What's your favorite hole you've played and what makes it your top choice?
The Road Hole
My favorite golf hole ever played is the 17th on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. Commonly referred to as The Road Hole, it combines unique quirkiness with an ever-challenging yet playable design.
I would not consider it a “natural hole” due to the railroad barn/hotel and stone wall and road elements to contend with, all of which are not made by Mother Nature. Although it fits the environment and ambiance of the legendary links perfectly and adds to the experience immensely.
Playing the hole well requires courage, wisdom, and skill. The drive is of a risk-reward nature where you drive it blindly, more right the more courage and the more risk/reward. The second to a back left flag could be one of the most daunting shots with the famous road hole bunker directly in play. All that coupled with firm playing surfaces, a stiff breeze, and a stone wall ruled as an integral part of the course and I consider it the best hole in golf as well as my favorite.
Gee thanks Backswing–at 68 years of age I’ve been fortunate enough to play so many courses and holes or see them from the perspective as a rules official. I remember the day Ed Hoard (former PGA Rules Chairman) and I walked around Oak Hill before the 2003 PGA–I said WOW on every tee except one. I’ve played or seen Pebble Beach, Augusta National, Cypress Point, Olympic Club, Baltusrol, Oak Hill, Oakmont, The Country Club, Winged Foot, Medinah, Olympia Fields, Southern Hills, Pinehurst #2, Muirfield Village, East Lake and on and on and I have to pick one HOLE!
I guess it is #13 at Augusta National. The reasons are many:
The history that’s been made on that hole, the spectacular shots and the bad decisions and the beauty of it during the Masters but most importantly the sheer genius of the design. A short par 5 that has seen 3’s all the way to 9’s and more.
Play safe off the tee and lay up short of the creek and then have an easy but still challenging pitch–or turn it around the corner, attack the creek and be set up to hit a mid to short iron into the green. The hole is completely natural and built by God with the exception of the bunkers and swale around the left side of the green. I’ll never forget my first time playing #13–I hit three wood and 4 iron on the green, two putted and was thrilled to death.
There are so many great holes around the world but #13 at Augusta National has it all.
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The Cardinal by Pete Dye, No. 12 - Greensboro, NC
When you think about a par-3 designed by the legendary Pete Dye, the first hole that naturally comes to mind is TPC Sawgrass No. 17. Having played that hole, the aura is spectacular. However, my favorite golf hole is a different par-3 designed by the man known for near-impossible layouts, and that would be The Cardinal by Pete Dye No. 12. Located in Greensboro, NC
Picture TPC Sawgrass No. 17, then add about 80 yards and narrow the green. At 220 yards from the tips, it is truly the most daunting and exhilarating golf hole I have ever encountered. Standing on the tee looking toward the flag, all you see is water and a sliver of land that is the green. Unlike the Sawgrass version, this par-3 is not an island. Rather, the water wraps in front, to the left, and behind the green. On the right-hand side, there are two very small bunkers and then another creek.
My standard approach to this hole is to aim in the right bunkers and hope the ball draws onto the putting surface, so hitting the green is almost an accident. If the ball happens to fade at all, then the ball will find the creek. I always found hitting in the creek less demoralizing than finding the massive lake to the opposite side. Like most Dye designs, this hole is very penalizing and provides little room for error.
Dye himself was so fond of this hole, that he installed a plaque beside the teeing ground that says, “the hardest par three I ever designed – Pete Dye, 2007.” When the master of hard holes puts his stamp of approval acknowledging the difficulty, you know it’s the real deal.
One of my most fond memories of playing professional golf occurred on this very hole, where I played several mini tour events. As I was putting on the 11th green during a tournament, the weather horn sounded, meaning I had to stop playing. I had to think about one of the hardest shots in golf for two hours during the delay. After the lengthy delay, I stood on that tee shaking, somehow managed to hit it to 15 feet and then made the putt for birdie! That is my only birdie ever on that hole.
Would this be your favorite or least favorite hole? I guess I like torture!
Hands down winner for me!
My favorite hole that I have played is easily hole #4 at Bethpage State Park Black Course. Even though this hole only measures 517 yards from the back tee, the challenges lay throughout the hole. Bunkers down the left hand side force a player to hit the fairway. Any player who bails out to the right in the rough faces a daunting 2nd shot that sometimes requires a layup to the end of the fairway below. The bunkers that cut the fairway in half present any golfer a towering lip that even the purest of shots cannot get over. The safest play is to wedge your ball out and back into play. Even tee shots that find the fairway leave the player with difficult decisions. The elevated tee shot allows longer hitters to get their ball within 200 yards to the green. However, the further down you get, the more blind of a 2nd shot you have, A player is left with the decision to try and fly the ball all the way to a very shallow green with a steep runoff area long or play out to the right green high and leave a delicate shot in to a green that run away.
This hole can yield some of the best eagles out there, but can also knock you out with doubles and triples easily in play. The hole presents itself so well from the tee, but from that point on it’s all business. If you’re lucky enough to play it, enjoy every step you take on this hole.
Glen Oak Golf Course, East Amherst, NY
The best Par 5 in the world
Pine Valley Golf Club has 18 unique holes set in the pine barrens of southern New Jersey. Every hole could be on this list for me. Personally, I love five pars and the strategies needed to navigate them successfully. Aesthetics, playability, challenge and shot value are the pieces of the puzzle that make a hole great for me and the 15th at Pine Valley Golf Club. It starts with a tee shot over some water to a fairly generous landing area. Be careful, if you stray left or right the second shot, which is nervy even from the middle of the short grass, becomes a real sphincter tightener. Once you’ve found the fairway off the tee you have choices. Should I go for the small well guarded green that is protected by elevation and the famous Crump style of bunkering or do I lay up somewhere in the narrowing slit of fairway as the hole elevates toward the green complex. For me this is always a three shot hole and each shot needs your full focus and attention. It is easy to get trapped in the past of the previous holes or get enamored by the future looking at the amazing 16th headed down the hill you are currently ascending.
The 15th hits all the marks for me. It is incredibly beautiful no matter what season you are fortunate enough to be playing. It is playable for long, medium or short hitters. It challenges all skill sets and makes you think about the best strategy to walk away with par whilst demanding you execute your shot of choice. Golf is such an amazing game as it stimulates so many of your senses and forces you to transcend your ego. I hope you get the chance to play it one day.
You Have 185 To The Wicker Sir
When I first took a glance at this question my thought was how in the world could I possibly pick a single hole out of all the incredible courses and holes I have been so fortunate to play. Would I choose it based on beauty, great strategic design, its place in history or that I hit a memorable shot? Then just in a blink of a eye the answer came to me very clearly. The one hole that I chose would be based on the way I felt as I played it and a big part of it was its place in history. My favorite hole I have ever played is the 18th on the east course at Merion just outside of Philly.
The east course at Merion also happens to be my favorite course I have ever played . The 18th at Merion as most avid golfers know is the setting for arguably the most iconic photograph in golf history, the 1 iron shot by Ben Hogan on the 72nd hole of the 1950 US Open. Now, I will admit I am one of countless golfers who is a Ben Hogan fanatic. Merion is so rich in history that it is palpable as soon as you step on the property. When you make the walk from the 10th green to the 11th tee you walk by a plaque commemorating that on the that hole Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam on September 27, 1930. If that wasn’t enough you still get to look forward to playing the 18th which I believe was a big part of the biggest comeback in sports history. 18 months earlier Mr. Hogan was seriously injured in a head on collision and yet was able to win that US Open. What is truly amazing is that Mr. Hogan hit a blistering 1 iron to the green while experiencing unbearable pain. A few holes earlier his legs cramped up so bad he almost had to quit. That’s another story in itself. When I got to the tee I could barely focus as I just wanted to get to the spot on the fairway where he hit his laser like shot. Somehow I put it in play and my caddy led me right to the spot. If it is your first time playing the hole the caddy puts another ball down on the spot and you give it a go before you play your actual ball. Clearly the equipment has made a difference as the Ping 1 iron I hit for the occasion sailed 30 yards over the green. Then I walked up to my real shot and my caddy says, you have 185 to the wicker. One of the coolest traditions at Merion is that they do not have flags on top of the sticks, instead they have red wicker baskets. I played the entire hole with goosebumps and a lump in my throat. I felt so fortunate that I was able to play the same hole and hit a shot from the exact spot as my idol Ben Hogan. That is one of the things that makes golf so great, I love Willie Mays but I could never go play centerfield in Candlestick, but I could play the same holes as Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones.
I have played a lot of great holes before that memorable day and a lot of fabulous holes since then but I have never felt the way I did when I played the 18th at Merion.
Tobacco Road Hole 1
Tobacco Road – Sanford, NC (30 mins from Pinehurst)
Hole 1, Par 5 at Tobacco Road. An awesome elevated tee shot between two enormous mounds. Requires a straight shot through the middle. 2nd shot is a long iron/Wood into the green, which is a blind shot. Hard to hit this green in two, so your short game better be sharp on these fast greens. Lag your putt close and hope to not 3-jack it!
The 3rd Hole at Oak Tree National Edmond, OK
In all of my travels around the country, Oak Tree National in Edmond, Oklahoma still holds the top honor in my heart. I am a native of Oklahoma that currently lives in Texas. Every time I have the chance, which is not very often, I cherish the opportunity to return to Oak Tree National. When you drive in the parking lot, the place just reeks major championships. I was fascinated by the course the first time I saw it as a spectator in the 1984 US Amateur and again in 1988 at the PGA Championship. Every since that day, Mr. Dye’s courses have been my favorite to play and attempt to conquer. They are very hard, yes, but you have to attack them and be on top of your game to do so. Every hole at Oak Tree National poses a threat without any doubt. The first and second holes kinda give you a taste of what’s coming and then you have to deal with the massive 3rd hole. Often rated by Golf Digest as one of the top 100 holes in America. Mr. Dye is always there to punish you if you make a mistake. The 597 yard 3rd hole at Oak Tree National usually will play slightly into the wind from the right. The tee shot is uphill and a large bunker is ready to grab a drive hit too far to the right, leaving an extremely difficult lay up with almost not chance to get anything except a medium to long iron to the green. Avoiding the bunker on the right by playing too far to the left is no bargain either as the trees down the left side can block your layup.
Everything about this hole is the drive and getting in position to place your ball in the best possible position for your third shot to the elevated, very small, somewhat undulating green. I have played two perfect shots inside 100 yards to the green and feel safe with a sand wedge in my hand. You catch the wrong spin with the flag location on the front of the green, and your ball will spin right off into the “devil’s a….hole” bunker. A small pot bunker about 8 feet deep! Good luck catching a stance in here, or getting out for that matter. Let’s back up to the layup. After a great tee shot, you will still have to advance your position by 225-250 yards just to get into wedge range. Any bailout to the right will get shut down by trees down the right side and a possible bad bounce out of bounds. Too far left and you go into the penalty area or native grass. Even a perfect lay up shot can get caught in an uneven lie with the ball above your feet with a short iron to the small green.
Mr. Dye just does not let up anywhere on this course. As soon as you play casual, you will make a big number. Add the normal 20 mph wind in Oklahoma and some rough, like I saw in the 2000 PGA Professional National Championship and it’s almost unplayable. I still love it though and I miss Mr. Dye’s genius. Oak Tree National is a must play and you better bring your really big, bad “A” game for hole #3.
#6 Mesa Country Club. Mesa, AZ
I have always loved #6 at Mesa CC designed Billy Bell 1948. The hole is so far from what one would picture in the Sonoran desert. The tee shot is one of the most intimidating in golf. The ball must thread the needle through o shoot of giant eucalyptus trees, carry the Arizona Canal 220 yards and finish on the center or right side of the fairway to avoid being blocked by more giant eucalyptus. I fell in love the hole as a young apprentice. Now, 30 years later, I am a member and my home is just off the 6th tee.
Pebble Beach Hole 6
The 6th Hole at Pebble Beach is my favorite hole I have ever played. The beauty of that hole is hard to describe to anyone who has not been there. The tee shot on the par 5 is dramatically downhill with ocean bordering the right side and sand along the left. The second shot forces you to hit a long iron to layup, or go for the green with a wood. However, the green sits far above eye level, creating a blind shot whether you are laying up or going for it in two. The hill is so steep that I nearly had to push my caddie up the slope. The small green is perched atop the cliffside offering a grand view of the Pacific Ocean. It doesn’t hurt my memory that this was the third of four holes in a row that I birdied that day! Photo is by Keyur Khamar from PGATour.com.
I was fortunate enough a few years back to play 2 days at Cypress Point. The course itself is just amazing. Lots of water views but even if you take that away, the routing and design stands on it’s own.
The most memorable of course is Hole #16. But really the 3 hole stretch of 15,16, and 17 makes you just want to pinch yourself.
The 16th hole plays about 230 yards and is almost entirely all carry over the Pacific Ocean. The wind is obviously whipping so you have to play your shot well to the right over the ocean and the hope the wind brings it back safely towards the green. The entire ambiance of that hole and knowing the legends that have all played there surely gives you goosebumps.
Scenery, fun, challenge: A great golf hole at Banff
The Devil’s Cauldron at Banff is the most spectacular golf hole I’ve ever played. Spectacular scenery, a downhill shot over a glacial lake, and a green abutting the steep mountainside….it just doesn’t get any better! Holes like this one are why we play the game.
Risk it all!
The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge #14 is one of the best Risk/Reward holes I have ever played. Going for the green creates a much longer carry distance over the ravine but if you don’t…reload. The bail is to the right in which the carry is less but you still have to commit or suffer the same consequence.
14th Hole at Seminole Golf Club
I was lucky enough to get to spend a day at Seminole Golf Club and the entire experience exceeded all of the hype. The 14th hole stands out in my memory for multiple reasons and though there may be other holes on the property considered harder or more picturesque, this was my favorite. The 510 yard par 5 is straight away off of the tee but requires accuracy to avoid the 4 fairway bunkers and the water on the left. The uphill approach shot into this green is no picnic as it is guarded on all sides by very deep bunkers and the green slopes very severely from back to front. Many have heard stories of people missing putts at Seminole and the ball rolling off of the green and down into a deep bunker, well I witnessed this very occurrence by my playing partner that day. Seminole is a bucket list golf course for every golfer in the world and each hole has you pinching yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming. The 14th encompasses all of the course’s greatness in one hole for me, a hole that rewards good shots and provides a scoring opportunity, while punishing poor shots and putting a big number on your scorecard.
11th at the Bluffs
The 11th Hole at Arcadia Buffs is one of the best holes in the world. This 633 yard par 5 has one of the best views in all of golf. The tee shot is nearly blind with just a sliver of the fairway showing. The caddy tip is to aim at the native bunker through the fairway which looks like they are a mile away. When I played there my wife, she asked, “how long is this hole?!” The views speak for themselves. After hitting a nearly perfectly solid drive I couldn’t believe how far the ball rolled down the slopes. With about 270 yards left, down hill and down wind, couldn’t believe the views with the pine trees off the left edge and the almost infinity green with Lake Michigan in the background. I hit a 2 hybrid as pure as silk and landed short, only to bounce onto the front of the green. To two-putt birdie that hole, with my wife, and those views, that is why this takes the cake as my favorite hole in all of golf!
Hole #16 at Bandon Dunes Golf Course, Bandon Oregon
Hole #16 at Bandon Dunes Golf Course, Bandon Oregon. This hole provides one of the most spectacular views in the Pacific Northwest if not the world, located along the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. The layout of the hole and the changing wind and weather conditions give players numerous options off the tee depending on the time of year played. With a tail wind, the hole can be a driveable par 4 and a head wind may cause players to have a long iron into the green on the second shot. This photo was taken from the tee box looking towards in the green in late February.
Most Iconic Hole
This is a great question as I sit here and watch more snow coming down out of my window.
Favorite hole is a tough one to narrow down, so I thought I would give you the most Iconic hole that I have been able to play.
I was lucky enough to get to play Merion East a long time ago. It was a great day and went way to fast. The 18th hole at Merion East is the most Iconic Hole that I have gotten to play. I am sure most avid golfers have seen the famous picture of Ben Hogan’s one iron.
#1 the Judge at Pratville
#1 the Judge at Pratville the tee shot is incredible and it’s the first shot of the round it looks like you are landing on a aircraft carrier and the ball never looks like it’s coming down.
The Greatest Golf Hole any one has ever played.
The Best golf hole ever played…. The 18th at Pebble.
The 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf links is without question, the greatest hole of golf I’ve ever played, and probably for every one else who has had the privilege and pleasure to experience a round at Pebble. The walk down the fairway on this iconic final hole is truly memorable. And even if it is for just one time, the feeling will last a lifetime!
This is true for several reasons. First of all it’s a beautifully designed and challenging par- five. The surroundings are stunning, the course is in great condition, and it has a nice “risk /reward” element built in. When you are coming to the close of your round at Pebble Beach there is a serendipitous mixture of pleasure, satisfaction and melancholy. Everyone’s walk becomes slowed, conversations are extended, and a few extra practice swings and deep breaths are taken by all of the players. This is especially true on the last shot, in an effort to fulfill that inner quest to hit the shot on the last hole at Pebble that “Captures the Open title”)
For those who truly love the game, from start to finish, ending this magical day playing 18 at Pebble will be a defining moment in their golfing lifetime. You begin the adventure with a sincere welcome at arrival from Laird Small PGA, John Kelly and all of the great staff. All accommodations, amenities and conditions are first class, and everything is done to insure you have a great day. The atmosphere is amazing! Their mission is to make the vision of Mr Eastwood, Mr Palmer and the Pebble Beach company to provide the “Golf experience of a lifetime”, become a reality!
It’s possible that 18 at Pebble Beach is the slowest played hole on the planet, but it’s OK. Sharing the joy of good shots with partners, taking an extra look at putts and chips, prolonged hand shakes, hat tipping, and photo taking etc. are all understood and embraced by everyone playing and observing. Even the group behind, and the group on the 18th tee appreciate the delay, as they are all sharing and understanding the moment with you. It gives them license to take their time, enjoy the view, breath the ocean air, think about the history and reminisce about the great moments, and champions who have played here. They too want to prolong this wonderful day on the links.
And at the end of the day, when I bought my playing partners a round of beer, and we sat on the patio overlooking Monterey Bay, one of them commented “Wow, $ 10 bucks a beer!…………. I responded by raising my glass and toasted, “Guys, I would easily pay $100 bucks a beer to share this moment in time with you, my good friends! We sat there in “Golf Paradise” for a while in silence, each just taking it all in.
Having just played #16 and then having to execute another well placed tee shot tested my skills that day
My favorite hole I ever played is #17 at Cypress Point in Monterey, California. The beauty of the ocean is spectacular, obviously, but having just played #16 and then having to execute another well placed tee shot definitely tested my skills that day. Golf heaven!
TPC Sawgrass #17
My favorite hole is hole number 17 at TPC of Sawgrass. This is my favorite hole because of the difficulty of such an easy shot. If you were to play any other hole from 145 you would be expected to hit the green most of the time. There is no forgiveness in the hole as you must hit a quality shot to set up a birdie.
My favorite hole ever
My favorite hole is an easy decision. Number 18 at Saint Andrews in Scotland. Walking across the Swilcan bridge with my dad the wind was hard in our face my drive ended up on the cross road 50 people are behind the green I hit 8 iron off the road from 132 yds two feet from the hole to shoot even par.
Mtn Lake CC, Lake Wales FL
Seth Raynor, ranked #27 in top 100, hole #1, slight uphill, short hole, well framed tee shot, 8 or 9 iron second shot to a triple segmented green with bunkering on 3 sides, awesome !!!!
PAR 3 17th at TheTuxedo Club
The 17th hole is a Par 3 over a lake, but it was to be an Island Green in the middle of the lake with Tee boxes set up in the mountain the covers 16th green, 17th tee and right side of 18th par 5. This is also not the original golf course, it’s origins was 9 holes which is part of the New York State thruway
St. Andrews hole #1
St. Andrews hole #1. Being blessed with the opportunity to actually get play the famed golf course is something I will never forget. Standing on the first tee with my group of friends is something I wish every golfer could experience.
Shoreacres 12th Hole
Seth Raynor is one of the greatest golf architects in the early 20th century. He had a very unique to use Redans in his course design. The 12th hole at Shoreacres, Lake Bluff, IL, has one of Raynor’s best examples. Very short par three that had a 60 foot drop off from the elevated tee box. The hole has no fairway. Just brush and trees surround the green. So you either hit the green or go looking deep thick brush to find the ball that never bounced.
18 hole at Riviera CC in LA,California
The 18th hole at Riviera CC in LA,Calif. I played in the LA Open in 1987 its a dogleg left par 4 uphill and the best tee shot is a little cutter bleeding left to right which is my go to shot and on Friday during the Tournament I hit a beautiful tee shot up the left side and it rolled down to left center I had 160 yds to front edge and 165 to the hole and its playing uphill about 5 yds and the back of the green is ampitheater and it was full of people I had never played in front of so many so I was nervous and I hit my 7 iron a little cutter to 4 feet under the hole and the fans erupted in a roar I was just so jacked up I never hit the hole with my putt but I will never forget that experience.
PGA Tour Superstore - East Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, CA
#18 At Baltusrol Golf Club
#18 At Baltusrol Golf Club. The history that has taken place on that hole made it #1 on my list. My tee shot ended up about 15 yards in front of the plate in the fairway where Jack Nicklaus hit his famous 1 iron in the 1967 US Open. He went on to win the tournament over Arnold Palmer by one shot after draining the birdie putt from 20 feet. The hole plays straight uphill to an elevated green and the ground yardage was about 238 yards from where Jack hit and on that day it was in to the wind. It was just such an unbelievable shot on any day, but under that situation is just legendary.
The smell of coffee and pastries
It’s difficult to pick a favorite hole because there are so many fabulous holes out there. But there is a hole on a course in Sweden that I have fun memories of. The 10th hole at Djursholms Golf Club located in the City of Djursholm, Sweden (a suburb north of Stockholm). The course is a beautiful, tree-lined course that in most spots is more like a forest. There is an inter city train that runs through it to and from Stockholm. The 10th hole is almost a 90 degree dog leg right, from my memory it’s basically a 210 to 225 yard shot straight down the middle and then a wedge to the green. Cutting the corner is risky because the trees and brush are ready to grab your shot if you get too bold. I guess what really makes me pick this hole is the first few times I played it, you could smell coffee and pastries as you were playing the hole, there used to be a train stop that was basically a bench with an overhang, and a young lady selling coffee and a few delicious Swedish pastries. Since then, they have made a regular snack shack but you can still smell the coffee (Swedes love coffee) and pastries.
All and More
The 7th hole at Teeth of the Dog.
A spectacular one shot hole with nothing between tee and green but beautiful ocean.Tee choice allow shots of 90 to 200 yards.I have made every score from 1 to 6 and enjoyed them all!
Besides wind and water the hole borders the Pete Dye homesite. I feel Pete keeping an eye on this special piece of golf land.
Fishers Island Club, NY #5, GREAT par3!!!
You could put a lot of holes from Fishers Island Club on your list of favorite golf holes but to me the 229 yard, par three 5th ranks among the best in the world. The back tee location is on a point where you can see 3 states. One thing for sure when you play FI, the wind is always blowing and that is just one of the great characteristics of this wonderful golf hole. It is uphill with 2 large, deep bunkers to the left of the green and if you miss right your ball might find the Long Island Sound. The green is large with a lot of great hole locations. It is a great hole from all of the teeing areas but if you are a good player looking for a challenge move on back on #5 and get you some.
#2 Olympic Club
Downhill right to left shot. Through the schute with the fairway sloping left to right. Best three wood of my life missed the trees just ran through the fairway. Uphill left to right shot. Chop cut one up to the front of the green and two putted. Great par…. For me. Or you can hit the intermediate and draw it to the left to right green. Look like a stud. He was cutting all his shots then. Haha.
Home of Golf
The 1st and 18th at St. Andrews are tough to beat. Besides being the home of golf, there are always people around like a small gallery of fans that are more than willing to show their appreciation of a well hit shot with applause. Don’t let this opportunity pass you up if you can help it!!