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An interview with Keith Cutten, author of “The Evolution of Golf Course Design”

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This interview is with Keith Cutten, author of “The Evolution of Golf Course Design,” which is a new book he is releasing to the public. This is an unbelievably well-researched and all-encompassing look at golf course architecture, how it has changed throughout history, and all of the variables in play that have shaped it over the course of time.

Let’s start with the easy stuff. What’s your personal background? How did you get into all of this?

Well, my passion for golf architecture started back in high school. I took a drafting and design curriculum all through high school, which was hugely beneficial. I was getting into golf around 15-16 years old and I lost my grandfather, who was the primary golf influence in my life. When he died, he left me his golf clubs, and I missed him so much I just dove completely head first into golf.

When I finished high school, I sat down with my dad to try to hash out a game plan to get into the golf industry. My dad was an environmental scientist for 40 years with the Ministry of Environment in Ontario, so he helped me a great deal in understanding the policy system here in Canada. I started by getting my bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo in Planning and Environmental Design. In my last coop term, I went for broke and I reached out to Rod Whitman in Canada, who invited me to do a 5-month coop with him during the construction of Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club in British Columbia. The pay was paltry and I ran a shovel and a rake for most of the summer, but I fell in love with it instantly.

I later went back for my master’s in Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph, which I finished in 2016. The culmination of that was my thesis, which has now become this book. Nowadays, I have my own company, Cutten Golf, Inc., which allows me to partner with people like Rod and Dave Axland, who has been Coore and Crenshaw’s chief project manager for 30 years. I couldn’t have walked into a better situation as a young, aspiring architect. To have the opportunity to work with these guys is incredible.

Having had the opportunity to peek at an advanced copy, I can say the book is completely fascinating. Talk a little bit about what compelled you to devote so much of yourself to this pursuit in the first place.

I’m the type of person that needs to answer my own questions to be satisfied. I’m not comfortable with just accepting things as fact without knowing the story behind them. I was sitting in one of my first master’s classes, which was basically a history of the landscape architecture profession. I’m learning how everything is influenced by society and wars and economy and I thought, “This has to be true for golf, but no one’s ever talked about it.”

At the time, I was also batting around ideas for my thesis. I was thinking a lot about the renovations that had recently been done to Pinehurst No. 2 and I was particularly curious about how Donald Ross’s original design was so much more environmentally sound than what it had been allowed to become over the course of time.

One of the key quotes that I got from Bill [Coore] about that project was that they were not trying to be “environmental crusaders” so much as they were just trying to put the course back to the way Donald Ross had originally intended it. So the question I kept asking in my head was, “How did this happen?” I sort of went on a fact finding mission to uncover how golf course architecture changed and it kept snowballing. I just kept following leads in different directions that began to connect all the dots for me. I went a little deeper down the rabbit hole every day, and ended up with a 600+ page thesis to turn in.

Just to paint a quick picture for the readers as to what’s going on in the book, there’s two main sections to it. The first section is going through history decade by decade starting with the early origins of golf, then 1830s, 1840s, and so on. I don’t want you to give too much of your book away, but give people a taste for what’s going on there.

Essentially, there’s a lot of short little blurbs about historical context that I try to quickly tie into golf. I suppose you’d have to start with the Victorian era, which was the first attempt at going away from the “links” style of architecture. When people from urban areas (say London) found golf and wanted to play it, they wanted to create their own courses so they wouldn’t have to travel over to St Andrews. So, the professional golfers of the time built what they could. The only people that were doing construction of the landscape at that time were the crews that were building state homes for the ultra-wealthy in the Victorian style. So they wound up with golf courses that were built much the same way with features that were geometric and square. They looked nothing like the links courses of Scotland.

After that, there was then a shift into what’s called the Arts and Crafts movement that takes you into the 1910’s. WWI had a huge impact at that time. Britain was basically devastated after WWI, so a lot of architects fled to the US, the land of opportunity, which led to what we now call the Golden Age of golf course architecture.

Shortly after that period, you have the Great Depression and WWII, where all of this knowledge that had been built really just comes to a halt. After going through the Great Depression and WWII, society really didn’t want to think about the past. There was no fondness for what had been done, so modernism became the way of life for basically everyone at that point, including golf course architecture.

Most of the big name architects (Ross, Mackenzie, etc) started their careers back in England before WWI, so when you get to WWII, those guys are all either dead or retired. It was a perfect storm which basically took golf in a completely different direction.

The second part of the book is profiles on golf course architects, authors, and visionaries. So you go from Old Tom Morris to Geoff Shackelford and everywhere in between. Given how much time you’ve invested in this, I’m curious to know who you would put on the Mount Rushmore of architects and why?

I’m going to flavor this with my own personal bias, but for me number one has to be Harry Colt. He’s so brushed over in North America it’s crazy. He pioneered what golf course architecture is, which is combining strategy and naturalness. Colt’s influence can be seen in work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie (Australia and America), Hugh Alison (Japan), Stanley Thompson (Canada) and Donald Ross (America). His influence just can’t be overstated in my opinion.

Stanley Thompson would have to be my next choice. Especially since I’m Canadian. His projects have defined great golf here, and his influence on me was immense.

Third would be Bill Coore. Without Sand Hills, I don’t think we are where we are today when it comes to golf course architecture. I don’t think anyone is reading my book and I doubt I’m even writing if it wasn’t for Bill. I think he’s the Alister Mackenzie of our time.

Last would be Rod Whitman. He just doesn’t get the notoriety or the acclaim that he deserves in my opinion. Bill Coore sings Rod’s praises all the time. He even gives Rod credit for figuring out how to make his routing work at Friar’s Head. I’ve learned so much from Rod and a lot of my passion for architecture comes from him.

If you had the opportunity to sit down with one of these people (dead or alive) you profiled over dinner, who would it be and what questions would you ask them?

I think it’d have to be Stanley Thompson. He was the type of guy that was notoriously larger than life. It’s rumored that he made and spent multiple fortunes in his lifetime according to his biography. He’s the type of guy that could sell the Canadian rail lines on the idea that they should build a golf course up here in the middle of nowhere because it’d be good for their business. I just think if he’s anything at all like what those stories would lead you to believe, that’d be a hell of a dinner.

I do want to ask about one specific aspect if you don’t mind because I personally find it super interesting and I think our readership would as well. Can you talk a little bit about the relationship between golf course equipment and architecture? Let’s kind of go down that rabbit hole for a minute.

I think the biggest misconception is that Golden Age architects never saw these kinds of advances in equipment coming. They did. They experienced their own advancements with equipment. The Golden Age didn’t start in the US in the 20s and 30s. Those same guys were designing courses in England in 1910 and prior to that, so they had already seen advancements of their own. They did react to them very differently than what has been done up until the last 10 years, however. They used the contour of the ground and width and angles in such a way that if you didn’t play to the right area of the fairway, you didn’t have a shot. The way they combated length is to put an emphasis on placing your shot in the right location instead of just pounding it down there as far as you can.

Even back then, there were some instances where people could hit 300-yard drives because you have to remember this was before irrigation. This brought the ground game into play. It wasn’t lawn darts where you hit every shot a certain distance and stopped it on a dime. Even though a long hitter might be able to get a drive out there 300 yards, that shot likely wound up in a pot bunker if you weren’t super precise with it. Back then, it was so much more a three dimensional game where you had to think about all the little humps and bumps and what they might do to the golf ball after it landed. The Golden Age architects were already thinking about this stuff when they designed their courses.

For a long time, we basically forgot our own history. Everyone after WWII just tried to reinvent the wheel by pinching landing areas and growing the rough taller, which was terrible for golf. We’re relearning, though, that combating length isn’t done by making courses longer and narrower; it’s done by making them shorter and wider. I think we need to start showing a bigger variety of golf courses on television. I think the tour is doing that with places like Trinity Forest, but they need to stop listening to the whining of players. That cannot be our measuring stick for whether or not a course is good.

Right or wrong, what gets shown on TV is what gets exported everywhere. One of the messages with my book is that that has to stop. Every course should not aim to be Augusta. They should aim to be what they are, and that requires completely understanding and committing to what that is.

Lastly, give us a call to action. Tell us how to get in touch with you and learn more.

Sure! To learn more about me, my business, or my book, the best way to do that is to visit my website www.cuttengolf.com. @cuttengolf is my handle for both twitter and Instagram.

Keith Cutten, author of The Evolution of Golf Course Design

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Peter Schmitt is an avid golfer trying to get better every day, the definition of which changes relatively frequently. He believes that first and foremost, golf should be an enjoyable experience. Always. Peter is a former Marine and a full-time mechanical engineer (outside of the golf industry). He lives in Lexington, KY with his wife and two young kids. "What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive." -Arnold Palmer

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Chuck

    Dec 27, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Well those are sure some interesting comments about advances in equipment technology and architecture.

    15th Club

  2. Fuggedabooitit

    Dec 24, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Would you call the Extreme 19th Hole in South Africa an evolution? How about some of the Dye-abolical Pete type courses? Are they evolution or just mickey-mousing the silliness and taking it to stupid places that the terrain and the game itself can provide?

  3. Dolla

    Dec 23, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    The last bit about the whining of players has nothing to do with it.
    It’s to do with how many grandstands and concession stands and TV camera towers and positions can they fit on a course, along with the spectators they need to bring in to pay for a lot of things.
    Space for all that stuff and a system to generate moneys is why you see a lot of the courses that you do.
    Don’t just blame it on the course designs, don’t just blame it on what the players say.
    Yes the Tour does set up courses for better scoring, and even the USGA has caved into that with all the rules changes to make it easier to do so.
    But course designs you see on TV is mostly due to the amount of room the equipment needs to live and make room for the fans to be there, so they can support with their money

  4. ogo

    Dec 23, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Did the 19th and early 20th golf course architects deliberately create many water hazards into their designs?
    I can see a water pond reservoir being part of a golf course, but to fill the course with water hazards seems psychologically masochistic and too punishing on the golfer losing expensive golf balls.
    This also include dense undergrowth that is impossible to find errant golf balls. Why is punishing water and weeds included in golf course design?

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5 things we learned: Thursday at the Masters

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The rains came early at Augusta, just as they did in Buffalo. The distinguishing factor was, they had a tournament to start in Augusta. Folks in Buffalo simply went to work, and paid attention to the clouds in north Georgia. By ten o’clock, the skies had cleared enough to begin play. Honorary tee shots were hit, and competitive play began. The delay assured that some of the afternoon groups would not sign scorecards on Thursday evening. Instead, they would rise early for completion of play, then turn right back around and go out for round two.

Round one was filled with the usual characteristics of major championship golf. A pair of golfers shot low rounds, with no guarantee that either would be able to preserve the blistering pace. Others gave shots inexplicably away, on the most confounding of holes, to push themselves away from the dream of the green jacket. Others played solid if unspectacular golf, to maintain the top of the board in sight. Finally, some held to a preserver for dear life, finding a way to stay within shouting distance of the leaders.

With that little bit of tease to lead us in, let’s get straight to the five things that we learned on Thursday at the Masters.

One: Can a horse be a horse for a course, for more than one round?

Both Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler have plenty of successful memories ’round the Augusta National course. Scheffle owns the ultimate prize, the 2022 green jacket, while DeChambeau was low amateur in 2016. That’s where the similarities end, however. DeChambeau has never finished higher than that low-am T21, while Scheffler has never finished outside the top 20 in four starts. DeChambeau has had fits of brilliance over the MacKenzie hills, but Scheffler is the one with four-round history.

While it seems unlikely the DeChambeau will miss the cut for a third consecutive time, the question of his ability to put rounds together remains. On Thursday, DeChambeau notched eight birdies on the day, and stumbled for bogey just once, at the ninth hole. For much of the day, he held a multi-shot lead over former champion Danny Willett, until Scheffler finished fast, with birdies at 12, 13, 15, and 16. His 66 brought him within one shot of the leader. Scheffler went without a bogey on the day, and ensured that DeChambeau would have much to consider over the night’s sleep.

Two: Find a way to hang around

Rory McIlroy never looked like he had his best stuff on Thursday. Three bogeys on the day, including one at the gettable second hole, had him steaming. Unlike prior years, when his not-best stuff led to mid-70s numbers, Roars was able to four birdies along the way. His 71 won’t win any crystal, but it will keep him in the tournament. Does he need a 67 on Friday? Absolutely.

Will Zalatoris plays Augusta National as well as anyone. Eagles and birdies are always on the table for the young Texan. He reached four-under par at the 15th, but closed with two bogies for 70. Without the shot that you see below, he may never have found the mojo needed to reach minus-four. Moral of the story: find a way to get in the house with a number.

Three: When you do things like this, find a way to keep it together!

The leaders’ board was filled with golfers like Ryan Fox (five-under through 12, inexplicable bogey at 13, finished minus-three), Erik Van Rooyen (minus-four through 13, only to close with three bogeys to finish one deep) Viktor Hovland (four below through nine, double at ten, one below at day’s end) and Matt Fitzpatrick (four deep through 13, three bogeys coming home.) What keeps these golfers from going deeper under par, or at least preserving their successful stature? It’s usually greed or the razor’s edge. There are too-safe places on the greens of Augusta, but there are always properly-safe areas, from where a two-putt is a probablility. In the case of most of these golfers, they either went at flags and short-sided themselves (leading to bogey) or tried to preserve their position, and landed in the three-putt zone.

Four: How could you do this?

Rickie Fowler  at 76, alongside Hideki Matsuyama. Guys, there were plenty of birdies out there! How could you manage to avoid them, and instead, stockpile the bogeys? Well, at least Hideki has a green jacket already, and at least Rickie has some crystal from Wednesday. Odds are that one of them will post 68 on Friday and make the cut.

Five: Which golfers do we hope to see finish strong?

With plenty of round-one action left for Friday morning, we’ve scanned the board and determined that Nicolai Højgaard looks pretty good at five-under through fifteen. We’ll take three pars. We expect one birdie. We’d love to see two or three birdies coming home. Yup, we’re greedy!

Max Homa bounced back from bogey at 12 with birdie at 13, to get back to four under par. We have the same expectations for the California kid: lots of birdies coming home. We have our eyes on a couple of guys at minus-one, and then there’s Tyrrell Hatton at three-deep, along with Ludvig Åberg at minus-two. Plenty of golf left for first-round positioning. Set your alarm for early and don’t miss a single shot!

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Morning 9: Tiger’s Monday practice round | Brooks, Sergio switch putters | Masters eclipse glasses

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as we gear up for the 2024 Masters!

1. Tiger’s Monday practice round

Will Cheney for the Augusta Chronicle…”The early reports from Tiger Woods’ Monday practice round at Augusta National Golf Club were good.”

  • “The five-time Masters Tournament champion landed in Augusta on Sunday afternoon and played a Monday morning practice round with Will Zalatoris. Woods withdrew from the 2023 Masters after making the cut, due to a plantar fasciitis flare up.”
  • “He played great today,” Zalatoris said. “He outdrove me a couple times so there was some chirping going on. So, you know, he looks great. He’s moving as well as he can be. Again, with everything he’s gone through, it’s pretty amazing to see how good he’s swinging it.”
Full piece.

2. Langer delays Masters farewell

ESPN report…”Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, whose hopes to play the major for a final time were cruelly dashed after suffering a torn Achilles in February, on Monday said that he’ll instead try to bid farewell as a participant at Augusta National in 2025.”

  • “Most likely,” Langer, 66, told Reuters when asked if the 2025 edition would be his final Masters start. “I hope so, but it all depends how the recovery is going.”
  • “The German player tore his Achilles while playing pickleball and is forced to miss significant time. He said his recovery is trending in the right direction and that he has not had any setbacks.”
Full piece.

3. Rahm: LIV events should be 72 holes

Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…”It was to be a sticking point for Jon Rahm as he mulled whether to make the jump from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf League late last year. In the end, the fact that LIV events were just 54 holes, and included shotgun starts, didn’t keep the Masters champion from making the move and signing a reported $350 million deal with the upstart circuit, but it’s something he hopes might still change in the future.”

  • “I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I definitely wouldn’t mind going back to 72 holes,” Rahm said in an interview with the BBC ahead of his title defense at Augusta National.
Full piece.

4. Sergio, Brooks make putter switches

Our Matt Vincenzi…“Brooks Koepka, who’s used a Scotty Cameron Teryllium Tour Newport 2 for the past handful of years, had what looked to be a Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5 in the bag this week at LIV Doral.”

  • “Koepka has been struggling on the greens this season, but it’s still a bit of a surprise to see him switch to a mallet-style putter so close to the season’s first major.”
  • “Koepka finished with -4.4 strokes gained with his new Phantom following a tough week in Miami.”
  • “With the poor performance on the greens at Doral, it’s worth monitoring whether or not he switches back to his traditional Scottie Cameron at Augusta.”
  • “Sergio Garcia, who lost out in a playoff at LIV Doral, also made a notable putter switch last week.”
  • “The Spaniard asked Scotty Cameron to refurbish the 1999 Scotty Cameron Del Mar Prototype he used as a rookie on the PGA Tour. Garcia used the putter when he went head-to-head with Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah as a 19-year-old. He also used the putter in his first Ryder Cup.”
Full piece.

5. Zalatoris returns to Masters a year after back surgery

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Will Zalatoris’ mom sent him a text Monday morning to remind him how far he’s come over the past 12 months.”

  • “It was the one-year anniversary of when he underwent back surgery.”
  • “Another reminder came just a few hours later, when Zalatoris linked up with Tiger Woods to play the second nine at Augusta National.”
  • “Over the past several months they’ve been swapping war stories about the microdiscectomy procedures and their different recoveries. It’s been comforting to Zalatoris not just to know that he’s not alone, but to understand the value of patience and his own process.”
  • “It’s always special to be here,” he said, “but obviously given the last year that I’ve had this was a very special day.”
Full piece.

6. GolfWRX’s resident statistician on who can win the Masters

Our Rich Hunt…”Since 2013, I have created a filtering process to help determine the players who are most likely to win the green jacket based on criteria that have strongly predictive outcomes to success at Augusta. The list of players that can win at Augusta is usually filtered down to 20-24 players and in that time I have correctly shortlisted every Masters champion.”

  • “This includes last year’s winner, Jon Rahm. Even though Rahm essentially walked away with the green jack and did not make it very close, there were some close calls on top of the leaderboard as I had filtered out Phil Mickelson (t-2nd) and Patrick Reed (t-4th) as the LIV Tour is still behind on providing advanced analytics for their tour. Russell Henley was also filtered out and finished t-4th, five strokes from Rahm’s winning score of 276.”
  • “If you’re watching at home, the “critical holes” that will likely determine the top finishers will be holes No. 7, 8, 11 and 13. The 11th hole is projected to be the most critical of holes as over the past five Masters the top players have gained nearly a 1.5 strokes for the tournament on that hole alone.”
  • “Just like last year’s column I will get the LIV Tour players I’ve filtered out of the way. Since LIV Tour does not provide ShotLink or Trackman data, it’s more of a guessing game as to how certain LIV Tour golfers are playing. I did utilize recent performance as well as performance at Mayakoba and Doral as they were two former PGA Tour courses that have some semblance of crossover to playing Augusta.”
Full piece.

7. Fields: Listen to the course whisperers

Bill Fields for Masters.com…”Many years after making his debut in the Masters Tournament in 1959, Jack Nicklaus had a sharp recollection of the tutorial he received that spring at Augusta National….Difficult lessons, after all, often are the most memorable.”

  • “Nicklaus was a 19-year-old amateur on the ascent, on his way to becoming one of the best golfers – the best, if measured by his ultimate major-championship tally, highlighted by a record six victories in the Masters. Yet, 65 years ago, the learning curve was steep for him. Despite his credentials, he shot 76-74–150 to miss the cut by one stroke as defending champion Arnold Palmer led at the halfway point.”
  • “I played pretty well from tee to green,” Nicklaus once recalled of that first competitive experience at Augusta National. “I hit 31 of 36 greens. But I had eight three-putt greens in 36 holes and got done and found Arnold was leading the Tournament at 140. He had hit 19 greens in regulation. I said, ‘You’d better learn how to chip and putt and understand what happens on this golf course.’ That’s what I learned.”
  • “Nicklaus, of course, isn’t alone in receiving such an education. More than two decades after the Golden Bear first turned up in northeast Georgia, another promising young golfer experienced the school of hard putts. Bernhard Langer of Germany, 24, was a three-time winner on the European Tour when he played his first Masters in 1982.”
Full Piece.

8. LIV Golf officials invited to Masters

John Turnbull for Bunkered…”It appears that defending champion Jon Rahm and his colleagues will not be the only LIV Golf representatives at The Masters this week.

  • “Despite golf’s civil war rolling on, officials of the Saudi-backed circuit have been invited to The Masters, according to reports.”
  • “The Telegraph has reported that at least one high-ranking LIV official will attend the first major championship of the year.”
  • “LIV’s chief executive Greg Norman, who was a three-times runner-up at the tournament, is not expected to show face at The Masters.”
Full Piece.

9. Masters eclipse glasses

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7 PGA TOUR courses you need to play

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Golf is a unique sport in that you can play where the pros play and make golf history of your own. Nothing in golf can compare to playing a world-renowned course and following in the footsteps of the game’s best golfers. The feeling is incomparable, and it’s one we think more golfers should experience!

To get you started, here are our picks of the best PGA TOUR courses you can (and should!) play:

PGA Tour courses you can (and should) play

Pebble Beach Golf Links (AT&T Pro-Am, U.S. Open, PGA Championship)

Early morning light on the par-4 8th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Monterey Peninsula.

One of the most recognizable golf courses in the world, Pebble Beach Golf Links is the definition of a bucket golf course. Golfers will play iconic holes like the par-3 7th to the stunning par-5 18th. Enjoy great views of the Pacific Ocean as you play amongst the clifftop fairways and make memories that will last a lifetime when you play this PGA TOUR and major championship course.  

TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course (THE PLAYERS Championship)

The 17th hole of THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL Photo by: Chris Condon/PGA TOUR (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA)

Home to arguably the most famous par 3 in golf, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a top bucket-list course designed by Pete and Alice Dye. A challenging layout awaits that will test all facets of your game, especially shot shaping and course management. Subtle elevation changes, undulating greens, and unique bunkering add a degree of difficulty that stump even the best players in the world. Not to mention one of the best finishing stretches in golf with the long par-5 16th, the iconic 17th hole island green, and the testy par-4 18th. 

Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill  (Arnold Palmer Invitational)

A course fit for “The King” is what you will experience when you visit Orlando and play Bay Hill’s Championship Course. This classic Florida layout offers generous landing areas off the tee with few trees, but bunkers guard the greens and large ponds will make you rethink your shot choices. The course is only available for members and guests staying at The Lodge, so a stay is required to play this stunning course. But with year-round sunshine and pristine course conditions, it is never a bad time to visit Bay Hill! 

Torrey Pines – South  (Farmers Insurance Open, U.S. Open)

Another California clifftop course that should be on your bucket list is the South Course at Torrey Pines. Located just north of San Diego, this annual PGA TOUR stop has also hosted two U.S. Opens, which adds to the allure of the property. Narrow fairways and tall rough combined with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and the California coastline make for an unforgettable round of golf. Large bunkers and elevation changes add to the challenge of the course, but the moderately sized greens offer golfers some respite. Who would’ve thought that a municipal course could be so exciting?

Harbour Town (RBC Heritage)

Hole 18 Harbour Town

Most recognized by the famous red and white striped lighthouse behind the 18th green, Harbour Town is the brainchild of Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. While the course is relatively short for a PGA TOUR event, the challenging design offsets length for accuracy with the narrow fairways framed by overhanging trees making it a shot makers course. A majority of the course winds through the wooded and sandy terrain before looping back towards the coastline with the final two finishing holes playing along the water. 

PGA National – Champion Course (Honda Classic, Ryder Cup, PGA Championship)

With the prominent golf tournaments this course has held, it is hard to leave it off the list. A fantastic Jack Nicklaus design, the Champions Course at PGA National is also home to a famous stretch of golf holes called “The Bear Trap.” The fairways and greens are player-friendly while the bunkers and water hazards are the course’s biggest defense. You will enjoy a 5-star experience and feel like a professional when you visit PGA National’s Champion Course.

Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead Course (Valspar Championship)

At more than 7,200 yards the Copperhead Course is the most recognizable of Innisbrook’s four Tampa, Florida courses and plays host to the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship.

One of the more under-the-radar courses on Tour, the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort still offers a challenge even to the pros. Designed by Lawrence Packard, the course, while not heavily wooded, requires accuracy with tight fairways, strategically placed bunkers, especially around the greens, and a decent amount of water hazards that come into play. As you head towards the clubhouse, you will encounter “The Snake Pit;” a collection of the most difficult finishing holes on the PGA TOUR.

There you have it, GolfWRXers. Have you played any of these PGA TOUR tracks? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s note: This article is presented in partnership with Golfbreaks. When you make a purchase through links in this article, GolfWRX may earn an affiliate commission. 

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