Have you ever been playing one of the world’s great courses and considered the golfing magic that has taken place on the ground upon which you are walking? Better yet, have you ever witnessed something special on a course during an event then gone back to play it for yourself?

One of the most important things about golf is the ability to play the venues that the superstars of our sport play. One of the ways that these special courses celebrate the moments of magic that took place in the past is by placing small plaques and statues. Have you ever come across one? Be honest, did you try to emulate the shot?

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the most famous shots and moments on courses around the world. Try to find the plaques and statues when you’re out enjoying these world-class golf courses.

Tiger Woods – The Grove – 9th (18th)

You’re probably wondering why the title has 9th and 18th on it. Well, this particular piece of golfing magic happened at the WGC – American Express Championship at The Grove where the course had been flipped for the sake of the tournament. The 18th hole that week was the 9th hole under normal playing conditions.

The Grove


This is an extra-special moment because it is actually a series of three moments that tie together for an incredible piece of golfing glory. That week, Tiger eagled the final hole three days in a row! Tiger would win the event by 8 shots over Ian Poulter and Adam Scott and the six shots he took from the course here clearly helped. The 567-yard par 5 was basically a par 4 for Tiger that week. There are three plaques on the fairway to mark where he hit his second shots from, give them all a shot and see if you can get to the green let alone close enough to eagle it.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – Dundonald Links – 18th

Since the Scottish Open has recently finished, we should talk about one of the most dramatic finishes this tournament has seen. In 2017, the Spaniard played the final round in an incredible 64 to force a playoff between him and Callum Shinkwin. Playoff golf is like final qualifying in Formula1, it’s all about being bold and taking charge.

Dundonald Links 18th Hole

That’s exactly what the Spaniard did. Having hit a solid drive onto the fairway, Rafa faced a 275-yard decision. He opted for the bold three wood. A sweetly struck fairway metal settled nicely a mere 8 feet from the cup and sealed him his first victory in 5 years.

Tom Watson – Pebble Beach Golf Links – 17th

There are few golfers who created the drama and fireworks when they faced-off like Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson did. The famous 1977, ‘Duel in the Sun’ at Turnberry was incredible and in 1982 the two greats were at it again. Not playing together this time, Nicklaus was in the clubhouse with the lead and carefully watching a TV monitor. Watson made his way to the 17th tee and that day the par 3 was playing 209 yards. Between clubs, he opted for his trusty 2–iron but he overcooked the draw and watched his ball sail toward trouble, this could be the tournament over.

Pebble Beach 17th Hole

He got to the green and to his surprise it was sitting in the rough just beyond the green. Watson’s caddy suggested he just knock something up there and take his par. Watson disagreed, he had one thing in mind – holing it. The ball came out softly and just as planned, it ran up and dropped. He would go on to birdie the last hole as well and win by two shots. Incredible golf from one of our sports masters.

Colin Montgomerie – Emirates Majlis – 18th

There are few golf shots that inspire fear and, when pulled-off, impress more than a driver off the deck. The oversized head behind the tiny ball and the utter lack of loft makes for a testing site at address. In 1996 though, Monty opted for that very play in what ‘the best shot of his career’. At this time the golf course was a standalone oasis in the desert, Dubai hadn’t become the metropolis it now is.

Emirates Golf Club - Majilis Course

Monty reached the 18th fairway with a one shot lead over Miguel Angel Jimenez. The Spaniard had hit his drive into the semi-rough and stood with his three wood showing the Scot that he was going to go for broke. With a one shot lead at this point he knew a birdie would all but guarantee the victory. He hit a truly sublime driver off the deck that landed softly thanks to Montgomerie’s classic fade. The 248-yard shot left him 15 feet away and he two-putted to seal the victory. One of the greatest pressure shot in the history of the European Tour.

Jack Nicklaus – Killeen Castle

Every golfer knows that Jack Nicklaus is the most successful major championship competitor in the history of our great sport. What many may not know is just how good a golf course designer the Golden Bear has become over the years. One of his specialities is creating golf courses for the great matchplay events of golf like the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup. In 2009, Killeen Castle was awarded the 2011 Solheim Cup.

Killeen Castle - Jack Nicklaus statue

Before the tournament began, the organisers started by unveiling a statue to Jack in celebration of the great man’s contributions to golf. You can visit the bronzed depiction of Jack at the top of his backswing beside the first tee at this Irish gem.

Jamie Donaldson – PGA Centenary Course, Gleneagles – 15th Hole

Speaking of Jack Nicklaus-designs hosting major team events, the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles was a wonderful event. Held on the PGA Centenary Course, designed by the Golden Bear, this is a matchplay course that was created specifically for the Ryder Cup. Even just walking around the course you can see that care has been taken to create features for head to head golf with plenty of viewing areas for the captivated galleries.

Gleneagles - 2014 Ryder Cup

Europe were leading 13 ½ – 9 ½ and victory was in sight at this historic Ryder Cup. The 40th playing of the event and back where it all began, this was an important one for the home team to win and they were well on their way. 14 ½ is the magic number to reach and Donaldson had split the fairway on the downhill 15th hole from the tee. With 146 yards to go, the Welshman and Ryder Cup rookie hit “the shot of my life” as he hit it stiff then strutted down the fairway with a finger in the air! The putt would be conceded and the Europeans were crowned victorious. The plaque now sits proudly at the spot of that scintillating shot for you to try for yourself. Matchplaygolf at its very finest.

Old Tom Morris – Tain Golf Club

There are few who shaped the modern game like Old Tom Morris. As a greenkeeper, club maker and professional Old Tom was really a golfing jack of all trades. He and his contemporaries really made the first moves toward the sport we see today. Morris has shaped many of the greatest courses in the UK and design features of his are still replicated to this day.

Tain Golf Club

Tain Golf Club is sometimes known as Old Tom’s Northern Jewel. He originally designed 15 holes at this hidden gem of the highlands. 12 of those holes were actually made and thankfully have survived. This is one of the best places to play to feel that historical connection to how golf was played back in Old Tom’s day. To celebrate the influence he had on the course and to our sport in general, a statue of the legend was placed at the club. Go and play at Tain and get a selfie with Old Tom whilst you are at it.

Rory McIlroy – The K Club – 18th Hole

The K Club is one of Ireland’s finest golfing destinations and the site of some great moments. It was here that Europe equalled their record victory margin against the US. In 2016, The K Club was centre stage again as the host course of the Irish Open. The host of the tournament that year was none other than Rory McIlroy. It is certainly worth mentioning here that the Irish Open is now one of the greatest events on the European Tour schedule and Rory has been utterly instrumental in this success.

The K Club

That week the weather had been frustrating and scoring was not easy. Rory was one shot ahead as he reached the 18th tee, some conservative golf should have seen him home to his first Irish Open title. However, McIlroy doesn’t really do conservative golf, we know this. A great drive left him 252 yards from the pin with 95% of that yardage over water. Rory hit the three wood of his life. The ball settled like a mid-iron and nestled up beside the pin only three feet away. As soon as he hit it you can see that he knows it’s good as you see the customary McIlroy swagger. A piece of golfing magic that took Rory to his well-deserved home title.

Bobby Jones – Royal Lytham & St Anne’s – 17th Hole

To celebrate the fact that The Open Championship has just been, we have to finish on one of the many great moments in the history of golf’s greatest event. Feel free to argue that point but prepare to lose. In 1926, Bobby Jones travelled to the UK but didn’t actually plan to play in The Open. He was here for the Amateur Championship, which was a more prestigious title at the time, and the Walker Cup. A loss in the Amateur made him extend his trip so that he could play The Open but the great American star had to qualify. This was actually the first time that qualifying was required at The Open.

Royal Lytham & St Annes - 17th Hole

He didn’t play his best golf during regional qualifying at Sunningdale, but Jones did what he had to do and earned a place at the 61st Open Championship. Well, the golfing world is glad he did because this was his first of three Claret Jugs. In the final stages of the second and last day, Jones was basically in a matchplay situation against fellow American Al Watrous. Jones was behind and on 17 hit his tee shot into a waste bunker. Watrous had split the fairway and looked like his lead was about to become unassailable as he hit his second onto the green. After weighing up his options Jones knew he had to go for it and brought out his ‘mashie’, an old club equivalent to a five iron today. He hit a magnificent escape shot and rolled it up on to the green. This rattled his opponent who three-putted and handed the lead to Jones. Considering the pressure and the limitations of the technology, this was a heroic shot that took Jones to a well-deserved victory. The club is still on display in the clubhouse should you wish to pay homage.

Golf is a sport steeped in history and one that celebrates the stories that have created the sport we play today. In the modern era, the greatest golfers are on TV constantly and these spectacular shots can be seen around the world as they happen. It is a testament to how we value greatness that plaques and statues of golfing greatness are placed to celebrate events and people.
Anyone who has played golf, for even a short period of time, has hit a shot that has surprised them and made them feel incredible. Imagine doing that same thing in front of galleries of avid golf fans and a global audience when a title is on the line. This is the amazing mental strength and ability that the best golfers in the world possess and we even expect the best from these players in these moments.

The installation of these plaques and statues allow us to celebrate our collective history as golfers and even try to recreate the magic. In most cases this will do nothing more than show us just how much better the world’s top pros are compared to us, but in its own way that is a special thing. So get yourself out to these courses, get pictures and drop a ball beside the plaques and give it a go yourself!



A former golf professional and a writer in the sport for over a decade, Kenny has played golf since the age of 7. After 25 years playing the sport he no longer competes but now loves writing about anything to do with golf including equipment and destinations around the world.

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