According to the old maxim, golfers drive for show and putt for dough.
There is truth to that, particularly at the highest levels of the game, but players that can’t get off the tee typically don’t have many putts of consequence. Here are five tee shots, all on par 4s, that will make your palms sweat, your cheeks pucker, and your pulse rate quicken, all because your first swing of the hole could be a fatal one.
— There may not be a more demanding shot at Willbrook than the opening tee ball. Willbrook’s first hole (pictured above) is a tight dogleg right with trees lining both sides of the fairway and there is water on the left as well. It’s nice to have some margin for error on the opening tee, but architect Dan Maples had other ideas and the 400-yard (all distances from white tees) first at Willbrook is daunting as a result.
— There is nothing deceptive about the 410-yard third hole at TPC Myrtle Beach. The hole is straight and includes a 170-yard carry over wetlands off the tee. Sure, 170 yards doesn’t sound that bad, but given the hole’s length and the elevated green that eventually awaits, most us are trying to squeeze every yard out of the drive, increasing the chances of a wayward shot. A good drive will leave a challenging approach, anything less turns the hole into a de facto par 5.
— Prestwick Country Club is one of Myrtle Beach’s best and most demanding tracks, and the memorable back nine begins with a harrowing tee shot. The arrow-straight 10th (pictured right) plays 373 yards but length isn’t the issue. Framed by mounding and trees, the fairway is tight and you don’t want to start an already challenging back nine by chipping out.
— A crowd typically assembles on the porch to watch golfers play across the waters of the Waccamaw Neck on Caledonia’s dogleg right 18th hole, one of the most popular finishing holes in all of golf. There is just one issue: to draw applause from the crowd, you need a good tee shot. With the water lurking on the right and shots that are pulled adding substantially to the length of the approach, a good drive is vital and that creates anxiety, especially on a hole you really want to play well.
— Glen Dornoch’s 18th hole, which is set along the Intracoastal Waterway, offers golfers two fairway options. The more conservative play sets up a long approach on the dogleg left, but the vast majority of players attempt to cut the dogleg and carry the wetlands, setting up a possible birdie on the beautiful finishing hole. It’s 161 yards to clear the wetlands, but balls that are pulled will come to rest at the bottom of the Intracoastal. It’s a nervy drive with big rewards because balls that clear the marsh will leave a short approach to the final green.