Is the 137 yards over water at TPC Sawgrass' 17th the most intimidating par 3 in golf? We round up the contenders...
The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most famous holes in golf, and each year it plays a pivotal role in the outcome of The Players Championship, but how does it fare against some of the world’s other scariest par 3s?
Below we’ve made a list of the most intimidating par 3 holes to see how the 17th at TPC Sawgrass stacks up…
17th at TPC Sawgrass – The Players Championship
Each year the pros competing in The Players Championship contribute to a tally of balls that find their way into the water surrounding TPC Sawgrass’ famous 17th, with last year’s edition – won by Rickie Fowler – seeing 45 balls find the water. That number, as big as it may seem, is still a long way short of the highest total, which was 93 balls during the 2007 edition.
Bob Tway’s 12 in the third round of the 2005 tournament is proof of how the 17th can bite you, and players will instead be chasing the records of Paul Azinger (birdies on 17 in all four rounds in 1987) and Bernhard Langer (career record of 24 birdies on 17).
So why is the 17th potentially the most intimidating par 3 in golf?
It starts with where it falls. Players have the entire round to think about tackling it. Whether they are making a score or tryint to cut their losses, they’ll be thinking about 17 for almost four hours, knowing that sooner or later, they’ve got to play it.
Next you add in the overwhelming knowledge that many other professionals have failed there (17% have made bogey or worse in 33 Players Championships), plus the fact that no winner has ever found the water there.
Those mental challenges aside, the water and tiny island green are enough to make you go weak at the knees. Just ask Sergio Garcia, who in 2013 came up short twice during a title-killing seven.
Just to make things that little bit tougher, add in the fact The Players Championship is considered golf’s fifth major, and the likelihood of an Atlantic Ocean breeze that makes club selection extremely tough.
12th at Augusta National – The Masters
Defending Masters champion Jordan Spieth dumped his tee shot short of the famous 12th green this year, and then chunked the his next shot into the water as well, which has only added to the folklore of the 12th at Augusta National.
The young American’s quadruple bogey seven will sit alongside Greg Norman’s exploits on the hole in 1996, during what was arguably the most famous Masters meltdown ever, but at least they can both take some solace from two time Masters winner Bubba Watson’s 10 during 2013’s final round, where he found Rae’s Creek three times and even holed a great 15-footer to avoid an 11!
Watson is still three short of the record though, which is held unproudly by Tom Weiskopf, who hit five in the water en-route to a 13.
So what makes ‘The Golden Bell’ so tough. At only 155 yards long it is a mere 9-iron for today’s pros, but that’s where the easy side of things end.
Augusta National’s 12th is one the most mysterious and perplexing holes in golf, with the wind always funnelling in different directions down the near-by 11th and 13th, causing gusts and swirls that make club choice incredibly tricky.
Even if you carry the water it’s no plain sailing, in 2011 Rory McIlroy four putted during his famous implosion, while in 2014 the experienced Phil Mickelson missed his first cut in 17 years thanks to a Friday treble where he went from front bunker to back bunker to front bunker and had two putts.
8th at Oakmont – US Open
This monster par 3 played 300 yards in the 2007 US Open! It is a hole that is all about size, with a greenside bunker is 100 yards long alone. With the US Open retuning to Oakmont in 2016, players will be trying to beat the 2007 hole average, which was 0.452 over par, during a tournament where it was only reached in regulation on 26.7% of attempts.
16th at TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course – Phoenix Open
At less than 165 yards from the tips and with no water this isn’t quite as tough as the others. However, when you throw in the Coliseum style grandstand and party atmosphere, this is possibly as intimidating as it gets.
8th at Royal Troon – The Open
This is the shortest par-3 on The Open Championship rota, but also one of the most difficult thanks to its famous ‘Postage Stamp’ green. Players tee off from higher ground and a dropping shot is played over a gully to a long but extremely narrow green set into the side of a hill.
Two bunkers protect the left side of the green, while a large pot bunker shields the approach. Any mistake on the right will find one of the two deep bunkers with near vertical faces. There is no safe way to play this hole, so the the ball must find the green with the tee shot.