In recent years the insertion of challenging, short par-4s that provide the option in strong players attempting to reach the target in a single blow has become a major element in many key designs. But the root of such efforts is one that goes much further back in the history of golf architecture.
The 14th at Ganton is a classic risk / reward short par-4. Originally the 13th hole from Tom Chisholm’s design, the hole measured 200 yards. In the early 1930’s, under the guidance of Harry Colt, a new 13th was created and the hole became the 14th that is played today.
Play commences from an elevated tee. Gorse guards both sides of the fairway and is dominated by a series of formidable bunkers that must be carefully avoided. The hole is complemented by an enchanting view of the church steeple in Ganton Village, nestled below the Yorkshire Wolds.
The strategy begins with a large bunker 220 yards off the tee, which guarantees bogey or worse if one’s golf ball finds its way there. Generally, the prevailing wind plays from right to left and slightly into one’s face. The smart play is to aim for the centre of the fairway and leave yourself a short iron or wedge. Even if achieved, the approach leaves little margin for error, as the target is an elusive 10 yards wide with a large bunker guarding the left-hand-side of the green with a swale guarding the right-hand-side. Both of the aforementioned will gather the less than perfect shot away from the putting surface.
The putting surface is flat at the front, but leans away from the approach shot the deeper one plays into it. The green also breaks from right-to-left, despite the terrain appearing it should go in the opposite manner. Longer hitters can go for the green, however two bunkers on the line of the steeple guard against the pushed shot, and long rough behind the hole prevents an easy up and down.
The 14th at Ganton elevates brain power over sheer brawn. Choosing wisely and executing smartly are central elements needed in order to maximise one’s opportunities. Failure will result in a clear and convincing pushback.