Friday, January 23, 2009

My Big Three

They've brought the very best players to their knees. They've provided some of the most memorable moments in Tournament golf over the years. They make amateurs shake and second guess themselves and yield scores that make you wonder if they were counting properly. In any and all cases they provide excitement, drama and keep the fan on the edge of their seat. These are my three favorite holes from the PGA Tour over the past decade. Although I've only played two of the thrree, they all stick out in my memory for one reason or another. These are in no particular order, and you're free to debate my praise of them on any and every level.

#16 TPC Scottsdale (FBR Open) - It's but a mere 162 yards. Yet this may be the most unique hole in all of golf. Not because of it's difficulty or it's design. Simply for the fact that it provides the most electrifying environment of any hole all year by far. Bleacher style seating of over 15,000 surrounds the entire hole where roars from the crowd can be heard throughout the entire back nine. It's been said that some players are thinking about this hole even before they tip it up, which I completely understand. Oh, and be prepared to get cut up mercilessly from the crowd should you even think about missing the green. I will never forget the "shot heard around the world" in 1997 provided by none other than the great Eldrick Tiger Woods.

#18 Carnoustie - Scene of perhaps the most epic final hole collapse in major championship history, the 18th at Carnoustie yielded an average score of 4.611 in the 2007 British Open. Who could forget the 1999 Open Championship? Jean Van de Velde was on the cusp of pulling off a huge upset victory, needing only a double bogey on the last to secure the title. It all started when for some crazy reason he decided to hit driver, with a three shot lead. He hit an ugly block, but got lucky and managed to find land. Already lucky once, he decides to peg a butter knife in hopes of reaching the green, rather than laying up. Again, he blocks it into the grandstand right. The ball bounced up and back about 50 yards landing in knee high fescue. He then chunks his third into the burn as if nobody saw it coming. He then crazily thought about trying to hit his shot out of the burn but after much debate decide to take a drop and hacked his fifth into the greenside bunker. He then blasted out of the bunker to about six feet and made the putt for a crowd pleasing seven, which got him into a playoff. I don't think I need to go on. In 2007 Padraig Harrington almost botched the Open as well, hitting it into the burn twice on 18 on his way to a double bogey forcing a playoff, which he ended up winning. Do yourself a favour, if you've never seen the Jean Van de Velde never compromise putter commercial, YouTube that shit.

#17 TPC Sawgrass - How could this hole not be on my list? I've even had the privilege of playing it, and believe it or not, no lie, I made a two. Now granted there were zero fans, no wind, and absolutely nothing on the line. But it was still cool as hell. In any case, this hole is probably in the top five for everyone. I've never seen such an easy golf shot messed up by so many amazing players. It's actually funny to watch. I'm sure I'd be one of them air mailing the green, or coming up yards short, but I'm not out there, they are. Some say the hole is a bit gimmicky, and they may be right, but it's still probably the most exciting hole to watch from a fans perspective. Remember 1998? If you don't it's when a young upstart named Len Mattiace came to the 17th tee just a shot off the lead. He dumped his first shot into the water, and hit his third from the drop area into the greenside bunker. From there it just got worse. He hit his fourth back into the water and went onto make an eight. He ended up in a tie for fifth, four shots behind eventual winner Justin Leonard. I don't have time to list all the amazing moments from the 17th at Sawgrass, but needless to say the majority are, "better than most."

There are so many amazing holes in golf that I simply can't keep on going or this would be the longest post ever written. I'm sure you all have your favorites or even holes you despise. Whatever the case may be, we look forward to the Tour Pro's playing them every year, and often imagine what we ourselves would do in their place.

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