A Quick Nine: What are the best opening holes in golf?

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Bethpage Black
Getty Images
Where did Bethpage Black's first hole rank on your list of the best opening holes in golf?
By
T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer
PGA.com

Series: A Quick Nine

Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2012 | 9:28 a.m.

We all know courses with great closing holes. So this week we tasked our PGA.com Facebook friends with helping us to find some of the best opening holes in golf.

As you'll see below, our readers have certainly picked out some great holes at some spectacular venues.

Please note, if you see a course name on this list that you've played and it's in our database, you can click its name and leave a review.

Do you agree with the holes that made this list? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below.

9. The Old Course at Ballybunion in County Kerry, Ireland. One of the most enjoyable courses in the world to play, the first tee at Ballybunion can be an intimidating one... there's a graveyard just to the right of the first tee, so keep it in the fairway, folks. It's a 408-yard par 4 from the back tees.

Facebook fan quote:

"Ballybunion with the cemetery off to the right!" -- Jim Ruthven

8. Merion Golf Club East in Ardmore, Pa. It's just a 362-yard par 4 from the back tees, but as if you weren't nervous enough stepping to the first tee at one of the most famous course's in the world, you're also going to be hitting your opening shot in front of a lot of people with the clubhouse and veranda close by.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Merion, first tee right next to outdoor dining, classic short par 4." -- Michael Ayrer

"Merion East - not a hard hole but veranda and clubhouse proximity plus all the history make it really neat." -- Bill Abrams

7. Bethpage Black in Bethpage, N.Y. Before you step to the tee on this 435-yard par 4, you're greeted by a sign -- a replica of which hangs on the wall in my office. It reads: "WARNING: The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers."

Hey... are we going skiing or are we going golfing?

Facebook fan quotes:

"Bethpage Black is my favorite. Riviera a close second." -- Jamal Speller

"Bethpage Black." -- Scott Schaeffer

"Bethpage black... it comes with a warning sign!" -- Stu Ellert

6. The Plantation Course at Kapalua in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii. Teeing of just in front of the clubhouse atop a large hill, this par 4 is one of the most scenic in golf. From the tee, the backdrop is amazing -- an ocean, sometimes with whales jumping up out of the water in clear view, and a volcano in the distance. It's stunning.

Facebook fan quotes:

"The one you're playing on today! That and Kapalua Plantation's first hole." -- Bobby Weil

"Kapalua... with the Pacific in the background." -- Jesse McSweeney

"Plantation Course at Kapalua." -- Gina Green Resa

"Kapalua." -- Valerie T West

5. Spyglass Hill in Pebble Beach, Calif. Talk about a test right out of the gate. This par 5, which plays nearly 600 yards from the back tees, has it all -- trees, mountains and the Pacific Ocean. What a way to start.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Great Question! How about the 600-yard par 5 at Spyglass hill in Monterey? You tee off in a forest and putt out on a green surrounded by sand dunes with the Pacific Ocean just yards away." -- Bruce Effisimo

"Spyglass Hill!" -- Zach Mayer

"Par-5 first at Spyglass. Starts downhill, dogleg left. When you get to your drive you see the beauty of the ocean and what awaits you for next 5 or 6 holes." -- Jeffrey Moore

4. Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. One of the most difficult opening holes in golf, this par 4 plays close to 500 yards. With a solid drive, you have a blind, mid-iron shot left to tricky green.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Oakmont. Maybe the best course in the world opens with the best hole on the course." -- Nathan Combs

"Oakmont No. 1. Extremely tough front to back of the green!" -- Paul Webskowski

"Oakmont CC." -- Lee Scott

3. Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. This par 5 is far from the most difficult in the game, but it's one of the most beautiful with the tee box tucked close to the majestic clubhouse.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Riviera. From the top tee you can see it all." -- Paul Thomas-white Ciccarelli

"Riviera." -- Jason Mullin

"Riviera. Amazing view." -- Matthew Jordan Mues

2. The Old Course at St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland. For my money, it doesn't get much better than this. This, after all, is where the game was born. A relatively short, straight-forward, par 4, the famous Swilken Burn runs across the fairway just in front of the green. If there's not enough history in front of you on the first tee at St. Andrews, take a look behind you as you walk up the fairway, looking back at the beautiful town of St. Andrews.

Facebook fan quotes:

"The Old Course St. Andrews." -- Jason Hyland

"St. Andrews for the atmosphere and when a golfer tees off there, it looks like he's about to go to battle in the clouds and rain." -- Mike Milkbone

"St. Andrews." -- Dale Brown

"St. Andrews. Best opening hole. History tells the story there. Pebble best closing hole." -- Curt Jones

"No. 1 at St Andrews Scotland... can any other hole give you those butterflies?" -- Carlen Webb

1. Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Home to the Masters, of course, if you've never been let me tell you from experience: the grounds of Augusta National are more perfect than you could ever possibly imagine and even 3D and HDTV does it no justice. The first tee, right by the famous Oak Tree on the back of the clubhouse, is spectacular. You're going to need a big drive on this long par 4 and that green is brutal.

Facebook fan quote:

"Augusta National." -- Tim Cahill

"Augusta National: live here, go every year, and played it twice... Nothing like walking hallowed grounds." -- Jason Newsome

"Compared to going to work....any hole would be the best. However, Augusta looks gorgeous." -- Carrie Millward

"No. 1 tee at Augusta!" -- Terry Eklund

"Augusta National, you know you're playing one of the best, if not the best golf course in the world." -- Ryan Schrimper

"Augusta National that green is a beast!" -- Charles Hobbs 


Comments

bastiguff3

Machrihanish, 2nd place is distant:
http://blog.forelinksters.com/2012/10/11/the-best-opening-hole-in-golf/

kona8

I find many of the comments interesting, some, as in the case of I.B. are dismissive and condescending. I have not played all of your listed courses,
but I agree that Kapalua's 1st is tough and scenic and Spyglass Hills is too.
I give the nod to another course in the amazing Del Monte Forrest and that is
Spanish Bay's opening hole...a risk/reward par 5 with a fantastic view on the tee and an even better view on the green. I have made everything from an eagle 3 to a snowman 8 there and have seen whales,dolphins,etc. I can only comment on what I know and that hole is a great start.

phauck

The most interesting opening hole I ever played was at Skukuza Golf Club in the Krueger National Preserve in South Africa. It's a nine-hole course originally built for rangers, but now open to the public. The yardage sign says, via icons, "Beware of Lions and Elephants." No one can top that. During our nine holes, we encountered a Giraffe between my ball and the green (had to shoot over it), plus many warthogs, and a hippopatamus staring us out of the pond. No, no Lions or Elephants were encountered that day. I could provide a photo of the yardage sign. It was a 265 metre hole./Users/philg4/Desktop/Skukuza GC:#1.jpg

WAAIII

You are confusing "best", with most difficult. No.1 at Oakmont is well over 450 from the back tees, if you are lucky enough to find the fairway you still have a downhill, mid iron blind shot to a green that slopes from front to back. Upon arrival at the green your putt, if you're putting, will more than likely be an uphill putt that runs about 13, or better on the stimp meter. That's like putting in your bathtub. Even the more accomplished player can easily begin with a six or worse. Not my idea of a great opening hole. Otherwise, Oakmont is a incredible experience. Now the first hole at Wade Hampton Golf Club, That's a great opener.

joedlondon

Agree with Ian Barbour -- this very good list would have been even stronger had you not forgotten Machrihanish.

brent_17

I think you have to add the first at Prestwick to the list. "The Railway" is as unique and interesting a hole as you'll find anywhere.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jwolchak

I sure would've like to have seen pictures of those best 9 opening holes.
Watching the WGC @ Doral now. First played it in 1973,,,,# 18 had a plaque on the tee stating it as the #1 toughest whole on the tour. It was my 3rd year of golf, I was 32. Hooked tee shot into water. Drop, 5 wood onto the green . 2 putt. Bogey 5, considered myself lucky.

jerryjconnolly

Machrihanish is my choice as well, it was voted the best opening hole in the world.

The opening shot has you standing on a small patch of grass with the ocean on your left hitting over 180 yards of public beach all of which is in play, so that first sand shot of the day can be a challenge. If you do reach the grass it is a hard dogleg left and depending on the wind anywhere from a 5 iron to a 5 wood into a small green. Simply Spectacular.

mark.wieting

Although I could argue for Ballybunion Old or the Old Course [where one's feet do not touch the ground until about the 4th hole], I'm supporting Tom--Crystal Downs' first hole is a better test. The view from the tee is wonderful. Elevated tee, long bunker right, deep grass to the left, 460 yards of challenge, and a green on which all downhill putts increase the pucker factor x 5. Ever been on in two and off in three? On in four and off in five?

joec_3

Have played the Plantation course in Kapalua about 10 times and that first hole still scares the bajesus out of me! The dropoff in the middle of the fairway is not only huge but angle sideways. And your 2nd shot to the re-elevated green is not only surrounded and guarded by bushes and a severe cliff, but also is blinded! Not to mention the intimidation factor of the clubhouse right behind the tee box and the ocean activities in the distance, WHICH in this case provides an optical illusion of just how far away the hole REALLY is and all of its hidden sloping!

icbarbour60

Macrihanish, Kintyre, Scotland. Everything else pales in comparison.

tawitt

Crystal Downs with a spectacular view in all directions and a difficult start.