Newport Beach Country Club, Par 71, 6,591 yards
Hole 1, Par 4 - 339 yards – This dogleg-left opening hole is the easiest par-four on the course. The key is to take the right club off the tee, aim inside the fairway bunker on the right and leave about 100 yards to the hole. You don't want to be too close to the green, especially if the pin is up front.
Hole 2, Par 4 - 390 yards – The fairway slopes right to left, so you want to keep the drive to the right-center of the fairway. The bunker on the left side of the fairway is trouble. The uphill second shot is relatively easy unless the pin is tucked behind the greenside bunker.
Hole 3, Par 5 - 549 yards – The third hole, while the longest on the course, plays significantly shorter, as it is downhill and usually rides the wind. Look for most players to reach in two. The double palm on the left hand side is the go point. Guys who make it past there can hit the green in two, but getting home isn't easy because of the lake on the left and bunkers on the right. Three is also a difficult putting green because it slopes pretty dramatically.
Hole 4, Par 3 - 143 yards – The fourth hole was significantly redesigned (along with the third and fifth) prior to the 1998 Toshiba Senior Classic. This hole is pretty straightforward, so most pros don't have much trouble getting it close. Depending upon the weather, they'll probably hit 8- or 9-irons. The green is difficult because it has big undulations.
Hole 5, Par 4 - 430 yards – The fifth marks the beginning of a brutal stretch of five straight holes that are among the seven most difficult on the course. The drive on this hole is challenging because the fairway is uphill so there's no landmark to aim for - you can barely see the crest of the fairway. On the approach, players hit mid-irons to the green now, so it's not as difficult as it used to be. With the mounds behind the green, there's also more definition and background.
Hole 6, Par 4 - 418 yards – The important thing is to drive it far enough and straight enough so that you have 150 yards to the hole. From the fairway, the green looks like it runs off in all directions and doesn't accept an approach shot. The sixth is also one of the more subtle-breaking greens.
Hole 7, Par 4 - 368 yards – The seventh green is the trickiest on the course - players want to stay below the hole. There are two things you have to do on this hole. The first is to hit the right club off the tee so that you're in the middle of the fairway, 150 yards out. The second is to make sure you get the ball on the correct side of the hole. There isn't a single flat spot on the entire green.
Hole 8, Par 3 - 203 yards – The most difficult hole on the golf course. From the tee it looks impossible to safely land the ball on the green because it slopes so hard from left to right. For right-to-left players, it's tough to hit against the perspective of the green. Getting the right yardage is key - most players will hit about a 3-iron.
Hole 9, Par 4 - 407 yards – You have to keep the ball in the fairway here. The approach always plays longer than it appears, so you either need to hit harder or take an extra club. It's also hard to stop the ball on the green because you can't see the elevated putting surface from the fairway.
Hole 10, Par 4 - 429 yards – The area to the right of the fairway is out of bounds for members, but not for the Champions Tour players. There isn't much trouble on this hole if you can keep the ball in the fairway. The pros will hit it well past the fairway bunkers and get lots of roll. The green is fairly level and not too difficult to navigate from the fairway.
Hole 11, Par 4 - 344 yards – The best play is to take a 3-wood off the tee and play to about 100 yards out from the green. If the pin is back in the right hand corner, you have to knock your approach over the bunker. This is the smallest green on the course and if you miss it, chipping is difficult.
Hole 12, Par 4 - 373 yards – Gary McCord birdied the 12th hole all three days en route to his victory at the 1999 Toshiba Senior Classic. It is imperative to drive it down the left-hand side of the fairway. If you flare it to the right, you have to contend with the rough and you have to lift the ball straight up in the air to get over the large eucalyptus tree that guards the green.
Hole 13, Par 3 - 170 yards – Sammy Rachels made the only hole-in-one in tournament history on the 13th in 2002. The tendency is to bail out to the right on this hole. Plus, the wind is usually working left to right, so it's easy to miss right. The putting surface has a lot of slope, so the best play is to the fat of the green.
Hole 14, Par 4 - 397 yards – This is one of the more difficult driving holes because the fairway falls away from you. The key is to aim just left of the two big palms at the corner of the fairway where you'll have a relatively flat lie. From there it's 150 yards out, but it plays shorter because the green is set well below the fairway.
Hole 15, Par 5 - 492 yards – The easiest hole on the course. The tee shot travels much further if you take it down the left side. Most of the players can get there in two unless they hit a poor drive. The longer hitter should have 3 or 4-iron to the green. It's a big green with lots of places to put the pin, but most eagles are made when it's up front.
Hole 16, Par 4 - 437 yards – The trick is to be long and keep it in the fairway. If you're short and to the right, you face a long iron to the green. The approach shot typically plays a little longer than it looks. This is one of the bigger greens and the putting surface is fairly flat.
Hole 17, Par 3 - 185 yards – The 17th is the signature hole at Newport Beach Country Club and the toughest on the back nine. You've got to get it on the green on. The bunker will catch any shots that miss right. The worst place to miss is long and left when the pin is up on the top tier. From there you have to hit down to the green and it's as quick as it can be.
Hole 18, Par 5 - 510 yards – Those who hit good drives will go for it in two, but with the elevated green and bunkers, it's all carry to get to the green. Those who flare it right on the approach will end up in a fairway bunker about 40 yards out - and nobody wants to be there.
— Information courtesy of PGA Champions TourCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun