Smart Plays Keep Your Golf Game Exciting

There are so many things that can go right or wrong on the golf course, and your mental state is a big factor. Sure, you need self-control, but you also need a winning strategy.

At Orchard Valley Golf Course in Aurora, smart planning makes all the difference.

Your first challenge is the par-3 No. 2, where the right flank is guarded by water. Head pro Joe Fritz plays from the black tees, where it’s all carry to the green. The average golfer is wise to steer left and beware the sloping fairway. “If you miss to the right, you’re going swimming,” Fritz says.

Fritz starts No. 3 with less club so he can hit the wide part of the fairway, away from the water. He starts the next hole, a par-5, with a solid drive over the water before targeting a narrow green.

The next few holes are all about the beach. There’s a giant bunker flanking Nos. 5, 6 and 7. Err toward the opposing side, says Fritz, as the scale of the bunker and its tallgrass islands lowers your chance at par. Hole No. 8 offers more bunkers along a zigzagging fairway before No. 9 lets off pressure on a long straightaway.

The front nine is where you want to get aggressive, says Fritz. The back nine is all skill, particularly on the signature par-3 No. 12, where you want to stay out of the water. This one’s all about the carry.

Then, there’s No. 13, where water bisects the fairway. Think of this one like a par-5, where a good lie before the water will get you a better approach to the green. “Taking a bogey here isn’t a bad score,” says Fritz.

No. 15 requires a similar strategy. On a good day, Fritz might aim across the water to the second fairway, roughly 260 yards away. But it’s a lot of risk for little reward, he says. The smarter move is to hit a shorter club onto the first fairway.

Given its many hazards, this is a course that rewards safe, smart shots.

“Take what the course gives you,” says Fritz. “If the course gives you a lot on the front, take it. It does not give you a whole lot on the back nine.”

Orchard Valley Golf Course is located at 2411 W. Illinois Ave., in Aurora. Schedule a tee time at