NORTH LEBANON – (Editor’s note: What follows is the fourth 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.)
Want to know how many different ways there are to play the par-four second hole at Pine Meadows Golf Course? That amount is directly proportional to the number of ways to get into trouble on the hole.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes Number Two at Pine Meadows one of the best golf holes in Lebanon County.
At a mere 276 yards, Number Two is one of the shortest par-fours in the County. But with environmentally-protected wetlands snaking throughout its short fairway, there is trouble at every turn.
Getting on the green at Number Two is more of a safe haven than a destination.
“It’s a fun hole,” said Pine Meadows head professional Andy Signor. “It’s a very good risk/reward hole. For some of the longer hitters, it’s a driveable par-four. But you have so many options on that hole.
“Yes, you can be an average amateur player and drive the green, if your length is good enough,” added Signor. “One of the most difficult things on that hole’s tee is to lay up. If you miss the fairway, you’re in a hazard.”
From the tee box, players are faced with three levels of tall grass.
The best way to maneuver Number Two might be to hit, say a seven-iron, off the tee, to the very onset of the third tier of the stuff. From there a player has 80 to 90 yards to the middle of the green.
“I do like that hole,” said Signor. “Mainly because it is a drive-able par-four. I’ve made some low numbers on that hole and I’ve made some high numbers on that hole.
“I always go for it, unless the wind is so severe in my face that I’m forced to lay up,” added Signor. “I’ve played that hole at times when the wind hasn’t been up. But the way the hole is situated, the prevailing wind is in your face.”
Number Two’s elevated green is cut from the side of a steep hill. It is guarded by a large sand trap on the right and three smaller pot bunkers to the left.
Depending upon one’s position in front of the green, knowing exactly where the stick is located can be guess work.
“The fairway is surrounded by high grass in the shape of a ‘U’,” said Signor. “With the green, there’s severe slope from back to front, and right to left. It’s a very difficult green. When the pin is up, you think it’s an easy green. But that is the most severe sloping part of the green.
“After thinking about it, I was surprised that hole was picked,” Signor continued. “My first thought would be number 16 (a 333-yard, par-four) out here. That is kind of our defining hole.”
Number Two was constructed in 1999, when Pine Meadows added its ‘back nine’ and went from a nine-hole venue to an 18-hole course.
“The difficult thing is that when that hole was designed, people couldn’t hit the ball as far as they can now,” said Signor. “When I first came here, not nearly as many people tried to drive the green as they do now. It’s all technology.
“For the average player, you can lay up off the tee or drive it on the green,” continued Signor. “There’s so many options. In every tournament we have, you see various scores on that hole, from three to eights, nines and tens. You even seen the occasional eagle. When you miss your shots by a little bit here, that’s when you get into the most trouble.”
Pine Meadows’ original nine was laid out on land just north of the Little Swatara Creek in the early 1960s. At a par of 72 and a length of 6,363 yards, the emphasis is more on precision than strength – a demand epitomized by Number Two.
“From what I hear, it is one of the most challenging courses in the area and one of the most difficult,” said Signor. “I don’t think any other course in the County has environmentally protected areas on the course. It has that links style, if you will. The high grass makes it look like a links course, and that’s what makes the course so difficult.
“I think we’re growing in the perception of the county,” Signor concluded.