WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - At 401 yards, the No. 14 hole on the Old White TPC beckons to pros needing a quick birdie.
On the back right corner of the tee box, a plaque reads: "228 to layup; 242 to carry bunker."
For much of the West Virginia Amateur field, the cross-bunker is a royal pain, constricting the fairway at a critical point. For PGA Tour pros in the Greenbrier Classic, it's merely ornamental.
In a practice round, Tuesday that bunker illustrated the challenge 13-time State Am champion Pat Carter faces.
First, Wes Short Jr. blasted his drive down the left edge of the fairway, going 290 or so. Charles Howell III then blocked his ball right, but cleared the bunker by plenty.
Carter stepped up, and it didn't go well. He went right and failed to carry that bunker - and even worse, the ball skipped up to the hosel-snagging fescue that lines the top of the Old White sands.
Fortunately, it was Tuesday and Carter picked that ball up. If he gets that lie Thursday or Friday in the first two rounds of the Classic, par would become a miracle.
It didn't bug him that he was perpetually behind the other two after his drives. He knows the difference in playing the game for a living vs. selling insurance while playing the game when you find time.
"It's knowledge," Carter said. "They get the best equipment at any given time. They're just specimens on the golf course. I mean, they just hit the ball so far, they can dig the ball out of the rough. I don't play that much anymore, to keep a nice routine and swing going.
"I mean, they're just head and shoulders better in every aspect of the game."
But Carter has the most course knowledge of the entire 156-man field, and Short picked his brain for all 18 holes during their practice round Tuesday.
Short needs to. The 49-year-old native of Austin, Texas, is playing on a major medical extension that is going to expire this weekend.
It's a sad story. He suffered a back injury in his 12th start in 2007, and has been limited to three events in the last five years. Without going into gory detail, the terms of his exemption are this: He must earn $743,061 in 12 tournaments to retain his Tour privileges.
The Classic is his 12th event, and he has earned $70,435 thus far. Let's make this simple: He has to win this week to keep his card.
Sleepy Hollow Country Club general manager Jonathan Clark knows Short, and Sleepy Hollow pro Jimmy Harrison is good friends with Howell. Howell is playing in his fourth Classic, so he knows his way around; for Short, Old White is a new experience.
"I was telling him some lines," Carter said of Short. "He's more normal to my type of game, even though he's a little bit longer. First time here; he played well so I look for some good things out of him this week."