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Are These The Greatest Holes in Golf

By: | Mon 20 Nov 2023

I have played golf all over the world on some of the best courses created by man and nature.

Many of these courses have been negotiated in glorious weather, while others have been played in driving wind and rain.

But, no matter the weather, there are some holes that will stay in my mind for the rest of my life. I have recently returned to this glorious game after an injury lay-off. During my time away from the game I have been thinking about the best holes I have ever played.

Here are just some of my favourites.

Old Head

2nd, par 4, 360 yards

Old Head is one of the most spectacular golf courses I have ever played. It is well-nigh impossible to pick out the best hole but the second is right up there. It is a dogleg with the sea to the left. The views are amazing but if you hook your drive you can say goodbye to it.

Royal Dornoch

3rd, par 4, 413 yards

This is another course where the challenge is in picking the hole that lives longest in the memory because all 18 are perfection. But I have chosen the third, a sweeping dogleg played to a narrow fairway. You have to avoid the gorse and fairway bunker and if you manage that you still have to negotiate an approach to a small green protected by gorse and pot bunkers.

The Belfry

The Belfry

10th, per 4, 311 yards

A classic risk and reward hole. It is just about within range, especially from the front tee and if you play this course you are going to want to have a crack at the green. Get it right and you will be putting for an eagle. However, there is a water-filled ditch to the left and trees down the right and surrounding the green. So you are just as likely to be walking off the green after marking a seven on your card - or worse!

The Belfry

18th, par 4, 473 yards

I make no apologies for including The Belfry twice on this list. From the championship tee, the final hole is a brute. You face a carry over a huge lake - the further right you go the shorter the carry. But the further right you go the longer your approach will be. And that approach is over more water to a huge three-tier green, with water to the left for good measure.


12th, par 3, 155 yards

This is the only one on the list that I haven’t actually played but I couldn’t leave it off. It looks innocuous enough with a narrow green set behind water with a bunker, trees and vegetation to the rear of a putting surface that slopes from back to front. But it has brought many of the world’s greatest golfers to their knees. The problem is the swirling wind which you can’t feel from the tee

St Andrews, Old Course

Road Hole

17th, par 4, 449 yards

The Road Hole is one of the most famous holes in the world and it is a brute. The tee shot is blind, played over the side of the Old Course Hotel. The ideal line is to the right, but go too far right and you will be out of bounds. Even if you find the fairway you then have a choice to make - if you go for the green you must avoid the Road Hole bunker. And behind the green lurks a pathway. The green is impossibly narrow.

St Andrews, Old Course

18th, par 4, 356 yards

What makes this hole special is what you see when you stand on the tee - the Swilken Bridge, that magnificent clubhouse, the buildings on Granny Clark’s Wynd to the right and that incredible sense of history and tradition. As you walk down the fairway and cross the bridge you cannot help but think of all the greats of the game who have done the same thing

Royal Troon

8th, par 3, 123 yards

It may be a tiny hole but it is treacherous. Only a perfectly struck tee shot will find the green. Miss the putting surface and find one of the bunkers and you could be running up a cricket score here. Called The Postage Stamp because the green is so small. A classic par three.

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach

18th, par 5, 541 yards

Pebble Beach is a masterpiece of an American course and I have had the pleasure and the honour to play there. The view from the 18th tee takes your breath away, with the Pacific Ocean on the left, a tree in the middle of the fairway and trouble all the way down the right. You simply have to find the middle of the fairway. The ocean dictates that most people go right.

Torrey Pines South

18th, par 5, 570 yards

I have played here too. It is laughingly described as a public course but it’s the only one where I had my name announced on the first tee. There are many great holes but the one that lives in my memory is the 18th, a par five at which mere mortals have to hit their third shot over a lake to a green that slopes from back to front. When the flag is at the front, this is really scary.


17th, par 5, 535 yards

Another great par five and once again the real challenge comes with the approach to the green. It is guarded by water and slopes from back to front. Got too far and a yawning bunker awaits - find the sand and the next challenge is to find a way to escape and keep your ball on the green. If the flag is at the front of the putting surface it is easy to putt your ball off the green and into the water beyond.

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