View From The Other Side: Matt Dye’s Special Hole
Once upon a time, not very long ago, there was a golf hole built that was meant to challenge and tantalize. It was meant to be the one you thought about on the way to play your round and again in your mental review on the way home.
Now, for reasons easily explainable and understandable, it is just another golf hole.
No. 9 at Dos Lagos GC is part of a 6,544-yard, par-70 public course in Corona. Dos Lagos was designed by Matt Dye. He designed many noteworthy courses, including the nationally recognized The Ledges in St. George, Utah. He had a hand in Trump National GC on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Paiute Golf Resort in Las Vegas. If you need more of a resume, his uncle was Pete Dye, whose course designs currently challenge and tantalize golfers worldwide and also did wonders for the rail-tie industry.
No. 9 at Dos Lagos was among Matt Dye’s special joys. The day before the course opened in 2007, several reporters rode with Dye and played his 18 holes. As any designer would, Dye waxed on happily and analytically about each hole. But at No. 9, the enthusiasm bubbled over.
You leave the short par-3 No. 8 and head to No. 9 on a cart path bordered on the left by the Temescal Wash, which eventually runs into the Santa Ana River. In the summer, there is little but dry brush in the Wash, but in the winter, there is water. Now, Dos Lagos golfers just keep following the cart path 75 yards or so straight ahead to an elevated tee. Few even notice that they have passed a bridge that once took them left across the Wash to a tee box on the far side. Since 2012, access to that bridge has been denied by a locked chain.
“I think we’ve only had one person ask about it in the last few years,” says Jeff Hastings, Dos Lagos’ head pro.
Across that bridge is, to this day, Matt Dye’s cherished blue tees. From there, the par-4 ninth played 375 yards, and needed a drive that carried about 215 over the wash and stopped in a landing area of about 50 yards. From that tee, the visual was a V-shaped opening among the trees and brush in the Wash and bunkers short and long that defined the fairway landing area. The visual was tough. You needed to get over your tee shot and swing before your hands got too sweaty.
Hastings is a scratch golfer. He says he used a hybrid from the old blues at No. 9 to avoid carrying his tee shot into the far bunker. He said he birdied the hole from the old blue tees. Once.
From the current blues, on the right side of the wash, the hole looks straight ahead, plays 288 and, with any kind of a decent drive, is easy. Matt Dye did not have “easy” in mind.
Hastings says that the old blue tee was closed off because of several issues. First, there needed to be much clean-up of the brush and trees in the wash, for both environmental and cosmetic purposes. To do that, the course would need to get permission and specifics from Fish and Game officials, because the Temescal Wash is a protected waterway. Hastings says there are ongoing discussions on that.
There is also the problem of safety. Hastings says that, all too often, players using the white tees on the north side of the wash had no idea there were others teeing off from the blues across the Wash to the south.
“We were getting complaints that golfers were hitting into each other,” Hastings says.
That might point to a design flaw, but there are certainly worse blind tee shots on many other courses that are handled by mirrors, marshals or even ringing chimes.
Dos Lagos is a funky course. Dye was commissioned to build it on 127 acres. When you turn for home on the back nine, Nos. 15, 16 and 17 are carved into the side of a huge hill. Nos. 15 and 17 are par-3s and your best shot on the par-4 16th might be to hit it on the hill on the right and pray that it filters down through the rocks and clumps of grass to the left and onto the fairway.
Dye was proud of what he did with what he had. He was really proud of No. 9. It would be nice if, and when, the waterway officials give their approval, the brush is cleared and the bridge is opened again to the No. 9 blue tees, that they place a little plaque on the tee that says something like: Matt Dye Loved This View.
It would be a fitting tribute to the man who, at age 48, died of colon cancer, a year after Dos Lagos, and its special Hole No. 9, opened for play.