Some golf holes are fun, others will keep you from sleeping at night

When I found out where my traveling circus was going to play this week, I started thinking about the various holes that would confront me. The Legacy by Arthur Hills in Michigan was our destination and the first hole that you think about is the par-3 eighth. It only plays about 110 to 120 yards, but when you are aiming at an island green

I was so inconsistent off the tee the previous week that other holes occupied my thoughts as well. No. 10 has water all the way to the green. Going left is not an option on the short par 4. Water also lines the left hand side of the fairway on the par-5 14th. I avoided the water on the latter two holes, but the island was a brief landing place before the water swallowed up my effort on the eighth. That will happen when you choose to hit a line drive rather than a majestic high arching 9 iron.

Disgusted, I teed up another ball rather than go to the drop area on the island. Of course I hit this one to about 4 feet! Missing the bogey putt didn’t make me feel very good either. Ah, such is golf.

The holes I just mentioned gave me pause to wonder about the toughest holes in golf. The two toughest holes in the area have been revamped, making them easier than they used to be. I am referring to the 10th at Loudon Meadows and the 12th at Fostoria Country Club. For me, these two holes were by far the most difficult I had to play – before the changes, of course.

So what does constitute a difficult golf hole? Sand, water, distance, narrowness of the fairway, and sloping greens can all cause one to lose sleep in preparation of facing the challenge. I decided to check to see what others think and searched for a list of difficult golf holes. Hey, it’s what I do.

The list that I found concentrated on holes that are found on the PGA Tour and thus ones we are all familiar with. The first was the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass. Just like the eighth at the Legacy, this famed hole makes even some pros look amazingly ordinary. I think it was Bob Tway that recorded a 16 on this hole. I’d like to try it once, though it’s entirely possible that I could top that score.

The 12th at Augusta National made the list. This seemingly harmless par 3 has been the undoing of many golfers at the Masters. The most memorable shot here may have been Fred Couples who came up short, but the ball refused to roll back into the water even though the bank was shaved very short.

The famed “Road Hole” at St. Andrews makes most lists. Teeing off and having to hit the ball over the corner of the grandstand has to be a little scary. At least it would be if I was hitting the ball!

One of the most difficult finishing holes in golf is the Blue Monster at Doral. I had a friend play this course once. His tee shot found the right rough – preferable to the water on the left – but when he looked for his ball it was almost impossible to find. The rough was some 6 inches thick and the ball settled down. Just getting a club on it proved very difficult.

All right, you have been patient, but I am sure some of you are thinking of your own experiences. You have played golf holes that are every bit as demanding as the ones we have just mentioned. Before you give me a call, let me try a couple of others on you.

There is a golf course in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, called Cape Kidnappers. Though there are several holes to choose from in terms of difficulty, the winner seems to be the 15th, a 549-yard par 5. The hole is not all that difficult if you stay in the fairway. It’s when you stray right or left that the adventure begins.

You see, on the right side of the 15th fairway, a 70-foot drop awaits the errant shot. Though this seems disastrous, going left is much worse. The left side is home to a 500-foot cliff! If you don’t hit the ball straight on this hole, you may not have enough golf balls to finish your round.

There are pictures of this incredible golf course on the net. Check them out and if you get the urge to play the course let this writer know. I could be persuaded to tag along. Just saying

For my money, the winner of the most difficult golf hole goes to the community of Socorro, New Mexico. Annually they host the Elfego Baca Shootout. This competition is named for the area’s former sheriff, Elfego Baca, who had an unorthodox attitude to keeping law and order in the area during the days of the Wild West. I have no idea what this has to do with anything, but hear me out.

The course only consists of one hole and that term is used loosely. The green is a 50-foot patch of dirt! The landscape is so arid and uneven that you are allowed to tee up the ball for each shot. Sounds easy, right?

You tee off on this hole on the side of a mountain some 2,550 feet up in the air. The “green” is located three miles away! Hey, if you only get to play one hole, it ought to take you a while.

The record score for this hole is 9, which leads me to believe that much of the yardage can be covered by coming down off the mountain. The scorecard has also seen a 75 posted, so it can be a truly difficult hole.

Well, there you have it. Perhaps you know of something more difficult. If you do, let me know. Keep hitting them straight and don’t lose sleep over this wonderful game.

Al Stephenson is The A-T’s golf columnist.

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