Even if you haven’t yet gotten the chance to play all the legendary golf courses on the PGA tour — like Pebble Beach, Augusta or TPC Sawgrass — chances are you’ve tuned into the Golf Channel or ESPN to watch your favorite pros clinch a birdie or clunk their way to a double bogey meltdown.
Some holes on these renowned courses are interesting to watch because of the athlete who is playing them. Some are notable because of their incredible beauty and design. And some (maybe the best ones) are amazing to watch because of their uniqueness and difficulty. Here are our picks for the most exciting holes on the PGA tour.
#1 – Quail Hollow, 18th Hole
Do you remember little Rory McIlroy’s first PGA Tour win way back in 2010 at the Wells Fargo Championship? Some say his record-shattering win really took shape on the final hole of the course where he sunk in an impressive 50-foot birdie. On the other hand, Golf Digest reminds us of a polar-opposite meltdown on the Quail Hollow 18th hole by David Toms who “came to the hole with a five-shot lead in 2003, and ended up clunking into the finish with an eight.”
Why would two great pros have such opposite results? An “unforgivingly” narrow fairway a creek-filled trench mean that if you get lucky, you can get really lucky, but any weakness gets exposed on this challenging hole.
#2 – The Riviera, 10th Hole
This short, tight hole (315 yards) is flanked by bunkers, making low scores possible. But it also creates an environment where doubles and triples are not abnormal, says Golf Digest. Ryo Ishikawa has been quoted as saying, “It’s a fun hole to watch, but tough to play.” The notorious Bubba Watson has admitted that the 10th hole of Los Angeles’ Riviera Country Club makes him “scared to death.”
#3 – Kapalua Resort, 18th Hole
Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that many of the most exciting holes are the finishers. And when you have a panel of pros competing for big titles on the tour, the hole that decides for certain who will take the title and the biggest purse automatically gets an extra dose of intrigue. This hole in particular, however, really has a reputation for drama. Its breathtaking landscape opens up onto the water. On the other side lay the imposing foothills of the Island of Lanai. This wide-open setting tends to invite highly windy conditions, making even the pros’ shots sometimes unpredictable.
#4 – TPC Sawgrass, 17th Hole
While not a finishing hole, this challenging penultimate hole at Sawgrass is where things really heat up to a fever pitch. The distinctive green is almost entirely surrounded by dark water, making lost hazard balls a regular disappointment for even the most skilled players. Although this iconic design is often referred to as being an “island green,” it’s actually attached to the fairway by a thin strip of land, making “peninsula green” a more accurate description.
#5 – Augusta, 15th Hole
Although Augusta really puts up several contenders for “most exciting hole,” the end consensus is that the title belongs to the 15th. CBS Spots has ranked every Augusta Masters hole from most difficult to least difficult by tallying scores. The 15th hole came up as the undeniably nastiest challenge. And as Golf Digest puts it, “an eagle or double-bogey are both easily attainable here.” Notice a common theme? So many of the most exciting holes to watch (and play for that matter) come down to having a design where a lucky shot is greatly rewarded, but getting bogged down in a hazard is oh-so-possible.
What are your favorite holes on the yearly PGA Tour to watch or play? Tell us in the comments below.
— C. Pedroja