Winged Foot Golf Club (West)
Holes to Note
First hole, 445 yards; Dead flat, yet one of the most difficult opening holes in the world, due more to its treacherous green than its length. In the 1974 U.S. Open Jack Nicklaus putted off the green. Is it wise to have such a difficult hole as the first? Perhaps. Players would most likely bogey this hole no matter where it fell in the round, so it eases some of the pressure of having to make good swings on the first hole and the player’s mood for the round is not ruined if he does in fact score bogey.
Third hole, 215 yards; Wonderfully simple: Bunker left, bunker right with narrow entrance to severe green. In the 1959 U.S. Open Bill Casper laid up short of the green each day (and scored three each day). The back to front pitch of the green (which could be replicated anywhere) turns this flat hole into a hole of merit and distinction.
Tenth hole, 190 yards; Hit the green or else. The deep bunker on the right seems to dominate the hole, but it might be the best place to miss the green even though Julius Boros once quiped that they could make a national park out of it. Certainly the toughest green on the course and perhaps the single toughest green in championship golf.
Fourteenth hole, 440 yards; Good example of using a bunker for directional purposes, making the blind tee shot less alarming. This elevated green is generally one of the firmest on the course.
Fifteenth hole, 415 yards; Over some of the more rolling terrain, the 15th forces the player to choose between risking driving the ball too far and into the creek that lies at the bottom of a slope some 300 yards from the tee in order to have a short-iron into the green and laying back to 175 yards to give himself a level stance for his approach. It is rare that a hole that is essentially straight can force such decisions from the player, with the creek and the sloping fairway both requiring thought.
Eighteenth hole, 450 yards; Along with Oakmont and Merion, the best inland finishing hole in the United States – hard but with plenty of character. Interestingly enough, the only hole with bunkers on only one side of the green. However, the player who misses the green to the right may wish he were in sand. This green has long been recognized as one of the great greens in golf. Part of the reason lies in the fact that this green is relatively exposed with few trees around it. It is there for all to marvel. However, there are other greens of similar quality at Winged Foot that would be ‘unmasked’ if the trees were cut back. It is hard to overestimate the difficulty of the putt that Bob Jones hold on this green in 1929.