Arnold Palmer Course

Hole No 1

Palmer 1Par 4 Handicap 11
Gold 440 Yards, Blue 413 Yards, Silver 373 Yards, White 357 Yards, Red 335 Yards

For an opening hole, Palmer 1 is a challenging way to start the round.

It has a very wide fairway on a side hill that slopes from left to right.

The green is not visible from the tee.

The wall on the left side is out of bounds all the way, so the safe shot appears to be to the roomy right side. But large, grown, branchy mango trees block the green on the right side.

The ideal line is to the middle left, where big bunkers guard and grab any tee shot that does not carry over the top of the hillside.

Welcome to the notorious Arnold Palmer course, the first of The Orchard’s double-barreled championship treats to members and guests.

If you have managed to stay on the left side to safely approach the heavily bunkered first green, you will likely have a downhill lie to a multi-sloped putting area. Do not take this green for granted, and try to keep your ball below the hole to give yourself an uphill putt. Downhill putts on this green are fast and break a lot.

If you manage to two-putt this hole, pick up and quickly move on to the next.

Hole No 2

Palmer 2Par 5 Handicap 9
Gold 521 Yards, Blue 490 Yards, Silver 454 Yards, White 406Yards, Red 381 Yards

“Easy Par, Easy Double”

Palmer 2 is short for a par five, right around 450 yards from most of the tees. The fairway is not tight either. But there is a bottle neck of mature mangoes right around where most drives from the tee shots land, and if you get in trouble with the trees and the tall bushes and weeds all over the surrounding rough, you are likely looking at bogey or even worse. To compound this ambush, a number of fairway bunkers are placed to catch most play-out shots from the rough will land and long hitters from the tee who don’t hit one really long here.

Those long enough to reach this green in two must stay on the left side of the bottleneck to avoid the overgrown trees on the right, and carry the cluster of bunkers right around 300 yards from the tees.

Once past these troubles, it is a straightforward approach to an open-faced green that slopes from back to front. A grass depression in front of it and a bunker of the right keeps things interesting. This is a birdie hole for long, low-handicap players, and mid-handicappers who hit the ball straight and have good distance control with their irons.

It’s next to last in handicap difficulty, so if you keep your wits about you, you can still bogey this hole even if you get into a bit of trouble along the way.

Hole No 3

Palmer 3Par 4 Handicap 13
Gold 455 Yards, Blue 359 Yards, Silver 352 Yards, White 330 Yards , Red 303 Yards

“Honeymoon Hole”

Easy hole. Wide, wide fairway. Bunkers on the left are not a problem, there is enough room on the right to hit even an imperfect drive. It’s not a long hole, although approach shots are uphill, with bunkers all over the right side of the putting green.

The only way one can get into trouble here is to hit a towering hook over the left side wall, or a grand slice to the right over the distant fence. Or top your tee shot to the left hillside rough where your ball will be way below your feet, if you can see it in the thick grass.

Other than that, there are no threats for approach shots that are hit a bit left to the green to avoid those nasty bunkers on the right. To compensate for the relative lack of fairway challenges, this green has enough of them. The green falls away from the edges, to confound any short-side pitches or chips. There is a ridge in its middle, so there could be uphill and downhill putts with considerable breaks on both sides, regardless of where the hole is cut. Putter beware – downhill putts may be against the grain, so on this hole you are better trusting your caddie’s experience over your ability to guess.

Hole No 4

Palmer 4Par 4 Handicap 5
Gold 487 Yards, Blue 456 Yards, Silver 427 Yards, White 363 Yards , Red 337 Yards

“Chicos in December”

The honeymoon ends here. Par 4, 450 yards, give or take. Most players who hit from the blue, or silver, white, or red tees will have a hard time reaching this par four in two, even with a good drive and a decent 3 wood. In fairness, it is a straightforward hole, with the green visible from the tees, no dogleg, no water hazard.

One only has to deal with bunkers, distance, and wind. From the tees, one immediately senses those signature white OB fences on the left and the right, and the light sand of the bunkers also on both sides. Once you have managed to thread these hazards from the tee, you normally would still be left about 200 yards to the green, if you drive the ball at least 250 yards.

If you have driven to the right, a whole hillside of bunkers appears to block way to the green. Even to those who know that these are sucker traps that are a good 50 yards closer to you, with enough room to carry the traps, this illusion makes most players play to the left – into another set of bunkers that lie in wait for the fainthearted.

The sensible plan here is to hit a decent drive, a decent fairway wood to the left of the green, and show off with a precisely executed wedge shot close to the pin. Or somewhere within a makeable putt to the hole.

A par here will feel like a birdie, and a bogey can be just compensation for the easiness of the previous hole. So, if your combined score for holes’ number three and four is bogey-bogey or better, just head for the snack bar, straight to the bathroom, and enjoy your relief!

This hole is a favorite among members and caddies. There are two big chico trees right where drives slice safely inbounds. The chicos are fat and juicy, and ball retrievers do triple duty at the club as chico and mango pluckers.

Hole No 5

Palmer 5Par 3 Handicap 17
Gold 191 Yards, Blue 177 Yards, Silver 153 Yards, White 138 Yards , Red 120 Yards

Very attractive hole. And very tricky. Just like some women (or men, for you ladies, and others) in our lives whom we will never forget.

Palmer 5, with an average Par 3 length of between 150 to 170 yards, has a wide enough fairway, and with a beautiful pond between the tees and the green, it is a wonderful, postcard-pretty golf scene.

The easy but gutless play to this hole is to deliberately use a club that will not reach the many bunkers surrounding this green. For most, this would be a pitching wedge or a 9 iron to land your ball safely to the widest, trouble-free area, which is right before the green. From there, a deft pitch to the pin would be routine, and par or bogey would make for a drama-free score.

The heroic try at this uphill hole is to go for the pin, normally against strong, gusty winds, between two rows of large, sloping bunkers that tend to catch careless blasts from one side into another. The green and fairway is also surrounded by out of bounds picket fences.

The putting surface declines from back to front and from all the sides with subtle gradients and the whole thesaurus list of banks, ramps, drops, slants, inclines, rises, etc.

It’s not an easy hole, no matter how marvelous and eye-catching it looks from the tees.

This will not be the last time you will regret taking on a looker without thinking first.

Hole No 6

Palmer 6Par 5 Handicap 1
Gold 528 Yards, Blue 470 Yards, Silver 431 Yards, White 389 Yards , Red 359 Yards

This Par 5 is one of the signature holes of the Palmer course. It has an endless buffet of troubles spread out for you, and you are invited to pick whatever you fancy that you can handle.

It is a duplicitous layout. The drive is plain straight down. Then water about 200 yards from the tees. The fairway bends a bit left here and then right towards the green with water and bunkers on the right all the way around the green.

The drive is inviting, it is a super wide fairway that baits plenty of players to whale away with their tee shots to get as close to the water for a shorter shot across the water to the continuation of the fairway on the left.

A long row of eucalyptus trees right beside a creek and thick bushes lines the left of your tee shot. A huge bunker and OB fence to the right, both of which are really unnecessary hazards because balls hit to the right face forced lay-ups to the left, unless one can carry 230 yards of water from the right.

Second shot over water to get to the fairway again. Or, second shot over more water and a bunker to get your ball closer to the green for your third shot. Or, second shot over water, water, more water, and two more bunkers right beside more water to make the green in two.

You cannot over-club to the left to cross the water, because they put more bunkers on the left there and again, around the green to catch players with a phobia for water.

Oh, and the green is not a final resting place either. They made it huge, to trick you into thinking thank good ness you can finally be putting… much as 60 feet to the hole, downhill, and super fast.

All in all, a diabolical hole. Bring plenty of golf balls. Plenty of patience. And plenty of humility or sense of humor.

Hole No 7

Palmer 7Par 3 Handicap 15
Gold Yards, 199 Blue 179 Yards, Silver 152 Yards, White 132 Yards , Red 86 Yards

Unofficial Members Rating

Tough looking Par 3 hole. And it plays as testy as it looks scenic.

Most of the time, there is a strong wind right into your face.

There is big water all across the front of the green. There is a huge mango tree to the right, and many more to the left and the back of the green.

Your tee shot must be gauged accurately to keep the wind from taking it, to have enough distance to cross the water, and to stay short of the bunkers on the back of the green. Otherwise, you will have to blast out of sand into a downslope, with water waiting on the other side.

As is routine with the Palmer putting areas, fast, breaking, downhill putts are easy to come by. Those who are meticulous in where they place their shots for their first putts are rewarded generously.

Pay attention and be careful with this hole. Especially if you were treated badly by the previous hole.

Hole No 8

Palmer 8Par 4 Handicap 3
Gold 404 Yards, Blue 382 Yards, Silver 339 Yards, White 303 Yards , Red 270 Yards

“Ball retrievers are useless here”

This shortish Par 4 is not to be taken lightly, even more so because as players look down the seemingly very wide fairway, one may not account for the big, big mango trees on the left or the wide wide bunkers on the right. Players should also note that the rest of the wide fairway is covered in nasty, thick rough.

One cannot hit the ball too far down past the 150 yard marker either, because the closer you get to the hole, the steeper the downhill lie gets for the approach. Over a wide pond to the very edge of the green, which is severely canted from top left to bottom right, with nothing but bunkers waiting in the back.

One cannot exaggerate how fast the putts are on this green. The downhill putts are, of course slick, almost like they have a mind of their own. Like putting on the roof a VW beetle, and making it stop on the emblem right at the edge of the hood. This green is so fast that even uphill putts are fast. This green is so fast that you need Velcro on your coin to mark your ball, otherwise it slides right down.

This green is so….. let’s move on to the next hole.

Hole No 9

Palmer 9Par 4 Handicap 7
Gold 413 Yards, Blue 394 Yards, Silver 356 Yards, White 319 Yards , Red 290 Yards

Par 4, what you see is what you get. Out of bounds on the right, water on the left. The drive is downhill and you will need all the roll you can get here because there is water also guarding the front of the green. On the plus side, you can see all the trouble, nothing is hidden from you, even the big bunker guarding the green if you manage to just barely carry the water on its front side.

The bail out from a precise, well-struck, and long second shot to a green that is again, inclined from high back to low front, is to a small area to the right of the green, with plenty of rough, numerous trees, and bunkers to discourage over clubbing. Greenside shots on this hole are no bargains, as the severe slope of the green makes estimating the roll of the ball difficult, and three putts common.

This is the kind of hole that makes you determined to practice and become a good putter, because unless you have a super accurate, towering iron shot carrying 170 to 150 yards, you will need all your putting skills to save bogey from 12 to 15 feet, most usually on a sidehill- downhill line.

Hole No 10

Palmer 10Par 4 Handicap 2
Gold 403 Yards, Blue 373 Yards, Silver 352 Yards, White 330 Yards , Red 290 Yards

Unofficial Member Rating – “Stay away from that bunker”

By this time, we all know that the more beautiful a Palmer hole looks, the more treacherous it is. Welcome to the Palmer back nine. You have just put on a fresh shirt, washed your face in the lounge, and ready to give back to the course a taste of its own medicine.

The drive here is to the side of a hill from high right to low left. The bunkers on the right at the top of the slope provide a good aiming point- just left of these will give the ball a good kick to the middle safely away from the lake still behind the lake and a bunker as big as an SM mall that covers the whole front slope.

Even long hitters are in a quandary here. An all out drive will be too long, and can reach the water, especially when the ground is dried up and the down slopes can keep the ball rolling to the duck pond. Although it is not difficult to come within a short iron to the green, the lies will be downhill, and easy to catch fat into the duck pond or to catch thin and skull it into that bunker only a sadist would place where it is.

This hole I very similar to that nasty hole number 8, only meaner close to being obscene, because no 8 does not have that bunker from hell guarding the green and catching any iron shot short of beautiful, brave, and lucky.

Well, maybe the green on this hole is not as precarious as the green on number 8, but it’s close. The reads are not difficult, but the exact putting stroke and touch to avoid three putting. Or worse.

Hole No 11

Palmer 11Par 4 Handicap 14
Gold 345 Yards, Blue 324 Yards, Silver 300 Yards, White 283 Yards , Red 266 Yards

At least the Palmer course does not have back to back monsters in its layout. Except for holes eight and nine. Four and five. Six and seven. Never mind,

Eleven is a rest hole. Any half decent drive into the reasonably roomy fairway will clear the 150 yard marker and will let a medium or short iron or the now universally popular hybrid club into wide green with enough depth to hold any shot from the fairway over the one front bunker.

The best entry to the green is from the left side, that is why there are three bunkers stationed there to keep long drivers honest. The right side is strictly off limits. There is a steep fall-off all along the right, with an out-of-bounds fence all the way to the side of the green, and near-impossible sidehill stances to any shot to unluckily end there.

This is a gift hole, just don’t count your birdies until they hatch.

Hole No 12

Palmer 12Par 3 Handicap 18
Gold 152 Yards, Blue 140 Yards, Silver 118 Yards, White 103 Yards , Red 88 Yards

“Hole in one hole”

This Par 3 is feast or famine. It is the shortest of the four par threes, but it is elevated, and the pin is not visible unless it is located up front, and even then, it tricks many players into shooting for it and ending up with a short ball that then keeps rolling down the steep slope in front.

It is also flanked left and right with long bunkers, bringing into possibility episodes of musical bunkers. The green is super slanted, and no matter how often your caddy reminds you that down hill putts are faster than you think, you end up putting your ball faster than you thought. Making yo forget the opposite – uphill putts are s l o w.

So, here’s the frequent scenario : Your tee shot missed the front pin and rolled down the front. You hit your pitch a little harder to make sure you get on the putting surface, so now you are past the pin putting downhill.

Your caddy reminds you that this downhill putt is fast. You barely hit the ball and it goes past, really past the hole, almost off the green. Now totally unnerved, you leave the return putt short.

Mercifully, they give you the gimme. Sinco. Double.

Don’t slash your wrists yet, there’s hole number 13 coming up.

Hole No 13

Palmer 13Par 4 Handicap 12
Gold 385 Yards, Blue 360 Yards, Silver 341 Yards, White 320 Yards , Red 265 Yards

The easiest par 6 in the world.

Let’s not get superstitious with the number of this hole. It has nothing to do with luck. More to do with nerve. Or smarts.

It’s short (340 from the blues), but narrow and narrower and narrowest as it gets closest to the green. Out of bounds to the left. Water all the way to the right. The gutless shot is to hit a fairway wood or a hybrid down somewhere near the 150 marker, leaving another hybrid to the mouth of the green. Finding the small green surrounded by bunkers is like finding a par in a sand stack (“a needle in a haystack”, get it?).

Presuming you are not playing four on the fairway because of your OB or playing three because of your drop by the hazard, one can reasonably hole out from there in three strokes, for a seven or a six.

Like we said, this is the easiest par 6 in the world.

Hole No 14

Palmer 14Par 5 Handicap 8
Gold 516 Yards, Blue 485 Yards, Silver 468 Yards, White 445 Yards , Red 394 Yards

A medium length Par 5 that doglegs right, around a bunker and mango trees at the corner of the leg, this is a clever hole that can be attacked just as cleverly as well. Stick to the left of the wide fairway, do not be tempted to drive near the hole, past the bunker and the trees.

From there, a smooth, well-struck fairway wood can safely and easily get past the 150 marker, regardless of wind directions and hardness or softness of the fairway. This strategy will always leave you with a third shot of around 100 yards to the green. The bunker in front of it will actually force you to hit your approach with a higher trajectory past the bunker and hold the green. It is a large green with only one bunker to contend with. One can even leave the third shot safely off to the sides or the back of the green and still get up and down easily for a par.

Hole No 15

Palmer 15Par 4 Handicap 4
Gold 427 Yards, Blue 403 Yards, Silver 366 Yards, White 317 Yards , Red 286 Yards

Strong hitters can regularly hit far enough where the bank’s inclination will help the ball roll into the stream, or leave it on a nasty downhill slope.

Better to hit just a bit past the 150 marker and get a level, flat lie for your approach. There is enough room on the right from the tees, without bringing the visible bunkers into play, as they are just visual hazards that can be avoided altogether.

This is a complicated green. It has a gargantuan break left to right on pitches coming in from the left of the green after lay ups to avoid the front bunkers. There are crazy breaks everywhere and speed is not easy to gauge as the undulations keep the grain irregular.

Hole No 16

Palmer 16Par 3 Handicap 16
Gold 206 Yards, Blue 187 Yards, Silver 168 Yards, White 150 Yards , Red 140 Yards

This par 3 is normally the longest of all the par 3 holes, usually playing at 175 yards. Usually into a tough headwind.

There are huge bunkers in front, about the size of a tennis court and shaped like a sunbathing octopus, with mango trees beside it by the green, for good measure. The left side is open, no bunker to contend with but usually too far from the pin placement.

There is no way around a solid par except to hit a shot over the massive bunker into usually stiff winds. Of course, one can always pitch up and putt down for a bargain par, but anything into the sand is a likely bogey.

The long term smart plan of attack here is to over club on your tee shot, as there is no meaningful hazard in the back of the green. Some players, on really windy rounds, hit driver here over the green and come back for a sure bogey and some times, a lucky par.

Hole No 17

Palmer 17Par 4 Handicap 10
Gold 405 Yards, Blue 384 Yards, Silver 348 Yards, White 318 Yards , Red 280 Yards

This Par 4 is another of the truly challenging holes of the Palmer course.

There is nothing good along the left side of the tees. There is a barely visible bunker below the left embankment, which if you unfortunately have to come and visit it, turns out to be the size of a cement mixer.

We told you evil things lurk on the left side. There’s mud and a gully there, and big old mean leafy and branchy acacia trees that don’t give your approach shot any chance, not even if you take a 2-clublength drop for a penalty.


Try and hit your drive left of the fairway bunkers visible from the tees.

There is plenty of room there for a level stance, because you need to hit a really solid second shot over water, uphill, into the wind, over a bunker and onto a severely canted green. Anything less will leave you a pitch shot with an uneven stance, a ball in rough grass into a barely visible putting surface.

There is one easy thing to remember on this green – downhill putts are, you guessed it, fast. Uphill putts are slow, so hit it give it enough and firm. But if you, guess what, you’ve got another downhill putt.

Hole No 18

Palmer 18Par 5 Handicap 6
Gold 574 Yards, Blue Yards, Silver Yards, White Yards , Red Yards

Depending on how your round is going, the last hole could be thru the gates of paradise or to the long line of the tollbooths of C5 on a Friday payday commute.

The Palmer 18 is a long Par 5 dogleg right that is a minefield riddled with hazards that can still derail a decent or even better than average round.

There are substantial bunkers to the left of the fairway, forcing you to consider the right side which slopes down into the stream that runs all along the corner of the dogleg.

Shortcutting across the dogleg is no bargain, because if you manage to carry it off, your stance will still be uneven or sidehill, with your ball likely in the thick rough of the grass.

The more prudent scheme would be to drive safely over the middle bunker, then from a level lie there hit somewhere past the 150 marker, and settle for having to hit an accurate uphill third shot over an endless row of white sand glaring in the hot sun.

If you can’t carry the middle bunker with your drive, playing short of it is not a bad option. This will let you stay in the middle of the fairway after your second shot, and safely at the mouth of the green for your fourth. Par or bogey is not at all bad for this long, tight, uphill, windy hole.

Try not to get into any of the bunkers, definitely do noteven think of coming near the water in the corner, and use enough club for your third shot to negotiate the wind, the sand furies, the uphill green, and your tired legs and your hungry stomach.

Try not to let your exhaustion show. Remember, the veranda of the clubhouse, the Golf Lounge, and the clubhouse restaurants are all watching you putt out, shake hands with your flight, and pull your wallet out to pay for your losses.

There is always a next time!

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