Imagine a round of golf where you face 18 brutally tough holes in a row. No such Irish course exists, but if it did this is what Ireland’s toughest golf course might look like. Fancy it?
uilt in 1998 by the late Pete Dye, Whistling Straits emulates a cliffside links course with two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, bluffs, sand dunes and natural fescue lining the fairways. It has hosted the PGA Championship three times, most recently in 2015. The fairways may be that bit wider this week to suit Steve Stricker’s American bombers, but there are plenty of tough holes to test the mettle of the finest players in the world.
Are the indexes the only true measure of a hole’s difficulty? The toughest holes are those where any and every golfer is delighted to walk off with a nett par… where there is a sense of fear stepping onto the tee… where you wonder if you should swap that nice Pro V1 for the old Topflite in the bottom of your bag… and where you know that only three, four, five – or even six – of your very best shots are required if you are to walk off the green with dignity.
Now turn that into a round of golf where you face 18 brutally tough holes in a row. How exhausting, intimidating and, perhaps, unsatisfying a round would that be? You’d have to overcome blind shots, wicked doglegs, deep hollows, water hazards, long carries, sliding greens, bunkers, wind, cliffs and ocean all standing in the way in your quest for par.
No such Irish course exists… but if it did, here’s what it would look like: Par 72, 7,395 yards (from the back tees). Fourteen par-4s, two par-5s and two par-3s.
Kevin Markham is the author of Hooked, An Amateur’s Guide to the Golf Courses of Ireland and a regular contributor to the Irish Examiner.
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