3-Hole Stretches of Greatness?
“It’s the little things that separate the good from the great” – Bob Schneider
In golf (and with few exceptions) greatness is highly subjective. I casually posed a question on Twitter recently asking for people to share their best 3-hole stretch on a golf course in Canada. My process of reflection identified several stretches of golf holes that I loved experiencing. I’m not trying to overthink this or place strict parameters around this; simply what golf holes come to mind that stand above others?
And as someone who is slowly developing interests around golf architecture I will admit that many of my choices are predicated on beauty. Shallow perhaps, but for many of us awe inspiring scenery can captivate us and often (as is the case for myself) take me back to replay great golf holes over and over again. There’s many to share so we go:
Highlands Links – I have written if there’s only one course I could play it would be Highlands Links. Arguably Stanley Thompson’s finest work, it is quite possible that people will have many selections here. For me, I’ll select holes 5-7. The par 3 5th has one of the more challenging greens on the course. Holes 6 and 7 are both par 5’s and the 7th takes players inland from along the ocean. If 6 is the ‘beauty’, then 7 is the ‘beast’. Killiecrankie (all holes are named in Gaelic to honour the heritage of the area and its Scottish influences). The 7th at Highlands Links is my favourite par 5 in all of Canada and it’s an appropriate start to this list. (Click here for my review of Highlands Links)
Tobiano – I stand by my words that Tobiano may have 18 signature holes but the diversity, beauty and challenge of holes 6-8 stand out for me. The 6th is a par 4 which overlooks Kamloops Lake and the approach provides the illusion of an infinity green, where anything long may end up in the lake. It won’t, but it helps sharpens the focus which is challenging given the natural beauty of the landscape. Focus won’t be a problem on the tough par 3 7th which is played over a deep gorge to a wide green. And the par 5 8th hole requires a straight and confident tee shot to clear another gorge. The hole demands three excellent shots (for lightweights like me anyway) to get on in regulation and closes off a sensational stretch of beautiful and challenging golf holes. (Click here for my review of Tobiano)
Banff Springs – another Stanley Thompson gem in Alberta, my favourite stretch of golf holes here culminates with arguably the country’s best par 3. Holes 2-4 are a par 3-5-3 stretch. The second hole has players playing slightly uphill and staring at a massive mountain face off in the distance. The hole, seemingly benign, is well guarded by bunkers which guard the hole, and par, well. The 3rd hole is another one of my favourite par 5’s in the country. Playing gently left to right and supported with wide fairways with very little trouble to speak of, this hole is part of a stretch which allows golfers to ease into their round and simply appreciate the beauty of this course. Thompson didn’t overthink this one and this hole alone has me wanting to get back to Banff Springs. But the showstopper at Banff Springs is the celebrated 4th hole, the Devil’s Cauldron. Playing alone, I likely stared and took photos for a good five minutes before breathing deep and letting it fly over the valley to the downhill green. (Click here for my review of Banff Springs)
Other favourites of mine are as follows:
Humber Valley – Holes 3-5. The downhill start to this course approaching Deer Lake gets better and better, culminating with a lakeside par 3 on the 5th hole. While the 10th hole gets much love for its elevated tee there is much more to this course to appreciate. (Click here for my review of Humber Valley)
The Lakes – Incorporating two of the signature holes on this course, the stretch from 4 to 6 is a great par 3-4-4 run which may have you focus more on your camera and less on the scorecard. The 6th tee is iconic with its views overlooking the Bras D’Or Lake. (Click here for my review of The Lakes)
Cabot Links – some may argue for holes 10-12 given their beauty and diversity but I opt for holes 14-16. This par 3-4-4 stretch ends with my favourite par 4 in the country and the last oceanside hole on the course before an inland closing two. (Click here for my review of Cabot Links)
Tower Ranch – A stunning and stout Tom McBroom design shines its brightest for me on an isolated stretch on the back nine. The highest points on the course, holes 13-15 is a par 4-3-5 stretch which has a very clear wow factor. Enjoy the view over Kelowna from the 15th green and cement memories from one of the country’s best three-hole stretches. (Click here for my review of Tower Ranch)
Algonquin – From a signature hole to a signature stretch, holes 11-13 could well become Canada’s Amen Corner. While the 12th hole gets its due – rightfully so – for its sensational downhill par 3, the 11th has been recently renovated to provide a strong infinity green feel and brings the prominence of the ocean into view (hopefully not play). The par 5 13th hugs the ocean and a new tee box will make the tee shot more exciting. (Click here for my review of Algonquin)
There’s my list, albeit incomplete, but with highlights I wanted to share.
Here are some responses from Twitter for you:
The Lakes – another shoutout for this Cape Breton course, this time from @stoakleyaudio. Holes 16-18 are his choices and having played them together I can’t argue with his selection.
Crowbush Cove – Nice to see @golfpei and @peisfinestgolf represented. Holes 6-8 are the choice of @twhamilton and I concur. Tough to play when the wind is up but no arguing their greatness. (Click here for my review of Crowbush Cove)
Westmount – Nice to see someone pick a course from their youth. Here, celebrated author @mcphersoncomm shares holes 14-16 from this Ontario course. Makes me wonder if there’s a stretch of holes at Chedoke’s Martin Course in Hamilton, where I grew up? (http://www.westmountgolf.com/)
Briars – Keeping in Ontario, @eatsleepgolf makes an appropriate case for holes 11-13 at this resort course just south of Lake Simcoe. Playing here is like going back in time, it’s so beautiful. (Click here for my review of The Briars)
Calgary – One the most stunning closing stretch of any course I’ve played, @golfismental shared his choice on his home course. Holes 16-18 utilize elevation change as beautifully and is as challenging as any course I’ve played. Standing on the 18th tee in a match play would be an experience! (Click here for my review of Calgary GCC)
St. George’s – @golfismental was kind enough to share from his recent visit to Toronto and round at this great Canadian course. Here, holes 2-5 provide a four-hole stretch of greatness. In addition, holes 13-15 on the back were identified. As one of the top courses in the country it is no surprise to see so many options. (Click here for a review of St. George’s as found on the Golf Is Mental site)
There you have it! I acknowledge this list is incomplete so share with your favourite 3-hole stretch.