It's a hole that divides opinion like no other on the European Tour circuit – and Alex Perry and Mark Townsend are on opposite sides of the argument in Alternate Shot
Yes, says Alex Perry
I’ll get this out the way immediately: I have played Wentworth’s West course twice and I birdied the 18th both times. There are no other holes in the world on which I am currently 2-under par.
Is that enough, or do I need to go on?
I like the 18th. It’s interesting and it makes the golfer think strategically. I like holes that are interesting and make the golfer think strategically.
Both times I played it, I hit driver and 8-iron to leave around 100 yards in. The first time, a rare treat as I pitched to within gimme range. The second time, an equally rare treat as a putt from around 40 feet found the middle of the cup.
Granted, I played the hole a hundred or so yards shorter than the pros, but that’s why they get paid the big bucks.
Are you telling me that every single player who tees up at this week’s BMW PGA Championship won’t be standing on the 18th tee thinking they should be picking up at least one shot?
And if it gets down to the nitty gritty and they really need to go on the hunt for an eagle? Well, what drama!
Who can forget the epic battle in 2011 between Lee Westwood and Luke Donald – the winner taking not only the European Tour’s flagship title, but the World No. 1 spot?
In the first play-off hole, Donald pitched to around five feet, before thousands watched Westwood’s ball pitch in the middle of the green before spinning back into the water.
More of that this weekend please, chaps.
No, says Mark Townsend
Maybe five years ago I spent about an hour behind the 18th green to try and work out what on earth they had done to the hole.
I had been coming to the PGA since 1985 – I watched Paul Way beat Sandy Lyle in a play-off which remains one of my greatest thrills – and I’ve been sat by the final green at least a dozen times since to herald a new champion.
Wentworth has always been a commercial venture, it was designed by Harry Colt in the 1920s for a builder who wanted to sell houses on the estate. But it always had a certain charm with a closing hole that, while it was nowhere even close to being one of its strongest holes, offered the possibility of a closing eagle or birdie with a premium on being able to read a sloping green.
It took two brilliant shots to find the green and tournaments swung over the closing pair of par 5s, these days 5-5 is a real result.
Things have recently improved since the previous owner Richard Caring got too involved in the redesign in 2010 but, in my opinion, it’s still a mess.
When the redesign happened, they said: ‘Our objective is to make the West Course Europe’s answer to Augusta National.’ True to their word, the 18th smacks of America and nothing of Colt and Surrey.
The drive is hard enough but then you are faced with an unfathomable approach across water or, far more likely, a couple of wedges to the safe side of the pin.
They say they’ve removed and lowered lots of the bunkers. The day I sat there one player threw a ball in one greenside bunker and had to get his caddie to get a line out – what on earth is that about?