|Forsgate Banks Course #15 "Chocolate Drop"|
The need for strategic driving is easily ignored when you see some of the seemingly generous fairways like the one on the first hole. "Preparatory," as it is named, is only 384 yards, but shots to the right half of the fairway will leave you with an approach over the first of many cavernous bunkers you'll face throughout the day.
Another short par four, the 347-yard fourth, demonstrates another Banks design principle. A well-struck tee ball will find a level landing area with a clear shot to the "Hog's Back" green. Anything else--even in the fairway--will have an uneven lie and/or an obstructed approach. You'll see the same design feature on the course's longest hole, the 603-yard eighth, and it's back-to-back par five cousin, the ninth, where two plateaus serve as landing areas. Miss either one and you'll have serious side-hill issues.
Banks also made judicious use of cross bunkers and other fairway features. The tenth hole, a 416-yard tester named "Valley" not only has a namesake ravine to navigate but a series of fescue-fringed cross bunkers to keep long hitters honest. The short (330 yards) confounding fifteenth holes features a narrow fairway that slopes right so that even straight tee shots are pushed into the rough. The answer, to hug the left side of the fairway from the tee, brings the eponymous "Chocolate Drop" bunker into play in the left rough.
None of this is to say that the Banks Course greens can be taken for granted. As I've written before, they are simply spectacular. My point is that you can't take the rest of the course for granted, either. The Banks Course deserves to be cherished as a full test of your game.
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf