Breaking Down the Hidden Gems of Professional Golf
Even the most casual golf fans are familiar with the pristine beauty of the Augusta National Golf Club, the stunning seventh hole at Pebble Beach and island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
But pro golfers have to consider themselves among the luckiest individuals in the world. Not only do they get to make their living by playing this alternately stupendous and confounding game, they do it in some of the most beautiful places in North America.
Not all of the locations and holes are famous and well-known like Augusta or Pebble Beach. Here's a look at some of the most beautiful hidden gems of professional golf.
Crooked Stick, Eighth Hole
The Pete Dye designed Crooked Stick Golf Club hosted this year's BMW Championship in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
You will be hard-pressed to find a more challenging hole than the 456-yard, par-four, eighth hole. This hole includes a difficult dogleg, water hazards and a target green.
It is the kind of hole that golfers will curse as they play but admire it at the same time.
Medinah, 13th Hole
The 13th hole at Medinah Country Club, the site of this year's Ryder Cup competition, is considered that stunning course's signature hole (source: Chicago Tribune).
The 13th is a 245-yard par-three. There are three excruciating bunkers that guard the hole and golfers also have to contend with beautiful but dangerous Lake Kadijah.
Riviera, 18th Hole
The 18th at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California is a stunning finishing hole. It is a demanding and stunning 475-yard par-four.
To play this hole well, you need to hit a long and straight semi-blind drive and follow that shot with a mid-to-long iron. There are no bunkers surrounding the green, which is in a natural amphitheater underneath the Riviera clubhouse.
This course is the site of the Northern Trust Open.
Colonial, Fifth Hole
The Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas is one of the most intriguing courses on the PGA tour.
The fifth hole is among the most difficult holes on the tour. It is a 481-yard hole that requires a long tee shot to a narrow fairway. The second shot must be very precise to the green.
It is the last hole of the course's famous "horrible horseshoe."
This course hosts the Crowne Plaza Invitational Tournament annually.
Torrey Pines North, Sixth Hole
Torrey Pines South in San Diego is more celebrated than the North course, but the stunning par-three sixth hole is a visual treat as well as a challenge for all golfers.
It has an ocean view, memorable cliffs and intimidating trees. This is a 208-yard hole that requires the golfer to contend with the whipping wind and all the elements. This is the most difficult hole on the course.
Torrey Pines hosts the Farmers Insurance Open and also was the site of the 2008 U.S. Open.
Fairmont Banff Springs, Fourth Hole
The fourth hole at Fairmont Banff Springs is a 192-yard par-three is breathtaking.
Located in the spectacular Rocky Mountains, this hole is known as the "Devil's Cauldron (source: Golf.com)." You must carry a glacial lake just to get to the green.
The scenery is overpowering throughout the round, but particularly on the fourth hole.
This course has hosted the Telus World Skins Game in 2006 and 2011.