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The World's Most Famous Golf Holes

Iconic Holes in Golf

✍️ Rick Wilton | ⏰ 16 min read

Royal Troon 8th Hole

The 8th hole at Royal Troon, nicknamed the "Postage Stamp," is a par 3 that's anything but ordinary.

Tiny Green:
It lives up to its name. The putting surface is extremely narrow, barely 10 paces wide, and guarded by bunkers on all sides. There's no margin for error – finding the green is crucial.

Elevated Tee Shot:
The tee box sits high, offering a dramatic view (originally of Ailsa Craig, the reason for its old name) but requiring a precise downhill shot across a gully.

Windy Challenge:
As with most links courses, expect wind to be a constant factor, making an already difficult shot even trickier.

Short But Significant:
It's the shortest hole on any Open Championship course, don't be fooled though – it's a daunting test for even the best golfers.

This hole is a true risk-reward scenario. A perfect shot can earn a birdie, but a slight miscalculation can lead to a big number. The "Postage Stamp" is a celebrated and feared hole in equal measure, making it a highlight of the Royal Troon experience.

More Info on The Postage Stamp >>

St Andrews Old Course - 17th Hole

The 17th hole on the Old Course at St Andrews, aptly nicknamed the "Road Hole," is a daunting par-4 that strikes fear into the hearts of golfers, even the pros.

Tee Shot:
The tee box sits right next to the Old Course Hotel, with a narrow fairway demanding a precise shot. Traditionally, players aimed their drives over the "O" in the hotel sign, but strategies have evolved. A misplaced tee shot can easily end up out of bounds.

The Green:
While there's only one bunker guarding the green, it's a long and narrow target. The real challenge lies beyond: a severe drop-off at the back feeds into a road, rough, and a stone wall.

A Thinking Golfer's Hole:
Forget about going for broke on the Road Hole. It's all about strategy and course management. Finding the fairway off the tee and playing for a good position for the second shot is key. Even the best golfers struggle to par this hole, making it a true test of golfing skill and mental fortitude.

In essence, the Road Hole is a par 4 that demands respect and precision. It's a hole where pars are celebrated and even the most skilled players can falter.

TPC Sawgrass 17th Hole

The incredible 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, with its island green, has to be one of the most exhilarating golf experiences anywhere.

Island Green:
The signature feature is the green itself. Perched entirely on an island in the middle of a lake, it's a visually stunning and intimidating challenge.

Short But Treacherous:
While short in distance (typically around 130-140 yards), club selection and execution are paramount. Bailouts are practically non-existent, making it a nerve-wracking challenge.

Stadium Atmosphere:
During tournaments like THE PLAYERS the hole is surrounded by a large amphitheater-style seating area, creating an electric atmosphere.

Wind's Influence:
Prevailing winds can significantly impact shot selection and distance control. A calm day is a rarity, adding another layer of difficulty to this already demanding hole.

Success on the 17th requires focus, precision, and a little bit of luck. A well-struck shot can bring roars from the crowd, while a miscalculation can lead to a watery demise. The drama and risk involved make the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass one of the most recognizable and exciting holes in golf.

Pebble Beach 7th Hole

The 7th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links is a legendary par-3, and for good reason.

Short and Scenic:
It's incredibly short, ranging from 106 to 111 yards depending on tee placement. This makes it seem like you could almost toss a ball on the green. The real challenge comes from the view.

Dramatic Oceanside Setting:
The green sits elevated, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on three sides. The crashing waves and salty air create a breathtaking backdrop for your shot.

Tricky Wind:
Don't be fooled by the short distance. The hole is known for its unpredictable wind conditions. It can whip off the ocean, making club selection a challenge and turning a seemingly simple shot into a gamble.

Small Green with Big Consequences:
The green itself is on the smaller side, surrounded by deep bunkers. A seemingly simple shot can turn disastrous if you misjudge the wind or distance.

The combination of beauty, challenge, and history has made the 7th hole a legend. It's been the scene of many dramatic moments in professional golf, and a dream hole for golfers of all skill levels.

Augusta National 12th Hole

The 12th hole at Augusta National, nicknamed "Golden Bell," is a par-3 that may be short in distance but packs a punch in terms of difficulty.

Deceptive Distance:
Don't be fooled by the short yardage. The hole often plays longer due to swirling winds that can significantly affect club selection.

Water Hazard:
The ever-present Rae's Creek lurks in front of the green, ready to gobble up any shot that falls short. This adds significant pressure, especially for players facing a crucial putt for par or birdie.

Narrow Green:
The green itself is narrow and angled, making it appear deceptively large from the tee box. The severe slope from back to front adds another layer of difficulty, requiring precise shot placement to avoid three strategically placed bunkers and hold the green.

Pressure Cooker:
The 12th hole is part of Amen Corner, a notoriously difficult stretch of holes at Augusta. With patrons watching and the stakes high, especially during the Masters, the pressure can be immense.

Despite the difficulty, the beauty of the hole shouldn't be forgotten. The iconic image of golfers walking across the Ben Hogan Bridge to reach the green, with blooming azaleas in the background, is a staple of Masters coverage. The risk-reward factor of the hole makes it a constant test of a golfer's skill and nerve.

North Berwick 13th Hole

The 13th hole at North Berwick Golf Club, also known as "The Pit", is a par-4 unlike any other.

Short but Tricky:
The hole itself isn't overly long, playable with a short iron for a good approach shot.

The Wall is the Star:
An ancient stone wall runs almost the entire length of the hole on the right side. It separates the fairway from the green and adds a layer of strategic gambling.

Risk and Reward:
Playing it safe and aiming away from the wall leaves you with a riskier second shot – a blind drop shot over the wall to a tiny, punchbowl green. The green itself is nestled right up against the wall, leaving little room for error.

Punchbowl Green:
The green is tiny, nestled into a hollow with gorse flanking the left side. The wall's close proximity further restricts the putting surface from view.

This quirky hole is a true test of course management and shot execution. It's a favorite among golfers for its unique character and the potential for both birdies and hilarious ricochets off the wall.

Lahinch Old Course 4th Hole

The 4th hole at Lahinch Golf Club, also known as Klondyke, is a par-5 that's famous for its unique layout and challenging gameplay.

Tee Shot:
The hole starts with a narrow fairway that snakes through a valley between dunes. Finding the fairway off the tee is crucial, as straying left or right can leave you with a difficult second shot.

Second Shot:
This is where Klondyke gets interesting. The fairway abruptly ends at a large dune, requiring a blind second shot over the crest. You won't be able to see the green from the landing zone, adding an element of risk and reward.

The Green:
Once you clear the dune, the green awaits. There's a drain in front of the green that can be a tricky obstacle, forcing you to decide between laying up for an easier third shot or going for the green in two and potentially scoring a birdie.

Klondyke is a shortish par-5 by distance, but the blind second shot and strategic demands make it a memorable and challenging hole. The prevailing wind can also play a significant factor, requiring adjustments throughout.

TPC Scottsdale 16th Hole

The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is the most iconic hole on the Stadium Course, during the Phoenix Open the grandstand completely surrounds hole giving it the nickname “The Coliseum”.

Short but Tricky:
The par-3 is relatively short depending on tee placement but consistently ranks as one of the toughest holes on the course.

The Atmosphere:
Nicknamed "The Coliseum" for its surrounding grandstands, the 16th hole is the most famous and rowdiest on the PGA Tour.

Strategic Play:
The ever-present Arizona wind adds another layer of complexity. Players need to carefully consider wind direction and strength when choosing their club and trajectory. A well-placed shot can find the heart of the green and set up a birdie opportunity, while a slight misjudgment can lead to a bogey or worse.

The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is more than just a challenging par-3; it's a microcosm of everything that makes professional golf exciting. It's a testament to the strategic nature of the game, a showcase of the pressure players face, and a celebration of the passionate fans who make the sport so special.

Royal Portrush Dunluce Links 16th Hole

The 16th hole at Royal Portrush, also known as "Calamity Corner," is a daunting par 3 that lives up to its nickname.

Exposure:
This hole is completely exposed to the elements, with the wind playing a significant role in shot selection and club choice.

Distance:
It can be quite long from the back tees, take plenty of club, precise distance control is crucial.

Trouble Everywhere:
A massive chasm flanks the right side of the green, ready to swallow any errant tee shots. Thick rough borders the left side, offering little forgiveness for pulled shots.

Dramatic setting:
The green sits nestled against a steep dune ridge, adding a sense of intimidation for golfers facing the challenge.

Overall, the 16th hole at Royal Portrush is a test of accuracy and nerve. It requires a perfectly struck tee shot to find the green and avoid a potential disaster.

Le Golf National Albatros Course 18th Hole

The 18th hole at Le Golf National's Albatros course is a daunting par 4, known for being a dramatic and challenging finisher.

Tee Shot:
Nerves of steel are a must. Water lurks all along the left side, demanding accuracy. Bunkers strategically placed on the right fairway can punish even slightly errant drives.

Approach:
Even more daunting is the approach to the green. This requires a carry over water to a peninsula green, with the potential for a watery grave if your shot finds the right side.

The Green:
Even if you navigate the water hazards, the green itself presents a challenge. Undulations can make reading putts tricky.

This hole has earned a reputation as one of the toughest on the DP World Tour. It demands precise shot-making and the ability to handle pressure – a true test for any golfer.

Royal County Down Championship Course 9th Hole

The 9th hole at Royal County Down is a legendary par 4, and one of the most photographed holes in all of golf. It's known for both its beauty and its challenge.

Dramatic Elevation Change:
The tee shot is played from above a crest, requiring a blind carry over rough terrain to reach the fairway which sits well below.

Unique Bunkers:
The fairway is guarded by the course's famous "bearded bunkers" - fescue-covered bunkers with overhanging lips that add to the challenge and character of the hole.

Hidden Landing Area:
Because of the tee shot played blind over a crest, golfers can't see where their ball lands on the fairway.

Elevated Green:
The green sits up on a plateau, requiring an accurate approach shot with good distance control.

Overall, the 9th hole at Royal County Down is a visually stunning and strategically demanding hole that will test golfers of all skill levels.

Vale do Lobo Royal Course 16th Hole

The 16th hole at Vale do Lobo's Royal Course is widely considered one of Europe's most photographed holes, thanks to its famous tee shot over the stunning orange cliffs. Playing this hole at sunset guarantees a memorable experience.

Clifftop Drama:
The hole is perched on the edge of a cliff, offering stunning ocean views and a truly unique tee shot.

Challenging Carry:
When played from the back tees it is a demanding 224 yards, requiring a precise tee shot.

Bunkers:
Even if you make the carry over the ravine bunkers are strategically placed, potentially coming into play depending on your tee shot placement.

Overall, the 16th hole is a breathtaking and challenging par 3 that will leave a lasting impression on any golfer.

Harbour Town Golf Links 18th Hole

The 18th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links is widely considered one of the most iconic finishing holes in golf.

Signature View:
The hole is framed by the Calibogue Sound, the channel between Hilton Head and Daufuskie Islands, with the Harbour Town Lighthouse standing sentinel directly behind the green. This creates a visually stunning backdrop for golfers as they close out their round.

Off the Tee:
The tee shot is relatively generous, with a wide fairway. However, accuracy is still important as missing left can result in a penalty stroke.

Approach Shot:
The challenge ramps up on the approach. Players need to make a long carry over the Calibogue Sound to reach the green. There's a bailout area to the right, but it's deceptively tricky and can lead to trouble.

Memorable Moments:
The hole has seen its share of drama, with many golfers' fortunes hinging on their final approach shot here. Watching players navigate the risk-reward scenario and potentially close out the tournament in style is a major highlight of the RBC Heritage.

Overall, the 18th at Harbour Town is a hole that demands strategic thinking and precise shot execution. It's a fitting finale for a challenging and scenic course.

The Belfry Brabazon Course 10th Hole

The 10th hole on the Brabazon Course at The Belfry is more than just a par 4 – it's a piece of golfing history. This iconic hole has been the stage for dramatic moments in the Ryder Cup, and continues to challenge and excite golfers today.

Risk and Reward:
The tee shot is the defining feature of the 10th. Water guards the entire front of the green, making it a tempting but risky drive. Players can choose to lay up safely in the fairway, or go for glory and try to reach the green in one shot.

Ryder Cup Legacy:
The 10th hole is most famous for its role in the 1985 Ryder Cup. Seve Ballesteros' legendary drive onto the green in a tense match, and Sam Torrance's winning putt, are forever etched in golfing memory.

Strategic Options:
Even if you don't go for the green in two, the approach shot requires careful planning. The green is narrow and well-bunkered, demanding accuracy over pure power.

A Hole for All:
Despite its drama, the 10th caters to golfers of all skill levels. Tee boxes can be adjusted to create a manageable challenge, while the risk-reward element allows skilled players to showcase their talents.

In summary, the 10th hole at The Brabazon is a true test of golf, offering a thrilling risk-reward tee shot, a rich golfing history, and strategic options for all players. It's no wonder this hole has become a legend in its own right.

Carnoustie Championship Course 18th Hole

The 18th hole at Carnoustie's Championship Course, aptly nicknamed "Home," is a daunting conclusion to a challenging round. This par 4 tests even the most seasoned golfers with its combination of length, danger, and historical significance.

Out of Bounds Lurks:
Danger flanks the entire left side of the hole, with unforgiving out-of-bounds territory waiting to claim any wayward tee shots. This forces golfers to be precise and strategic right from the start.

The Barry Burn:
This burn is more than just water. It's a strategic element that adds significant pressure to every shot near the green. A well-placed tee shot can carry the burn, but a slight miscue can find a watery grave.

A Demanding Approach:
Even a perfect drive doesn't guarantee a safe second shot. The green is well-protected by deep bunkers and the ever-present Barry Burn, making precise distance control and course management crucial.

A Theatre of Champions (and Collapses):
The 18th at Carnoustie has witnessed its fair share of dramatic finishes in major tournaments. From Jean van de Velde's infamous meltdown in the 1999 Open Championship to Padraig Harrington's near-disaster in 2007, this hole has the power to turn elation into despair in a single swing.

The 18th at Carnoustie is a fittingly difficult conclusion to a demanding course. It requires accuracy, nerve, and a touch of luck to navigate its hazards and secure a par, leaving a lasting impression on any golfer who dares to challenge it.

Old Head Golf Links 4th Hole

The 4th hole at Old Head Golf Links in Ireland is more than just a challenging par 4; it's a golfer's dream (or nightmare) come true.

Dramatic Setting:
Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the tee shot boasts panoramic views that are simply awe-inspiring. The crashing waves and salty air add another layer of challenge and beauty to the hole.

Fairway Finesse:
The fairway itself is relatively narrow, demanding accuracy over power. However, the natural contours on the right side of the fairway can be used to your advantage. By aiming your tee shot in that direction, the slope can gently nudge your ball back towards the center, giving you a better angle for your second shot.

Windy Wonders:
Old Head is notorious for its unpredictable winds, and the 4th hole is no exception. Be prepared to adjust your club selection and shot shape based on the prevailing conditions. A helpful caddy can be a lifesaver here, navigating the ever-changing wind patterns.

The 4th hole at Old Head is a truly unforgettable golfing experience. It requires a combination of strategic thinking, precise shot execution, and a touch of bravery to conquer. With the breathtaking scenery and the challenge it presents, this hole is sure to leave a lasting impression on any golfer.

More About Rick

Handicap: 11
Favourite Course: Chiltern Forest
My 'Expert' areas: Kent & the Home Counties
Best trip I've done: Dubai with golf & Rugby 7's
Where my next trip is to: Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way

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