The sixth at the University of Michigan course has the most unfair green in America. In his book, Grounds for Golf Geoff Shackleford pegged the Alister MacKenzie design as an example of a “humorous” hole design.
I fail to find anything funny about it.
The hole is temptingly short—just 309 to the center, and most of the length is strongly downhill. There are lines of trees left and right, but that really doesn’t cause any difficulty.
All of the “humor” of the hole comes from the snaking, skinny, wishbone shaped green. There’s a bunker complex in the crook, and the fork furthest from the tee is significantly higher than the front. Just to make things fun, there’s a bunker adjacent to the lower fork, and another just beyond the upper.
While the hole could be set in the center portion, on most of the occasions I’ve played, it’s cut in either of the two forks. If the flag is on the upper, and you hit the lower green—or vice versa—it practically guarantees a four putt. There’s simply no easy way to get there from here.
That’s not quite true. On an unfunny hole, having a bunker between you and the hole typically is simply a matter of taking out a wedge and lobbing the ball over the obstruction. While there’s nothing technically illegal about hitting a wedge off a putting surface, I’m sure the club would frown on that.
Last night, the hole was cut on the upper tine of the wishbone (as in the photo). And as you might expect, my approach shot fell short, landing on the lower. I decided to take the direct approach and putt the ball into the sand. Then, I hit a wedge to the upper lip, where I one putted. Bogey.
My other choice would have been a long putt to the center. However, that would have left me with another long, uphill putt to the hole. And there was the danger that I might not have gotten the first putt wide enough. Wider, however, leaves a longer second putt.
One of my playing partners fell into just that trap. He, too, was on the green in two—but on the lower deck. From there, he putted to the center. But it wasn’t quite long enough, and the curve of the bunker and surrounding rough still stood on a direct line to the hole. A second putt distanced him from that and gave him a shot at the hole. Alas, he didn’t hit his third hard enough, and the ball rolled back down the rather steep slope. His fourth put him within a foot; the fifth putt got him in.
The sad thing is: I’ve seen worse results.
The only thing this hole is missing is a windmill.