HOLE #5, ‘THE TROUGH’
This is the first in a series of features on area golf courses.
DESCRIPTION: While much has been written about the Banff Springs’ fourth hole, The Devil’s Cauldron, which is arguably one of the best holes of golf in the world, from a true ‘golfer’s perspective,’ hole No. 5 – The Trough, presents the biggest challenge on the historic course.
Framed by a massive rock wall behind the tee, with several cascading waterfalls trickling down Rundle early in the season and a pin placement that lines up with Cascade Mountain, the scenery can be a distraction from the disciplined play required to master the hole.
“Pound for pound, it’s the best hole on the course,” said Director of Golf Steve Young. “You have to hit all your shots and you can’t let your guard down.”
The dogleg left is bordered by an esthetically beautiful, yet treacherous, bunker system lying in wait for weak tee shots. When the pin is at the back of the green and Cascade Mountain is looming in the distance, golfers are often tempted by a direct approach, only to find themselves in a deep bunker on either the left or right of the green.
“As a pure golfer, it’s one of the best holes out there,” Young said. “But, there’s really not a bad hole on the course.”
HOW TO PLAY IT: Advancing technology has changed how The Trough is generally played. Young always hits the driver off the tee as he’s confident he can keep it out of the deep bunkers guarding both the left and right side of the fairway. He usually cheats a little to the left, but if you end up near the bunker, you’re left with a hard seven iron. Go in the bunker, and it’s near impossible to reach the green.
“The decision is to hit in front of the bunkers and that leaves a long iron past the bunkers, or hit it past the bunkers, but then the trees come into play,” Young said.
Playing the ball high brings the wind into play, so keeping it low and straight with the long iron is important (unless you’re John Daly, who, during the 2006 skins game, faded over the trees, avoiding the bunker debate altogether).
Young says it’s safer to play to the front of the green and avoid the temptation to hit to the back.