Golfing Icons Replica Golf Holes Revealed
If you are a golfer, chances are you’ll have a golf course ‘bucket list’ – a collection of courses you would like to play within your lifetime to fulfil your goals, dreams and aspirations.
Perhaps your list features playing St Andrew’s Old Course, Augusta National - the stage for Tiger Woods’ return to form and fifth The Masters win, or maybe Pebble Beach or Carnoustie?
But what makes a good golf course? Is it the setting, the beauty, the challenge? A golf course is the product of an architect’s ability to integrate their artistic creativity, scientific knowledge and golf acumen into the landscape.
The dimensions and characteristics of a golf course change from day to day, throughout the seasons and golfers respond differently each time they play.
The two courses at Rudding Park were designed by renowned Open Championship golf course architect Martin Hawtree, whose company, Hawtree Limited, has been associated with the building or remodelling of more than 800 golf courses and is probably the longest continuous practice in golf course architecture.
Martin still designs most of the course layouts working closely with his project architects. Projects includes a number of Ireland’s finest links layouts along with Royal Birkdale, the Old Course at St Andrews and working for Donald Trump –constructing the links outside Aberdeen in 2011/12 and two years later, the redesign of the Greg Norman links at Doonbeg, christened Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland.
Two of the most iconic holes in the world have to be the island hole at Sawgrass and the 12th at Augusta National.
The island green at Sawgrass is a difficult target thanks to the unpredictable wind that swirls in directions around the amphitheatre of trees in which the hole resides. Hitting the green is half the battle unfortunately as once your ball is safely on you may still be left with an impossible two putt thanks to the multi-level green and the green keepers who like to tuck the pin away in the corners.
As for Augusta National, this par 3 12th part of the renowned Amen Corner sees the green tucked away into the corner of the course framed by towering trees and beautiful flowers. The green is shallow and any shots long or short are severely punished. Under-club and your ball will find the water, go long and you will be left with an awkward lie and playing back towards the water with the green sloping away from you. Essentially, hit the green or it’s damage limitation time!
But what are the chances you will get to play these iconic holes? If you don't hold out too much hope, perhaps you should play the 18 Hole Hawtree Course at Rudding Park. The green keepers understand the importance of offering something new, so this year, to coincide with The Masters, a fantastic new routing was introduced inspired by the famous Augusta National course.
As at Augusta, this Yorkshire version of ‘Amen Corner’ on the 12th, 13th and 14th holes of the Hawtree Course sees fairways and greens cut through mature woodland. Rhododendrons replace the azaleas and dogwood and with their own version of Rae’s creek coming into play on two holes – this is the closest golfers will come to the real thing.
The signature 14th (163 yards), named Rhododendron Glade due to a profusion of colour in late spring, is well guarded by three bunkers at the front and another hidden from view to the right. Playing uphill and into the prevailing wind presents a challenge for golfers of all abilities, with the undulating green making a par no easy score.
Replicating world famous holes is not something new to Rudding Park, back in 2008 Hawtree designed the Six Hole Repton Short Course offering golf in an hour, the test and thrill comes as many of the holes feature water hazards. The Signature 5th hole is based on the world-famous 17th at Sawgrass, Florida. Playing the same yardage (137 yards) the daunting tee shot which plays to an island green puts emphasis on club selection.
So whilst Yorkshire will never be mistaken for the USA, if you want a taster of Augusta or Sawgrass without reaching for your passport, it’s worth giving Rudding Park a shot.
In the meantime, let's lust after a few other icons which might have made your list.
The Brabazon Course at the Belfry is one of the most famous in the world thanks largely to the fact that it has hosted the Ryder Cup more than any other course. Holes like the short par 4 10th this an ideal Ryder Cup course as players are tempted into going for the green from the tee. Only a gentle fade will do though as the kidney shaped green is protected by a water hazard that snakes across the course. There are few holes in golf that can generate excitement like a short par 4 can and this is one of the most famous in the world.
At Carnoustie, treacherous rough, deep bunkers and the dreaded Barry Burn all come into play, so it goes without saying that this is one of the best ‘thinking man’s’ holes in golf.
The 7th hole at Pebble is one of the best, and most feared, par 3s in the world; and it only measures just over 100 yards! The elevated tee overlooks the tiny green which sits right on the Pacific Coast. Overshoot the green and your ball will be lost to the ocean for good. In fact, anything but on the green could prove difficult get down in two for your par. Add the swirling wind to the equation and you have a par 3 that will set the knees trembling every time you walk onto the tee.
The backdrop to the 18th at the legendary Old Course at St Andrews is truly special with the ‘Auld Grey Toon’ ominously close to the right hand side of the hole and the famous R&A Clubhouse in the background. Then of course you have the hole itself which is another great short par 4. The green can most certainly be hit if the wind is on your side but danger lurks just short of the green in the form of the Valley of Sin.
Don't forget, if you want a taster of Augusta or Sawgrass without reaching for your passport, it’s worth giving Rudding Park a shot.