Maiden greens, meandering creeks: The 12th at Mossy Oak

An in-depth analysis of the 12th hole at Mossy Oak Golf Club


The 12th at this Gil Hanse design delivers a multitude of options through its width and strategic hazards. The hole’s strategy is dictated by the 12th’s unique green complex. The green is a maiden green that is akin to a subtle sideways biarritz allowing the ideal lines of the hole to change depending on which side of the green the pin is on. It’s elevated, wide, shallow and has a severe false front. Approaching the 12th’s green complex requires excellent accuracy and distance control to make a birdie.

The 12th tee shot at Mossy Oak

The tee shot plays downhill. It is one of the more dramatic and beautiful corners of the property. Finding the fairway is an important first step for a scoring chance on this lengthy par-5. Though the fairway is over 70 yards wide, it pinches as fairway bunkers flank the landing areas at 270 yards. From the back tees, three right fairway bunkers taper the fairway to under 40 yards wide. The ideal shot will hug the inside of the last fairway bunker to find the speed slot. This sets up the best angle for the second shot. A miss in the fairway bunker guarantees a long third shot into the challenging green complex.

The approach to the 12th at Mossy Oak

Going for it in two: A good drive gives long players a chance at the green in two. The shot is tough to an elevated, shallow green. The green’s false front makes it quite difficult to get home and sends shots slightly short tumbling back down the hill. If a player comes up short they are left with an awkward and delicate 40 yard wedge shot to an elevated and shallow green.

The 12th's nasty false front.

For the mortals: Most golfers aren’t getting home in two. To his credit, Hanse creates strategic interest on the second shot with a small creek. The creek cuts diagonally across the fairway at 170 yards from the green and forces the decision of whether to go for it or lay up.

Go for it. Going for it brings in risk, but is the only way to get a wedge in hand. The shortest line is over the left side, but this approach brings the woods and a bunker into play. The longer line to the right has less trouble once over the creek and a better angle to most pins.

Lay up. Laying up prompts another series of options influenced by pin position and preferred distance. The shallow green makes finding a particular side of the fairway advantageous. When the pin is left, you want to be on the right side of the fairway. If the the pin is on the right, the left side is superior. Playing up the right side can get you a shorter shot, but Hanse defends the aggressive play with a group of fairway bunkers. Meanwhile, the left side has far less risk but will leave an approach shot of over 175 yards.

The 12th is a great par-5 because it forces players to weigh different options on each shot. These options are each met with a different set of risks and repercussions. Pulling off the shots set up an excellent chance at birdie but one poor shot can lead to a bogey or worse…