The Review: Odessa National
A Course for All Reasons
by Reid Champagne Published March 17, 2010 at 09:44 AM
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ix some of the elevation changes and penal characteristics of an Inniscrone Golf Course and a Deerfield Golf and Tennis Club with the shot placement and forced carries of a White Clay Creek Country Club and you come up with a unique golf challenge—one that awaits you at the new Odessa National Golf Club in Townsend, Delaware.
“Odessa is more open than Deerfield,” says director of golf Dale Loeslein, “but the high native grass and some of the forced carries can definitely make it penal at times.”
The original layout by Gil Hanse has been re-routed a bit by Joel Weiman to make it more friendly. Tri-state golfers will enjoy the rural quality of the former dairy farm. Each hole is comfortably separated from one another, with visually satisfying setbacks from the club’s property lines.
“It’s a layout where you want to have a strategy in order to remain playable,” says Loeslein. “You certainly don’t want to automatically yank out the driver on every par 4 or 5.”
There is a good mix of holes that alternately demand accuracy and distance control. Greens on the shorter holes tend to be small and unbunkered. Longer holes feature broader green complexes that are most receptive to holding approaches with long iron and hybrid clubs. Average green size is about 8,000 square-feet. Grasses are allowed to grow high in season.
Loeslein estimates that there are five risk-and-reward tee shots, depending on the tees you’re playing from. While water is present throughout the course, “it’s really only in play on about two holes,” he says.
That is, of course, if you were smart enough to adopt the strategy of prudent course management. The open nature of the layout makes Odessa National a different challenge when the wind is up. “You’ll need every club in your bag and every shot in your arsenal to be successful here,” Loeslein says.
The opening hole provides a generous landing on the right, then leaves an approach to a green with a sharp drop-off on the right side. Next you arrive at Odessa’s No. 1 handicap hole.
It’s a robust 632-yard par 5 with water threatening on every shot. The tee shot is blind, but a yardage sign marks the distance to the water that bisects the fairway (about 270 yards from the tee box). The sensible second shot is aimed at the 150-yard marker, which sets up a reasonably cozy third shot that nevertheless must carry the finger of water that is in play when the pin is on the right-hand quadrant of the green.
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