Although hole #11 on your local golf course may have brought you a win in a golf betting game or your first hole-in-one, it probably hasn’t tested the best golfers on the planet. But like most golfers, you’re probably looking for the next big challenge. And while you might not get a chance to take on the most famous holes in golf, the historical significance, drama, design, or beauty behind these holes are certainly worth a mention to even the most novice golfer.
Whether you want to broaden your knowledge of the game or just satisfy your curiosity, here are some of the most famous holes in golf and what makes them legendary throughout the world.
Every golfer likely has their own favorite golf movie, whether it’s “Happy Gilmore” (Pitt Meadows at the Swan-e-set Bay Resort & Country Club), the “Legend of Bagger Vance,” or something else. But perhaps the most famous hole in golf movie history is in “Tin Cup.”
This 1996 film showcases former golfing prodigy Roy McAvoy — played by Kevin Costner. In the film, the washed-up Costner eventually tries to qualify for the U.S. Open. In a three-way battle for qualifying, McAvoy decides to go for the win by hitting over the water, eventually sinking it in the drink several times in a row. However, on his last go, his approach shot lands on the green and rolls into the hole. He misses the tournament, but it shot goes down as one of the most legendary of all time.
One cool thing about this hole is that you can play it yourself if you have the cash or know someone. The Tin Cup hole is #13 at Deerwood Country Club just outside of Houston in Kingwood, Texas. While you can join the country club for a $500 initiation fee and $429 per month — pretty affordable in terms of country clubs — you can also get invited as a guest.
The par-4, 453-yard 13th is often considered the most difficult hole on the course, but even if you don’t hit all that well, don’t stress. One of the most interesting aspects is seeing a memorial plaque from the movie about 230 yards from the hole in the middle of the fairway. If you’re lucky, maybe you can outdo McAvoy and sink the hole in less than 12 strokes — or at least give it a good try.
When you think about famous holes in golf, you probably think about pristine sea views or majestic mountains, but that’s just not the case with the #16 at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The par-3 hole features a hole surrounded by four bunkers, but that isn’t the difficult part. It’s the fact that it’s completely surrounded by stands. During tournaments, the stands are packed with rowdy fans, but even for amateur golfers, the fact that you’re being watched on every shot isn’t for the faint of heart — only the clutch need apply.
Nailing down a single famous hole on the PGA Tour isn’t exactly easy. From exciting moments to the degree of difficulty, the tour has its share.
Perhaps the most famous holes in golf tournament history are collectively known as Amen Corner — the name coinciding with the number of prayers that people say while playing it. Part of Augusta National, the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes known as Amen Corner have caused many players to miss the cut at The Masters, or conversely, jump to the top of the leaderboard.
To conquer Amen Corner, players must strategize on how to par or birdie the par-4, 520-yard 11th hole (White Dogwood), beat the insanely difficult 155-yard, par-3 12th hole (Rae’s Creek), and navigate the dogleg on left side of the 510-yard, par-5 13th hole (Azalea).
While the drama often goes down at the 18th hole, winners are made at Amen Corner.
Hundreds of holes can make a case for the most difficult hole in golf, but none do it with such allure, beauty, and frustration as the famed Pete Dye-designed Island Green at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Officially the 17th hole, 137-yard Island Green name is pretty spot-on. The par-3 hole features only a 78-foot-long green with a tiny bunker completely surrounded by water. Interestingly, the hole itself was an accident. When the course was under construction, crews used sand from the water, creating a crater. At that point, the designers decided to create a makeshift green with water almost 360 degrees around it. Thus, the Island Green was born.
For most PGA Tour professionals, this hole only requires a pitching wedge to reach, but the amount of accuracy — especially during windy weather — is something that requires talent and precision in one.
As the second-to-last hole at the annual Players Championship, the Island Green is famous for giving even the greatest golfers a fit. During the 2007 tournament, 50 balls found their way into the water; in 2000, it was 45. In amateur or pro-am tournaments, this number increases even more.
Like the most difficult hole, the most beautiful hole in golf is always a heated debate. However, that honor just might go to the 6th hole at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links in Monterey, California.
On that very hole in 2000, Tiger Woods and his caddie Steve Williams had a crucial decision to make out of the rough. Rather than go for a simple approach shot for a short par, Woods smashed a 200-yard shot with his 7-iron golf club en route to a birdie and a 15-shot win at the U.S. Open.
But that’s just a side note. When you actually get to No. 6 at Pebble Beach, you’ll know why it’s one of the most beautiful holes in golf. With Stillwater Cove in the background, an elevated tee box, and a well-manicured fairway in front of you, it’s tough not to get caught up in the beauty. And with an added degree of difficulty and multiple possibilities for your tee shot, second shot, and various approach shots to putt the golf ball home, it’s a beautiful hole — both in terms of scenery and chances for heroics on one of the toughest holes on the course.
As a quick side note, you could also say that virtually any hole you play in Hawaii is the most beautiful hole — but that goes without saying.
The most famous hole in golf across the pond is almost certainly the 17th hole at St. Andrews in Scotland. Known as the Road Hole, the 17th on the Old Course at St. Andrews is littered with obstacles and hazards that can have the greatest golfers scratching their heads.
To successfully sink the hole, you need to hit over the Old Course Hotel and railway sheds, avoid the Old Station Road, and miss the Road Hole Bunker — a pot bunker often noted as the most perilous hazard in all of golf.
On top of all that, it’s still 495 and only allows you to take four strokes. It’s not the final hole on the course, but for many golfers, it puts an end to their tournament hopes. At the Open Championship in 2015, more golfers hit bogeys (217) than made par (203).
A runner-up for the most iconic hole in golf on the European continent is No. 8 at Royal Troon in Troon, United Kingdom. This 123-yard, par-3 hole is collectively recognized as the Postage Stamp due to its 2,600-square-foot green. Miss this tiny green and your chances of sinking par are almost zero.
While you can’t sneak your way into the clubhouse on many of these golf courses, plenty of public courses offer some of the most famous holes in golf.
If you’re looking to take a golf trip or head to a golf resort in the future, add a few of these holes and courses to your bucket list:
While many of the most famous holes in golf aren’t open to the public, a few are accessible if you know the right person or have a decent amount of scratch in your bank account. If you’re lucky enough to make it on one of these golf courses, just make sure that you practice before you go.
You may only get one shot at these golf holes, so make the best of it. Hit the putting green, smash some mock tee shots on the driving range, or get your hands on a great tracer app. The work you put in now can have a profound effect on your game in the future. You might just be lucky enough to call it the most famous hole in golf you’ve ever played. That should be more than enough to motivate you.