The most important holes at Harbor Shores

Published on
The most important holes at Harbor Shores

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Harbor Shores is a gettable course for low scores with plenty of pivotal holes.

The course features five par 3s, nine par 4s and four par 5s.

RELATED: KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship tee times | What it's like to play

Here's a closer look at the holes on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course in southwest Michigan that will have the biggest impact on the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

No. 2, par 3, 174 yards
No. 2

The second hole at Harbor Shores is the first of the courses five par-3 holes. The 174 yards on the card isn't necessarily intimidating, but the shot from the tee box is.

Severe bunkering from tee to green makes for a tee shot that makes you think twice. With a hole location on the left side of the green, players will also be staring down a nasty greenside bunker with a pin that sits atop a mound. Anything long and the ball is running away. 

The right side of the green is the spot to miss. Escaping with a par here would make any player happy, because a three-putt is a very real possibility.

No. 3, par 4, 311 yards
No. 3

This is a short, but dangerous par 4 with the Paw Paw River running up the left side of the fairway. 

At just 311 yards, it would be tempting for a lot of players to go for the green from the tee, but it might not be the wisest play. Even with an iron or hybrid from the tee box, they won't have much more than 70-90 yards in. That makes this one a scoring hole. 

A smart shot off the tee will set up a good look at birdie. For those brave enough to go for the green, eagle is a possibility. A bogey here will feel like players have given two shots back to the field.

No. 5, par 5, 573 yards
No. 5

The first par 5 at Harbor Shores is the fifth. It demands a solid tee shot over fairway bunkers that are 232 yards away. After the bunkers, the fairway is relatively generous.

Only the best of drives will give players a chance to reach the green in two. For most, it'll be a three-shot par 5. And that's why the lay-up shot is crucial. Simply put, you can't mess with the right side since there's a water hazard that extends 150 yards from the green.

Gnarly bunkers protect the green, so -- even after a huge drive -- players might be better off laying up and putting themselves in position to get up and down for birdie from within 100 yards. 

No. 7, par 4, 436 yards
No. 7

The most difficult -- and picturesque -- hole at Harbor Shores is the par-4 seventh. 

Standing on an island tee box, players need to clear wetlands with their drive. From there, the left side of the hole is loaded with dunes and bunkers rising up to a beautifully framed elevated green with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan as the backdrop once the green is reached. 

If you're going to miss with your approach on this hole, it has to be short. Long is in the sand and the rest of the green is surrounded by dune grass. There's no telling what the ball will do coming out of that stuff when there's a touchy shot around the green.

No. 9, par 5, 578 yards
No. 9

The first of back-to-back par 5s, the ninth hole is a big dogleg left from the tee. Hanging the tee shot out to the right will give players a good look for their second shot, while those who hit it left will be blocked out by trees. 

Much like the fifth hole, players could take a crack at this one in two -- and will -- but the risk might not be worth the reward. With the severely undulating green, you need to hit a precision shot in to have a chance for birdie. That'll mean a wedge or a short iron in. 

While this is a par 5, it's still one of the more difficult holes at Harbor Shores. Snag a birdie here and you've done well.

No. 10, par 5, 539 yards
No. 10

On the card, this is a gettable par 5. Most of the field will go for it in two. It requires a drive to the left side of the fairway to avoid bunkers and hazards in the landing area.

Things get a little crazy with the approach whether you lay up or decide to go for the green. This is the most dramatic green at Harbor Shores, which is saying something. It's four-tiered and the spot where Nicklaus famously drained a massive putt that Johnny Miller called impossible the day the course opened:

The green is a roller coaster ride and you just need to try and hang on. Hit it in the right quadrant and you have a great chance to make birdie. If you don't, well, you're going to be staring three-putt or worse right in the eyes.

No. 14, par 4, 450 yards
No. 14

The second most difficult hole at Harbor Shores, the 450-yard 14th is a bear. It's the longest hole on the course and luckily the prevailing wind is typically at your back from the tee. 

However, the Paw Paw River is all along the right side of the hole. You need to be on the left side of the fairway. 

With a long iron for the approach, players will want to find the left side of the green as everything there slopes from left to right.

No. 15, par 5, 549 yards
No. 15

The final real legitimate chance for a birdie, the 15th is the last of the par 5s. A solid drive here and you have the green light to reach the green in two, but there is trouble ahead as the Paw Paw River crosses the front of the green. 

Players who elect to lay up will want to leave it to the left side of the fairway. That'll give a nice look to the wide green.

No. 16, par 4, 422 yards
No. 16

Protecting a lead down the stretch on Sunday? The 16th is no walk in the park. Walk off with a par and, while you're work isn't done just yet, you will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. 

The tee shot is so important on 16. Too far left? you're in the water. Too far right? Two things come into play -- you have a longer shot into the green, or you're completely blocked out by trees for your second shot.

The approach to the green brings into play the water on the left and a bunker on the right. Play smart, get on in two, two putt and move along to 17.

No. 17, par 3, 210 yards
No. 17

This is the "Rocco Mediate" hole. In the 2016 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, Mediate was leading the tournament when he reached the 17th. His tee shot on the straightforward hole found the large bunker to the right of the green.

What could have been the start of some trouble turned into the moment of the tournament, as Mediate holed the bunker shot for the most unlikely of birdies and a little cushion on his way to winning his first senior major.

No. 18, par 4, 420 yards
No. 18

The home hole is a beauty with the Paw Paw River running up the right side. 

You want the tee shot to find the left center of the fairway. From there, players will be hitting a mid-to-short iron into a large green guarded by front bunkers.