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The Cottonwood

True to its name, the Cottonwood 9 has the most trees along its fairways as well as lots of creeks and ponds, the result of water trickling down from the foothills. Its lush scenic layout lies very close to a nature trail in the area of the 13th and 16th holes, and the entire nine will give you a real back-to-nature feeling. Foxes have built their dens close to some tees; deer, mountain lions, coyotes and even a bear have been seen in the vicinity. Because of its natural beauty, this nine is always a favorite with golfers.

You'll start off on the Cottonwood on a par-4 (377 yards from the back tees and 291 from the forward) that makes a 90-degree left turn around a huge pond. There is also an out-of-bounds area and two fairway bunkers to the right. Despite the hazards, this is a relatively easy hole. "This is a fairly short hole so most players wouldn't hit a driver," Lynes says. "Use a fairway wood or long iron off the tee."

But after that easy start, it's on to an uphill dogleg right par-4 (477 yards from the back tees and 357 from the forward) on the Cottonwood. This hole, No. 11, is the longest and toughest at West Woods. "As you take your tee shot," says Lynes, "you'll see a fairway bunker on the right that is very difficult to carry. The pond of the left is not in play. But you have to make your second shot uphill to a very large green that is sloped severely from back to front."

The third hole on this nine, No. 12, is the signature hole on the course. It's a par-3 (211 yards from the back tees and 88 yards from the forward) that demands that you play through a chute of cottonwoods with water on the left and bunkers on both sides of the green. "It's a very difficult hole," Lynes says, "because both the water and bunkers around the green are in play. It's somewhat of a downhill tee shot, so use less club than usual."

No. 13 on the Cottonwood is a par-4 that doglegs slightly to the right as it fallows Ralston Creek. "The creek is on the right and so is the nature trail," says Steve Lynes, "and there's a big tree at the edge of the dogleg that could block a shot across it. The bunkers on the left are also tricky to handle. You don't want to use your driver off the tee. There's a tight landing area."

The Cottonwood nine ends up with a short dogleg right par-5 with ponds protecting the right and left sides and big fairway bunkers on the left as well. This hole that plays 512 yards from the back tees and 426 from the forward, is "a great finishing hole," Lynes says. "It's also a high risk-reward hole."

Long hitters can reach the green in two by crossing the water on the left. But those who shoot for the middle and lay up have to go over the water as well. "You can get a 3 on this hole or you can make 8," Lynes says.

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