Anthem Country Club No. 9: Break at the Turn
ANTHEM - When playing golf, sometimes you just need a break. And isn't it a pleasure when a course architect builds one right into the design?
A break is exactly what Anthem Country Club designer Greg Nash provides in the form of his par-4 ninth hole. It's a break sorely needed after the long, uphill par-5 eighth. It's a break from having to crank a drive 280 down the middle of the fairway. A break, in fact, from your driver altogether. It's a break from living in fear of Nash's prolific fairway bunkers. It's a break, most of all, from the ordinary hole.
No. 9 reaches 411 yards from the black tees, 395 from the blues, 334 from the whites and 311 from the reds. The line of sight from the perfect Anthem tee box heads straight over a corner of the surrounding Sonoran desert, down the hill to a very generous landing area.
In the distance, the freshly laid green roof and bell towers of the clubhouse loom large over a sliver of mult-tiered and slightly sloping green that is home to both the ninth- and 18th- hole pins.
A solitary sand trap is sprawled out in the right rough, very reachable but also very miss-able. Any middle iron certainly would be acceptable off the white tees, while a fairway wood should be enough club from the blues.
Ladies playing the reds or white can take their choice off the tee, with the goal for everybody being straight and center with a little bit of run to set up an easy approach to the pin.
Why not let the big dog eat on No. 9? Because it may bite off more than it can chew. Hit too nice of a drive and you'll get to experience another kind of break - the deep canyon that separates the ninth fairway from the signature double green.
Of course, even a tee shot in the fairway doesn't take the canyon out of play. Be careful of the many downhill lies No. 9 has to offer - and the closer to the green your first shot lands, the more drastic the slope is likely to be.
If the chasm makes you nervous, there is plenty of bail-out room provided to the right of the green. Three pot bunkers on the clubhouse side of the hill make for nice scenery, but should be kept out of play assuming a fair pin placement. A large trap on the front left poses a more immediate threat, again making an approach to the right side of the hole a safe play.
If you're searching for a birdie to close out that perfect nine or just looking to stop the bleeding, the ninth hole gives you a fair chance. All the factors that make Anthem a challenging (and beautiful) course - the carries, the bunkers, the speedy tiered greens, the desert - they are all present on No. 9. All but one, that is. The imposing length is missing, and that alone is enough of a break from Nash.