Our knowledgeable crew of course raters have stuck pegs in the ground just about everywhere. But which holes stand out as the greatest they’ve ever played? We asked them, and they replied with love letters about their faves. This offering comes from GOLF Magazine rater Steve Lapper.
The best hole I’ve played? The 205-yard, par-3 2nd at Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville, N.J.
Picking a par-3 for a favorite hole is problematic. One-shotters don’t typically test your patience or power; they test your skill, nerves and mettle. It’s rare they test all at once, while guaranteeing a grin or a grimace.
The term ‘Redan’ comes from a French-derived word for “fortress defense.” The original Redan hole debuted as the 15th at North Berwick West Links, in Scotland. Its signature feature is a green that tilts downwards and away from the point of entrance, always from the front-right portion of a green canting to the left. Reverse Redans slant from left to right. Tillinghast’s bold interpretation was brought to Somerset Hills in 1918.
Tillinghast chose to flout one common rule of a Redan, with a green that is slightly deeper than wide, and steeper than most. The result, a masterpiece, may well have eclipsed the original. It’s that good!
From the elevated tee, a sliver of green rises on the right before visually slipping behind a hill and a few sandy pits beneath the green’s entrance on the left, and one strategic one just short right. The bulk of the dance floor is delightfully hidden from view. It is an elbow of heaving land, defended by both yaws and jaws. For a right-handed golfer, the called-for shot is nearly always a soft fade, the best shape to avoid rejection from the green’s harrowing slopes in the middle and back, or from the wicked false front running 15 yards down to a few more deep bunkers.