Saturday, December 02, 2006

Royal Portrush #5 – Drivable?

(photo courtesy of Aidan Bradley)

At 370 yards this would not be called a drivable par four in anyone’s books, but sometimes holes don’t play their yardage. The day I played there with Robert Thompson, my father and Steve Waxman we had a “real” four club wind at our backs on the 5th hole. I hit a driver, which was definitely pulled, and made the miracle carry over the valley. It bounded through the low whins and onto the front of the green. I admitted to pulling the tee shot right away, but I did hit it hard.

Now the interesting thing about this hole is it is hard downhill, with only a slight rise in front of the green. It is a cape style hole that can be shortened with a very heroic line. So under the right conditions this became a drive and pitch hole. This is one of the joys of golf in the United Kingdom, but also the crimp in my running series on short par fours. I played Baltray’s 14th into the wind and I can assure you it was more than a drive and wedge. I played the 5th at Portrush with a driver and a putter.

The 6th at pacific Dunes and the 16th at Bandon Dunes are great examples of drivable par fours where winter winds and summer winds make all the difference to our perception of what they really are. Both are driveable, or nearly drivable in no wind and that will be the definition I will stick with the list that I offer, which does not offer holes like the 5th at Portrush. Did I mention I drove that green?

The Best Short Par Fours that I can think of

Great Drivable Par Fours

#10 at Riviera 315
#9 Cypress Point 292
#12 at St. Andrew’s (Old) 316
#3 Sunningdale (Old) 298
#10 at Merion 312
#5 at Friar’s Head 330
#7 at Scarboro 290
#6 at Pacific Dunes 315
#8 at Cruden Bay 295
#14 at Gleneagles (Kings) 260
#3 Walton Heath (Old) 285
#17 Crystal Downs 311
#2 National 271

Great Drive and Pitch Holes
#8 at Pine Valley 327
#5 at Crystal Downs 355
#4 at Pebble Beach 327
#5 at Royal Dornock 359
#3 Pinehurst 335
#8 Merion 360
#4 Spyglass Hill 365
#5 Hamilton 321
#13 North Berick 347
#5 at Royal Portrush 392
#14 National GL 356

This ends my series on the short par fours


Top 100 Golfer said...

Great post. Another drivable par four is the 18th at Durban Country Club in South Africa. It plays 270 yards, normally down wind and has been the sight of many holes in one over the years.

HenryE said...

Hi Ian. Interesting choice including #3 at Sunningdale. I remember the 9th there as the more interesting and treacherous of the drivable 4's.

Ian Andrew said...


Your choice may be the best one, but I can't remember the 8th and 9th; yet three through seven is so clear in my mind. I enjoyed having a go at three.


HenryE said...

Hi Ian. The 9th runs along a forested ridge and the green is blind and rests a few feet away from the famous high on the hill 10th tee, which has a great view out to the little half-way house.

Anonymous said...

hi, ian.

a happy new year to you and your family from the we(s)t coast.

would you consider the 17th @ kawartha a drivable? when i used to play it, and we're talking 35 years ago now, i'm not sure that even a perfect drive would catch the downslope and roll up to the green. but with today's equipment, that might be a lot mor doable. in fact, how many holes are now drivable that weren't 20 or 30 years ago. maybe the short par 4 is the hole most affected by modern technology.

cheers to you for a great blog.
olympia, wa

Anonymous said...

I played the 12th last year at The Old Course. The member I played with said it is reachable but penal if you missed it. I might only play that course once so I went for it. My 20 foot right to left eagle putt went center cut into the hole. One of the greatest feelings I have ever had in golf, not so much for the foursome putting on the 6th. I might have been a little to Tiger Like in my celebration.