The Perfect 18: April 2020 Edition

I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect to be writing this already. Coronavirus has been a blessing and a curse as it’s allowed me to get back to writing on my website, and one of the things I noticed is it’s been a year since I wrote the first edition of this article. But we’re back, and after conducting a similar article with a few friends for Par Six Golf Media, it got me thinking about my perfect 18 again. Since April 2019, it’s been a very big year for golf for me, personally. I was lucky enough to play quite a few amazing golf courses this past year, so the list is a bit different. Some nominations have changed, others have stayed the same!

The task is simple: pick the best 1st hole, best 2nd hole, best 3rd hole, etc, that I’ve played while only using each course once. Without further ado, here’s my list!

  • Hole 1: Apache Stronghold Golf Resort & Casino — 472 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: Apache Stronghold Golf Resort & Casino

A split fairway divided by bunkering and a punchbowl/alps combination, it is a crazy opening hole. Apache Stronghold is Doak at his most creative and wild, and the 1st hole matches the tone.

  • Hole 2: Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club — 454 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club

Unfortunately closed for a few years now, the 2nd at Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club is one of Rod Whitman’s finest holes. A long par 4 with a blind tee shot, it’s as adventurous as daring. Don’t forget it’s gorgeous with the Nicola River in the background.

  • Hole 3: Pasatiempo Golf Club — 222 yards, par 3
  • Previous version: Bandon Trails

A very difficult par 3, Alister Mackenzie routed this par 3 up the hill to a green tucked into the hillside. Surrounded by bunkering, it’s a long iron, hybrid or wood.

  • Hole 4: The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Club — 192 yards, par 3
  • Previous version: The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Club

Worthy of any Eclectic 18 from anyone, the par 3, 4th at Banff Springs is a wonderful mid length par 3 (remember, elevation. Banff is 5500 feet above sea level or so) over a glacier pond to a punchbowl green cut into the hillside. Whether it was Robert Trent Jones Sr. or Stanley Thompson responsible for the bunkering around the green doesn’t matter. What does matter is it’s an exceptional golf hole.

  • Hole 5: Pinehurst Resort (No. 2) — 576 yards, par 5
  • Previous version: Talking Stick Resort (O’Odham)

With a hard right-to-left tilt, the par 5, 5th is a wonderful golf hole. It’s reachable in two because of how firm No. 2 plays, but it’s a difficult par. The green complex falls off so hard to the left that it’s not uncommon to see people playing their second, third, fourth or more from the 4th tee box some 60 yards away!

  • Hole 6: Rolling Green Golf Club — 207 yards, par 3
  • Previous version: Gamble Sands

Restored back to William Flynn’s original glory, this par 3 is difficult. Playing up the hill, the green complex banks hard to the right. Bunkering cut into the front left and front right gobble up tee balls, while anything short finds the gully.

  • Hole 7: Rock Creek Cattle Company — 486 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: Streamsong Resort (Red)

Up and over, the long par 4 at Rock Creek Cattle Company is a blind tee shot, only visible thanks to the aiming rock in the hill. From there, the green complex is tucked back in behind two mountainous dunes. The green complex, in usual Doak fashion, is devilish.

  • Hole 8: St. George’s Golf & Country Club — 215 yards, par 3
  • Previous version: The Quarry at La Quinta

A green tucked behind the undulating terrain of this Etobicoke golf course, Stanley Thompson built an excellent green complex. A bail out right leaves a fairly gentle chip going up the green contours. There’s more bite than there is bark on the 8th at St. G’s, and sometimes thats not a bad thing.

  • Hole 9: Toronto Golf Club — 452 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: Predator Ridge Golf Resort (Ridge)

Toronto Golf Club is one of the better flat golf courses in North America, but the 9th finds some interesting land to plunge down into. With a creek on the left that cuts across & to the right of the green, it’s a great hole down in the valley.

OUT: 3,276 yards, par 33

  • Hole 10: Shinnecock Hills Golf Club — 415 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: Rock Creek Cattle Company

Up, over and down, then back up again, Shinnecock’s 10th is the definition of a roller coaster golf hole. In a world that encourages the ‘grip it & rip it’ mentality, the 10th actually restrains such power. Longer drives face an awkward pitch up and the hill to a green running away from them, while laying back off the tee allows a full shot in.

  • Hole 11: Algonquin Resort — 580 yards, par 5
  • Previous version: Pacific Dunes

Rebuilt with Donald Ross’ original intentions for Algonquin, but on new land, Rod Whitman & Keith Cutten’s work here is among the best in Canada. The tee shot bends to the left, while the second and third shots falls down towards the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Hole 12: Sutton Bay — 411 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: Wolf Creek Golf Resort (Links)

Bunkering splits this hole into two different sections, with the right portion being a bigger carry than the left. The real strategy comes from the green, which features two “wings” to the back left and back right, providing a lot of fun pin locations that changes where the tee ball must be played.

  • Hole 13: Pacific Dunes — 444 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: Aldarra Club

Pressed up against the Pacific Ocean tee-to-green, the 13th at Pacific Dunes plays over the rumpled, links land that is great for golf. The second shot plays to a green sandwiched between the ocean and a 40 foot high sand dune, with a false front stopping shots short and a back tongue for increased difficulty.

  • Hole 14: The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course — 361 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course

Playing around the Lac Beauvert on the left, JPL’s 14th could make an Eclectic 18 worldwide. The further left you go, the flatter the lie for the second shot is. The further right off the tee you go, the more draw-biased your second shot is to a green flanked by the lake on the left. It’s a classic “how much do you take on tee shot” and an excellent case study for strategy.

  • Hole 15: The Country Club (Pepper Pike) — 445 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: We-Ko-Pa Golf Club (Saguaro)

A big drive down the hill sets up a funky approach shot playing over the cross bunkers, which divides the hole into two. From the tee, these bunkers look in play; from the fairway, they make it tough to judge the yardage. A great hole topped off by an exciting green, which falls down to the right.

  • Hole 16: Merion Golf Club (East) — 430 yards, par 4
  • Previous version: Pasatiempo Golf Club

Merion’s 16th might be the single best hole I’ve ever played, so it’s no shock to see it appear here. Playing down into the valley, the tee shot much avoid the bunker on the left. From there, it’s a Hail Mary over the quarry to a big, undulating green. For the weak stomachs, a bail out right added by William Flynn lets golfers play it as a three shot hole.

  • Hole 17: Calgary Golf & Country Club — 199 yards, par 3
  • Previous version: The Rawls Course at Texas Tech

While the 15th (another par 3) might be prettier, the 17th makes it a better hole (in my opinion) because of the amazing green complex. Rumples, bumps and a false front, Willie Park Jr. spared no creativity.

  • Hole 18: Capilano Golf & Country Club — 574 yards, par 5
  • Previous version: Estancia Club

Climbing up the hill to the base of Canada’s best clubhouse (in my mind, anyway), the 18th at Capilano plays as a true, difficult par 5. Bunkering in the fairway on the drive can gobble up loose tee shots, but the fairway bunkers splitting the hole into the upper tier (where the green is) and a lower tier (most likely to layup) from 100 yards and in make this hole one of the best at this West Coast Classic.

IN: 3,859 yards, par 38

OUT: 3,276 yards, par 33

TOTAL: 7,135 yards, par 71

In total, the course features three par 5’s, four par 3’s, and eleven par 4’s (four holes under 420, seven over 420). The longest hole is Algonquin’s 11th at 580 yards, and the shortest is Banff Springs at 192 yards. In total, 13 states/provinces are represented. Alberta led the way with three holes.

Some glaring omissions: Rock Creek Cattle Company’s par 5, 10th is the best par 5 I played, and it was an incredibly difficult choice between the 10th there and the 10th at Shinnecock Hills. To add to the difficulty of picking the 10th, I think the 10th at Pasatiempo is the best hole at that golf course (among many standouts). The 15th at Jasper Park Lodge is the best short par 3 I’ve played, but I felt like the 14th may be a better hole.

The highest course ranked in my personal top 100 that didn’t get a single hole voted for is Inverness Club at 11th (in my list). If I had to pick the best hole, it’d be the 7th, but Rock Creek Cattle Company’s 7th is very strong.

What are your thoughts on the list? What is your personal list? Let me know in the comments below!

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