12 Beautiful Golf Holes Worth The Green Fee Alone
Jeremy Ellwood and Rob Smith pick out 12 standout holes on some of our less-heralded courses that are worth the green fee alone
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12 Beautiful Golf Holes Worth The Green Fee Alone
Have you ever played a golf course where one particular hole has stood out for all the right reasons and lived long in the memory? The rest of the course may have been perfectly fine and enjoyable to play, too, but one hole just stopped you in your tracks and perhaps even made you feel that it had been worth the green fee alone just to discover and play that one hole?
We’re not talking about the kind of course here that sits at the very pinnacle of our Top 100 UK&I course rankings, where any number of holes might be blessed with ‘signature’ status. This is about courses unlikely to ever feature in such lists, but which have one hole that could hold its own in any company.
A little while ago, my colleague, Rob Smith, and I wracked our brains to come up with a number of such holes from our experiences of playing a total of 2,000+ golf courses between us. Here, after much deliberation and back and forth, are 12 holes throughout mainland Britain that we feel are, indeed, worth the green fee alone…
Eyemouth, Scottish Borders
par-3 6th, 167 yards
Rob Smith: Eyemouth Golf Club's extremely varied coastal course in the Borders was augmented to 18 holes just over 25 years ago. Its signature hole is not so much about the target as the carry. The tee is on one side of a dramatic, deep, rocky inlet, at the base of which must be the wrecks of a thousand Titleists. The carry to safety is perhaps only 145 yards, but into the wind it looks, feels and plays substantially longer. There is no real trouble around the green, so the secret is to take more club and commit!
Dalmally, Argyll & Bute
par-3 3rd, 175 yards
Jeremy Ellwood: Dalmally is an unheralded but beautifully appointed nine-holer at the far end of dramatic Loch Awe. When I visited in 2013 I hailed this hole one of the best par 3s I’d ever played, and it does now enjoy a bit of cult status. Why? Well, it’s a majestic hole playing along, rather than across, a kink in the River Orchy to a green dwarfed by the towering backdrop of mighty Ben Cruachan. It’s a real test of both nerve and ability. I enjoyed it so much that, even with a tight schedule, I couldn’t resist running back to have another go at the end.
Bridport & West Dorset, Dorset
par-3 6th, 129 yards
RS: Who doesn’t enjoy a drop-hole par 3? Everything you want to see is clearly visible, good and bad, so all you need to do is factor in the elevation change and breeze. When it borders a sandy Dorset beach with the shimmering sea to one side and clifftops meandering their way into the distance, then so much the better. This is the shortest hole on Fred Hawtree’s attractive design and is usually just a flick with something very lofted, but it’s very easy to be distracted by the views to your left.
par-3 12th, 150 yards
RS: Some 500 miles north of Bridport’s Jurassic beauty sits something of a mirror image; similar in many ways, but quite different in others. Hopeman is a very enjoyable linksy, moorland course on the Moray Firth. Like Eyemouth, it expanded from nine to 18 in the mid-1990s. Its most famous hole is The Prieshach, again played from an elevated tee where the wind can have a huge influence on club selection. This time, the sea is on your right and you play over a forest of gorse to a green bordering a craggy inlet. A cracker!
par-3 12th, 151 yards
JE: You first encounter clusters of unusual humps and hollows on the short par-4 9th at this parkland/heathland hybrid on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. This feature is then partially reprised on this handsome par 3, which plays much more gently down than the drop holes at Hopeman and Bridport to a pear-shaped green set in a hollow. Not only does it look enchanting, but it also has more of a secluded feel than most of what has gone before despite its proximity to the busy A143.
par-3 15th, 176 yards
RS: Appleby’s moorland layout, rated among the best golf courses in Cumbria, boasts one hole that is just so special and distinctive that, on its own, it warrants a visit by anyone interested in course design. I am not normally a fan of an uphill par 3, let alone one that is completely blind, but this genuinely unique Willie Fernie beauty completely won me over. You tee off down by the river, crossing it twice as you play up to the marker pole behind a rectangular, sunken green bookended by a pair of bunkers.
Leamington & County, Warwickshire
par-3 11th, 129 yards
JE: The front nine at this undulating Warwickshire parkland layout generally offers room to manoeuvre, with things closing in a little more coming home, nowhere more so than on this striking short par 3. Work started on this ‘new’ hole in 1960 and it finally came into play in 1968. It’s a little beauty cut through a narrow glade of pines that looks very different to much of the rest of the course… and which wouldn’t look entirely out of place at a certain Augusta National. Yes it’s tight - but you should only be armed a pretty lofted club!
par-3 6th, 138 yards
JE: This intriguing ten-hole course on the south Cumbrian coast by the Duddon estuary offers up wonderful views of the Lakeland peaks to the north. It’s located at Askam-in-Furness but takes its name from Dunnerholme Rock, a flat-topped rock that juts out into the estuary. The green on the signature par-3 6th sits atop this rock and, despite being of decent size, it can be hard to find on account of the elevation change and blindness of the tee-shot. Sadly, this is one of the two holes you don’t get to play twice in an 18-hole round.
John O’Gaunt (Carthagena), Bedfordshire
par-4 16th, 386 yards
JE: The younger, shorter Carthagena course at this 36-hole Bedfordshire club boasts a heathland feel in places plus this shock-to-the-system 16th. The first 200 yards or so play over high ground before you plunge over an escarpment and turn left. You don’t want to run out onto the downslope off the tee… but lay back too much and you could leave yourself too far in to a green well-protected short left by a tree that gives the hole the look of one of those Spanish layouts where inconveniently placed cork trees often impede direct progress.
par-4 18th, 369 yards
RS: This most traditional of links was designed by Golf Monthly’s founding editor, Harold Hilton, and its easy-walking and lightly bunkered course saves the very best till last. From the championship tee, you cross the attractive, zigzagging River Crigyll not once, not twice, but three times! The first couple of encounters are with the drive and shouldn’t really present a problem although a big hoick right may well end up wet. It’s the approach that is far more of an issue, where the river and its banks are 40 feet across and there is no alternative route. A fantastic finish.
Leeds Castle, Kent
par-4 6th, 443 yards
JE: Playing (and even staying) in the grand setting of Henry VIII’s royal palace at Leeds Castle in Kent is a one-off experience. After a tight opening stretch, the course, rated among the best nine hole layouts in GB&I, takes you down to the castle on the 5th before turning right for this excellent but testing long par-4 6th, which doglegs to the left, hugging the moat keenly all the way. The magnificent castle forms a stunning backdrop from tee to green, and it’s all too easy to become distracted from the task in hand of attempting to make par on comfortably the longest of our featured holes here.
par 4 10th, 394 yards
JE: Mullion Golf Club, five miles north of Lizard Point, is home to England’s most southerly golf course and is one of several coastal layouts in our best golf courses in Cornwall round-up. Over the front nine you gradually wend your way down to beach level at Gunwalloe Church Cove. After climbing steeply away again on the 9th, you descend once more on this excellent, stirring 10th, which drops steeply via a generous fairway before testing you fully on the approach courtesy of a deep hollow short-right of the green. Glance away to your right here, for you used to play directly over this hollow to the same green on what was the second of consecutive par 3s along the beach.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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