From historic links courses to lush parkland classics and everything in between, the UK & Ireland are home to some of the very best golf courses on the planet. Of course, every great golf course boasts a truly great individual hole and while there are countless examples throughout our shores, there are a few that simply must be ticked off any respectable golfing bucketlist. With the new year on the not too distant horizon we have selected 5 of our favourites and have tracked down some insider information on each hole so that, when the time comes, you are well prepared to get a par jotted down on the scorecard.


Celtic Manor – Montgomerie Course – 3rd Hole – Par 5

What makes it the stand out hole on the course? Views, difficulty, design?

The 3rd hole on The Montgomerie Course features in a book called 1001 Golf Holes You Must Play before You Die and it’s easy to see why; this is a true bucket list experience.
After driving to the crest of a hill, this spectacular par-five plunges steeply downhill, making the green an inviting target to reach in two shots and set up an eagle chance. The thrilling test of golf is only part of the drama presented by this hole. As you walk down a fairway which resembles a snowless ski piste with tall pine trees flanking either side, you are presented with a magnificent view up the Usk Valley and towards Wentwood Forest. This vista is only surpassed when you get close to the green and past the tree line, and look down to your left over the lakes and manicured fairways of the Twenty Ten Course.


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The view from behind the green, looking back up to the top of the hill where the brave golfer might just fancy having a pop at the green in two!


What tip would you give to someone playing it for the first time?

Watch out for a sizeable mound in front of the green which will kick your ball away on both sides. Longer approach shots seeking to reach in two may be forced to take this chance with the contours but any mid or short iron approach should resist the temptation to run the ball down the slope and instead aim to land on the green.


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After hitting your approach into the green, take a minute to soak up the views of the Usk Valley and the magical Twenty Ten Course.


What is the most common mistake made by golfers playing this hole?

Like most reachable par-fives, the most common mistake made by golfers playing this hole is getting too greedy. This hole is a particular tempter because, as soon as your drive gives you a view of the green, you feel the downhill approach will give you all the run required to reach the green. The awesome view makes the hole feel deceptively open when in fact it is quite tight with trees on either side and a bunker and thick rough lurking on the right and a slope ready to kick anything left into oblivion.

*Comments courtesy of Celtic Manor PGA Professional Alex Davies.


Kingsbarns – 12th Hole – Par 5

What makes it the stand out hole on the course? Views, difficulty, design?

This spectaular and challenging  par 5 named “Orrdeal” after former land owners as well as hinting at what may be ahead measures 606 yard from the championship tees, this is the longest hole at Kingsbarns Golf Links. Despite its length, this par 5 can be conquered with 3 good shots towards the right hand side of the fairway. The elevated tee box provides an incredible view of the East Neuk of Fife and the North Sea. The hole dog legs left  along the coast with plenty of room on the right hand side of the fairway.  Pot bunkers await any errand shots on both the left and right side of the fairway. The tricky and complex  green with 3 different tiers measures nearly 70 yards from front to back. With 3 good shots up the right hand side and 2 good putts you will have a well-deserved par which will feel more like a birdie.


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Well protected by bunkers, dunes and, of course, the North Sea, only the bravest (and longest) golfers will take on the green in two here.


What tip would you give to someone playing it for the first time?

Golfers playing the hole for the first time should take note of the pin positon. The hole location can be up to 65 yards from the front of the green. Not allowing for this will lead to a very very very lengthy putt. A must see and play for any golfer!


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The view from the 12th green back towards the tee on what is the Scottish version of the 18th at Pebble Beach.


What is the most common mistake made by golfers playing this hole?

A common mistake would be taking on too much on this tricky hole, resulting in a miss hit or pulled approach landing in the North Sea.  When playing your approach shot to the green favour the right side, the green slopes from right to left and your ball should release towards the centre of the green.

* Comments courtesy of Alan Hogg, CEO Kingsbarns Golf Links


Castletown Golf Links – 5th Hole – Par 4

What makes it the stand out hole on the course? Views, difficulty, design?

There are a lot of great holes at Castletown, but for me the 5th probably provides the best combination of views, design, and difficulty. The elevated tee allows for beautiful vistas of Derbyhaven Bay and Castle Rushen beyond – after which Castletown takes its name. The hole demands the attention of any player and many will already be thinking about it as they approach the 4th green. The fairway sweeps from left to right around the bay with the slope following as if designed by mother nature herself. The human element comes in the form of a small road leading to St. Michael’s Isle (with history dating back to to the middle ages). The 5th is therefore called the Road Hole as this also dictates the out of bounds line creating a target area that is just 32 yards wide. It goes without saying that both from the tee, and a hanging lie in the fairway, only two great shots will suffice.


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Castletown and indeed the Isle of Man on the whole might not be the most famous of golf destinations but with classic holes like the 5th at Castletown awaiting the travelling golfer, it might just be time to see what’s on offer here.


What tip would you give to someone playing it for the first time?

The best tip for players approaching this hole is enjoy the challenge and don’t bottle it!!! When you stand on the tee just have a think about the time Greg Norman hit driver across the corner of the beach, bounced it off the road and into the middle of the green.

* Comments courtesy of Johnny Evans, Director of Golf at Castletown Golf Links


Turnberry – Ailsa Course – 10th Hole – Par 4 – “Dinna Fouter” (Don’t mess about)

Why is it the best hole on the course?

It’s got the Firth of Clyde to the left of the hole all the way to the green. It’s a dog-leg, right-to-left and it has got the iconic lighthouse right next to it. It’s a great hole for views with the ocean and the Firth of Clyde down the left hand side, and very breathtaking with the views you get right out to the furthest point on the golf course. It also begins with the halfway house – I don’t know if there is a halfway house with a more breathtaking view than the one we have.


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Turnberry boasts countless awe inspiring holes but the 10th of the Ailsa Course, with its unique doughnut shaped bunker is the pick of the bunch.


What makes it stand out? Views, difficulty, design?

Apart from the view, it’s a very difficult hole. From the back tees it plays about 450 yards. It’s a challenging hole where you’ve got to carry the ball about 200 yards to get to the first part of the fairway. When you reach the fairway, there are three pot bunkers waiting for you, so it requires a well-placed tee shot. Then you’ve got a doughnut bunker down the fairway about 40 yards in front of the green, which protects balls from rolling up onto the green. It’s one of the most iconic bunkers on the course.

What tip would you give to someone playing it for the first time?

It’s all about course management. You have got to manage your way around the hole, avoiding the bunkers and the Firth of Clyde.


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When you step onto the 10th tee on the Ailsa Course, you are very well aware that you are about to hit one of the most iconic shots in golf, where only a straight and true drive will set you up to hit the green in regulation.


What is the most common mistake made by golfers playing this hole?

People trying to cut off too much. Because it’s a dog-leg, you can cut the corner a little bit. But if you’re cutting the corner you’re taking on the water on the left side, plus two pot bunkers in the middle of the fairway. For the brave, take the Tiger-line, but for the feint-hearted, stay right and avoid the two bunkers and the water; play the hole like you do chess.

Is it similar to any other hole on another course?

It’s pretty unique really. It reminds me of the 12th at Kingsbarns, it’s a par-5 dog-leg, right-to-left. You’ve got the water all the way along the left side. I just don’t think the view is as spectacular with what you get with the lighthouse and obviously the Arran aswell, with snow most of the time on the top of the mountains.

* Comments courtesy of Turnberry PGA Professional


Nefyn & District – Old Course – 17th Hole – Par 5

What makes it the stand out hole on the course? Views, difficulty, design?

From its small tee perched precariously on a rocky promontory only a few metres from the sea, the 17 hole commands views across both the Old and New courses at Nefyn as well as inviting golfers to glance eastwards across to  Snowdonia and maybe on a clear evening, westwards to the Wicklows in Ireland – 55 miles away!! It requires three accurate shots to reach the green.  The ideal drive has to find the right half of the fairway, not too right otherwise the sea awaits.  Too far left leaves a tight, blind second shot to find the narrow, undulating fairway.  The second shot has to be equally accurate, too far right, there’s still the coves and the beach waiting, too far left and the semi-rough will make reaching the green in regulation highly unlikely.  Having found the right sector of the fairway with both shots, you’ve a pitch to a long green, hopefully for a birdie, but at worst a par!


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Nefyn & District, with its stunning promontory, must be one of the best hidden gems in the world of golf. A round on the Old Course is a must, as is a quick pint in the Ty Coch Inn after putting out on the 15th hole!


What tip would you give to someone playing it for the first time?

Obviously stay away from the sea on the right, a tee shot up the left half of the fairway, though leaving a difficult second, still gives the golfer a chance of making par.  One other tip, resist a second pint in the pub on the beach after the 15th!

Is it similar to any other hole on another course?

In terms of similarity, there are five other holes at Nefyn where the sea and the rocky coves will certainly catch the golfer’s attention. These holes, however, provide their own individual challenges for the golfer of whatever ability.

* Comments courtesy of Duncan Smith, Marketing and Promotion, Nefyn and District Golf Club

Rory

Rory

The resident golf geek at Your Golf Travel. Have been lucky enough to have travelled far and wide playing golf and if I’m not writing about it at work, you will probably find me hacking it around my local course. Owner of 2 holes in one and some of the most crooked drives you have ever seen! www.yourgolftravel.com/ygt-rory

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