More Bang for Your Buck
When selecting the best holes you can play, price is usually no object, but not this year. We have chosen golf holes that are just as spectacular as some of their famous contemporaries but come at half the price. All the holes on this list are at courses with greens fees less than $100, proving that sometimes you get well more than what you pay for.
Palouse Ridge Par 4, 463 yards
This is the home course for Washington State University and is consistently ranked as one of the top college courses. The opening hole uses the university's iconic Bryan Clock Tower as an aiming spot for the first two shots. From the tee it's a slight dogleg, and golfers should favor the left side because of the sloping fairway. The clock tower is just left of the middle of the fairway and is a good guide to determine where approach shots should be played. An extra club might be in order because of an elevated green that is 40 yards deep.
Contact: 509-335-4342, http://www.palouseridge.com
Grand National (Lake Course) Par 4, 428 yards
Part of the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, this hole is not only one of the best at this facility, but also one of the best of the 11 courses that comprise the golf trail. Native plants, shrubs and trees crowd both sides of the tee box, presenting a visually daunting tee shot, especially from the back tees. This is one of the few holes on the course that doesn't have the famed lake guarding the fairway or the green, but the two fairway bunkers and two greenside bunkers make up for the lack of water. The kidney-shaped green has several undulations and several possibilities for difficult pin positions.
Contact: 334-749-9042, www.rtjgolf.com/grandnational
Wildhorse Par 5, 537 yards
It doesn't seem wise to aim at a bunker, but on this long, reachable par 5, it's encouraged and may make birdie more possible. The hazard on the right is far enough away that it can't be reached, and when a ball lands on that line, it filters to the left because of the slope of the fairway and provides the opportunity of reaching the green in two. If that is an option, aim for the right side of the small green, avoiding the bunker that eagerly awaits miscalculations 10 yards in front of the hole. Lay-up shots have two well-placed pot bunkers that will also trap any careless efforts.
Contact: 308-537-7700, http://www.playwildhorse.com
Circling Raven Par 4, 406 yards
This golf course is part of a casino, and this hole fits the theme. Golfers can gamble off the tee and try to cut off yardage by sending a drive down the left side, taking the dogleg out of play. Go too far left, and the wetlands will take your ball. The second shot also can have a more difficult angle to the green. Safer players will stay to the right, but not too far right, because three large bunkers await any slice. The oval-shaped green is undulating and quick. Beware of left pin placements, as a large greenside bunker will grab anything short.
Contact: 800-523-2464, www.cdacasino.com/golf
Sand Creek Par 4, 345 yards
This is one of the easiest holes on the course, and if played well it is a realistic eagle opportunity. Driving the green depends on the wind, which can knock down shots when it comes from the south. The hole is slightly elevated from tee to green, and a strong tee shot has to negotiate not only the incline but also the strategically placed mounds in the fairway. There's a wide landing area, so gripping and ripping it shouldn't be a problem. There are no hazards fronting the green, but a mound about 20 yards in front of the green will stop balls trying to roll up onto the putting surface.
Contact: 316-284-6161, www.sandcreekgolfclub.com
Ross Creek Landing, Par 3, 204 yards
This is a brief reprieve from the tight fairways of the first five holes. This hole is placed in a wide-open space. The trees are set back behind the green, and the fairway gives the illusion that there is more room than there actually is. The pot bunker that fronts the green is clearly visible, but the larger U-shaped trap on the left is hidden and captures many balls that stray in that direction. The oval-shaped green is deep, and pin placements dictate the shot. Stay away from the left pin, hit the middle of the green and gladly take a two-putt par. The bail-out area is short and right.
Contact: 931-676-3174, www.rosscreeklandinggolfclub.com
Old Kinderhook Par 3, 152
A picturesque hole and the shortest on the course, though not necessarily the easiest. The elevated tee shows you all the pitfalls, including a large bunker on the front right of the green. There are three grass bunkers to the left, and they may be more difficult to extricate a ball from than their sand counterpart. The green is straightforward, and birdies are a definite possibility. One club less than the yardage suggests may be a smart play considering the elevation and prevailing wind.
Contact: 573-317-3500, www.oldkinderhook.com
Lakota Canyon Ranch Par 4, 398 yards
New Castle, Colorado
It is easy to feel like a long-drive champion on this hole with the combination of the course's altitude and the tee box's elevation. The back tees are 67 steps from the cart path, and even if they aren't played, they should be visited for the amazing views of the surrounding mountains. The dogleg left layout can be taken advantage of, but three penalizing pot bunkers are well-placed in the wide fairway. The second shot shouldn't be anything more than a 7-iron, and firing at the pin is definitely encouraged on this large green with one bunker in front.
Contact: 970-984-9700, http://www.lakotacanyonranch.com
Neshanic Valley (Lake) Par 5, 525 yards
Neshanic Station, New Jersey
Another elevated tee with a stunning view, but just like the previous hole, don't get caught gazing at the scenery for too long. The fairway is not too tight, but long hitters will have to contend with bunkers on both the left and right side of the landing area from the tee box. A wetland area dissects the fairway near the green, and long hitters should be able to clear it easily. Shorter hitters will have to carefully select a proper club for the lay-up shot. The slightly undulating green is 35 yards deep and has a sand trap on both the left front and right middle.
Contact: 908 369-8200, www.neshanicvalleygolf.com
Twin Warriors Par 4, 483 yards
Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico
This hole is not only long but also intimidating and should be played with much respect. The fairway is wide at first but narrows the longer you try and go off the tee. Go too long and you will have a downhill lie for your approach shot. The second shot is even more harrowing than the first. There is a deep ravine that separates the fairway and also comes into play on the left side of the green, which is elevated, adding even more length to the second shot. The bailout area on the right is a safe play, but even there a bunker awaits any miscalculations. Par is a great score here.
Contact: 505-771-6155, www.mynewmexicogolf.com
Old Works Par 5, 597 yards
At nearly 600 yards, this is only the third-longest par 5 on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, but it is the best. Warm Springs Creek runs up the entire left side of the fairway and cuts across the middle near the green. Tee shots should be placed on the right side and will trickle toward the middle due to the tilt of the fairway. Getting to the green in two is difficult even for long hitters, and the green is protected by the creek in front as well as a bunker. A hill at the back will claim any long shots. The green is wide and shallow and much better attacked with a wedge.
Contact: 406-563-5989, www.oldworks.org
Sugarloaf Par 5, 542 yards
Carrabassett Valley, Maine
An unusual setup awaits on this medium-sized par 5, where two sets of tees are available. The left tee box is accessible by bridge, and tee shots must cross over the Carrabassett River that runs along the left side of the fairway. The right takes the water out of play, but golfers must employ a fade to have a chance of getting to the green in two. The fairway tightens considerably from about 250 yards to the green, and trees frame both sides of the hole. Getting to the green in two shots is possible, especially with the prevailing wind at your back.
Contact: 800-843-5623, www.sugarloaf.com
Gray Plantation Par 3, 213 yards
Lake Charles, Louisiana
This challenging par 3 will definitely test any golfer's nerves. The tee shot is about 170 yards of carry over one of the 60 acres of man-made lakes on this course. Getting the ball over the pond is no guarantee of success. There is a large, deep bunker in front of the green that captures any ball that doesn't make the green. Hit too much club, and balls will find the back bunker. Flare a shot, and there is another large bunker waiting on the right. Even the left side of the green doesn't provide a measure of safety, with balls rolling to a small collection area. The green is long and narrow.
Contact: 337-562-1663, www.graywoodllc.com
Bully Pulpit Par 4, 404 yards
Medora, North Dakota
The course has rebounded nicely after the Little Missouri River flooded and damaged several of the holes. Fortunately, this wasn't one of them, and it begins what course architect Michael Hurdzan coined the "Oh my goodness corner" to describe 14, 15 and 16. This hole is in the state's famous Badlands and is surrounded by hills. The drive should be to the left middle of the fairway, which slopes to the right. An additional club is the play for the second shot since it is to an elevated green and into a prevailing wind. The oval green has slight undulations.
Contact: 800-633-6721, www.medora.com
Mountain Ranch Par 4, 395 yards
Fairfield Bay, Arkansas
This is not only the hardest hole on the course, but it is also considered by many to be the hardest hole in the state. What makes it so difficult is the narrow fairway and steep incline off the tee box. There are bunkers on the left and the right guarding against any stray tee shots, and when the rough is high, making bogey from there is almost a certainty. Par is not a given even if you are in the fairway. The green is protected by bunkers in the front, back and the left. The bailout area is the right side, but even reaching that can be a chore. Par is a great score here and not often attained.
Contact: 501-884-3400, www.tboxgolf.net
Old Silo Par 4, 432 yards
Mt. Sterling, Kentucky
This hole has one of the few tight fairways on the course, and traps guarding both sides add to the difficulty. The course's namesake is on the left side but invisible from the tee box. The old silo comes into view on the left as you approach your drive's landing spot, and if your ball goes too far left, the landmark can affect your second shot. A creek runs across the fairway short of the green and turns to protect the left side of the putting surface. Other obstacles are bunkers on the left and right of the green. Putting the ball near the pin is important since the heavy undulation can make two-putts tricky.
Contact: 859-498-4697, www.oldsilo.com
White Clay Creek Par 3, 183 yards
It's the shortest hole on the course, but it will take a golfer's power of concentration not to get distracted. The safest shot is center of the green regardless of where the pin is to set up a two-putt for par. The obvious disturbance is the pond that fronts the left side of the green. The farther back you tee off, the more the water is in play. Aim right and you will bring grass mounds into play if you don't reach the green. The other distractions are the horse racing announcer's call of the races that travel throughout the course and the long, winding whistles from distant trains. Both sounds can be oddly melodic and comforting.
Contact: 302-994-6700, www.whiteclaycreek.com
The Fort Par 4, 474 yards
This finishing hole will exhaust most golfers with its length and treacherous layout. Architect Pete Dye constructed the tee like Augusta National's 18th with a long chute framed by mature trees that will visually intimidate golfers no matter their skill level. Try to drive the right side, because balls will funnel toward the middle of the fairway. The second shot could be on an uneven lie because of the slope and will require a long iron or utility wood to reach the green. The putting surface is receptive to long shots but does have some subtle breaks that may derail par.
Contact: 317-543-9597, www.thefortgolfcourse.com