I regularly have dreams where I play a round of golf at a mix of all my favorite golf holes. I have been lucky enough to play a bunch of the Golf Digest Top 100 golf courses, and keep in mind theses are only from courses I have played. In theses dreams I take my favorite holes and blend them together into a dream 18.
I love golf course architecture. For me the green complexes are the most important element, then the actual location of the hole relative to the environment, and last the area from tee to the green. I hope one day that I will have a chance to design a golf course, like C.B McDonald did when he build the National Golf Links of America. National is a collection of C.B’s favorite holes from England and the British Isles. I am a golf purest when it comes to design. I like classic courses built with the fundamentals. I typically like back to front sloping greens, false fronts, bump and runs, deep green side bunkers, and unique green complexes. My favorite architects are C.B McDonald, Seth Raynor, Donald Ross, and AW Tillinghast just to name a few. The dream 18 is a compilation of my favorite holes at my favorite courses, by my favorite golf architects.
My dream 18
The Par 3s
Pebble Beach #7 – a short down hill wedge shot that hits and spins back to the hole. Everyone in golf knows this hole. The Tee is perched on the side of a cliff about 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean, and the wind can blow.
Cypress Point #16- right down the street is Pebble Beach. This shot is a full 3 wood for me. 16 is probably the best par 3 in the world. The front of the green is 230 yards and its all carry over the Pacific Ocean. There are seals barking in the background on a large rock island left of the green. This hole makes you feel like, wow! I just pared 16. That’s a huge accomplishment.
Yeamans Hall #6 – talk about classic architecture. This green banks right to left like a Nascar track. The Redan style green kicks front to back making this shot play shorter than the actual number. The hole is 195 with a bunker short left and a deep bunker long. The shot requires you to hit a punch shot that lands about 180yards and 15 yards right. It kicks up and takes the slope over to the left and you have a short birdie putt. Have fun with this touchy little 8 footer that breaks a foot.
Shinnecock Hills #11 – great up hill 8 or 9 iron. Both times I’ve played here its down wind uphill 150yrd shot. The green is tiny and sloped heavily from back to front, making a long shot impossible because the greens are so fast. This hole is at the far corner of the golf course and really unique because when you play it, you can only see this one hole. The rest of the course is wide open and it’s easy to see 5 or 6 holes at a time. The focus on 11 is only 11 that is why this hole is so great.
The Par 4s
National Golf Links #16 – Punchbowl. I dream of this shot quite often. I have a 4 or 5 iron in my hand hitting to a blind uphill shot a large wooden post sticking into the sky, and the signature red windmill is up on the hill above the green to the left. The green has a nice run up in the front, a bunker to the right and the green is shaped like a bowl. Every ball feeds toward the middle. The flag is rarely in the middle, most putts will be a little uphill with a large break. This is tricky because most putts at National are so fast that the rare up hill putt makes you leave this one a little short. Birdie here is well deserved because you can’t see the flag at all. This poll you hit at is just the center of the green. Good Luck.
Cypress Point #17 – After you prove yourself on 16 guess what, you get to walk uphill to a tee box hitting back over the Pacific Ocean. The best play here leaves your tee ball just short of a giant cluster of Cypress trees right in the middle of the fairway. I hit a hybrid. Driver gets you too close to the cluster. Now the second shot is a 185 into the wind shot over a tiny sliver of land and most rocky ocean. Absolutely breathtaking. If you hit the green here it feels amazing, it takes two great shots over the ocean and avoiding the tee disaster in the middle of the fairway to make par.
Pebble Beach #8 – the shot from the top of the fairway is ridiculous. Its hitting downhill over a u- shaped cliff over the Pacific Ocean. The green is small and shapes left to right, which fits my fade perfectly. I’ll take my 2 putt for par. I’m happy with pars these days.
Maidstone Club #9- Equally as amazing as any hole at Pebble or Cypress the 9th at Maidstone sits right on the Atlantic Ocean. The tee shot is down hill to long narrow landing area with large gnarly sandy dunes to the right and left of the fairway. The Ocean is all down the right. The wind blows so hard on this hole making this tee shot the hardest shot on the course. I usually hit a hybrid off this tee to keep it as straight as possible. The second shot is best played from the right side of the fairway to an uphill green sloping left to right. The bunker on the right is 12 feet deep. But making par is all about the tee shot here.
Bel-Air CC #17 in LA looking down on people is common. That’s why I love this hole, just kidding. A long downhill tee shot overlooking the town of Westwood home of the UCLA Bruins. This was Ben Hogan’s favorite hole on the course, and mine too. Have at it with the driver. There is at least a 100-foot elevation change from tee to green. Again my hard cutting driver works perfectly on this hole.
Rivera #10- Slightly over 300 yards long and this hole is a very hard 4. Most Pros and good Amateurs will hit driver and try to get close to the green. Short and left is the best miss. The second shot is usually 50, 60 yards, and near impossible. The green is rock hard, small, and sloped drastically from front right to back left creating down hill bounces into the long bunker.
Spy Glass Hill #4 – Again this is a tiny little green here. This green is wide and shallow. We are talking about 12 passes deep, and its angled short right to long left, with a bunker guarding short and a deep grassy hill guarding long. It’s a fun second shot and enjoy the ocean one last time before you head to the pine trees for the rest of the round at Spy.
Harbour Town #18 – This is a great par 4. It’s a long straight drive followed I dream about the tee shot, the ocean is all down the left and the lighthouse and the green loom in the distance. The second is a fun shot over water again. Me and most pros will hit a long iron into a peninsula green with the mash short and to left of the green.
Newport Country Club #3 – Welcome to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Behind you teeing off is a massive Vanderbilt Mansion as a clubhouse, straight ahead is a rocky Atlantic Ocean, and now you have to play this wonderful par 4 downhill towards the water. It is not that difficult of a hole, but you get a tremendous amount of pride and sense of history while playing at Newport CC; host of the first US Open 1895.
Bethpage Black #4 – The Granddaddy of monster par 5s. This is a three shotter, even for the touring pros. This hole is all about position. The drive is to a narrow fairway with fescue grass and bunkers all down the left side, but don’t drive it into the rough or you will have a very long 3rd shot into a tiny green that slopes from front to back. Elevated tee shot, uphill 2nd and 3rd shot. The play on this hole is a great 2nd shot up to the right side of the landing area. Then you can hit a short iron or wedge into this treacherous green. The green has a massive bunker short the right side is open but the green runs away from the players and has a collection area long. This hole in difficulty reminds me of the 14th at Pebble.
National Golf Links #18- Its hard for me not to dream about all the holes at National Golf Links, this course rivals Cypress Point in shear beauty and elegance. The 18th hole is nestled alongside the Peconic Bay in South Hampton NY. This is a fine up hill par 5. All the aspects of National come together on this hole. The gorgeous club house perched above this fairway, the Flag poll is located just beyond the green, the red windmill behind you off in the distance, the narrow 100 year old gates and driveway to the club are about 15 yards away from the tee box, every blade of grass is perfect with tight fairways and glistening water all to the right. The play is a soft cut shot off a bunker positioned about 260 yard on the left side, your ball lands softly into the uphill lie, enjoy your shot to go for it in 2. Once you have hit it on, you make eagle and treat yourself to a Southside cocktail on the back porch.
Kiawah Ocean Course #16- this S- Shaped par 5 makes you work for par. The tee box is level with the fairway and green. The Atlantic Ocean crashes close by. The beach at Kiawah is long compact sand and very wide. The fairway is elevated above the sand waste area that runs up both sides of this hole. A stray ball might find a patch of spurs or a crab. The big drive will have a long 240-yard shot into the green with bail out right, but the trouble comes if you end up online and short. Pete Dye carved a massive 10-foot deep bunker that cuts into the fairway on the far right and stretches to the far left of the green. This is not soft bunker sand, its hard compact dense beach sand, and a little damp. I hope the leading edge of your wedge doesn’t hit to far behind the ball or it will most likely be a skull shot. The way to play it is like a tight lie in the fairway, you have to hit the ball first and pick it clean. I had the pleasure of playing this hole once with David Feherty, and he hooked two balls into the gunk on the left, dropped one in the fairway and played up for a *8.
Pebble Beach #18 – what would a dream about golf be without the final hole at Pebble Beach. This hole has my number. I’ve played it 3 times and I have 3 balls in the water left. Next time I am hitting a hybrid off the tee. I love/ hate this hole. It has all the characteristics of a major championship hole, risk and reward. Pros often go for this hole in 2. Any miss to the right is acceptable, but a miss left almost always ends in a bogie or double. The water crashes right up to the edge of the stonewall guarding the fairway from the Ocean. This hole takes your breath away and can take your round in the 70s away like it has done to me twice. I dream of one day making par or birdie or even bogie would be nice.
By: Claude Pope