BY JEFF FALK
REXMONT – (Editor’s note: What follows is the ninth installment of a ten-part series dedicated to identifying Lebanon County’s top ten golf holes, which last appeared on Lebanon Sports Buzz in the summer of 2016. Based on an informal survey of the locale’s top amateur players, the countdown strives to feature the ten truest tests of golf, rather than naming the most popular or most difficult holes.)
For some, ‘7’ is a lucky number. But that simply can’t be said about hole Number 7 at Iron Valley Golf Course.
For if players aren’t careful, ‘7’ can become their score.
Number Seven is definitely the most difficult par-five in all of Lebanon County. It is probably the most difficult test at Iron Valley. And it may just be the best golf hole locally.
“Is it the best hole in Lebanon County?” said Bill Neiswender, head golf professional at Iron Valley. “I’d have to say that (Number) 13 is the better hole. But to me, it’s the most difficult hole in Lebanon County. I can’t think of a more difficult hole in Lebanon County.
“This is a hole where 95 percent of the average golfers would say, ‘Give me a five and let me get to the next hole.’ They’re not looking at it as a birdie hole or like ‘I’m going to lower my score here.’ If you took all the good golfers in Lebanon County and put them on the back tee, they would average over par.”
At 535 yards, Number Seven is long and tight. It doesn’t require precision, it demands it. If golfers miss the designated landing areas in the fairway, they can find themselves in deep, deep trouble.
“It’s a lengthy par-five,” said Neiswender. “What makes it so unique is that it has such a tight landing area. And no matter where your approach shot is, there’s no easy place to land.
“Some people think it’s illegal,” Neiswender added. “It’s very difficult to play, unless you can pinpoint your shot. The landing area on the second shot is so difficult. Good players understand it just takes positioning.”
Built by legendary designer P.B. Dye, Number Seven is forged from an area between a lake and a hill. There is seemingly no flat lies in the fairway.
Players must avoid the lake situated all along the left side of the fairway, but if they go too far right they could find themselves with an horrendous lie. But everything goes left, down the hill and towards the lake.
“The first thing that is so important is positioning your tee shot,” said Neiswender. “There’s a lot more room to the right than you think. It takes three extremely good shots to get on the green. I’ve probably played that hole 75 times, and I’ve been on the green in two shots once.
“Your chip shot is so difficult because you’re not going to get a good lie,” Neiswender continued. “It’s such a unique hole. When you’re on the tee you’re thinking ‘How do I approach this hole?’ It’s like, ‘Make a five and get the heck out of here.’ There is no other par-five around like it.”
With the lake also guarding the green, players must also approach the hole from the right, from the hill side. The green is narrow, long and undulating.
“The driving area is tight left,” said Neiswender. “And the landing area is 20 yards, at the very most. I look forward to that hole every time I play it. I love the challenge. It’s killed many a round of mine, and I thought I didn’t hit a bad shot.”