Steve Carroll has picked out the best golf holes from his time touring England as a panellist for the NCG Top 100s course rankings. What would you add?
Best golf holes in England: Back 9
10th: Moortown (Par-3, 172 yards)
Dr Alister MacKenzie was so confident about the merits of Gibraltar, as it became known, he constructed it as a test hole to sing the praises of his upcoming course.
The build-it-and-they-will-come approach certainly worked as no one who saw this short hole, moulded out of a rocky slope, wasn’t amazed.
More than a century on, it still thrills. Whether that’s the quartet of bunkers ready to take the poorly struck shot or the feel you get when you hit the right part of the green and watch it slide, slowly and deliciously, across the contours to the hole, it’s just epic.
11th: Hillside (Par-5, 509 yards)
Many get distracted by the 10th, which is a wonderful short hole, but it’s here where things start to get really interesting.
Firstly, there’s the view: You’re on high, Royal Birkdale and Hillside’s impressive clubhouse is to your right, and you feel like you can see the whole of the countryside around you – not just an impressive par-5.
It always seems to play into the wind, which makes the tee shot a brute. If you aren’t in the fairway, you’ll be struggling to get to the green in three.
12th: Royal Birkdale (Par-3, 181 yards)
Genius. It looks amazing sat in the dunes among those banks of rough. The quartet of bunkers – mirroring each other in front of the green – are genuine card wreckers and the putting surface is only flat in the centre. It’ll spray any ball off the green that hits the kidney-shaped structure at an angle. I parred this and I’ve never shut up about it since.
13th: Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin) (Par-4, 439 yards)
There were a few contenders here – the 13th at Fulford ranks very highly in my affections – but the work Tom Doak has done on the Hotckhin elevated this beast of a par-4 to another level. You’ll be used to carrying the heather by the time you get here but the drive feels suffocating. It’s tight and it doesn’t feel like you can avoid the bunkers with the big stick in hand. You’ll almost certainly have a long shot in and the cross bunker and associated sand that lurks on a diagonal from 88 to 26 yards out is just incredible.
14th: West Lancs (Par-4, 447 yards)
Spot the flag from the tee. It’s like’s golf’s version of Where’s Wally? You’ll actually need to hit it like a tour pro to get a clear view for your second shot. So what do the rest of us do? Feel our way. Go left to open up the green. You’ll need the best angle in as, even though there are no bunkers around it, there are severe run off on all sides and a copse of trees at the back for anyone who absolutely air mails it.
15th: Appleby (Par-3, 176 yards)
I probably enjoy the downhill 4th and the drive from the subsequent hole over the side of a crevice a little more but Bell Hole, as it is known, is pure theme park. There’s out of bounds, and a river, down the right, a trio of bunkers and a quite outrageous rectangular green that is hidden in a dip. If you don’t have fun here, why are you even playing the game?
16th: Ganton (Par-4, 446 yards)
The tee shot is treacherous and the massive cross-bunker, which shouldn’t really come into play with any kind of solid contact, is plainly unsettling.
The pines on both sides frame the hole beautifully and the undulations on the fairway mean you can end up with just as tricky a second shot.
The gorse that has been removed from the back of green means the views from the putting surface have been wonderfully opened up.
17th: Seaton Carew (Par-4, 398 yards)
I’m not sure there’s a cooler green complex in this country. It’s two tiered and raised about eight feet with plenty of slope from front to back right. Add in a fairway that’s tilted to both tee and green and you’ve got a stone-cold MacKenzie classic.
The recent removal of the buckthorn, all the way down the right of this hole, has revealed some of the angles. There is a reason why Seaton Carew jumped nearly 40 places in our England Top 100s list. I’d implore you to take a visit this year and see for yourself.
18th: Alwoodley (Par-4, 447 yards)
A quite tremendous finishing hole – not least because I once managed to par it from all 484 yards of the back tees.
The drive is elevated so you see all of its glory in front of you. Well-bunkered left and right, the traps are in the perfect place to mess with your head and, with that distinctive clubhouse in the background, the approach needs to be right on the money. And did I say it often plays into the prevailing wind? Magnificent.
So, have I got it right? What would be in your rundown of best golf holes? Let me know in the comments below, or you can tweet me.
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