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The Golf Holes That You Must Play

By: Golfshake Editor | Fri 05 Jun 2020

Unforgettable holes make a golf course, whether it be the challenge they provide, the dramatic visuals they offer, or the history behind them, this sport is littered with architectural masterpieces that live long in the memory. When compiling its 'undisputed' list of the best holes in the world, Golf Digest featured the likes of the 16th at Cypress Point, the 17th at St Andrews and the 12th at Augusta National. It's hard to disagree with those, but every golfer has personal favourites that they have played. 

Looking to identify some of the greatest around, we asked several of our Golfshake Ambassadors to pick out three holes that they have experienced, describing why they are a must play.

Starting with Matt Holbrook, who begins with arguably the most iconic of them all.

"Probably a popular choice - but the 18th at St Andrews Old Course. Having been lucky enough to play there it really is a magical experience. There are better golf courses for sure, but what this place offers is like none other. 

"After exiting the 17th Road Hole, you are greeted with the famous view in the game, the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse in the distance as well as the Old Tom Morris shop on the right. As you reach the green, make sure you take a moment to let everything sink in. 

"The 12th at Ile Aux Cerfs in Mauritius will also get a mention for me. Not the most challenging of holes, a gentle dog-leg from right to left that slopes down to the green. But it goes in for the pure scenery that awaits you as you arrive at the green. The panoramic view of the Indian ocean is breathtakingly surreal. 

"Finally, I'm going to go with the 18th at The Belfry. I know lots may say the 10th, but as far as finishing holes go, I'm not sure many would beat this. The blind tee shot leaves you deciding on how much of the corner to take on, the agonising wait in silence as you try your hardest to (not) hear a splash, then walking past the Christy O'Connor Jnr plaque, as well as imagining all those that have gone before in your footsteps. Don't get carried away though, you still have a lengthy second shot over the water to that long problematic green."

Fellow Golfshake Ambassador, Mel Davies, takes Matt's cue and mentions the 10th at the Brabazon.

"The Brabazon 10th hole. Where else could I start but with probably the most iconic Ryder Cup hole there is. A real risk reward hole. Go for it and have a chance of eagle or birdie and follow in the footsteps of legends, or take an iron and leave a wedge into a narrow long green.

"Also, I love the 18th at Forest of Arden. Yet another iconic hole from past events on the European Tour, it can play as long as a fairway wood dependant on the tee. Over water to a green that has the hotel behind it. A par there is a great score.

"To close, it's another finishing hole, the 18th at The Shire London. I’ve been fortunate to play this course twice and the 18th really is the signature hole. Designed by Seve Ballesteros, the green is protected by water in the form of a “S”.

Rob Treanor takes us back to Scotland, this time in East Lothian, the Golf Coast.

"The 6th at Gullane No. 1. Insane views from the tee box and an extremely tempting downhill par four. The green will be reachable in one from the tee given the right conditions. 

"And I have to say the 5th at Amarilla. An incredible clifftop par three played over the ocean. Beautiful, treacherous and unforgettable.

"Closer to home, I'll go for the 3rd at the Woburn Duke's Course. An iconic short par three at an incredible venue. 

Rob Cross also admires Woburn, but brings attention to the Marquess Course.

"The 7th at Woburn Marquees, a par five, not only is it a stunning hole, but the split fairway gives the golfer two choices. Left off the tee is tree lined but offers a direct approach to the green. Right off the tee offers a shorter route but the fairway ends and a huge dip along with bunkers at the green from this angle make it a real challenge.

"I have to go for the 16th (when I played it) at Royal Portrush, Calamity. Tough hole! With a huge drop to the right of the green where caddies are not allowed for safety reasons, and long rough left, this lengthy par three lives long in my memory. I hit driver and made a scrambling par, my playing partner hit it left into the rough and managed a worldie up and down!

"Finally, another par five, the 5th at Silloth on Solway, which looks out towards the sea. The hole itself moves from right to left with the fairway and green running alongside the water. A bold tee shot cuts the hole length down but with heavy rough awaiting, it is a tough decision. Bunkers are ready to trap any attempt to hit the green in two, and if successful a large sloping green is your reward."

Richard Moore heads to Wales and describes one of the great British links courses.

"The 10th at Royal Porthcawl. Highest point on the golf course and with the most amazing views of the sea and the fairway below.

"With the most amazing views over the estuary, the 16th at St Enodoc is a true links par five with undulations everywhere. Just a remarkable hole and so well photographed. Understandably.

"And I have to go for the 8th at Formby, a par five that snakes around the fir trees. Absolutely stunning setting. Not the longest at 480 off the yellows but majestic."  

Kevin Heggie took a considered view to carefully select his three favourite holes.

"Based on my estimate, I've got over 6,500 holes to choose from, so I'll pick a par three, four, and five for variety!

"Starting with my favourite par three. My pick would be the 17th at the Castle Course, St Andrews. Around 170 yards, you're hitting from a cliff top tee box with the North Sea fully in play. The bold shot is to go straight at the flag and thus requiring the maximum carry, but aim left and you should get a favourable bounce towards the centre of the green.

"Next up my favourite par four, and it's really hard to decide. I'm going to go for the 4th at Royal St George's. Just over 400 yards from the members tee, you're faced with a cavernous bunker which dominates your eyeline. Avoid that, and then you've got one of the most challenging greens you could face, with huge undulations and opportunities for multiple pin positions, all proving a stern challenge.

"Finally, my favourite par five, and more tough choices, but I'll plump for the 7th on the Marquess Course at Woburn. From the tee you've got the choice of playing left or right of a collection of trees slap bang in the centre. The right hand side gives you a better chance to get home in two, but the three shot approach requires an accurate layup to a relatively narrow fairway, before pitching up to an elevated green. Woburn is a pretty special place, and this hole really shows off the quality of the courses."

Plenty of love for Woburn, but to complete our look at must play holes, Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken takes us back to the Home of Golf.

"The 6th at Carnoustie, where I enjoyed one of my greatest achievements on a golf course. I am a massive fan of Ben Hogan. To be able to play the Championship Course with my son was an incredible experience. On the 6th tee, we sat together and savoured the moment reading the plaque that detailed his immense efforts during The Open in 1953. Despite different weather conditions each day he is said to have landed his tee shot within a blanket sized area every round.

"I stood on the tee immersed in all that heritage and tradition and felt at one with the world. I struck a decent tee shot, despite the out of bounds that takes all your focus that runs the entire left-hand side of the hole. I then played a 5 iron for safety but blocked it slightly to the right leaving myself an awkward shot over whin, heather and rough. The wedge into the green did exactly what I wanted. I remember the feeling as I reviewed my putting lines thinking that this would be the greatest birdie of my life. The world went quiet but I had a weird feeling of calmness as I knew exactly where I wanted the ball to roll. In the next instant I saw the ball track on that path and dive into the hole. The feeling of that birdie is something I return to in times of trouble and distress and it still makes me smile. I didn’t realise until afterwards that my son Alex had started to video the putt from the second I reached the green. When asking later why he did this he explained that he simply felt that “something amazing was about to happen” It did. What a magical place.

"I have to mention the 18th at St Andrews. This was our first time playing the Old Course together. The opening tee shot is something I will remember forever, but the shot I enjoyed the most was the tee shot on the 18th. I recall the feeling as I stood to address the ball with a gallery of drunken Americans watching nearby from the Jigger Inn. I looked at my intended target and simply caught my breath. The Swilcan Bridge to my right, the Royal & Ancient in front. Ridiculously, I imagined what it must look like with an excited, packed gallery. Somehow, I rescued my swing and watched as the ball rose majestically forward and proceeded to bounce and hop its way over Grannie Clark's Wynd. At that moment I have never felt more alive. It was special.

"Finally, I have to say the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, which I managed to play via the Hole in One Club! When I have watched The Players Championship, I have wondered how such a relatively short hole causes such a problem to professional golfers. Answer: It is all in the head.

"I loved the excitement and anticipation of that shot. I knew we were being recorded and can remember the feeling of my heart beating outside of my chest as I stood to address the ball. The pulse was so strong I could hear and feel it in my ear drums. My shot went long hitting the green but then dribbled onto the footpath at the rear of the green. I needed four shots to hole out from there, but it was one of the most memorable bogeys I can remember."

So, there you have it, memories of the Golfshake Ambassadors as they pick out The Golf Holes That You Must Play. Let us know if you have ticked any of them off, and more importantly, what are the three holes that you place above the rest.

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