GRANITEVILLE — New players and returners alike will face a difficult challenge when they reach the closing stretch at Sage Valley Golf Club.
Competitors in this week’s Junior Invitational, which runs Friday through Sunday, will face longer and stronger par-4 holes in Nos. 17 and 18. Augustan Greyson Sigg, who played in last year’s tournament, said anyone making birdie at No. 17 will have a huge advantage.
“If you make birdie there,” Sigg said, “it’s like you stole two from the field.”
After last year’s event, the par-4 17th hole was radically transformed, turning an easy hole into one that now stretches to 499 yards from the back tees – an addition of 68 yards. The green was moved back 35 yards and to the left, bringing a pond into play on the approach. After being the No. 12 handicap hole last year, No. 17 is now the hardest hole.
“Seventeen is one of the best holes on the golf course,” Sigg said. “You’ve got to hit a good drive. Then you’ve got to hit a good second shot.”
Max Greyserman, of Short Hills, N.J., hit his tee shot into the left rough at No. 17 in Tuesday’s practice round. He tried to draw a 3-iron shot to the green, but his ball clipped a tree branch and splashed into the water.
“If you’re left of the fairway, you have to draw your approach over the water to the green,” Greyserman said. “No one wants to do that.
“If you hit it in the left rough, you’re probably going to have to lay up.”
At the closing hole, a new back tee box was created, and the back portion of the green was expanded. The par-4 18th now plays as long as 452 yards, with a blind approach all uphill to a multi-tiered green. Sigg said the hole plays more like 470.
The Richmond Academy senior busted a drive to the middle of the fairway. He then hit a 5-iron over the false front to the middle of the green.
Greyserman also found the fairway and hit a 4-iron to the green. He said there’s a two-club difference in having the back tee box in play.
“You’ve got to make a good decision off the tee,” Greyserman said.
In the first Junior Invitational in 2011, Nicholas Reach shot 20-under for the 54-hole event. Sigg and Greyserman said no one will come close to that total, especially after Tom Fazio, the course’s original architect, made the changes to Nos. 17 and 18.
“Obviously in this tournament you have the best of the best playing,” tournament chairman Tom Wyatt said in January.
“We want to provide the best test for them.”