I just finished reading — or heavily perusing — David Barrett’s “Dream 18,” a coffee table book with compilations of some of the world’s great golf holes. It got me to thinking about a Greenspan Dream 18, and since today I have nothing more to look forward to than watching Brendan Steele and Jason Dufner battle it out for the PGA Championship, I thought I’d give our Dream a crack.
I should probably say something up front about my criteria. I do not mean to suggest that what follows are the “best” eighteen holes we’ve ever played. If it was, then virtually all of my picks would probably be located in Bandon, Oregon. Instead, I added elements like “memorability” and “place in Greenspan lore” to the list, while still putting heavy emphasis on hole quality. As well, I tried to pick holes from a variety of courses so the mythical course represented our fourteen years rather than just the last two.
So without further ado, my Greenspan Dream 18:
— Pacific Dunes, No. 11 (Bandon, OR)(148 yards): Beach to the left, prevailing wind off the ocean, short iron in hand. Not an easy shot.
— Bear Mountain GC (Victoria, BC), No. 11 (135 yards): Probably as close as Canada gets to TPC Sawgrass’s famous seventeenth. Famous in Greenspan lore as the place where Greg Cheever mistook a tee marker for his ball and, in the process, created his own trophy.
— Olympic View GC (Victoria BC), No. 6 (238 yards): Not a great hole as great holes go, but at 238 yards over water, a definite scorecard killer. Marshal’s complaints about our slow play there — go figure — led to our decision not to return to Victoria. Ever.
— Victoria GC, No. 8 (Victoria, BC)(115 yards): A combination of Troon No. 8 and Pebble Beach No. 7 in Canada. May be the toughest short hole we’ve ever played.
— Okanagan GC (Quail), No. 18 (Kelowna, BC)(408 yards): By general consensus the best-ever Greenspan finishing hole.
— Predator Ridge (Predator), No. 16 (Kelowna, BC)(455 yards): Semi-blind tee shot to a target fairway is fine, but its the second shot, a long iron to a green far, far below, that made this hole the talk of the tournament. Adam Waalkes made net 1 here in 2001 to beat me and Chris Johnson.
— Pacific Dunes, No. 4 (Bandon, OR)(449 yards): The folks who wrote Pacific’s website claim its among the best par fours in the world. I have to agree, although I’ve never made better than 7 here.
— Pacific Dunes, No. 13 (Bandon, OR)(444 yards): The Pacific to the left, massive sand dunes to the right, and a prevailing wind in your face, this is no doubt one of the top fifty par fours on earth.
— Bandon Dunes, No. 4 (Bandon, OR)(410 yards): Second shot is among the most beautiful anywhere.
— Old MacDonald, No. 16 (Bandon, OR)(455 yards): Already banged the keyboard aplenty on this one.
— Bandon Dunes, No. 16 (Bandon, OR)(363 yards): One of the great risk-reward par fours we’ve ever played, Simon Birrell reportedly reached it with a four iron — twice.
— Bear Mountain, No. 17 (Victoria, BC)(311 yards): Just reachable if you really nail your drive, but miss the green and getting up and down is no easy task. Another great risk-reward hole and, as the second-to-last hole of the day, made for some serious drama.
— Bear Mountain Ranch, No. 4 (Chelan, WA)(411 yards): No doubt the most controversial inclusion if anyone actually reads this entry, the tee shot here alone — blind, and over a cliff — makes this hole among the most memorable in Washington.
— Victoria GC, No. 7 (Victoria, BC)(356 yards): Ocean to the left, strong winds, buried elephant under the green. What’s not to love?
— Predator Ridge (Predator) No. 14 (Kelowna, BC)(520 yards): With a fairway that wraps around a lake on the right, this hole dares you to cut off as much fairway as possible to have a go at it in two. The green was home to the famous Scoccolo Bee, which is reason alone to include this hole on the list.
— Bandon Trails No. 16 (Bandon, OR)(491 yards): At 494 yards on the card I thought this hole was very reachable. Then I saw it. Precise drive, even more precise second shot and then a blind third shot up a hill make this hole all you’ll ever want in a par 5. (Click here for more pics.)
— Pacific Dunes No. 12 (Bandon, OR)(529 yards): It says 529 yards on the card, but into the wind it plays more like 629. I hit driver, 3-wood, 4-wood here in 2011 — and I was still a smidge short. If ever a hole was a hidden beast, it’s this one.
— Harvest Golf Club No. 2 (Kelowna, BC)(551 yards): Very long and very open save the orchard to the left of the fairway, the second hole at Harvest captures the essence of golf there — wide, open, and fun. This dogleg left is not “great” by any stretch, but if all holes in this eighteen were like No. 12 at Pacific or No. 16 at Trails, this “dream” 18 would be a nightmare.
So there you have it. Eighteen of the best golf holes we’ve ever had the pleasure to play at Greenspan.
Will anyone other than me care about this eighteen? I doubt it. But it provided a nice addition to what turned out to be a pretty compelling final round of the PGA Championship (won by Keegan Bradley), so I consider its purpose served.