There are little patches of earth on golf courses around the world that have become major championship landmarks, monuments of memory marking where something important was won or lost, or where a pivotal shot is remembered during a compelling run. Here is our Top 10 Major Championship Golf-Shot Landmarks:
Hogan’s plaque at Merion’s 18th: Ben Hogan set up his dramatic U.S. Open victory in 1950 at Merion with a 1-iron at the final hole in the final round, his shot famously captured from behind by Life Magazine photographer Hy Peskin. The golf shot, from more than 200 yards, ended up 40 feet from the hole, but his two putt got him into a playoff against George Fazio and Lloyd Mangrum. It’s a famous shot because of the pressure Hogan was under, because he was playing with his wobbly legs wrapped, because the victory came 16 months after he was nearly killed in a car crash. Today, there’s a plaque marking the precise spot where Hogan hit the 1-iron.
The “Car Park” at Royal Lytham: Seve Ballesteros helped secure the first of his three British Open triumphs from a parking lot aside the 16th hole at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in 1979. After wildly slicing his tee shot into the temporary parking lot, he got a free drop, then carved his approach to 15 feet, setting up an improbable birdie.
The Barry Burn at Carnoustie: While blowing a three-shot lead on the final hole of the 1999 British Open, Jean Van de Velde hit his third shot into the Barry Burn, a waterway fronting the 18th green. Van de Velde famously wandered into the water barefoot, with his pant legs rolled up, before deciding to take a drop on his way to his infamous loss.
Lefty’s trees at Augusta National’s 13th: Mickelson’s gambling 6-iron off pine straw and through a 4-foot gap in the trees to set up a birdie at the 13th hole at Augusta National helped him win the Masters in 2010. Hole marshals placed a purple flag at the spot in practice rounds this past spring after being besieged with patrons inquiring where, exactly, Mickelson had played the shot.
Watson’s seaside retreat: To this day, resort guests playing Pebble Beach can be seen wandering into the grass aside the 17th green to try their luck at the chip shot Tom Watson holed at the 71st hole when he beat Jack Nicklaus to win the U.S. Open in 1982.
Mize’s backyard playground: Shots missing the green right of the 11th hole at Augusta National bring to mind Larry Mize’s chip-in to beat Greg Norman in a playoff at the Masters in 1987. In Masters’ practice rounds, you’ll still see pros trying the shot.
Tiger’s valley of fun: You can hardly look at pros chipping from the collection area left of the green at Augusta National’s 16th hole without remembering Tiger Woods chipping up and around the swale for a remarkable Sunday birdie when he won the Masters in 2005.
Sergio’s tree: The towering red oak tree right of the 16th fairway at Medinah where Sergio Garcia famously escaped at the 1999 PGA Championship is easy to find. There are scars at the base of it. That’s because so many of the club’s members have dropped balls over the years attempting to duplicate the shot Garcia hit when he made a run at Woods in a final round there. Garcia famously raced up the fairway to see the shot’s results, doing a scissors kick jump to see over the crest of the hill.
Tway’s twap: The right front, greenside bunker at the 18th hole at Inverness is where Bob Tway put another crack in Greg Norman’s heart at the 1986 PGA Championship. Tway holed out for birdie to beat Norman.
Dustin’s bunker: Almost every day, resort guests by the dozens ask their caddies to guide them up to the bunker on the hill above the right side of the 18th fairway at Whistling Straits to see the sand Dustin Johnson didn’t recognize as a bunker when he grounded his club on the way to losing the PGA Championship last year.