UNC Finley is one of the most enjoyable courses you will ever play. Course designer Tom Fazio has created a layout that, from the proper tees, will provide a positive experience to anyone from a touring pro to a high handicapper.
RULES OF PLAY
-USGA Rules govern all play except when modified by local rules.
-Please follow golf car guidelines.
-Repair all ball marks, divots and rake sand bunkers.
-Proper golf course etiquette and attire are required.
-Pace of play is 4 1/2 hours or less
-All alcoholic beverages must be purchased at the golf course
-Coolers are provided on each golf car. Personal coolers are not allowed on the course.
-UNC Finley allows service animals only on the property.
Hole #1 Par 4
In honor of: Maxie McMillan By Janie & Billy Armfield
I think this is a wonderful starting hole. It’s got a raised-shelf fairway, bunkers on the left and a large green. It’s the type of hole where what you see is what you get.
I don’t know if we’ll ever use the farthest back tee here, because it’s a 240-yard carry over the water and about 270 to the fairway.
You can hit your tee shot either a little left to right, or right to left, the fairway will accept either one.
It’s a mid to short iron into a slightly two-tiered green that has excellent pin placements. You can toughen this one up as much as you want. Put the pin back in that right corner, and you’ve got yourself a very difficult second shot.
The undulation around this green is severe. You need a lot of imagination to get the ball up and down, especially if you miss the green on the flagstick side.
There’s only one sand bunker on this hole, but that’s all you need with this much undulation around the green.
This is a very comfortable starting hole!
Hole #2 Par 4
In honor of: Darryl E. Unruh
This is a short one. When I first played it I said this is going to be an easy hole, but actually, it’s so easy, it’s hard. This is an unbelievable golf hole. The more I play it, the more I like it.
The long hitters can pull out a driver and just nail it and take it down over that little swale on the right, but the safe way to play the shot is to hit either a long iron or a fairway wood. The fairway’s only about thirty yards wide.
You’ve got to be careful off the tee. I’ve seen tee shots with just a little left to right ball flight kick down into the sand bunkers on the right-hand side of the fairway. There’s a subtle little left-to-right slope that’s hard to see.
Most of the time you’ll be going into the green with a short iron. You can bump it into the green on the left, but not on the right side.
This is not a very deep green from front to back, but it’s very wide from left to right. Tom Fazio did that because the green is accepting a shot from a short iron.
The green has a wide variety of pin placements. There’s also some subtle undulations on the green that are hard to see. There’s severe undulation around this green, just as with number one.
The shorter holes at Finley consistently have more undulation around the greens than do the longer holes. You pay a price for the shorter yardage.
The sand bunker in the right front of the green really comes into play. It’s a tough bunker shot if you get in there.
This is a really fun hole. Fazio did a good job here of setting the flow for the day.
Hole #3 Par 5
In honor of: Terry Hemby & Alan P. Shaw
This is another hole I really like. It’s a par five that a long hitter can reach in two.
The fairway bunker on the right is kind of a target bunker. It’s a 200-yard carry from the Gold tee, but you have to be careful. There is a tall standing pine tree to the right of the bunker which can easily catch a left-to-right tee shot and knock your ball down into the bunker or pine needles.
As you’re going into the green on your second shot, you see that it’s well bunkered with sand, both around the green and the right-hand side of the fairway, just short of the green.
It’s a reachable hole for the long hitter. If he want’s to gamble it’s there, but there’s also a lot of trouble here. If you hit the great golf shot you get rewarded, but if you miss it you’re going to be severely penalized.
This hole is an outstanding example of the “Tillinghouse Ramp”, named after a Donald Ross era course designer. It’s the practice of having a flat, level stretch of fairway leading into the green, with a drop off on both sides of the level area. There must be a dozen holes out here that have this feature. It’s a theme of what Fazio was doing here.
The landing area off the tee has a left to right slope, the type of lie that leads to a fade or a slice ball flight. With most of the sand bunkers short and right of the green, if you miss hit your second shot you have a heck of a problem.
Sometimes I like to come out on the course in the afternoon and just see how play is going. It’s amazing how many balls are hit to the right on this hole.
It’s really smart to just lay your second shot down short of the green, then wedge it up.
This green has some very deceptive pin placements.
This is the kind of hole that says “gotcha!”
The left-to-right slope of the fairway will cause a second shot to work towards the bunkers on the right.
Hole #4 Par 4
In honor of: Donald L Henson, DDS.
When I first played this hole I didn’t think it was very difficult, but the more you play it, it just grows on you. It’s a tougher hole than it looks at first.
From the Gold tee the ball is landing on an upslope, so even though it’s a relatively short hole, it’s going to play one or two clubs longer since you’re not going to get much roll from your tee shot.
What I like to do here is turn the ball from left to right off the tee and let it work back down into the fairway. I aim my tee shot to the left edge of the green and let the ball feed it’s way off the hill.
When you stand on the tee and look towards the green the landing area doesn’t look very wide. However, if you stand on the green and look back to the tee, you’ll see that you have a lot more fairway than you think.
You don’t want to fly it over this green because it’s straight down hill behind the green, making it difficult to get the ball close to the hole on a pitch back to the green
A great pin placement here is the back-right corner. That’s brutal!
Hole #5 Par 3
In honor of: The Jim Ferree Family
This hole is 221 yards from the Tar Heel tees and 145 from the Carolina Blue tees.
From the Tar Heel tees it’s a very difficult hole because it requires a long iron or fairway metalwood shot.
It’s a wonderful, straight-forward hole with a creek in front of the green. What you see is what you get.
A right-rear flagstick placement is a killer. There’s an environmentally sensitive area to the the right of the green, and you’re not even allowed in that area. If you go right you’re dead.
If you miss the green, miss it left. It’s the easiest position to have a chance of making par.
The easiest flagstick location is right in the middle of the green.
The hole plays a little downhill, maybe a half club shorter.
The best way to play this hole is to hit the middle of the green, get your par and go on to the next hole.
Hole #6 Par 5
In honor of: M.W. Peebles A True Tar Heel By: M.W. “Dyke” Peebles, Jr.
Another good par five. I think the shot off the tee is a left-to-right tee shot. I aim at the two sand bunkers on the left-hand side of the fairway and try to work the ball left to right.
There’s a few holes out here where a left to right shot off the tee is your best play.
If you’re going to miss it off the tee here, miss it left.
One the unique things about this hole is the length of the green, it’s very long and narrow and slopes more back to front than you would think.
If you go for it the green in two, you’ve got to hit a really good golf shot.
If you go for it in two and miss it, you’ve got a really tough up and down. There’s a severe drop off on the right of the green, and a deep bunker on the left side of the green.
It’s quite easy to stand in the fairway for you second shot and think you’re going to make a four, then walk away with a six and be glad you got it.
This is another green where you don’t need a lot of sand bunkers because of the severity of the slope around the green.
When you stand in the fairway for your second shot and see the bunker on the left you think maybe you should bail out a little to the right. Well, you’ve got about as much trouble over there as you do with the sand on the left.
It’s a real gamble to go for this green in two. It requires a great deal of expertise to hit this green in two.
Hole #7 Par 4
This hole I love. I really love short par fours, such as this one.
You’ve got to take it and drive it just to the left of the fairway bunker on the right hand side and just let it run from right to left, as the fairway slopes from right to left. You get what I call a little ground draw. There’s actually more landing room than there appears to be from the tee.
Your first image of your second shot is that you don’t want to go over the green, because if you do you are absolutely dead. There’s also a difficult bunker in front of the green.
The thing that amazes me about this hole is that I never feel like I’ve got the right club in my hand for my second shot.
It’s such a difficult hole, even though it’s one of the shortest ones on the golf course. This hole is sort of like number two, in that it kind of lulls you to sleep a little bit.
Tom Fazio put just one sand bunker in front of the green, but the bunker protects three-quarters of the green. It is in a perfect location if the shot comes into the green short of the target.
If you go long or left here, you’re in trouble. There’s a huge dropoff behind the green with an almost impossible chip back up the hill. You can flop that ball up perfectly, but it’s going to take off when it hits the green because it’s landing on a downslope.
The bottom line on this hole is don’t be long.
Hole #8 Par 3
A hole this short has got to have some trick to it.
It’s a two-tiered green that’s a lot like the second green, where it’s not deep at all, but it’s a very wide green from left to right.
You’re coming into this green with either a short to mid-iron, depending on the tees you’re playing. The green’s only 28 yards deep, so you’ve got to hit a good golf shot.
I think maybe it’s the easiest par three on the course, but you don’t want to be on the top tier putting down to the bottom tier.
The most difficult flagstick placement on this hole is on the left side of the green, behind the sand bunker. That’s a very difficult flagstick position.
There’s a fairly severe slope in front of the green, so you don’t want to be short. If you come in short with some backspin, you’ll roll all the way back down to the flat area.
If you go over the green, you’ve got a delicate little chip shot to a green sloping away from you.
You definitely want to leave your tee shot on the same tier the flagstick is located.
Hole #9 Par4
In honor of: Buck Adams
The golf course starts right here.
I think the tee shot here is left side of the fairway with a left-to-right ball flight. You do have to be careful of the fairway bunkers on the right side of the fairway. They are reachable from the tee.
There is a definite left to right slope on the fairway. But, if you hit it too far left off the tee with a little draw, it’ll run left off that shelved fairway and you’re in really big trouble.
The second shot coming into this green is difficult. You’ve got a sand bunker on the left and water on the right.
This green is very, very deep. The day I played with Joe and John Inman (John Inman is UNC’s men’s golf coach. His brother Joe is a highly successful member of the Senior PGA Tour), Ross set the course up pretty good. He put the flagstick on this hole on the back left of the green. All four of us drove it out here in the middle of the fairway. Joe looks up at the green and says to me, “Johnny, is that pin on the green?”
There’s not much room at all on the right side of the green. Plus, there’s a trap between part of the green and the water that can’t be seen from the fairway.
This is an eight or nine-thousand square foot green that is very deep from back to front. Depending on the position of the flagstick, you can have up to a three-club difference on this green. With a flagstick placement in the back-left corner of the green, from the center of the fairway it makes it appear that the flagstick is not on the gren.
This is a super golf hole.
Hole #10 Par 4
In honor of: The V.W. Lane Family
We’re heading down the back side now.
Number 10 is kind of a controversial hole, but Tom Fazio likes it.
Every golf course has a controversial hole that people just aren’t too sure about, and this is ours. Everybody thinks that when you come to a long par four you have to hit a driver, but that isn’t the case.
It’s 210 yards from the Gold tee to the fairway bunkers, so your shot off the tee should be with a three wood or a five wood.
From the front tees this hole gets much easier. There’s not much of a dog leg at all, it’s basically a straight shot.
The success I’ve had on this hole has been the times I’ve hit a five wood off the tee, then another five wood into the green.
The day Joe Inman played it he hit a driver right down the right tree line with a little cut. He could not have stood here and hit a hundred balls and hit one any better. As we walked off the tee I told him he was dead. He said “what do you mean I’m dead, I hit it perfect.”
I said yes, but look what you’ve got left. You’re going to have about 190 from a severe downhill, sidehill lie with a long iron to an elevated green. So we drive down there and Joe says, “Hey Johnny, I’m dead.”
What you have to ask yourself is do you want a fairway wood into the green from a level lie, or do you want a long iron from a sidehill, downhill lie.
The green has no sand bunkers around it. It doesn’t need them. It’s hard enough as it is.
Play this hole like it was designed, and par should not be a difficult problem.
Hole #11 Par 4
This is one of the best holes I’ve ever played. The first time I walked up to the tee I thought ‘what a great driving hole!’.
From the Tar Heel tee you must drive it well. You’ve got to aim it at the right bunkers. The average golfer can’t carry it over the bunker on the left.
I would say 90% of the players who hit from back here take it at the right bunker and try to work it a little right to left. The way Fazio has shaped the hole you will get a little of that ground draw if you hit that type of shot.
From the Gold tee it’s a 210-yard carry to carry the left bunker. There’s a big cedar tree out there to aim at. If you carry the bunker it can make the hole much shorter. If you have to come in from the right side, it makes for a much longer and difficult approach shot.
To make this hole easy, it’s all in the drive. In a way, the hole starts and ends on the tee. This hole is drastically more difficult from the back tee than from the front tees.
As you head off the tee check out the bridge. It’s rather unique, with the rope draped along the sides. Ross had seen that type of bridge on another course, and he took care of having this one built. It’s a nice touch that adds to the beauty of the hole.
From the middle of the fairway, it doesn’t look like there’s too much trouble up there, but when you get up there you’ll see the severity around the green.
This is a two-tiered green where you want to make sure you put the ball on the tier with the flagstick. This is another green that looks somewhat flat, other than the tier, but once you get on it there’s a lot of subtleties in the green. You’ve really got to be careful and study your putt well.
Hole #12 Par 3
In honor of: Ruby & Harry Bryant
This hole plays a little shorter because it is slightly downhill.
The green is more undulating than it appears from the tee. I would say if you’re going to miss the green, miss it on the right side, but sometimes that can be just as severe as missing it on the left.
There’s a sand bunker on the left side of the green that you want to avoid, but you also don’t want to go long. It’s a very tough up and down from behind the green.
The safe way to play it is to play it a little short, then chip up and try to make a par.
Again, this is another example of how much the difficulty of a hole changes with the different sets of tees. You’re looking at 204 yards from the Tar Heel tees, but a much more workable 160 yards from the Carolina Blue tees.
Overall, this is a good par three.
Hole #13 Par 5
The rocks fronting the back two sets of tees are absolutely gorgeous.
The footbridge leading back to them is quite a nice touch. It’s about a 40-yard bridge that curves back and forth.
This is a very hard driving hole from the two back tees. The best shot from the back is a left-to-right fade into the left side of the fairway. The penalty to the right is just so severe. If you go into the fairway bunker, or to the right of it, making par will be very difficult.
You’ve also got some bunkers that can come into play on your second shot. From the middle of the fairway they’re slightly more elevated than where you’re standing, and they can grab your ball in a hurry.
A three wood or five wood down the middle of the fairway is what you want on your second shot, then a little pitch into the green.
If you do go for the green in two you can get in trouble. There’s a severe drop off to the left side of the green, and a creek back there that can come into play.
This isn’t a very big green, but it’s very well shaped with a lot of slope around the green.
The little sand bunker to the right front of the green has a big effect on the hole. It’s another example of Fazio making very effective use of one bunker, as someone else would have put in three or four bunkers.
It’s a really good par five.
Hole #14 Par 3
This is a good par three that will accept a shot well. The green slopes from back to front, which helps hold the shot.
The hardest flagstick position on this green is on the front-left of the green. This green is very deep with a wide variety of flagstick placements, which makes club selection very important.
If you miss this green, miss it to the right. It’s your only chance for par. There’s a creek on the left, and water and sand bunkers in the front.
This hole plays straight forward, there’s no gimmicks.
Hole #15 Par 4
In honor of: The J.H. Austin Family Sally Austin
This is a good golf hole. The view from the tee is fantastic.
This hole has six tees. The farthest one back is 491 yards.
This is golf hole from back here. With the way the equipment technology is progressing, a few years from now this might not be quite as tough a par four. But I don’t think in our lifetime they’ll ever be a better one.
The fairway slopes from right to left, so anything down the left side that’s too close to the water will get a left-hand kick. I try to start my tee shot between the second and third bunkers on the right.
The second shot here is unbelievable. It’s a tiered green you’re aiming at, and if you miss it, you want to miss it to the right. However, when you get down to the green you’ll see some trouble that you can’t see from the fairway.
The sand bunker in the left front of the green has a rather unique design, and like all of Fazio’s bunkers, it has a great effect on your shot to the green.
There is some severity in slope around this green, but not as much as with the shorter holes. However, there is enough slope here to cause you plenty of difficulty.
This is a hole that the first time you walk up to the tee and look down the fairway, you just go wow, this is really something special.
Hole #16 Par 4
In lasting appreciation: George P. Hogan
This could be not only one of the hardest par fours in North Carolina, it could also be one of the prettiest.
From the Tar Heel tee you’ve got about a 220-yard carry over the natural area to reach the left side of the fairway, and it’s a 260-yard carry to the right side of the fairway. It’s definitely a monster.
I feel you can have success playing this hole if you favor the left side of the fairway on your tee shot.
The second shot is all uphill. It’s more than thirty feet of elevation. It makes your approach shot play a club more than normal.
The environmentally sensitive area (ESA) in front of the tee gives it kind of a rustic look, or maybe even a little bit of a Scottish look. In the future we’ll probably plant some wild flowers in there and also on the bank up on the right side of the fairway. It would add to the aesthetics, but not cause a maintenance problem.
The fairway bunkers on the right come more into play from the front tees, because they’re basically unreachable from the back tees.
It’s just beautiful the way they’ve cut the front tees into the side of the hill.
You really don’t want to go into the bunker in the front left of the green. It’s really severe in there. If you’re going to miss the green, miss it on the right.
This green is wide but not very deep, which makes proper club selection very important.
The slope around the green is not too severe, keeping with the Fazio tradition of less slope severity the tougher the hole.
When you stand behind the green and look back down the 16th and 15th fairways, it’s hard to believe how beautiful it is. The view is absolutely unbelievable.
Hole #17 Par 5
By: Sam Reeves In honor of: Dick Coop
Another good golf hole. From the back tee you must be a long hitter to carry all the fairway bunkers. Most players should aim between the first and second bunkers.
This is another hole where we have a variety of different tee boxes. The tee shot is a lot easier from the front tees, but it’s still a challenge to the person playing the hole.
You’ve got a split fairway here for your second shot. You’ve got fairway to the right, sand bunkers in the middle of the fairway, then more fairway to the left.
You really notice the split fairway more when you’re standing on the green looking back towards the tee.
It depends on where the flagstick is located as to which side of the fairway you come down.
The green is severely two-tiered. There’s about a four foot difference in elevation between the two tiers. The only other green I’ve seen with this much difference in elevation was in St. Andrews, Scotland.
The best way to play the hole is to not get too greedy. Lay it up to either the left or right side, depending on the position of the flagstick, then pitch it up and make your four or five.
Hole #18 Par 4
In honor of: Judy & Art Quackenbush Loving Parents Loyal Tar Heels
I’d hate to come into this hole with a one-stroke lead, needing a par to win a tournament.
This is a great finishing hole.
From the back tee it’s definitely a left to right tee ball. Aim it at the sand bunker on the left side of the fairway and let it fall to the right. It’s about 447 yards from the farthest back tee on this hole.
The left side of the green has a false front to it. It just drops right in front of the green, but you don’t really notice it from the fairway. Once you get up there and see the dip, you just go, ‘oh my goodness’.
Also, the undulation around the green is pretty severe for a hole of this distance.
For most golf course designers, Fazio included, the 18th hole is a tough finishing hole. He doesn’t want to make it a 17-hole golf tournament, he wants to make it an 18-hole golf tournament. He’s going to make you play the last hole.
The best shot to this green is just to try and put the ball in the middle of the green, take your two putts, and get the heck out of here.
I would say that numbers 11, 16 and 18 are, from the back tees, the three toughest holes on the course.