I try to keep track of every hole I play and track which ones I think offer the most challenge, the most pre-shot
thinking and strategy, are the most fun, or are the most beautiful. Ideally, a hole will have all the aspects I have
mentioned above. Nevertheless, by tracking this type of information I have come up with a list of my favorite 18
holes. This list will most likely be ever-changing and dynamic as I play more and more courses. But for now, here
are my favorite 18 holes.
#16 Cypress Point
Cypress Point is my favorite golf course as of right now, and I don't see that changing any time soon. And the 16th hole at this amazing golf course is my favorite hole on the course. Seems fitting that it should be my favorite hole in the world. First off, the beauty is unimaginable. Secondly, hearing the ocean roaring in the background as the waves smash into the rocks makes the setting surreal. And then add in a par 3 that takes a driver to reach the green, but you have the option to use another route to get to the green. Put it all together and you've got the greatest golf hole in the world.
#13 at Augusta National
One of the most famous stretches of holes in the world of golf is "Amen Corner" at Augusta National. The best holes of that stretch is the par 5 13th. It has a unique angle off the tee, which allows you to challenge the hole for eagle...but risk hitting it into creek. Or you can play it safe out right. Rae's Creek fronts the green and makes all approaches challenging. And then you are on the green...and the fun really starts! Incredible golf hole!!
#16 at Bandon Dunes
Playing Bandon Dunes was a truly great experience. But that experience was taken to an entirely new level
playing the 16th hole. First off, the views are incredible. The ocean. The cliffs. Amazing!! But the hole itself with
all its options, angles, choices, and decisions is truly amazing. You could play this hole again and again and still
have new things to try. This hole embodies all that is needed to make a par 4 great.
#10 at Augusta National
This par 4 has it all...beauty, history, strategy, and it demands execution. The centerline bunker, The Mackenzie Bunker, is the focal point of the hole. But the steep drop offs around the green and the deep bunkers are what really should be grabbing the golfer's attention. Truly a wonderful golf hole.
#4 at Dismal River-Red
The newest course at the world class Dismal River Golf Club in Mullen, NE is the Red Course, which was designed by Tom Doak. The entire course embodies the principles of strategic golf. Perhaps no hole is more strategic than the epic 4th hole. A centerline bunker dominates the golfer's view off the tee and wind confounds the decision making process regarding how much to bite off on that tee shot. And ridges, slopes, and fall offs further complicate matters. Decisions need to be made prior to every shot and execution of those shots are required until the ball is safely in the cup.
#6 at Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach might have the most thrilling stretch of holes I've ever played. And the par 5 6th hole, begins that thrill ride. The tee shot is hit to a sunken fairway that has the ocean roaring over the cliffs to the right. The approach is to a severely elevated and blind green surrounded by the ocean and rocky cliffs. WOW!!
#3 at Fishers Island
This Raynor/MacDonald template hole is known as "Plateau." But I've never seen as much adventure wrapped up
into any other "Plateau" as I saw at Fishers. Hit your tee ball uphill to a narrow and winding fairway, then attack a
raised green surrounded by daunting bunkers. All with the stunning Oceanic backdrop. WOW!
#16 at The Old Course
This 359 yard hole showed me the true meaning of golf and how it was meant to be played. I hit my drive dead
center fairway on a rope. I ended up in the centerline bunkers (The Principal's Nose). These bunkers are steep
pot bunkers and I had to come out sideways. I smashed a 4 iron right to the front of the green, but I couldn't putt
at the hole due to a steep and severe ridge between me and the hole. I had to aim way right of the hole and drop
the ball in from the side. Bottom line here, a drive right down the middle of the fairway is the wrong play. Going
forward out of the bunkers is not the wise play. And just being on the green doesn't mean you can putt right at the
hole. Now THAT is golf!!!
#15 at Dismal River Red
This short par 4 is no pushover, despite the fact that you might be able to drive the ball damn near on the green. But, the heavily contoured fairway and greenside chipping areas might not make that play ideal. Angles on this hole are important, as well as pin position, and the width of the fairway opens up all angles and options. This hole is never ending fun. Heck, you could even play this hole with nothing but a putter!
#10 at Riviera
One of the very best in thinking/strategic golf. The green is so close, it might be drivable. You can easily get over
the first set of bunkers and go right up to that green. But that green slants go hard away from you. Going away
from the green left is probably the smart play as it opens up the length of the green and mitigates that slope. But
even from their you better execute.
This stunning 582 yard par 5 has two avenues of approach. The first option is a visible tee shot that leads to a blind
approach, while the second option plays into a fairway which is blind off the tee but the green is visible on the
approach. Regardless of which avenue you choose off the tee, you'll have to play in to a plateau green that slopes
away from your approach. Choose wisely off the tee and strike it crisp on your approach or pay the price!
#14 at The Old Course
The bottom line here is do you challenge Hell or not. On this 523 yard par 5, the well known bunker called Hell lurks
about 100 yards short of the green. I opted to play this hole up the left side and avoid Hell, but for those wishing to
hit the ball dead center fairway, most likely your second shot will challenge the famous bunker. Like other holes on
The Old Course, attacking the hole from the center of the fairway may not be the wisest choice!
#13 at Cypress Point
As I mentioned previously, Cypress is my favorite course. And the course is really good until you reach the 13th hole...and then it shifts into overdrive and becomes the greatest of the great. So, to me, the par 4 13th is the gateway to greatness at Cypress Point.
#15 at Old MacDonald
Old MacDonald is currently my favorite U.S. based golf course. I think the designers of the course "get" what golf is
all about and I think the 15th at Old Mac is the best hole on the course. In this part of the routing, you are taken
towards the ocean and the green ends the hole with a stunning view of the Pacific. But along the way, you have to
traverse some severed bunkers (more like gorges) on your way to that beautiful vista.
#3 at The National Golf Links of America
There are golf holes and then there are golf holes that change your perception of what makes golf fun. #3 at The
National is the latter for me. The tee shot is interesting and you have to make a few choices regarding angles and
distance. Then on your approach you again have choices, specifically; up and over or around. But the walk to the
green, especially on up and over approaches, builds anticipation and interest. Where is the ball? Am I on the
green? How close to the flag am I? I look the intrigue on this walk. And the green is incredible as well. All the way
around, this hole is a winner of epic proportion. Oh yeah, try playing it with modern clubs and balls and then
hickories and era appropriate balls as the course was built in the early 1900's. Now that is a challenge!!!!
#15 at Royal County Down
My, oh my...Royal County Down is as good a golf course as there is on the planet. Frankly, there are 3 or 4 holes that could be on this list...but I'm going with the 15th hole. It is a long, uphill par four with some incredible challenge off the tee, on the approach, and at the green. It is one tough golf hole and all the while you are surrounded by wonderful vistas. Wow!
#5 at Royal Portrush
A round at Royal Portrush is wonderful and the 5th hole is the highlight of the round for me. Stunning views in all directions and a tough decision to make off the tee...how much do you try to challenge this hole? Great golf hole with stunning views...win/win.
11th at Shinnecock Hills
This is one of the world's truly great par 3's. From the middle tees, it plays only 160-ish...but like AW Tillinghast
once said, "It isn't how long, but how good." And this hole is spectacular. The tee shot plays uphill to a green
that gives the appearance of an infinity green. But lurking behind the green is a sharp falloff and diabolical
collection area. If you do go long, you'll be chipping back to a green that slopes away from you and feeds right
into some deep and nasty bunkers. A word of advice, hit the green on your tee shot!!