The twelfth hole at Stanford University Golf Course is both beautiful and amazingly difficult. The tee box is perched high above the fairway, which at first glance seems wide and inviting. However, if you pump a drive down the middle of the fairway, you’ll most likely be stymied by the large tree in the middle of the fairway. The hole is long enough and the ground moist enough that unless it’s playing downwind or you are crazy long off the tee, driving it past this tree is probably not going to happen. Also, the course superintendents keep the rough thick year round, so if you end up in the rough, working the ball left or right to reach the green is difficult from a bad lie. (read more about how to play the hole below)
There are several strategies from the tee box. First, most people choose to hit a hard driver directly at the tree and hope they don’t hit the “dreaded straight ball”. Shorter hitters will play this hole as a par 5, which I believe is the par from the ladies tees. Gutsy players will shorten up the hole and play it down the right side of the fairway, which appears to be the widest part, but if you miss it a few yards further right, you’re in the hazard and dropping with a poor shot to the green. The safest play is to aim at the big tree and play a slight draw, hoping to keep the ball a few yards from the left rough and hopefully beyond the shorter trees in the fairway. Another option is to aim down the left rough line and play a fade. If you hit it straight, you’re fine. If you slice it, you may still end up in the right side of the fairway. Par is a good score on the 12th hole as the green is guarded by bunkers and has a few tricky pin positions. You may need your 150-200 yard punch and run shot to navigate the tree and let the ball roll up near the green.
As far as university courses go, Stanford is by far one of the best and it’s only $20-25 per round for students and faculty! It’s truly a steal for those lucky few but it is worth paying $100+ to play at least once in your life. You may need to play along with an alumnus or current student to get on, so go make a few brainy friends and have some fun!