Golf Australia Architecture Editor Mike Clayton dissects the qualities of what makes a great short par-4 and reveals some of the best in the game can be found here in Australia.
One of the great features of golf in Britain is the use of a boundary as a hazard. The 1st hole at Prestwick is bordered by a stone wall and a railway line, as is the nearby 11th hole (same train, different wall) at Royal Troon.
Most holes at St Andrews have a boundary down the right and the closer you dare play to the line the easier the approach into the green. The 14th at Royal St George’s and the 6th at Carnoustie are both famed long holes where the fairway runs directly alongside a wire fence doing nothing to stop the running ball from trickling onto the wrong side of the line.
It’s rare to find a good Australian hole using out of bounds as a legitimate and strategic hazard. The 3rd hole at Curlewis is the only one I can think of and if it were on the Sandbelt or any of the better-known championship courses around the country it would be universally admired. If forced to put the best ones in order it’d be in my top five.
There is plenty of room down the right for a driver and anyone hitting an iron can’t run it far enough to reach the fence – but take a driver or a 3-wood, try for the green and pull it and you’re re-teeing your ball.
The best par-5s are often great short par-4s with a tee shot (often a quite uncomplicated tee shot) attached. Woodlands 15th is one example as are the 11th at The Lakes and the 7th at Lake Karrinyup.
“It’s arguable Australia now has the best collection of sub-300 metre holes in the world and almost none use water as a hazard.”
The 10th on Royal Melbourne’s East Course is a short, two shot par-5 and in this era barely more than a drive and 7-iron for a scratch man.
Alex Russell masterfully bunkered the second shot, one in the mid-1930s he could have reasonably expected almost all would be playing it with a long wooden club if they hoped to reach in two. The range of options, choices and consequences he built into the hole were genius and, whilst still a great hole for the majority, it’s dispiriting to see Russell’s choices somewhat diminished by modern equipment.
But imagine a tee 300 metres from the green and it might be the best short four of them all. Certainly it’d be in the finals and it encapsulates every element of what it takes to design a hole full of both interest and options for every level of player.
A FULL COURSE OF MY FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN SHORT 4s ...
Woodlands GC 4th (250 metres)
Barnbougle Dunes 4th (270)
Curlewis GC 3rd (280)
Kingston Heath 3rd (270)
Lake Karrinyup CC 14th (300)
Barnbougle Lost Farm 14th (265)
New South Wales GC 14th (320)
Peninsula Kingswood – North Course 6th (310)
Portsea GC 10th (255)
RACV Healesville 18th (305)
Royal Adelaide GC 3rd (265, pictured right)
Royal Melbourne – West Course 10th (275)
Royal Melbourne – East Course 1st (305)
Royal Queensland GC 12th (265)
St Andrews Beach 2nd (280)
The Lakes GC 13th (290)
The National – Gunnamatta Course 17th (285)
Victoria GC 15th (290)