From the tranquil drive through the country to the lush green views against the mountainous backdrop, everything about the trip to Links O’Tryon
, located in the upstate just northeast of Greenville
, promises a nice, peaceful round of golf. And that’s exactly what you get -- at least until you get to the 13th, a hole with one of the most appropriate nicknames you’ll ever find on a golf course.
Wee Bit O’Hell truly lives up to its name. To begin with, it certainly qualifies as “wee.” Measuring barely 295 yards from the tips, it’s as short as a par-4 gets. As for the rest of the nickname, it fits pretty well, too. While on my way to a double bogey, “hellish” is certainly an adjective that popped into my mind.
Any confidence that comes with seeing the short yardage sign is quickly extinguished when you get on the tee box. While in theory you could drive the green, in reality you can’t. It would take a very high, blind shot over a thick cluster of trees to a small green guarded by water. That leaves the safe play — hitting a long iron straight ahead to the fairway. But, once again, even the safe option is not as easy as it sounds.
The fairway slopes down to the water that guards the front of the green, so any tee shot that is even the slightest bit right of center is going to leave you with a downhill lie for your approach. And what an approach it is. Even after a solid tee shot, I was left with a very tricky 95-yards to the green.
The water hazard guarding the front of the green is not much larger than an oversized swimming pool. In terms of intimidation, though, it might as well be the Atlantic. Lined with a four-foot high rock wall, the hazard literally borders the front of the green. After seeing this from the fairway, the temptation is to put a little more on the shot than normal. That’s exactly what I did, and I paid for it.
While my shot stayed dry, I overshot the green and ended up with an impossible chip from the upslope that borders the back of the green. A finesse chip from a downhill lie to a green sloping away from me is, unfortunately, not a shot I possess. Predictably, I knocked the chip to the bottom of the green (mercifully it stopped short of the rolling into the water), where I ended up three-putting.
It’s pretty rare to find a hole like the 13th — short yardage, but still requiring two perfect shots. It’s target golf at its hellish best.