Looking at it - it looks like it would make me want to go right underneath the ball. You can even see on the picture on the back of the box . .the ball on the pocket bunker is much higher than the ball in the sand. I have no sand skills (other than I usually get out) but that seems weird.
Quick report: good food, fun game.
After trying a few things I ended up just hitting pitches into the yellow target. As long as you get inside the outer circle the value of the next shot is doubled so i was able to get 8-16 points on most shots easily. I played three rounds and had a top score of 183.
Next time we go out I might try shooting for the back wall (only brought a 6i and 8i) and see how that goes.
Although my home course has the policy that I mentioned above, the starters don't have the authority to do anything like what you describe. They have a well defined job description (I know because I was one for 5 years), and catering to one's friends is not in that description. In fact we were specifically NOT allowed to "squeeze" anyone on the course, friend or otherwise. The tee sheet is the bible, and it is inviolate.
If there was an open time on #1 that created a gap on the course, we were allowed to fill it with 1 to 4 9 hole players off the wait list, but only if that gap still existed when the preceding group came around at the turn. If the following group had closed the gap, then we did not try to reopen it by squeezing anyone in. I was fortunate to both work and play at a course which was managed extremely well. That is why I still play there anytime I get the chance, including remaining a men's club member even though I live 2½ hours away.
As an example, I played a tournament 2 weekends ago, and even as one of the last groups in the competition on Saturday we finished in under 4½ hours, right on the heels of the group in front of us. On Sunday we were one of the early groups (a different pairing, same flight of 17-19 handicappers) and finished in 3:58. That is playing tournament golf, 120 players in groups of 4, playing by the rules. Those who think that this isn't possible have never learned how to play efficiently. The men's club is self policing, and it works.