With no disrespect to the this week's famed Bear Trap (the par-3 15th, the par-4 16th and the par-3 17th) at PGA National, the Golf Guy (and Birdie Bailey) got to thinking about the best three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour. There are, of course, plenty to choose from – and it doesn’t necessarily already have to have a cute nickname (see Amen Corner at Augusta or the Green Mile at Quail Hollow). No, this is the Golf Guy’s (Birdie Bailey's) favorite three-hole stretch - drum roll please…
With no disrespect to this week's Bear Trap (the par-3 15th, the par-4 16th and the par-3 17th) at PGA National, the Golf Guy has another set of holes that comprise the best three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour. There are plenty to choose from – and they don't have to have a cute nickname (see Amen Corner at Augusta or the Green Mile at Quail Hollow). This is the Golf Guy’s favorite three-hole stretch - drum roll please …
Augusta National’s 14th, 15th and 16th
The history, the drama, the building anticipation … this stretch simply delivers like no other – yes, cue Jim Nantz: “A traditional three-hole stretch unlike any other.” Let’s get the basics on the table quickly: It’s a major championship – the highest stakes in the game. And it’s the Masters – again, the highest stakes in the entire game. Also, it comes late in the round – when pressure, gagging and life-changing moments are at hand. As an added bonus, most of us now know the names of each hole – sadly, I know the names better than most of my good friends kids' names. That said, let’s go to the tale of the tape:
Par-4, 14th - Chinese Fir: The first in my favorite three-hole stretch comes on the heels of the world’s most famous three-hole stretch – Amen Corner. Thanks Herbert Warren Wind, but I’m naming my stretch, “Operation Destiny.” The 14th may seem a bit tame. But au contraire mon frère – the false front guarding the front of the green is daunting. Watching approach shots trickle back down toward the fairway makes my stomach turn.
Par-5, 15th – Firethorn: Time to make hay – if you have the onions that is. A reachable par-5 that begs a player to go for it. The rewards are great, the risk possibly devastating. Quick history lesson: this is the hole that Gene Sarazen hit his 'shot heard 'round the world.' More recently, this is where Phil Mickelson went all ‘pine straw’ en route to his third green jacket. An all-time hole by itself.
Par-3, 16th – Redbud: Are you kidding? This hole makes me goes nuts every year. The Sunday pin placement is one of the greatest strokes of genius in sports history. It goes beyond drama to the point that it becomes near comical – fans watching at home and the fans at the course go crazy as the ball starts moving its way down the slope toward the hole. Again, one of the greatest crescendos in all of sport. Oh, and Tiger made one of the greatest shots in history at this hole to win the 2005 Masters.