Best 18 — Holes 1-3.

The way I see it, I’ve got two options here.  I can patch together a post on the Sixers historic (1st since 2003) 1st round playoff win, or I can try to write about something people care about.  Historically a golf post doesn’t create much action, but this one is interactive, so I’m going to conservatively expect four or five comments.

A while back, I believe it was BK, asked me about my favorite 18 holes.  I think that was the question.  That’s a great question, but far too long for a mailbag.  So, what I’m going to do is break it up into three hole sections.  How far I get with this remains to be seen, but I’m at least getting through three holes.  I don’t remember BK’s actual guidelines, but I’m setting up the following criteria:

1.  The holes must match numerically.  Meaning, I can’t take the 8th hole at some course and make it my 3rd hole.

2.  I must have played the hole and I must remember playing the hole.

3.  I can only use three holes from any given golf course.

4.  I’m going to try to keep it in the par 70-72 range, meaning I can’t use eight or nine par 3s.

5.  Lastly, I’m going to try to represent most of the significant courses of my life, so places I worked, played as a home course, etc. will get some priority over a great hole that I happened to get lucky and play one time.

Ok, here we go…

1.  Merion Golf Club (East Course), Par 4, 362 yards.

The Innocent Looking 1st Tee At Merion.

You’d think I’d want to save Merion, but 1st holes can be tricky.  A lot of courses start with a fairly benign par 4.  This is at least true for me, who doesn’t spend time starting every round with a triple at Augusta National or Oakmont.  Not only are several opening straightforward, but I’ve seen my share of really bad 1st holes at good golf courses.  Philadelphia Country Club comes to mind, a really good course with an unmemorable start.  The first hole at Merion is not a feat of golf design, or one of the better holes on the course, but it has a fabulous setting.  Situated right next to a patio that is popular for lunch, the 1st tee at Merion guarantees an audience.  It’s incredibly nerve-wracking.  It’s also widely known that mulligans are not permitted.  Clinching this hole’s spot on the list is my career 3.00 scoring average.  On my only visit I squeezed a long iron out there, knocked a wedge to about 15 feet and somehow made the putt.  Do you believe in miracles?

2.  Baltimore Country Club (Five Farms), Par 4, 496 yards

Not Pictured: The Tee Box 500 Yards Away.

Are you warmed up?  Good, because this is an evil par four.  The Five Farms course at Baltimore Country Club is spectacular.  I don’t have the glitziest track record, but this course has some of the best par 4s I’ve ever played.  This is the back tee yardage. I played this course in my glory days when I always arrogantly walked back to the tips, and this is one of the longest walks I’ve ever had.  The first hole at BCC is another good, long par 4 (458), but when you walk off the 1st green the black tees for the 2nd aren’t in sight.  Then off in the distance there’s a neat little perch and you trudge back there, about 80 yards from the whites, just hoping you can carry the ball to the fairway.  The 2nd hole might not be the most aesthetically pleasing on the course, but it’s one of the toughest.  When they recently hosted the Senior Players Championship, the course was re-routed to make the 2nd the 18th hole.  You drive into low area and then the 2nd shot is all carry up the hill.  That’s how you play the hole in theory.  I hacked it around for an ugly bogey, but it’s nice to have a hole early in the round that challenges you.  If you make a par here, you’re off to the races.

3.  West Chester Golf & Country Club, Par 3, 136 yards. 

Tough To Get A Photo of This Gem.

Good old West Chester, the 9-hole course of my youth.  Superficially I chose this hole because it is the site of my only hole-in-one.  That would be enough reason for most people to pick it, but I definitely need a hole from West Chester and this is the most West Chester hole of them all.  If you’ve never played WCG&CC, the two words I think best describe it are: short and tricky.  It’s been years since I’ve teed it up there, but what I remember most is the tiny greens.  If you grow up on tiny greens, I think you either become a real accurate iron player, or develop a great short game.  Hint:  I didn’t develop a great short game.  The third hole looks like a nothing par 3.  Short, downhill, it looks like you could throw a ball on the green, and kids often tried.  The tiny green is surrounded in front by bunkers, but even an average hitter has nothing more than a 9-iron to flip down there.  And, if you hit the green, it is an easy hole, but in my memory the green is about 25×25.  It’s easier to miss than you think, and then once you miss it—look out.  You can plug it in the bunker, or airmail it into oblivion.  I made every number from 1 to 6 here—at least. There were probably some sevens that turned into “5*s.”  Good little hole, and also of note I once hit someone standing on the 4th tee with my tee shot.  Fore.

Ok, there are the 1st three holes.  I’m thinking I try to get through these at +1 and see what happens.  Feel free to share your best and favorite 1 thru 3s.



13 thoughts on “Best 18 — Holes 1-3.

  1. Good topic. I will have to think about my answers on the drive home. I do agree that Merion #1 gets a lot of credit under the “most nerve wracking” category. On the opposite end of the spectrum I think #1 at Meadowbrook deserves an honorable mention for many reasons.

  2. It’s funny you mention that. I posted the link on Facebook and actually said #1 at Meadowbrook was an honorable mention. I dubbed it, “The Barn Hole” to class it up a bit.

    I thought about doing an alternate list, worst/infamous/best* type of thing, but I decided to play it straight. How do you decide between the 1st at J-ville, Linfield Natsh, Meadowbrook, the Pick–the list goes on and on.

  3. Unfortunately I didn’t have nearly as much success as you on 1 at merion. I believe I hit my tee shot into the stuff left of the fairway and then finished up with a 6*.

    Will a hole from Pickering make the list ?!? I really, really hope so

  4. I’m not sure Pickering can make the cut. What do you think is the best hole there? The par 3s aren’t TERRIBLE, but there is too much par-3 competition there, especially since I already threw in a shorty. The rest of the holes are pretty terrible. It’d probably take a miracle.

  5. The “have to remember playing the hole” rule is really disqualifying a lot of the courses where it’s been years since I played there, e.g., Scotland Run, Glen MIlls, Tattersall.

    I’ve got nos. 1 and 2 ready:

    #1: Wyncote, Oxford PA, Par 5, 577/521. I’m not going to argue that it’s an amazing hole or even a great hole, but the reason I’m picking it is simply that it’s a pretty hole and I always am excited to be starting a round at Wyncote. Pretty sure I’m going to have a good time there even if I don’t play well. So this one wins for best first-tee feeling.

    #2: Finley GC, Chapel Hill NC, Par 4, 370. It’s a really good second hole requiring accuracy off the tee and then it demands a confident wedge shot. One of those holes that tells you early in the round which way your day is going to go.

    • I think a hole from Wyncote is a solid choice. It’s the only public course around here where if I shoot a decent score it feels like I actually played a good round.

  6. #3: Green Mountain National, Killington VT, Par 4, 400. An uphill tee shot over a ravine and then a slightly uphill second shot to an undulating green that has a pretty difficult bunker guarding the line of play for all but the front left pin position. It takes two solid shots to get into a birdie position here. All in all I think you’re looking to get through this 1-3 stretch at even par.

  7. Never played the hole at merion, and for that tall people who have dined there should thank me. There’s no doubt in my mind I would put my tee shot into someone’s tricked out cobb salad. Wah.

  8. Love the topic. My #1 hole will change this summer as I’m often to St. Andrews this summer. Until then, here it goes:

    #1 Bethpage Black: The setting at Merion is pretty memorable, but the scene at Bethpage is etched in my memory forever. Not only do you stand atop a GD mountain looking out on a golf course that will beat the piss out you but you also have people strolling through the park watching you tee off. Oh, and the warning sign that sits on the gate is equally intimidating.

    #2 Rolling Green: Love the feeling when you hit it even or past the fairway bunker on the left. Who cares if it’s down wind or the fairways are rock hard? You still feel like a tour pro.

    # 3 Wilmington: I’m a huge fan of 3-shot par 5s. Why does Johnny Miller call par 5s “a five par?” Anyway, the hole seems innocent and climbs gradually up the hill. It’s kind of like a roller coaster though. Once you get to the top, you kind of want to get off the ride because when you see the descent you know you’re gonna scream like a bitch. But when you suck it up and get through the hole you want to go back and play it again immediately. It’s one of the rare par fives where a par feels like a birdie and a birdie is a miracle.

  9. Solid selections. I agree completely about RG #2. Of course my preferred method of playing the hole as to rope it into the left trees, punch out and try to make a momentum saving par.

    Never played Bethpage Black. That has always been a trip I wish someone else would set up. Like can’t someone go to all the trouble and then just invite me? Come on.

    And Wilmington is a course I played, but don’t really remember except for a hole or two, it was a while back and we were flying around trying to beat a rain storm.

  10. I should clarify that I haven’t really read the review. I mostly just look at the pretty pictures on that site.

    • Yeah, RG has some serious fans and some design nerds among the membership. It’s a solid track and has really been shined up in recent years. Vastly underrated by many, probably slightly overrated by the members. Great piece of land, great classic design.

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