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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, 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
April 16, 2013
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 600 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.
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