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Ready for bonus golf? Head to the 19th hole

Jason Scott DeeganBy Jason Scott Deegan,
Senior Staff Writer
Bear Mountain Resort - 19th hole
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The bye hole at Bear Mountain Resort on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. (Courtesy of Bear Mountain Resort)

Ready for the 19th hole?

Not the bar, man. We're talking bonus golf.

A handful of courses around the world feature 19 holes. (There are others with 20 holes, but that's for another story).

Most 19-hole courses offer the traditional "bye hole," an extra par 3 at the end of the round to essentially settle bets. Sebonack Golf Club in New York; Old Sandwich Golf Club in Massachusetts; Old Palm Golf Club in Florida; Trump National Golf Club Colts Neck in New Jersey, and Porcupine Creek and the Stone Eagle Golf Club in California are just a few of the private clubs with outstanding bye holes. There are a handful of public and resort courses with strong extra holes, too.

Black Bear Golf Club, Vanderbilt, Mich.

Black Bear Golf Club, part of the Gaylord Golf Mecca in northern Michigan, does it different than most places. Golfers start at the 159-yard 19th hole, using it as a warm-up to the round. General Manager Ian Murphy said some groups play it at the end as well.

Legendary Run Golf Course, Cincinnati

The scorecard at Legendary Run Golf Course tells golfers that the 163-yard hole is "just for fun." It won't feel that way when golfers plunk one in the water to lose a bet. It's a good challenge.

Koasati Pines Golf Club, Kinder, La.

Director of Golf David Kaspar calls The Gambling Hole at Koasati Pines Golf Club at Coushatta Casino Resort "probably one of the best extra holes anywhere on the planet." It plays from 85 yards to more than 150 yards, often into a southerly breeze. The island-green hole is bracketed by bunkers and small trees.

The Links at Las Palomas, Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico

The Links at Las Palomas, a Forrest Richardson design, ends with a bonus hole of 120 yards that showcases a breathtaking backdrop of the beach and sea 63 miles from the Arizona border.

Walkabout Golf Club, Mims, Fla.

The 19th hole at Walkabout Golf Club isn't long at roughly 75 yards, but it is quite unique. The green pays homage to the heritage of contributing architect Jan Stephenson, an LPGA Tour starlet from 1976-99. It is shaped like Australia, her native continent.

The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Tucked into the tail end of "Alligator Alley" is this 205-yard par 3 at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club. The hole sits between No. 13, a dramatic par 5 around Lake Singleton, and No. 14. Some people play it. Others skip it. It's your choice.

Streamsong Resort, Bowling Green, Fla.

Streamsong Resort features this par 3 playing anywhere from 130 yards to 150 yards. It was tucked into a perfect spot, with a tee right next to the putting green and the clubhouse. Water protects the green cut from a dune. Golfers coming off of either course -- the Red by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw or the Blue by Tom Doak -- can play it.

Forest Dunes Golf Club, Roscommon, Mich.

Tom Weiskopf created a tribute to Riviera Country Club's famous sixth green by putting a bunker in the middle of the wavy 19th green at Forest Dunes Golf Club. This 117-yard extra hole ends the day in style, playing over water in the shadow of the spectacular rustic clubhouse.

Mountain Course at Bear Mountain Resort, Victoria, Vancouver Island, B.C.

This 141-yard extra hole on the Mountain Course at Bear Mountain Resort sometimes becomes a victim of its own excellence. On busy days, it can be closed for pace of play reasons. Golfers tend to lollygag playing the hole, slowing up in the middle of the round to soak up the views. The tee and green seem to float in the air, overlooking the island and the city.

Pacifico Course at Punta Mita Golf Club, Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico

Hole 3A is a nice par 3 but nothing like 3B, a natural wonder called "Tail of the Whale" on the Pacifico Course at Punta Mita Golf Club Architect Jack Nicklaus transformed a natural offshore island into a green in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. A 199-yard shot will safely reach this natural rock outcropping surrounded by black rock. At high tide, golfers ride an amphibious vehicle to reach the putting surface.

Legends Golf & Safari Resort, Limpopo Province, South Africa

The Signature Course -- designed by 18 different big-name professional golfers, including Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, K.J. Choi, Retief Goosen, Justin Rose, Trevor Immelman and Vijay Singh -- is unique enough, although it's the "Extreme" 19th hole that makes all the headlines. Reaching the tee of this 630-yard par 3 takes a helicopter ride to a cliff atop Hanglip Mountain, a point more than 1,400 feet above a green shaped like Africa. After teeing off, it takes nearly 30 seconds of hang time for the ball to hit the ground. The resort's website lists a leaderboard of 21 players who have made par and more than 1,000 others who have made bogey or worse. Lin Kwok of China recorded a 23 with countless others failing to finish. Now that's a memorable bye hole.

More photos

Streamsong Resort - bye holePunta Mita Golf Club - Pacifico Course - hole 3BForest Dunes Golf Club - hole 19Koasati Pines Golf Club  - hole 19Legendary Run Golf Course - hole 19The Dunes Golf and Beach Club - alternate par 3

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Bye Hole - Hole in One

    Joe Kelly wrote on: Aug 7, 2015

    On 8/5/15, I shot a hole in one at the above mentioned #19 at Legendary Run. The course recognizes the shot as a hole in one, but many of my "friends" dispute the accomplishment.
    Any thoughts on the legitimacy of this hole in one?


  • Rattle Run GC - Bye Hole

    D.Howell wrote on: May 30, 2013

    You missed another Michigan golf course with a 19th hole -- Rattle Run GC in St. Clair, MI. The photo on this page shows that very hole (completely surrounded by water): http://www.rattlerun.com/course/


  • Don't forget Cog Hill #2

    B Dins wrote on: Apr 16, 2013

    Jason....great article.
    Who doesn't love bonus holes?
    Especially if you happen to be in a great match that ends AS.
    I would like to show some love for my favorite course with a bonus hole, Cog Hill course #2 (affectionately called "Ravines").
    While the championship course #4 (Dubs Dread) gets all the fan fare b/c it is (ahem, was) a tour stop for many years, Cog Hill #2 offers a 19th 'bonus' hole (a tough uphill par 3) that plays right next to the fantastic #18 finishing hole of Dubs Dread.
    Cog #2 often plays second fiddle to it's big brother, and perhaps rightfully so.
    But, Cog Hill #2 now has 3 of the original holes from Dubs Dread and with the aforementioned bonus hole and sub $30 walking/$40 riding weekday twilight rate, I think it is one of the best values going in Chicago.