THE FIRST HOLE
It’s not how you start, it’s…
Wait a minute. Perhaps it is how you start, especially when talking about golf courses. Like the first chapter of a book, the first hole introduces the layout and offers a glimpse of what is to be expected throughout the round.
And believe us, there are some opening holes that are memorable and really get players amped up for their rounds. Avid golfers know all about the opening holes at St. Andrews, Machrihanish and Bethpage Black (the warning sign by the first tee is still the best), but there are some others – especially in the U.S. – that are dazzling and memorable.
1) The Sports Club, Cottonwood Valley Course – There’s nothing resounding about the tee shot at this Irving, Texas course, which is part of The Sports Club that includes the TPC Four Seasons. What catches our eye is the green shaped like the Lone Star State. If that’s not cool enough, a bunker resembling Oklahoma is above the green, with water (mimicking the Gulf of Mexico) front right. Toughest pin placements: Amarillo, El Paso, Brownsville and Houston.
2) Desert Highlands Golf Club – Think of this hole as a beauty and a beast. The beauty is off the tee, as a granite grotto shelters the tee box and frames an amazing view of the desert valley. The beast: golfers need to carry their opening tee shot 200 yards over desert and rocks to a fairway 125 feet below. The hole is true desert golf, which means there’s also trouble on both sides of the fairway. The approach is no slouch either with a drop-off behind the putting surface.
3) Pound Ridge Golf Club – Theatrics always seems to be the name of the game at Pete Dye-designed courses, and the opening hole at this New York City area gem doesn’t disappoint. Stretching to 453 yards, this hole has trees dotting both sides of the fairway, with a massive bunker guarding the green on three sides. To add more eye-appeal – a serene water feature frames the back part of the greenside bunker.
4) Telluride Golf Club – Picture standing on an elevated tee 9,400 feet above sea level, with glorious mountain views and towering firs lining the fairway. You’re at the first tee at Telluride Golf Club in Colorado. Another attractive feature of this 377-yard opener: The thin mountain air and downhill tee shot make going after this green with the drive very tempting.
5) Top of the Rock – This Jack Nicklaus Signature Design and amenity of Big Cedar Lodge near Branson in Southwest Missouri may have the only opening golf hole in the world framed by a wedding chapel and honeymoon cabin. And that’s just for starters. Perched high above Table Rock Lake, the hole offers sweeping sunset views across the water and is located just steps from the Buffalo Bar patio. The beauty of the setting and scenic vistas appeal to newlyweds and golfers alike.