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Most poorly designed golf hole youíve ever played


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#1 Shipwreck

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 08:50 AM

Whatís the worst designed hole you have played? Mine has to be #5 at a local muni course, Fred Enke. If you have played this course you know exactly which hole this is. If you havenít, well let me paint a picture for you.

Par 5 561 from the blues and 530 from the whites, but hitting driver is pretty much pointless. Thereís a set of bunkers center left that are about 230-250 away, with desert/OB about 15 yards left of them, maybe 20 yards of fairway right and desert crap right of that. Should you hit driver over these bunkers, you are rewarded with a severe downhill AND side hill sloping to the right, right into the desert where some sort of desert dweller will make new friends with your ball. Needless to say Iíve only seen a small handful of balls not go into this desert past the bunkers.

So your stuck hitting an iron or hybrid off the tee towards danger. Should you stay on the fairway youíre left with a tempting green close to 300 yards away, but fairly downhill. Ah but that green is very long (itís actually double green shared by another hole) where the front is protected by a rock face thatís encased by chain link fence.

The only flat spot on the fairway leaves you about 100 yards short, but there is a red staked ditch right in front of that. Donít forget about all of this desert that your surrounded by. So you have to hit a mid iron short, hoping you donít catch it thin and hoping it doesnít remain on a hill somewhere.

Now once your on your flat surface, the green is elevated and guarded. Not by bunkers but by the rest of the desert and the rock face. Thereís maybe 5 yards of rough that surrounds the green, with the right side having a bit more and some hills, to a thin long green that slopes pretty well back to front.

Getting out of there with a 5 feels like a birdie but not a proud one. I have only seen a couple people make the green in 2 from the whites and no one from the blues. But this is the first par 5 Iíve ever seen where you are actively encouraged to not hit driver.

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#2 Under2hours

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 09:03 AM

I remember getting grief when I state any par 5 where you can't hit driver off the tee.  Many seem to be set up with cross bunkers that are 180-220 off the tees I play and that is what an average player hits.....  So need 230+ to fly them making them no big deal for long hitters, but right in most players wheelhouse.  Then after your second shot, if two well struck shots, you may still have 180-200 to the greens.

Another I received flack for was a par 5 where the second shot landing area 80-120 from the green is too narrow (and in this case had a gorge down the left side and the one time I played, hit a really solid three wood that ended in the gorge.

Courses need to be set up for the average golfer, not just the low-HC'er PGA tour player.

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#3 youngstructural

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 10:35 AM

Hole #4 at Fox Hills Golden in Michigan.

Hole #9 same course.

My problem with #4 is that is forces a layup onto a par 4, which is fine, and its done with essentially a 90 degree dog leg ... which again is fine.  What in my opinion makes it bad is that its a blind tee shot, therefore you can't really figure out which iron to hit, and missing short, or right, is death, and there are bunkers long.  All that would be required is a simple yardage marker or note on the scorecard saying how far to hit it.

Hole 9 has a MASSIVE tree on the right front side of the green (about 50 yards in front of it or so), such that it over hangs almost any approach shot you'd have IF You hit the fairway.  So you have to almost aim up the left side of the rough to have a look into the green without a tree obstruction.

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#4 tatertot

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 10:46 AM

My home course used to have a dogleg 110 yard par 3 ... they have since lengthened the hole and chopped down the offending tree.

We also had a par 5 that, when they put the tees in a certain area of the box, you had to hit a hook to avoid blasting your drive into a neighborhood of houses. That, too, has been fixed with a bulldozer and a chainsaw.

And they were on back-to-back holes.

At least some courses are willing to make changes.
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#5 third-times-a-charm

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:13 AM

Theres no such thing as bad holes IMO. Everything is a challenge, just because you/we can't make par or figure it out doesnt make it bad - just means you need to try harder each subsequent time.

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#6 Shipwreck

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:18 AM

View Postthird-times-a-charm, on 22 May 2018 - 11:13 AM, said:

Theres no such thing as bad holes IMO. Everything is a challenge, just because you/we can't make par or figure it out doesnt make it bad - just means you need to try harder each subsequent time.

Really? Youíve never played a hole that was poorly designed? I get the whole ďchallengeĒ thing youíre saying but thereís challenging and then thereís outright idiocy in terms of what a hole is.
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#7 wildcatden

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:31 AM

Hole #10 - Blackhawk Falls Course in Blackhawk, CA  - Par 4 - Downhill blind tee shot. Blast one and you still end up on a pretty steep downhill lie. Water partially fronting and to the left of of the green.

Picturesque? Yes. Annoying? Yes.

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#8 Cinnamon Kid

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:33 AM

First one that comes to mind is a local course with a 90 degree dogleg left. Second shot is uphill to a partially blind green. Problem is you have to carry 240 to reach the dogleg. If you don't drive it far enough you're left with a  blind shot over 100' pine trees that are on a large uphill slope. Basically a crap shoot. Or hit a 40 yard wedge to layup at the leg and leave yourself 100 in for your third. I'm a decent hc and not the shortest hitter, I can't imagine if I was any worse. Terrible hole.

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#9 Socrates

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:33 AM

Silverrock's new 18th hole.  Anyone who has played there before the reno and now will know what I mean.  It's a WTF moment and a terrible way to end a round.
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#10 4Eyes

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 12:52 PM

Blackwolf Run River Course #13. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a poorly designed hole -- visually it is spectacular -- but for many players it is almost unplayable unless you are able to hit a very high shot or a sweeping draw with a mid-to-long iron to avoid the water and the big tree. No bailout area.


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#11 The Mad Bomber

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 01:14 PM

#17 at LakePoint in Northern BC. 541 yards and you can't hit a driver or even a 3 wood because a 3 wood layup still catches a downslope that runs into the creek. I'm thinking you have a 5 yard wide window and a carry of 330+ to get it over the creek onto a tiny flat. So you lay up off the tee and the second shot is 250 or so to a green that's dead if you're right, OB 10 feet left & long and water short to a green that doesn't hold. So you lay up with a 56* or something similar because you HAVE to hit the downslope in the layup area with height, or you'll roll down into the water. From there, it's a pretty standard lob wedge into the green. This track has 3 solid, long and challenging par 5's and this steaming pile. 2-iron, sand wedge, lob wedge is just terrible, lazy design. 0.5/10
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#12 Twism86

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 01:48 PM

View PostShipwreck, on 22 May 2018 - 08:50 AM, said:

What's the worst designed hole you have played? Mine has to be #5 at a local muni course, Fred Enke. If you have played this course you know exactly which hole this is. If you haven't, well let me paint a picture for you.

Par 5 561 from the blues and 530 from the whites, but hitting driver is pretty much pointless. There's a set of bunkers center left that are about 230-250 away, with desert/OB about 15 yards left of them, maybe 20 yards of fairway right and desert crap right of that. Should you hit driver over these bunkers, you are rewarded with a severe downhill AND side hill sloping to the right, right into the desert where some sort of desert dweller will make new friends with your ball. Needless to say I've only seen a small handful of balls not go into this desert past the bunkers.

So your stuck hitting an iron or hybrid off the tee towards danger. Should you stay on the fairway you're left with a tempting green close to 300 yards away, but fairly downhill. Ah but that green is very long (it's actually double green shared by another hole) where the front is protected by a rock face that's encased by chain link fence.

The only flat spot on the fairway leaves you about 100 yards short, but there is a red staked ditch right in front of that. Don't forget about all of this desert that your surrounded by. So you have to hit a mid iron short, hoping you don't catch it thin and hoping it doesn't remain on a hill somewhere.

Now once your on your flat surface, the green is elevated and guarded. Not by bunkers but by the rest of the desert and the rock face. There's maybe 5 yards of rough that surrounds the green, with the right side having a bit more and some hills, to a thin long green that slopes pretty well back to front.

Getting out of there with a 5 feels like a birdie but not a proud one. I have only seen a couple people make the green in 2 from the whites and no one from the blues. But this is the first par 5 I've ever seen where you are actively encouraged to not hit driver.

Sounds fine to me! I can hit driver and still be way short of those bunkers! :rofl: Im not sure why anyone would complain about a hole like you describe, isnt that part of the challenge of golf? Going driver to short iron/wedge on every long hole just sounds boring as hell and only tests some of your skills. So I guess if you dont enjoy a challenge this is annoying to you......

Honestly I would rather play a hole like this than a plain jane straight hole anyway. To me, any simple and straightforward hole with no curves, water or enough bunkers is poorly designed and boring to me. Even at a low skill level I want something interesting, challenging and visually pleasing. Those straight ahead par 4s and 5s with just a few bunkers are the definition of poor design and BORING! I love holes with middle fairway bunkers.

Edited by Twism86, 22 May 2018 - 02:00 PM.


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#13 Twism86

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 01:58 PM

View Postthird-times-a-charm, on 22 May 2018 - 11:13 AM, said:

Theres no such thing as bad holes IMO. Everything is a challenge, just because you/we can't make par or figure it out doesnt make it bad - just means you need to try harder each subsequent time.

This, this and some more of this! Im still a new golfer but I enjoy holes that have a lot of features too them, or as people who like boring courses would call, "poor designs." Yes, that makes them even harder for someone like me but a WELL designed hole should make you really think about what club you are going to hit and what club you can use next. Rather than your standard "grab the big stick and whack it" kind of hole. I dont really know whats so bad about not using a driver off the tee on par 5, or maybe using a shorter club for your first shot and longer for the second. I guess I didnt get to that part of the rule book yet, someone should really tell these courses they are doing it wrong...

Edited by Twism86, 22 May 2018 - 01:59 PM.


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#14 me05501

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 02:03 PM

Definitely #6 at Canyon Ridge, Lookout Mountain, GA.

This picture doesn't look so bad does it? It's not, really, except for the fact that this vantage is not available from any part of the upper fairway.

Posted Image

This pic was taken by someone standing atop the heavily-grassed hill at the end of the upper fairway. It isn't a place you'd be able to play from.

The upper fairway is very wide, but only about 260 yards long. A good tee shot must be long and left to have any possible chance of seeing the green complex or lower fairway. You need to get the ball way out there, but not TOO far, and still you will be looking at the "catch" hill at the end of the fairway.

The second shot must be aimed at a tree or a gap on the distant ridge. Choose incorrectly, or miss your target, and your ball can be very hard to find.

Fortunately this hole is one of several that are about to be redesigned over the next several months. The upper fairway is going to be moved up and left, with the hill at the end shaved down and the fairway bunkers removed or restyled into target bunkers only. The green will be moved back and left. These changes will make the hole much more playable. The idea will be to allow a player to see at least some sort of target in the lower fairway.

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#15 vallygolf

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 04:11 PM

View Post4Eyes, on 22 May 2018 - 12:52 PM, said:

Blackwolf Run River Course #13. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a poorly designed hole -- visually it is spectacular -- but for many players it is almost unplayable unless you are able to hit a very high shot or a sweeping draw with a mid-to-long iron to avoid the water and the big tree. No bailout area.


Attachment RiverCourse13.JPG


I agree this is unplayable as a par 3 for most golfers (there is fairway left of the trees).  But  for the decent golfer with some power it is an extremely fun hole.  There is just something about clearing the trees (in my case a 3 hybrid from 220 or so) and watching the ball land on the green that is unusually gratifying.  No complaints from me though if people bag on it.


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#16 davep043

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:13 PM

View Postvallygolf, on 22 May 2018 - 04:11 PM, said:

View Post4Eyes, on 22 May 2018 - 12:52 PM, said:

Blackwolf Run River Course #13. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a poorly designed hole -- visually it is spectacular -- but for many players it is almost unplayable unless you are able to hit a very high shot or a sweeping draw with a mid-to-long iron to avoid the water and the big tree. No bailout area.


Attachment RiverCourse13.JPG


I agree this is unplayable as a par 3 for most golfers (there is fairway left of the trees).  But  for the decent golfer with some power it is an extremely fun hole.  There is just something about clearing the trees (in my case a 3 hybrid from 220 or so) and watching the ball land on the green that is unusually gratifying.  No complaints from me though if people bag on it.
Three sets of rated tees play off the back teeing ground on that hole, the shortest of which is the Green.  The Green plays to over 6500 yards, CR over 72, Slope 139.  This is a damn hard golf course for most average players.  The next tee forward, the White, plays from a teeing area about 40 yards closer and much further left, with a clear shot to the green.  I'd suggest that if a player is on that back teeing area, and he doesn't have the shot required, he's been playing the wrong tees for the preceding 12 holes.

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#17 taporsnap17

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:20 PM

One of our local effectively muni course (we don't have munis as such here).

It's a fairly sharp dogleg left.  Tee short is sloped down.  Not super long.  At the leg is a stream, and tall trees to the left so you're unlikely to be able to hit over them.  Best option if to hit short of the stream (rather get as close as you can) or I guess if you're skilled and long enough, hit a hook over the stream.  It's about 160-170m so for me it's a 5 iron, with hopefully a slight draw.  Once you get there, if you're lucky you're left with about 140m up a hill.  If you miss it a bit or hit it straight/fade you're looking at hitting 160 odd up into a hill so a 3 iron.

Similar to not being able to hit driver on a par 5, I get annoyed when the club I use for my approach is longer than the one I used off the tee

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#18 DD4442

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:51 PM

Par Five:  Blind tee shot, blind second shot, downhill-lie wedge to a raised tiered green so firm that it couldn't hold a dead octopus.

Edited by DD4442, 22 May 2018 - 05:52 PM.


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#19 tips09

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 05:57 PM

This one course i have played has a par 5 that forces you to layup at around 200 yards or less unless you can carry 260. On the second shot as it doglegs to the left there is a giant oak tree right in the middle of the fairway which forces you to go to the right or left rough for your approach. It also has power lines hanging down all across the hole. That course is a one and done for me.
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#20 LeftDaddy

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 09:11 PM

I love my home course overall, but it has two par 5s that are just bad holes. Theyíve changed both over the years to try to ďfixĒ the issues to some success on one hole but none on the other.

The first one is a long par 5 that isnít reachable by anyone not named Brooks Koepka etc. It is straight until you get to about 120-180 out, then 90 deg dogleg right. It used to be shorter and theoretically reachable, except the approach shot had to get way in the air quickly due to trees and had to carry water all the way to the green. The fairway is plenty wide. So the play would be driver, pitching wedge for a layup, then 6 iron approach or something, unless you got really aggressive with the layup. To fix it, they just lengthened the hole. So now it is driver, 5 iron, and anything between PW and 4 iron depending on how much of the curve you take on (but the fairway slopes hard to the water there).

Another par 5 is somewhat similar. Wide fairway, unreachable by any mortal, dogleg left, and because of a stupid tree and pot bunker that guards the entire front left of the green, you canít take on much of the dogleg and therefore you are often left with a full 7 iron to a really small green.

I donít need my par 5s to be reachable (or at least all of them) , but I do expect that two good shots leave me a birdie chance, or some risk/reward on my layup.

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#21 Ryan3773

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 09:37 PM

View Post4Eyes, on 22 May 2018 - 12:52 PM, said:

Blackwolf Run River Course #13. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a poorly designed hole -- visually it is spectacular -- but for many players it is almost unplayable unless you are able to hit a very high shot or a sweeping draw with a mid-to-long iron to avoid the water and the big tree. No bailout area.


Attachment RiverCourse13.JPG

If I remember correctly this is a par 3? I played this hole at 255 Into the wind when I played there. Just dumb

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#22 nova6868

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 09:57 PM

Riverside #16, Par 5

I really enjoy this old course in San Antonio, and it's been in great shape lately. But this hole just bugs me.

- You can't see anything from the tee.
- Obvious tee shot is laying up around 200.
- Bombed high fade with driver gets you down the fairway, but you're still behind trees (and over water). There really is no gap.
- Layup area is very narrow with large trees all around, and you're about 175-180 out for this narrow approach to an elevated green.

Posted Image


Cedar Creek #4, Par 4

Another local course that's mostly enjoyable, but I don't really like holes where the ideal play is to play into the other hole.

- Have to layup to around 200 off the tee, no choice really given how narrow the entire fairway is. Tree lined.
- The fairway is sloped downhill and full of mounds, so basically you catch a bounce wrong and you're in the ditch through the fairway.
- The ideal play is actually a high driver straight into the fairway of #3, just a wedge in from there. They play the local US Open Qualifier at this course, and from what I understand everyone tees into the #3 fairway.

Posted Image

Edited by nova6868, 22 May 2018 - 10:03 PM.


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#23 vallygolf

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 10:25 PM

View Postdavep043, on 22 May 2018 - 05:13 PM, said:

View Postvallygolf, on 22 May 2018 - 04:11 PM, said:

View Post4Eyes, on 22 May 2018 - 12:52 PM, said:

Blackwolf Run River Course #13. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a poorly designed hole -- visually it is spectacular -- but for many players it is almost unplayable unless you are able to hit a very high shot or a sweeping draw with a mid-to-long iron to avoid the water and the big tree. No bailout area.


Attachment RiverCourse13.JPG


I agree this is unplayable as a par 3 for most golfers (there is fairway left of the trees).  But  for the decent golfer with some power it is an extremely fun hole.  There is just something about clearing the trees (in my case a 3 hybrid from 220 or so) and watching the ball land on the green that is unusually gratifying.  No complaints from me though if people bag on it.
Three sets of rated tees play off the back teeing ground on that hole, the shortest of which is the Green.  The Green plays to over 6500 yards, CR over 72, Slope 139.  This is a damn hard golf course for most average players.  The next tee forward, the White, plays from a teeing area about 40 yards closer and much further left, with a clear shot to the green.  I'd suggest that if a player is on that back teeing area, and he doesn't have the shot required, he's been playing the wrong tees for the preceding 12 holes.



I think this is a very valid point.  A 12 HCP a few posts earlier called this hole dumb playing 255 into the wind........ I agree, dumb that a 12 HCP is playing from the back tees on a course like this.  Perhaps many of the perceived design flaws are actually poor tee selection?

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#24 ArtMBgolf

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 10:44 PM

When the designer comes up with a long, tight, hazard filled hole, that has a small green (for the course), that is surround by
sand or water, plus it's undulating.

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#25 farmer

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:01 PM

I used to play a little course in central Texas that is old and homemade.  The 9/18 hole is short, about 330, 90* dogleg left.  If you play it by playing to the fairway straight away, there is an enormous live oak right in the middle of the fairway blocking an approach to the green.  Too big to go over, too low to go under.  OB is tight off the tee to the left, with over hanging trees.  It is somewhat possible to cut the corner, but you can wind up under the tree.  Beautiful old tree, but damn near makes a short par 4 into a very short par 5.


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#26 duffer987

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 11:02 PM

View Postvallygolf, on 22 May 2018 - 10:25 PM, said:


I think this is a very valid point.  A 12 HCP a few posts earlier called this hole dumb playing 255 into the wind........ I agree, dumb that a 12 HCP is playing from the back tees on a course like this.  Perhaps many of the perceived design flaws are actually poor tee selection?

3 600+ Par 5s from the back there too. I'm all for playing whichever box you want, but that might just be a touch of a slog.
Personally really enjoy Kohler - been up there 3 times and had a great time each time.

There was another thread a few years back about worst holes with some really good candidates. I nominated a hole from The Ranch in San Jose, CA. You could probably pick 1/2 dozen holes. Another rubbish NorCal course, Bodega Bay has loads of awful holes too. Courses that were only built because they could be built due to modern machinery tend to lead to those.

Edited by duffer987, 22 May 2018 - 11:03 PM.

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#27 me05501

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 07:34 AM

View Postvallygolf, on 22 May 2018 - 10:25 PM, said:


I think this is a very valid point.  A 12 HCP a few posts earlier called this hole dumb playing 255 into the wind........ I agree, dumb that a 12 HCP is playing from the back tees on a course like this.  Perhaps many of the perceived design flaws are actually poor tee selection?

This sentiment will make sense to anyone who has down the RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama. Those courses are designed to kick your butt.

Choosing the tees you'd "normally play" is a bad strategy on the RTJ courses. You're going to see more forced carries, more sidehill lies, more penal rough, and more OB than you're used to playing. Moving up a set or maybe two is a good idea.

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#28 Texsport

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 07:49 AM

View Post4Eyes, on 22 May 2018 - 12:52 PM, said:

Blackwolf Run River Course #13. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a poorly designed hole -- visually it is spectacular -- but for many players it is almost unplayable unless you are able to hit a very high shot or a sweeping draw with a mid-to-long iron to avoid the water and the big tree. No bailout area.


Attachment RiverCourse13.JPG

I love the hole.

The last time I played it the river was full of spawning Salmon!

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#29 Sixcat

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 08:00 AM

Roughly 20 years ago, I was invited to play a private club by a few members because my last name is in the name of the club as well as the name of the residential community surrounding the club.  I was mistaken for being associated somehow with the development of the area.  I'm not ashamed to admit, I took full advantage of a free round of golf at a brand new private club.  I'm not sure they ever figured out, I had nothing to do with the facility.

One of the par 4 holes, I don't recall the number, plays over a fairly busy residential street with on-street parking.  The street is perpendicular to the hole and sits about 40 yards in front of the forward tees and 120 yards in front of the back tees with two other sets of tees falling between.  Those cars have to get peppered.  It's unnerving to be on the tee, driver in hand, with two dozen luxury cars parked 50 yards directly in front of you.

Edit to add; it's also a blind hole.  Some 200 yards off the back tees, the fairway disappears as it drops in elevation completely out of sight.

Edited by Sixcat, 23 May 2018 - 08:04 AM.


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#30 bazinky

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Posted 23 May 2018 - 08:13 AM

View Postthird-times-a-charm, on 22 May 2018 - 11:13 AM, said:

Theres no such thing as bad holes IMO. Everything is a challenge, just because you/we can't make par or figure it out doesnt make it bad - just means you need to try harder each subsequent time.

This where I strongly disagree. It's very easy to make a "hard" golf hole. The real challenge is to make a good one.

I have one example of what I think of as a truly "bad" golf hole. A local muni course added a new opening hole in order to build a new driving range. I'll cite a few example of why I think it's a badly designed hole:

1. The green has a steep drop-off on all three sides. On two sides, the drop off feeds down into vegetation that essentially requires a drop (if you can find your ball). The third side leaves you a 40-60 yard pitch straight uphill. The big problem is that since this is the opening hole, ii really slows down play.

2. You have two choices off the tee. If you lay back to have a flat lie, you are hitting blind into the green. If you hit the ball far enough to see the green on your approach, you have a severely down-hill lie to a green that slopes front to back. You can't play short of the green due to a grass bunker in front, and the slope and age of the green means that anything that hits the green runs all the way to the back, if it even stays on.

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