Creating the Dream 18-Hole Golf Course
The title says it all. The 18 holes you’re about to see make up my dream 18 holes.
The criteria? It’s not necessarily based on difficulty, or necessarily on the “eye-test.” It's not even based on playability.
Some I have played, some I have seen, some I have watched others play.
As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, in my eyes, history is always part of the perspective.
Greenbrier Resort's Old White Course Opens with a Good Test
The first tee at the Greenbrier Resort's Old White Course is just steps from the clubhouse, allowing folks on the inside to, um, admire your opening hack of the day.
A tough, tight, tree-lined 449-yard par four requires a straight tee shot and an accurate second shot to a small green that’s guarded by several bunkers.
Augusta National's Second Hole Has an Array of Possibilities
Teeing off at the top of the hill, the perfect tee shot on this 575-yard par five turns right to left off a bunker that guards the right side of a dogleg left.
The second is downhill to a green that sits perpendicular to the fairway.
The front of the green is guarded by a pair of bunkers and is amazingly contoured.
Don't Go into the Pews on Oakmont Country Club's Third Hole
The world-famous Church Pew bunkers guard the left side of the fairway and a nasty nest of bunkers guard the right side of Oakmont Country Clubs' third hole, a 428-yard par four.
The landing area looks no bigger than the roof of a car from the tee.
Hit the fairway and your uphill approach shot is probably a short-to-medium iron to a relatively flat green.
Pinehurst No. 2 Test Players on Fourth Hole
The fourth hole at Pinehurst No. 2—a 503-yard par five—starts from an elevated tee. The shot is hard to keep in the fairway because of how much the fairway slopes.
Plus, some really nice homes seem very, very close on the right side!
If you choose to go for the green, the fairway wood or hybrid must be long and straight avoiding two bunkers short of the green and two that guard it.
The green is typically Pinehurst. Lots of slope and difficult to putt.
TPC of Boston Starts Getting Tough at the Fifth
The TPC of Boston (site of the PGA Tour's Deutsche Bank Classic) starts to show its teeth at the 446-yard par four fifth hole.
A bunker located just about in the landing zone guards the left side of the fairway.
A fear-inducing second shot is the reward for a good tee ball.
The three-tiered green, guarded by trouble on both sides is the target. Good luck.
Congressional Country Club Sixth Gets Players' Attention
The sixth hole at Congressional Country Club is a 555-yard par five. While it requires two long shots to reach it, the player has to be fairly precise, as well.
A grove of trees lines the left side of the fairway and bunkers, a stream and out-of-bounds await the wayward shot to the right.
Avoiding the pond on the right side of the green is priority No. 1, but the bunkers on the left side are no picnic, either.
It Gets No Better Than Pebble Beach Golf Links' No. 7
Pebble Beach Golf Links' seventh hole is the shortest hole in all of major championship golf, but it’s also one of the spectacular vistas in the world, standing on the elevated tee and looking straight down the hill to the postage stamp green.
If it’s a calm day, it’s not even a full pitching wedge. The par three measures just 106 yards.
If the wind blows, well, that’s something else.
In the 1992 U.S. Open, eventual champion Tom Kite hit a sand wedge on Saturday, but when the winds blew ferociously on Sunday, he hit a 6-iron.
Oakmont Country Club's Eighth Hole Is a Monstrous Test
Hole 8—a 225-yard par 3.
One of the most challenging tee shots I’ve ever faced is the eighth hole at Oakmont Country Club a par three that measures from 225 to 288 yards. For members and other mortals, it's a three-wood shot, followed by a full measure of hope.
The slightly offset green is guarded on the left by a 100-yard long bunker, aptly named Sahara.
The green itself is relatively flat, but slopes slightly toward the back.
Muirfield Village's Ninth Hole Is Tough from Start to Finish
A 412-yard par 4.
The ninth hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club, a 412-yard par four, is a tough, tough driving hole.
The tee is located on top of a hill and a drive to the right results in the approach shot being blocked.
A drive to the left and a wooded hillside awaits. Even a good drive leaves the player a touchy approach to a green that is tilted and guarded by a lake, creek, forest and steep hillside.
Chances are good that a good drive will result in a downhill lie for that approach.
Riveria Country Club's 10th: A Great One
When you make the turn at Riviera Country Club, the start of the back nine is a 315-yard par 4. Sounds pretty easy, right?
There is a downhill tee shot to a green that’s well-guarded by bunkers. The long-ballers can drive this green, but that drive needs to be very accurate.
If you can’t launch the ball almost 300 yards, get to the left side of the fairway for the best approach. The green is very narrow and has bunkers right, left and behind it.
Absolutely, one of the great short par 4s in the game.
Augusta National Golf Club Made the 11th Hole Very Tough
The start of Amen Corner at Augusta National Golf Club is a very beastly 505-yard par 4.
For years, this hole was a pedestrian par four, but Masters officials decided it needed to be beefed up. And beefed it has been.
A forest of pine trees on the right side tightens an already small fairway. To get to the crest of the hill overlooking the approach shot, the drive must travel 300 yards.
The green complex features a pond on the left, a bunker back right and a grassy collection area to the right.
Pull off two very difficult shots and it’s still a long shot to make birdie.
The Par 3 12th at Augusta: Making Masters History
Without a doubt, the most famous par 3 in golf is Augusta National Golf Club's 12th hole, a 155-yard par 3.
It can be anything from a 6-iron to a 9-iron based on the wind. But that’s what makes the hole so difficult.
The wind in the middle of Amen Corner is very difficult to judge. Rae’s Creek is in front of the tilted green, two bunkers are behind it.
Many a Masters dream has died on this hole.
The Ocean Course's 13th Is One to Remember
The back nine at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course is filled with difficult holes, but the 497-yard par 4 13th might be the toughest.
A canal runs down the right side of the fairway and definitely comes into play on the tee shot.
The player must hit a fairway that runs perpendicular to the tee and he must decide how much of that angle he wants to cut off.
The approach is open, allowing players to run shots onto the green. But shots even a bit offline will end up on the canal.
Pebble Beach Golf Links Boasts One of the Toughest Par Fives on the PGA Tour
The 573-yard par 5 14th begins a very difficult closing stretch at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
A dogleg right, uphill hole with a green that is among the most unforgiving anyway.
Otherwise, this hole is a piece of cake. Big tee shots can clear the bunker at the dogleg, but could run through the fairway into thick rough on the left side of the fairway.
It’s mandatory to lay up on the right side of the fairway to have a chance to keep an approach shot on the green.
TPC Scottdale's 15th Is a Fun Hole
A lot of this dream 18 is based on difficulty, but the 558-yard par five is a fun one. It's fun to play and fun to watch.
A good tee shot leaves a decision to be made.
Go for it to a green that’s fronted and flanked by water or lay up for an easy pitch to a big two-tiered green.
It’s a hole that can produces threes just as easily as sevens.
Beware of the Bear Trap's 16th at PGA National Golf Club
This is the middle hole of the three-hole gauntlet known as the Bear Trap, as it is known during the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic.
The 434-yard par four is a dogleg right, with a tee shot to a fairway that slopes toward water on the right.
If players choose to bail out left, their reward is a 220-yard second shot into the wind, over water.
And there's always wind. And lots of it.
Just a Short Hole, but the 17th at TPC at Sawgrass Is a Great One`
More words have been written and spoken about the 137-yard par three island green than any other hole in the history of the game.
In calm conditions, it’s just a wedge for most players.
When the winds get up, club selection is all over the place.
A pot bunker on the right side of the green protects, but also saves those who come up a bit short.
More often than not, this hole plays a role in the Players Championship.
It's Not Called Blue Monster for Nothing
Talk about a nightmare.
After playing in the winds and around the water at the Blue Monster, the player is faced with the hole voted most difficult finishing hole on the PGA Tour, a 467-yard par 4.
A lake down the left side of the fairway, combined with wind that’s either into the player’s face or a left-to-right crosswind,makes the tee shot extremely difficult.
The fairway narrows to 25 yards wide at the end of the lake.
All that’s left after that is a terrifying approach shot to a green that’s bordered by water on the left.