Here are two questions that are sure to provoke a great 19th-hole discussion:
What’s the greatest hole you’ve ever played?
What legendary hole do you wish you could play?
It sure got me thinking – especially the second one.
The greatest hole I’ve played is easy: No. 16 at Cypress Point.
There just isn’t another hole in the world that comes close. A monster 233-yard par-3, all carry over the water. Go left or come up short and you’re probably on the beach. Go right and you’re in the rocks or out to sea.
If you’re going to miss the green, probably the best place to do so is long because there are two big bunkers there to save you from further distress. And at least the green is big and relatively flat – if you can just get your tee shot on dry ground, you’ve got a decent chance to make par.
Never seen this treasure? Here’s a video of someone playing it – and making a deuce from one of the back bunkers.
But I’ve got lots of other favorites that I’ve played. Here they are, with links to a video or a photo of the hole:
- 18 at Pebble Beach (of course).
- 11 at Pasatiempo (just because it’s so weird).
- 4 at Spyglass Hill (quirkiest green I’ve ever played).
- 17 (The Road Hole) at St. Andrews (it’s impossible to get used to hitting your tee shot over the hotel).
- 5 at Butler National in Oak Brook, Ill. (an absolute beast that’s 227 yards to a green surrounded by water)
- 18 at Olympic Club’s Lake Course (toughest short par-4 you’ll ever play).
- 18 at Carnoustie (hey, I beat Jean van de Velde!).
One important note: I didn’t play any of those holes particularly well. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever parred any of them.
But the point is not whether it’s a hole you beat up regularly. That’s no fun. We want a challenge (don’t we?) when we play our great game, and all of those holes certainly provide it.
Then there’s the other question, which to me requires a lot more thought. If you’re a serious golfer, you should have a long list of holes you’d love to play someday.
The first idea that pops into my head is anything at Augusta National. No. 12 would be great. I’ve got a picture of No. 13 on my wall and often look at it in wonderment as I contemplate how I’d navigate that green. No. 16 would be a treat, too.
Another obvious one is No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass. The pros often say that’s the hole that scares them the most, which is absolutely astounding considering they usually attack it with a wedge.
I’d love to get a crack at No. 18 at Torrey Pines South. In my younger days I probably would have gone for it on my second shot (foolishly), but nowadays I’d just try to cozy a wedge onto the putting surface in three.
From what I’ve heard, I should pine to play just about any hole at Bandon Dunes. The place looks special.
Every year when the pros play Riviera, I can’t get enough of No. 10, the short par-4 that drives them nuts. Wish I could play it – even though it probably would drive me nuts, too.
But the winner of my wanna-play-it contest is not one you’d necessarily think of: No. 18 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
In a few weeks, we’ll be watching the pros hit monster drives on the severely downhill hole and then curve their second shots onto the massive green. I have a selfish reason for wanting to play it: I want to see if I can get there in two. I would have to throw caution to the wind (and there’s a lot of wind there) and just go for it, no matter what.
I would love to get a chance to play any of those holes, of course, and in some cases I’m going to make it a point to get there. Score doesn’t matter. The fun is just being able to say you played it – starting yet another memorable 19th-hole conversation.