Editor’s Note: The Norman Transcript City Championship begins Friday. Beginning in today’s sports section, sports editor Clay Horning, who used to think he was a pretty good golfer, will profile each of the three courses playing host to the annual event. Also, in each profile, Horning will list his thoughts on the best, toughest and most underrated hole on each course. Today’s profile: Westwood Park Golf Course.



The amazing thing about Westwood, Ryan Rainer’s little 29 to close out Fourth of July Weekend aside, is that it holds up. Year in and year out at the City Championship, the scores are lower at Norman’s only municipal track, but not that much lower.



Chalk it up to pin placements, tourney nerves and one of golf’s universal truths. No matter where you are, you still have to hit good shots. And maybe something else. Maybe Westwood, even in its old 6,015-yard form, before Tripp Davis designed new greens and tee boxes that added another 200 or so yards to the layout, isn’t quite the pushover everybody makes it out to be.



Whatever the case, it still doesn’t change this simple nugget of advice when you find yourself on the first tee in Saturday’s second round. Go low.



All right, sometimes it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this game.



Try to reach No. 1 in two, go for the stick on the short second and, by all means, play for birdie on No. 3. With a little luck, you might just par out for a 67. Probably not, though. Especially since the redesign, there are some nice holes out there.



The nicest one has been there all along.



Best hole: No. 5, Par 5, 465 yards.



I know, I know. How can you call a Par 5 that occasionally allows middle- to short-iron approaches as a prelude to an eagle putt the best hole on the course? Well, think of it this way. Think of it as a Par 4. Think of it that way and it becomes a beast demanding a perfect drive.



And, by the way, the best hole at Augusta National is No. 13. Itself, at least back in the day, a 465-yard Par 5.



If we were adding “key hole” to the list of this exercise, this one would qualify just the same. Because you can make 3 and you can make 8. It’s that kind of hole. It doesn’t seem to matter that there’s an acre of fairway out there. Maybe because nobody ever sees it. They see the trees right and the creek left.



Some folks see so much trouble they take their drive down the 16th fairway. Bryan Reed, playing in the final group over The Fourth, actually birdied No. 5, with a two-putt, after approaching from the 12th fairway. That particular day, Reed said he had a case of “the lefts.” But that drive might have been left of Karl Marx.



That aside, no matter what par is on the scorecard, the contenders always feel like they’ve stood still with a 4 and fallen back with a 5. It’s very cut and dry. And making 4 demands two strong shots, the first of which might be the toughest drive on the course.



Toughest hole: No. 13, Par 3, 211 yards.



Go ahead and find an easy hole that demands no less than a 3-iron or the latest miracle hybrid being hawked on The Golf Channel. You can’t. Long Par 3s are always tough.



Add to this one a shallow green, hardpan off to the right, a fence to the left, no fun long and you’ve got a real tough hole. Just roll it on somehow, two-putt and get to No. 14.



Most underrated hole: No. 3, Par 4, 301 yards.



This is the one hole that became shorter after all the changes. Only it got shorter and better, maybe even tougher. Basically, the pond down the right edge changed everything. It’s so close that a faded 3-iron down the middle with a hard kick might just put you in the drink.



And there’s more to it.



Ever notice how there’s never a good lie more than a few yards left of the green, or that the top right shelf, where you’ll likely find the pin Saturday, is very tough to hold when pitching back from beyond the green?



You have to try to make a 4 on every Par 5. And you want to make 3 here. And yet, unless you’re hitting your driver or 3-wood like a laser, you might want to go for the up-and-down rather than the two-putt birdie. Whatever you do, don’t miss it right. Don’t hook it in the range either.



And please, replace all ball marks and divots.



Thursday’s profile: The Trails.



Clay Horning366-3526cfhorning@normantranscript.com

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