The South Course, designed by Bert Way and redesigned by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1960, is best known for its legendary history of tournament play.
The cream of the world’s golfing crop face a stern challenge every time they descend on the fabled Firestone Country Club. There’s no doubt the format will provide excitement. Firestone has a rich history of testing the world’s best players, which it did for 22 years as the site of the World Series of Golf and now the present home of the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational.
Noted for it’s length, the par-70, 7,283 yard South Course includes a series of intimidating, long par-4 holes and one of the longest par 5’s anywhere. The 16th hole plays to 667 yards. A pond in front of the green captures its share of errant shots. Usually, the casualties aren’t the result of futile attempts to reach the green in two. They are third shots from players who hit errant tee shots and find the woods. A well-placed long tee shot does not guarantee the opportunity to get home in two. Players, however, have a birdie opportunity on the only other Par-5, the 497-yard second hole.
The 18th hole, though, is all the par-4 anyone would ever want to play. At 464 yards, it is long, narrow and has a green defended by bunkers. It’s not a place to expect to make a birdie to win.
The 16th hole doesn’t have the market covered on length. Before you even get there, the par-3, 221 yard, 15th provides enough of a challenge. The flat green makes for a straight putt, but getting the ball close to the hole can be a problem. From the tee, bunkers on the left of the green are hidden and provide for unpleasant surprises.
If a 221-yard par 3 isn’t enough, try the 200-yard 5th hole. The small green can be reached with a 5- or 6- iron but you might need as much as a 3-iron when the wind is blowing. Strange as it may seem, it is not one of the toughest scoring holes. That honor goes to two of the par 4’s. The 6th hole is 469 yards of heartburn. It has ranked as the second- and first-toughest challenge for professionals at Firestone over the years. When Robert Trent Jones redesigned Firestone into “The Monster” in 1959, this hole made par an excellent score.
The 471-yard 4th hole is another test. All the hole asks a player to do is hit a long and straight tee shot followed by an approach shot that must come in high to hold the elevated green. Sometimes easier said than done. But then again, that’s the best way to sum up Firestone Country Club’s South Course.