairway to set up the best angle of attack into this second of the Evil Twin greens. Depending on the wind, the players may need to lay back with fairway metals off the tee to avoid going too far into the fairway bunkers on the left. The green is sloped back to front leaving the back of the green severely perched in the air above the players head. The front of the green is guarded on the right by a troublesome mound. Depending on the hole location, approach shots that end up short right or long will leave very challenging chips with a variety of shot options.
The 16th is a short par-4 again asking the player to make a strategic decision off the tee. The fairway gets pinched by a series of bunkers as the player gets closer to the green. The safe play with a fairway metal or long-iron will leave a short-iron or wedge into this well guarded green. The riskier tee shot with a driver must navigate the bunkers but could result in a putt or short pitch setting up an easy birdie.
The final par-3 on the course requires very careful analysis before making a decision and executing the shot. The green is divided into a front trough and back trough by a significant roll in the middle running perpendicular to the line of the hole and deep green. The front of the green is further protected by an elevated approach. Depending on the hole location, the player must execute a shot that will finish in the correct trough or face an almost certain three-putt. The front hole locations allow the player to either 1) hit a short-iron high enough with enough spin to stop the ball near the hole and not roll into the back trough (this strategy is ill-advised if the hole is playing severely downwind), or 2) the player can elect to punch a shot with less spin that will land short of the green on the approach and then trundle onto the front of the green near the hole. Punch shots that land short and then trundle on must be played away from the pin to the left side of the green to use the slopes to move the ball back to the right and closer to the pin. If the hole is cut in the back trough, the player can either 1) play a mid-iron hit high that will land near the hole and use the elevated back roll of the green to stop the ball before bounding over (again, ill-advised if downwind), or 2) play a mid-flighted middle- or long- iron that will land in the front trough and trundle over the middle roll to settle near the hole, or 3) play a similarly struck low-flighted short- or middle- iron with even less spin that lands on the approach and bounds into the front trough then over the roll into the back trough near the hole. Shots played short of a back pin much be played left, away from the hole, allowing the contours of the green to send the ball toward the hole.
The final hole plays as a very long par-4. Players are asked to take on the right side of the fairway which is guarded by a hazard and bunkers in order to set up the best angle into this green. The green slopes front left to back right and is protected by a large mound on the left side and steep runoff on the right. An approach with a mid- or long- iron from the right side of the fairway can use the green slope and mound to send the ball close to the hole. Balls that miss the green to the right are faced with a difficult chip shot to an elevated green.