The fourth hole is the first of the real risk/reward scenarios golfers will encounter at the ‘Star. With elevated tee boxes, the fairway narrows around 225 yards with trees on each side. Anything in the middle to left side of the fairway should leave a good approach to the green, but be mindful of the sprawling sand traps short and right. A back pin location will run from left to right on this hole.
Five is a nice little downhill par three. Keep in mind that the right side runs downhill to a pond. This is the one area to keep away from at all costs.
Six is a deceptively tough par four. The tee shot looks easy enough, but is one of those shots where good golfers somehow seem to get in a lot of trouble. Most of the trouble is to the right, with deep fescue leading to a shallow tree line. The left side is not quite as penalizing, but is lined with fescue, as well.
My favorite of the spectacular par fives at Morningstar is the seventh. The tee boxes are extraordinarily elevated, and the eighteenth hole fairway can be utilized as a bailout to the right, if necessary. The left side is trouble, with tons of tall fescue. The right side can be equally as dangerous, with a multitude of waste bunkers and a steep entrance to the right side of the green complex. Keep the second shot in the fairway for the best chance to score on this hole.
Eight and nine are probably the toughest holes on the course. The eighth seems to get me every time. With a tee shot over water, the left side is heavily wooded. The right side of the fairway drops off to waste bunkers and an area that is about six feet below the intended playing surface, and can make the approach shot almost completely blind. Play this tee shot smart, and hit the straightest long club in your bag. At all costs, do not pull the ball left, or else risk dropping for three while still having no straight angle to approach from.
The ninth features another intimidating tee shot. The pond runs alongside the majority of the right side of the hole, and requires about 175 yards to carry from the blue tees. The left side is mostly dead, with high fescue along the hillside that separates this layout from the first hole. This hillside can be used at times, though, to get a favorable bounce back towards the fairway area. The raised green always seems to play a little longer than the eye suggests.
We had the opportunity to play Morningstar last weekend in a members-only shotgun. Starting on the tenth hole was a wonderful way to begin, with a much less demanding tee shot than the first. The tenth runs uphill, with three large fairway bunkers on the right side. Find the fairway and add an extra club to the approach to compensate for the elevation.
Eleven is the first of the par threes on the back, and features a very accessible green. At 178 yards from the blue tees, the right side is safe, while the left side falls off in to the woods.
I really enjoy the short par five twelfth. This is a great hole to drive on, and gives a good chance at reaching in two. The green is tricky, though, as the front is mostly uphill, and the long green can offer a number of tricky hole locations. Keep the drive on the left side or middle of the fairway, if possible, to keep the large tree on the right side of the driving area out of play. I actually hit this green in two using a three-hybrid and five-iron, but left a long uphill bender that I managed to four-putt for bogey.
Thirteen is a tough par four. With an elevated tee shot, it is not terribly long (362 yards from the blue tees), but the encroaching woods on both sides seems to really pinch the driving area.
One of my favorite aspects about Morningstar is that the course rewards good shots, and does not too heavily penalize shots that are only slightly errant.
Fifteen is a pretty straight forward par four. To the left of the fairway is the subdivision’s property line, so feel free to favor the right side to stay in bounds. If right, though, the approach can be very difficult over four very deep sand traps that front to this elevated green.
At 438 yards from the blue tees, the sixteenth is the longest par four on the course. The tee shot is mostly blind, running initially uphill with only sand traps on the left side visible from the tee boxes. After these tees, the fairway runs downhill and slightly left. Long hitters can go over this trap, but right of these would be an optimal target area and will take the left side out-of-bounds out of the equation. There is a pond right of the green, but the putting surface is quite large and hittable.
The tee boxes on seventeen provide a spectacular view of the course, and a highly elevated tee shot to a straight running fairway. My biggest issue on this hole always seems to be the property line on the left, but most players should consider the fairway traps that populate the right side of the hole’s narrow layout. Following a downhill tee shot, the approach runs uphill to a green bordered by bunkers on the left side.
Eighteen is another gorgeous par five. The tee boxes look over the seventh and eighteenth fairways, and as the eighteenth hole fairway can be used on the seventh hole tee shot, so can the seventh be used on the eighteenth. Distance is most important on this first shot, so get rid of as much of it as possible with the drive. The second shot should be played toward the end of the fairway, which then bends right to a highly risen green complex overlooked by Morningstar’s impressive clubhouse.
Following your round, make sure to enjoy lunch at “Hickory Sticks,” the course’s fine eatery and pub, where golfers and non-golfers alike are able to watch those on the course finish up their front and back nines from above.