Tackling the Ultimate Long Shot

By Rich Campbell
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, May 4, 2007

My friends Todd, David and I stood on the tee box of the longest hole in America and stared at the monster in front of us.

For about 30 seconds, we wondered how to begin the 12th hole at Meadow Farms Golf Course, an 841-yard par 6 that draws challengers like us to tiny Locust Grove, Va., about 30 minutes west of Fredericksburg.

From slightly less than half a mile from our destination, we couldn't see the pin or either of the two water hazards ahead. Not wanting to leave any shots to chance, we retreated to our golf carts for an exploratory drive.

After a few hundred yards and a quick scan of the lush terrain, we laid out our strategy and headed back toward the tee. We passed the gold and white tees on the way back -- it was tempting to stop there and tee off, for sure -- but there was no chance we were taking the easy way out. If you don't tee off from the tips on this hole, well, you might as well go home.

The key, we agreed, was to make the distance manageable by taking each shot one at a time. Sure, it's cliche and simple, but 841 yards is a long, intimidating distance.

The tee shot requires a long, straight effort to avoid the woods that closely line the first 200 yards of the hole. That requisite usually eliminates any chance I have at par, but on this occasion my drive was a 230-yard beauty that I hardly could have placed better.

Todd out-drove me by 20 yards, but his ball settled at the base of a small hill on the right side of the fairway near the trees and dogleg, giving him a second shot that was obstructed by the hill. As for David, we didn't see him again until the green.

I needed to play my second shot over the first water hazard and into position to lay up on my third shot. Hoping for a 200-yard, 3-iron fade over the water, I instead produced a 75-yard joke that culminated in a splash.

Todd said I looked afraid to hit it. I told him I was afraid to hit it in the water.

Todd now was our only hope. The conservative play for him was an easy 7-iron over the hill in front of him and water ahead.

"No way," he said. "I'm hitting the big slice."

True to form, Todd unsheathed his 3-iron and ripped a slice around the dogleg, over the water and into prime position to lay up in front of the second water hazard on his next shot.

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