You can tell a lot about a golf course by the first hole. If the first hole is easy, the rest of the course is probably going to be easy too. That’s why you can tell that the Friendly Hills Country Club course is going to be great. It has one of the best opening holes of all golf courses in Los Angeles. It’s challenging and requires precise driving to make par. There’s no other golf course in Los Angeles that starts with such a jolt. Very few courses begin with a par-five hole, but Friendly Hills isn’t a common golf course.
This par-five hole is the third hardest hole on the course for men and the ninth hardest hole for women. From the blue tees, it’s a rugged 567 yards. From the white tees, it’s a whopping 542 yards. Hole placement on the rear of the green makes it play longer than 600 yards.
Players must tee off over water and be careful not to get wet in the creek that runs along the left for the entire length of the hole. The right side is lined with bunkers. The hole is a continuous rise to the green, so there’s little extra yardage to be gained from bounces. Few golfers have made the green in two strokes. It takes a long, straight drive to the middle of the fairway to set up for a good second shot and to have any chance of making par. Off the tee, the bunkers are in play from 240 to 280 yards, but players have to beware of the creek on the left.
The fairway is narrow beyond the first set of bunkers. It’s smart to add a club for the approach since the cup is just beyond the top of the long, slow hill. An approach shot from below the hole, as opposed to coming from the side, is the best play.
Smart golfers won’t try to hit the green in two. It’s easier to chip to the green after a well-placed approach shot, especially with bunkers protecting the green on both sides. An overly aggressive chip will run off the back or far sides of the green, so the pitch has to be played carefully. Behind and beside the green are several trees that won’t reward an errant shot.
On this hole, making the green in three is as good as it gets for most golfers. The green slowly breaks downward, which makes putting treacherous. The key to putting this hole is to not get too eager. A two-putt on Friendly Hills’ first hole is great. Anybody who logs a five on this one is going to be proud and relieved. A bogey or double bogey is nothing to fear. There are plenty of other holes that offer the chance for low scores.