Every golfer has a list of dream golf courses that they would do almost anything to play. From the St Andrews Old Course to the impossibly beautiful Augusta National the options are endless and I for one really struggle to put a finger on the one and only course that I would choose to play above all others. I do however have a number of individual holes that I simply must play before my body no longer permits me to and I have compiled them all into one fantasy golf course. Six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s have made the list and, like many other golfers, I would sell my soul to get a chance to play them.
1 – Doonbeg – 1st – Par 5
The opening hole at the Greg Norman designed Doonbeg is an impressive hole from tee to green with pot bunkers, sweeping undulations and wispy rough all featuring but it is the approach shot to the green that makes this hole really special. Whether you’re going for the green on two or three the approach shot is just as dramatic and challenging. Monstrous dunes stand all around the sides and back of the green which, thanks to the sheer scale of the landforms, seems a miniscule target to hit. Our advice would be to attempt a simple bump and run shot up to the green because any full shot missing left, right or long is sure to lead to dropped shots!
2 – Indian Wells Celebrity Course – 14th – Par 4
Another short par 4…another conundrum on the tee. Play sensibly from the with a long iron and you will almost certainly make your par. Take the ‘Tiger line’ and you may well walk off to the next tee with a birdie or better in the bag. We all love a short par 4 and, while this one may not be the best known in the world it is undeniably beautiful. Desert wash, cacti, bunkers and water all come into play on this little beauty and the mountains in the background provide an incredible backdrop to which adds to the drama.
3 – Pebble Beach – 7th – Par 3
Like Augusta Pebble Beach was always going to feature in the ultimate 18 hole golf course. The 7th hole at Pebble is one of the best, and most feared, par 3s in the world; and it only measures just over 100 yards! The elevated tee overlooks the tiny green which sits right on the Pacific Coast. Overshoot the green and your ball will be lost to the ocean for good. In fact anything but on the green could prove difficult get down in two for your par. Add the swirling wind to the equation and you have a par 3 that will set the knees trembling every time you walk onto the tee.
4 – Carnoustie – 18th – Par 4
Golf fans all over the world watched in horror as Jean Van de Velde pulled out his driver as he played his last hole of the 1999 Open Championship with a three shot lead. A double bogey would have been good enough for the title but like a beautiful mermaid this testing par 4 lured the Frenchman to his doom. Treacherous rough, deep bunkers and the dreaded Barry Burn all come into play so it goes without saying that this is one of the best ‘thinking man’s’ holes in golf.
5 – Augusta – 18th – Par 4
We have all watched the Masters and there is nothing quite as good as watching the action coming to the boil on a Sunday afternoon. The back nine on this famous course is perfect for tournament golf with a heady blend of risk vs. reward holes that often generate excitement that simply can’t be matched in any other event. After a run of holes that present birdie chances to the players the 18th really sorts the men from the boys. The drive is scarily tight from the tee and the second is played to an elevated green. The tee shot alone makes this hole worthy of its inclusion in my fantasy course!
6 – Sawgrass – 17th – Par 3
Undoubtedly one of the most iconic holes in the world. The original island green is actually more difficult to hit than it looks thanks to the wind that swirls in unpredictable directions around the massive amphitheatre of trees in which the hole resides. Hitting the green is just half the battle unfortunately as once your ball is safely on you may still be left with a nigh on impossible two putt thanks to the multi-level green and the stingy green keepers who like to tuck the pin away in the corners. Note to self…pack plenty of balls!
7 – Pebble Beach – 6th – Par 5
Like Augusta, Pebble Beach has managed to get three holes into the ultimate 18 but that just highlights the sheer quality of the courses in question. The par 5 6th at Pebble is one of the most beautiful in the world. Combine that with the challenge it presents and it just has to make it into a fantasy golf course. The hole takes the player all the way along a promontory that just out into the Pacific Ocean and following a meaty drive the player must negotiate a dramatic elevation change whether they are going for the green in two or merely laying up short of the green. With extreme danger right and tick, choppy rough left this is by no means a pushover but measuring just 487 yards it does give the longer hitters a good chance to go for the green in two…if they can keep it on the short stuff that is!
8 – Augusta – 12th – Par 3
Any fantasy 18 simply has to have a hole or two from the legendary Augusta National. The par 3 12th is part of the infamous Amen Corner and is one of the most iconic holes in world golf. The green is tucked away into the corner of the course and is framed by towering trees and beautiful flowers. The green is notoriously shallow and any shots long or short are severely punished. Under-club and your ball will find a watery grave. Go long and you will be left with an awkward lie and playing back towards the water with the green sloping away from you. Basically…hit the green or it’s damage limitation time!
9 – Kingsbarns – 12th – Par 5
Although Kingsbarns is only a little over a decade old it has already garnered a considerable reputation as one of the best golf courses in the world. An endless array of stunning holes laid down by Kyle Philips is punctuated by one or two holes that are simply among the very best in the world. The par 5 12th runs along the rugged coastline and even the longest hitters will be hard pressed to get home in two blows. With water left and towering dunes right this hole is a real test of straight hitting and certainly doesn’t allow for more than one errant shot.
10 – The Belfry – 10th – Par 4
The Brabazon Course at the Belfry is one of the most famous in the world thanks largely to the fact that it has hosted the Ryder Cup more than any other course. Holes like the short par 4 10th make this an ideal Ryder Cup course as players are tempted into letting the big dog eat and going for the green from the tee. And let’s face it…if you are long enough to get there it would be almost rude not to have a go! Only a gentle fade will do though as the kidney shaped green is protected by a water hazard that snakes across the course. There are few holes in golf that can generate excitement like a short par 4 can and this is one of the most famous in the world.
11 – Coeur d’Alene – 14th – Par 3
The 14th hole at Coeur d’Alene isn’t as well known as some of the other holes on this list but it does boast a rather unique feature that may well make it one of the coolest holes in the world. This par 3 doesn’t have a set yardage and that is down to the fact that the green can be moved. Yes…that’s right…this stunning par 3 has a floating green that can be moved from as little as 100 yards from the tee to a whopping 270 yards out into Lake Coeur d’Alene. I’m not sure I would be all that confident if I arrived on the tee and it was set at the maximum distance but this hole just has to be in the ultimate 18!
12 – Cape Kidnappers – 15th – Par 5
Perched atop a series of promontories that jut out into Hawkes Bay in New Zealand this is truly one of the most visually stunning golf courses in the world today. The 15th hole sits in the middle of the stretch of holes that sit on these remarkable land formations and is known as the “Pirate’s Plank”. While playing this long par 5 it is essential to keep your ball on the short stuff as there is a 140 metre cliff drop to the left and a deep cavern to the right. In fact if you don’t like heights the middle of the fairway is the only safe place to be! According to our man who has played the course the waves that roll into Hawkes Bay look like ripples on a pond due to the sheer elevation of this stunning series of holes.
13 – Augusta – 13th – Par 5
Immediately following the stunning par 3 12th on Augusta’s Amen Corner is the par 5 13th. This par 5 is one of the greatest in golf and like any really good par 5 it gives the players a chance to go for the green in two. In order to do this the tee shot must be slung around a gentle dogleg. Hit it too straight and you will have to ‘pull a Mickelson’ to get home in two but find the fairway and it’s all systems go! Birdie is no certainty though as Rae’s Creek snakes its way across the front of the green which slopes towards the water meaning anything left of long could spell danger as well! A truly great risk vs. reward hole and one of the finest par 5s in the world.
14 – Legend Golf & Safari Resort –Xtreme 19th – Par 3
Like the floating green at Coeur d’Alene this par 3 is completely unique. This is the longest par 3 in the world measuring a monstrous 395 yards! Don’t worry though because you get some help hitting the ball that far thanks to the fact that the tee sits atop the Hanglip Mountain…1300 feet up in the air! Players are taken to the tee in a helicopter and once there they play to a giant, Africa-shaped green. Score a hole in one and $1,000,000 is yours! A truly unique and exhilarating golfing experience.
15 – Old course – 18th – Par 4
It is impossible to make an fantasy golf course without including at least one hole from the legendary Old Course at St Andrews. The backdrop to the 18th on the Old Course is truly special with the ‘Auld Grey Toon’ ominously close to the right hand side of the hole and the famous R&A Clubhouse in the background. Then of course you have the hole itself which is another great short par 4. The green can most certainly be hit if the wind is on your side but danger lurks just short of the green in the form of the Valley of Sin. This gaping void in the hole has bested even the most talented players in the game and has also provided moments of sheer joy such as Constantino Rocca’s monster putt in the 1995 Open Championship. Rocca’s two final shots on this hole perfectly summed up why this par 4 is such a great hole and a worthy inclusion on the fantasy golf course.
16 – Punta Mita – 3B – Par 3
This hole is very much like the floating green at Coeur d’Alene by design but the ‘Tale of the Whale’ is totally natural. The green sits on a natural landform a couple of hundred yards out from the tee which sits just on the edge of an idyllic beach. This is another do or die hole but unlike the 7th at Pebble Beach, the crystal blue waters off the Mexican coast wouldn’t be so bad to searching for your ball in!
17 – Pebble Beach – 18th – Par 5
This hole is similar to the 12th at Kingsbarns in the sense that it hugs the coastline from tee to green. The tee shot must be played over the rocks and the crashing surf and so must the second if you are going for the green in two. However you can play the hole as a safe three shot par 5 but the bunkers and lone tree that protect the green ensure even this tactic won’t lead to an easy par. This is truly one of the finest finishing holes in the world and with the Pacific Ocean crashing into the shoreline it can be an extremely exhilarating experience.
18 – Old Head – 4th – Par 4
From the tee the golfer has two options. Play safe and away from the cliff drop on the left or take the aggressive line and cut the corner over the abyss! Either way you play this hole a par is always welcome as a double bogey is never too far away thanks to the Celtic Sea that lurks ominously close to the left hand side of this beautiful hole.
Which holes would you put in your fantasy 18? Have we missed any gems that you would love to play? Let us know!