My favorite opening holes in golf
I usually read a lot more about finishing holes than I do about opening holes. Thus, it seems to me that the design of the first hole seems to be somewhat underrated. Quite frankly, I consider many great and famous courses (Pebble Beach, Muirfield, Pinehurst #2, Fishers Island, just to name a few) to have a relatively weak start. Here are my 5 favorite opening holes (of public-access courses) that I have played so far. Each of these holes is truly spectacular and could easily be a “Signature Hole” on most other courses.
Spyglass Hill in California
Spyglass Hill, a Robert Trent Jones Senior meisterwerk boasts one of the finest opening holes in America. The tee shot on this par 5 is hit trough a chute of trees. When walking down the elevated fairway, which bends to the left, golfers can soak in the amazing view of the Pacific. Hearing the cracking tee shot echo off the trees is an experience most golfers never forget. As far as beauty and challenge are concerned, this opener is second to none.
Doonbeg Golf Resort in Ireland
At Doonbeg, Greg Norman designed a par 5 opener on this Irish links that is part of the luxurious The Lodge at Doonbeg. The hole is framed by gigantic sand dunes and the relatively small green sits in an amphitheater surrounded by dunes on three sides. For sheer beauty and the amazing setting, this hole is definitely one of my personal favorites.
The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland
Standing on the first tee of the Old Course for the first time has to be an unforgettable and almost transcending experience for every passionate golfer. I will admit that the hole design is not all that great. A straightaway par 4 with a 100 yard wide fairway and a burn the crosses in front of the green. However, having your name called, hitting your shot in front of the R&A building (where bystanders are usually watching) and then walking down the fairway looking back up the 18th hole is something I can simply call magical.
The Old Course at Ballybunion in Ireland
The Old Course at Ballybunion is ranked in the “Top 20 of the world” and starting at the very first hole, visitors get a glance why that is the case. On the right side of this downhill par 4 is an old cemetery that is unlike anything I have ever seen on a golf course. The elevated tee shot also enhances the experience on what I consider to be an exceptional hole.
Bandon Trails at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon
Architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have players start with a mid-length par 4 at their masterpiece, Bandon Trails on the Oregon coast. The fairways is wider than it looks but the second shot needs to be hit uphill through a saddle of dunes. I love the setting, standing on the first tee and seeing all the sand dunes and the crumbling fairway.
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