After your round of golf at the golf course of choosing, go sit in the clubhouse with a beer and watch golf highlights. You’ll hear discussions of people’s rounds, the guy who says they’ve played whichever course is on TV–don’t worry, he’ll let you know his thoughts. There’s always discussion of Augusta National, and then there’s the guy who’s just drunk and needs an Uber home.
A new round table discussion I heard a few weeks ago was “pick your best 18 holes.” For people who visit websites such as Max’s Lounge and Golf Club Atlas is a common debate within the forums, more-so directed towards “the world’s best 18 holes.” Below is a list of the best 18 holes I’ve played to create the perfect golf course! My goal is to update this article and re-publish with updates.
To make things interesting, I’ve decided to put a “1 hole per course” cap limit.
- Hole 1: Apache Stronghold — par 4, 472 yards
Tom Doak’s homage to the punchbowl green, this opening par 4 features a double fairway and a crazy green complex. The architectural brilliance of Apache Stronghold is in the spotlight from hole 1.
- Hole 2: Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club — par 4, 454 yards
One of the first places Richard Zokol took Rod Whitman to when proposing a golf course here, the 2nd at Sagebrush tumbles towards the Quilchena Lake and let’s you choose any club off the tee to get it down the hill.
- Hole 3: Bandon Trails — par 5, 549 yards
The first par 5 at Bandon Trails, as well as the first par 5 in my perfect 18 plays across the opening road to Bandon Dunes Resort. A centreline bunker, as well as wide corridors and a sporty green complex shows Coore/Crenshaw’s par 5 prowess.
- Hole 4: The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Club — par 3, 191 yards
Stanley Thompson was the master of building par 3’s. The 4th, “devil’s cauldren,” is perhaps his most famous, playing over a glacier lake to a punchbowl green with the Rocky Mountains in the back and the usual, artistic Stanley Thompson bunkering surrounding.
- Hole 5: Talking Stick Resort (O’Odham) — par 4, 391 yards
One of Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw’s more subtle designs relies entirely on strategic bunkering and green complexes to bring shot value. The 5th in particular entices the player to go right, but left is actually right, as the name of the hole states.
- Hole 6: Gamble Sands — par 3, 264 yards
The longest par 3 I’ve played also happens to be a really, really good one. Playing over a large hummock in the Washington desert, this redan-style hole by David McLay Kidd lets you hit anything from 3 wood to 5 iron.
- Hole 7: Streamsong Resort (Red) — par 5, 527 yards
One of the most photographed holes at Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw’s Red Course at the Streamsong Resort in Central Florida, this par 5 is perhaps best summarized by the massive grass, sandy hummock to the right of the green that provides strategic interest to the hole from the green back.
- Holy 8: The Quarry at La Quinta — par 3, 143 yards
This drop-shot par 3 from Tom Fazio features views of the Coachella Valley, but the green complex is intriguing, with subtle breaks to confuse the player on this wedge-only par 3.
- Holy 9: Predator Ridge Golf Resort (Ridge) — par 5, 509 yards
Doug Carrick, one of Canada’s most acclaimed architects, routed the 9th at the Ridge course in the Okanagan Valley through rock outcroppings.
In: par 36, 3500 yards
- Hole 10: Rock Creek Cattle Company — par 5, 631 yards
One of the world’s best par 5’s calls Deer Lodge, Montana home, where Tom Doak routed this long, double dogleg par 5 downhill, downwind, over a gully to a spectacular green-side perched above shrubbery.
- Hole 11: Pacific Dunes — par 3, 137 yards
Another Tom Doak stunner, this is quite possibly Bandon Dunes Resort’s most famous hole. A short, Pacific oceanside par 3 entirely influenced by the wind direction.
- Hole 12: Wolf Creek Golf Resort (Links) — par 4, 462 yards
Rod Whitman yet again strikes with this double fairway’d long par 4 that doglegs to the right. The low profile green complex makes it easily accessible, so the tee shot is the teeth of the hole.
- Hole 13: Aldarra Club — par 3, 249 yards
Tom Fazio built this downhill, redan style par 3 in the hills of Sammamish, Washington to frame the background.
- Hole 14: The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course — par 4, 361 yards
There’s a case that 14 at JPL is one of, if not the best short par 4 in the world, and possibly the best par 4 as well. Doglegging around the Lac Beauvert, the fairway contour’s require a player to challenge the water on the left for a flat lie to a dangerous green site perched up high.
- Hole 15: We-Ko-Pa Golf Club (Saguaro) — par 3, 255 yards
Yet another redan style hole, but this time Coore/Crenshaw have their desert take, playing downhill with bunkering guarding the left
- Hole 16: Pasatiempo Golf Club — par 4, 387 yards
One of the best greens in the world, this three-tiered Alister Mackenzie green complex gets all the shine. But the tee shot is no slouch, either. Blind, over the bumps of the Santa Cruz site, with the barranca left, the entire hole is brilliant.
- Hole 17: Rawls Course at Texas Tech — par 5, 630 yards
Over the flat West Texas site, the long par 5, 17th plays straight downwind, with a massive swale in the topography with bush and bunkering at the bottom 175 yards from the green.
- Hole 18: Estancia Club — par 4, 462 yards
Downhill with Pinnacle Peak in the background, this well-bunkered Tom Fazio hole is a fantastic closer to the round.
Out: par 35, 3574 yards
Total: par 71, 7074 yards
In total, the course features five par 5’s, six par 3’s, and seven par 4’s. the longest hole comes from Rock Creek Cattle Company at 610 yards, and the shortest comes from Pacific Dunes at 137 yards. 10 states/provinces are represented.
What are your thoughts on the list? I’d love to hear them in the comments below, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on your perfect 18! I’m hoping as my travels take me to new courses and new regions this becomes a living article which can be updated to see the progress!