So you’re out with your friends at your favorite local watering hole, just enjoying a few drinks and some great conversation, when a song starts up on the jukebox that inspires one of your friends to claim it as one of his favorites of all time. Naturally, this sparks an entirely new debate as to what the best songs of all time actually are. Everyone starts coming up with their own compilations, none of which can be labeled as wrong (unless, of course, someone includes Hanson) because songs say different things to different people.
The same holds true when trying to come up with the best golf holes in the Memphis area. It is an impossible task to be sure, but one this writer took on tee to green, driver in hand. A mixtape, if you will, of great golf holes.
Of course there are rules to making a great mixtape, rules that John Cusack brilliantly summarizes in High Fidelity, “The making of a great compilation tape… is hard to do and takes ages longer than you might think. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.”
The same rules have been followed in this compilation. Without further ado, I present the Memphis Sport Holes of Fame. . Let the debating begin.
Note: All yardages are from the back tees.
1. Cherokee Valley Golf Club No.1
Par 5 – 467 yards
This is the perfect opening hole for our course. The course is not particularly long and neither is this beautiful par 5. An elevated tee box reveals a lake straight ahead and within driving distance, bunkers on the right side of a fairway that doglegs to the right and another small pond in front of an elevated green. What it does is make the golfer think about his options. “It gives you a lot of options and could kick start a round with birdie or eagle,” said Golf Pro Adam Payne. “There’s also a lot of trouble there with water in play off the tee.” Birdie on this hole is just as likely as bogey.
2. Edmund Orgill No.4
Par 4 – 401 yards
“Tee shot’s a premium,” said Golf Pro Mike Laird. With Orgill Lake bordering the entire right side of the hole, it would be best to stay to left side of a relatively generous fairway. A good drive could set up a short to mid iron into an inviting green. Though this may not seem to be a particularly difficult hole, it’s beauty is in it’s simplicity and its difficulty lies in Orgill Lake – along with more than a few golf balls.
3. Kirkwood National No. 4
Par 3 – 188 yards
The shot to this elevated green will challenge even scratch golfers. A large bunker protects the front of the green, a lake protects the back and woods and a ditch stands guard on the right. If all of this sounds difficult, it’s because it is. The absolute best result can only come from a well-placed middle-long iron to the middle of the green and hope to get out alive with a two-putt. That won’t be too easy either, as the green slopes severely from back to front.
4. The Links at Galloway No.9
Par 5 – 473 yards
At 473 yards, this revamped hole plays the shortest of all the par 5’s on our course, but generally plays as the most difficult on its course. Trees border both sides of a generous fairway and a good tee shot could certainly put you in range to be on this green in two. Sounds easy, but here’s where it gets difficult. Unless you’re Happy Gilmore, you’re probably going to have a blind approach to a two-tiered green with water protecting the front and right. Not so easy anymore. For most golfers, a lay up to about 100 yards sets up a good birdie chance, provided you land on the correct tier.
5. Memphis National. Champions Course No.14
Par 4 – 450 yards
The second longest par 4 on our course could actually play the longest as it usually plays into the wind or with a mean crosswind. With out of bounds on the left and two lakes on the right, it is highly critical to be perched in the fairway after the tee shot. Otherwise your playing partner could be having some fun drawing a corncob pipe and top hat on the snowman you put up. There is also water in play to the right of the green, to up the ante a little more. This is a beautiful and monstrous hole. Par is a great score here.
6. TO Fuller State Park No.4
Par 3 – 196 yards
Without a doubt the signature hole at TO Fuller, this fantastic par 3 is both beautiful and daunting. It certainly plays longer than its 196 yards, as it is played to an elevated green and almost always directly into the wind. It doesn’t help most average golfers who struggle with long par 3’s that this is a small green. Hitting the target will not be easy, but if so, a birdie is not out of the question. But of course, like the majority of the holes on our course, a much higher number is not out of the question.
7. Mirimichi No. 16
Par 4 – 467 yards
The newest hole on our course does not disappoint, as it is the longest of the par 4’s and perhaps the most difficult. A winding creek hugs the left side of the fairway and takes you all the way to a small, deep bunker just short and left of the green. A large, reachable bunker guards the right side of the fairway with a fleet of trees mounted on wild grass. The fairway itself is not particularly wide and is packed with undulations, adding to an already difficult approach. Water awaits both behind and to the left of a good sized green that slopes severely from middle to front. This will almost certainly play as one of, if not the toughest, hole on our course.
8. TPC at Southwind No. 14
Par 3 – 231 yards (Pictured on page 14)
Those fortunate enough to have attended the St. Jude Classic at the TPC at Southwind know all too well about No. 14. Some of the best golfers in the world have struggled on this brilliantly designed hole. At 231 yards it is the longest par 3 on our course, but length is not the only concern here. Water guards the front and flanks the right side of the green and two bunkers await behind the green for those who can’t stop their ball on this narrow green filled with undulations. There is no real safe place to miss on this hole, so it’s best to just hit one of the best shots of your life and put it on the green. Good luck with that.
9. Tunica National No.18
Par 4 – 443 yards
Take advantage of the 360-degree practice facility, because you’ll need all the work you can get before reaching Tunica National’s finishing hole. “The greatest thing about it is the decision off the tee,” said Golf Pro Matt Brunetz. “A lot of times you can’t hit a driver.” Not being able to hit a driver off the tee of any 443-yard par 4 would make it more difficult, but on this hole that possibility just adds to the challenge. The large green is guarded almost entirely by water and according to Brunetz, there could be a three club difference on the approach, depending on pin placement.
10. Windyke Country Club West Course No. 9
Par 4 – 355 yards
The back nine opens up with much the same verve as the front nine closed. Another par 4 – the only back-to-back par 4’s on the course – starts off what will be an extremely challenging back nine. At 355 yards, length is not the concern with this hole. Not only is the front of the green protected entirely by water, but there are also bunkers surrounding it, requiring an extremely accurate approach. This hole brilliantly proves that par 4’s don’t have to be pushing the 500-yard mark to be difficult.
11. The Club at Northcreek No. 13
Par 5 – 491 yards
Without a doubt, the attention grabber on this hole for most will be the double green it shares with Northcreek’s No. 15 and the cart path that ventures underneath it – the only such green in the world. But there are plenty of other standout features to this truly links-style hole. “You have to hit a draw off the tee, which is tough for most people,” said Golf Pro Alan Hickam. The dogleg left shape to the hole certainly provides challenges off the tee and on the approach shot, with bunkers in play both in the fairway and in the front and back of the green.
12. Plantation Golf Club No. 18
Par 4 – 437 yards
This 437-yard par 4 can play either longer or shorter, depending on how daring you want to get with your tee shot. A relatively wide fairway is guarded on the left by a large lake and on the right by bunkers. “The left side of the fairway will give you a shorter approach, but bring the water into play,” said Golf Pro Quincy Morrison. “But the right side makes for a longer, more difficult shot to an elevated green.” The approach will have to go over the lake no matter which side of the fairway you’re on, but the green slopes back to front and is also protected by a bunker on the front left.
13. Colonial Country Club South Course No.12
Par 3 – 230 yards
To say this is a long and difficult par 3 would be putting it mildly. Yes 230 yards is a long tee shot for most average golfers, but throw in the fact that those 230 yards are all carry over water which also happens to cozy up right to the front of the green and you’ve got not only an incredibly difficult hole to play, but one that is just as hard to visualize from the tee box. Golf is mostly played in those six inches between your ears and this hole will put pressure on every one of them.
14. Ridgeway Country Club No. 18
Par 5 – 550 yards
This fantastically difficult par 5 is the start of a brutal five-hole closing stretch to our Memphis Holes of Fame. A large lake and two fairway bunkers linger to the right, a smaller lake guards the left and yet another lake stares right back at you from the middle, around 300 yards out. Reaching this green in two shots is made more difficult by an approach that will probably range between 260 and 290 yards. A large oak tree stands guard in front of the green, ready to swat down any wayward approaches.
15. The Links at Cottonwoods No. 16
Par 3 – 181 yards
The attention-grabbing view from the tee box includes an amazing view of the Harrah’s Resort in the backdrop. This daunting tee shot has water seemingly everywhere, as it protects nearly the entire green. Somehow there is room for three bunkers between all that water and the green, with bunkers front right, back right and back left. While the distance of this hole may be somewhat more manageable some of the other par 3’s on our course, the amount of trouble promises to wreck havoc on most scorecards.
16. Quail Ridge No.6
Par 3 – 220 yards
Our first par three is a difficult one. Its 220 yards provides the first challenge in club selection on the tee box. That’s a long way for average golfers who will probably have to decide between a long iron and a fairway metal. The elevated tee box is tucked into the trees, giving an almost claustrophobic feel. The area around the green opens up, but there is trouble with a bunker short left and another on the right. There is also a drop off behind the back-to-front sloping green, making short the much safer and smarter play.
17. Stonebridge Golf Club No.6
Par 5 – 578 yards
This hole is intimidating right from the start. Trees border both sides of a fairway that winds slightly to the left and back to the right to an elevated green. Water comes into play on the left side of the fairway and again on the right near the green. With a bunker also protecting the front of the green, this hole provides a number of challenges, not the least of which is its length. Three smart, well-played shots could result in a birdie opportunity. Hit one bad shot, however, and you could be ripping up your scorecard.
18. Spring Creek Ranch No. 18
Par 5 – 564 yards
The finishing hole of this dream course is both beautifully brilliant and spectacularly challenging. Don’t let the clear, flowing water of Spring Creek – which babbles along the entire left side of the fairway – lull you into a state of golfing bliss because you’ll need all of your wits about you for this one last task. The undulating fairway could both help or hurt depending on where you land, so it’s probably best to avoid getting too close to the creek. The right side, however, offers little respite with woods lining most of the trek to the green. Most golfers will be laying up, which will set up a slightly uphill approach to a bunker-protected green. Par at this finisher is a great score. A birdie is like stealing. And bogey or worse is probable.
By Jan Michael Hartelust, Photo by Michael Cardwell. If you have questions or comments about this story, email me at email@example.com