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Dealing with the Challenge of a ‘Signature Hole’


As I was watching the Players Championship from TPC Sawgrass this past weekend, I started thinking about the difficulty often presented by a ‘signature hole’. Many golf courses have one particular hole which they designate as their signature – it is often the prettiest hole on the course, or the most difficult, or both. Of course, the signature hole at TPC Sawgrass is the world-famous 17th. This short par three features an island green which is difficult to hit despite the modest yardage from the pro tees. Year after year, some of the best players in the world make costly mistakes on this unique and picturesque hole.

Seeing a few golf balls drop into the water on this hole caused me to remember some of the mistakes I have made on signature holes through the years. Unfortunately, I have made my fair share of bogeys (and worse) on the holes which are featured on the scorecards and websites of some of my favorite courses. Does your favorite course have a signature hole? How do you usually fare? If you are anything like me, you could use a little help in this area.

To get through these holes without any trouble, consider the tips below. If you have any other ideas I haven’t mentioned below, please feel free to share! Stop by Cape and Islands Golf Shop in Hyannis, MA to chat with our friendly staff.

Play It Safe

Usually, a hole is designated the signature hole because it includes some dramatic feature like a water hazard or a big slope. Whatever the case, you want to favor caution on these kinds of holes. It is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the hole while trying to pull off a miracle shot, but that is usually a mistake. Instead, take the safe line and give yourself a good chance to get out with a par.

One Shot at a Time

It is easy to be distracted by the design of a spectacular hole, even if the impressive design feature is up by the green and you are standing back on the tee. Don’t get ahead of yourself when playing this kind of hole – instead, stick to the old cliché of ‘one shot at a time’. Focus on the shot at hand, and work your way through the hole by making a series of good swings.

Don’t Let It Carryover

At TPC Sawgrass, it is the 17th hole which gets most of the attention. However, there are plenty of other difficult holes on the course. If a player finds himself thinking about the 17th well in advance, he may fail to make good swings on earlier holes. Don’t make this mistake in your own game. Even if you know you will be facing a difficult hole relatively soon, keep your mind focused on the hole you are currently playing. It is never a good thing to get ahead of yourself on the course. After all, a signature hole, no matter how hard it is, only makes up one out of 18 holes. Play your best all day long and your score should add up nicely at the end of the round.