Golf hole

Earlier this year on a bright, summers evening, I headed to the local course with three friends for a lovely evening four-ball on a Friday.

 

Somewhat untypically, I began the round in impressive fashion, and after six holes of play, considering my handicap was around 18 at the time, I was one under par and had registered two birdies on the round, and had an eagle putt lip out on the cup.

Then it all began to unravel in spectacular style…

 

 

The seventh hole is a relatively benign par four, short of 400 yards long with a wide expanse of fairway to aim for in the landing zone, no out of bounds right, but out of bounds directly left. It is, in the past, a hole I have regularly been able to par and occasionally birdie.

This is achieved by simply playing a mid-iron or hybrid club into the wide fairway, or aiming right for added safety away from the out of bounds.

 

So why, standing on that tee and with six of the best holes of golf in my life behind me, did I contrive to hit not one, but two tee shots directly out of bounds?

I finished with a 10. One under par to five over in the space of a hole.

Of course, this kind of occurrence plays with your head and the final two-thirds of the round, disintegrated from that point and in the end I shot around my handicap mark of 90.

 

It’s a common occurrence for the amateur player. All my regular playing partners have suffered meltdowns at one point or another and carded double digit figures at a hole over the course of the year.

But it is good to know that we aren’t alone and that occasionally, even the finest players in the world can struggle.

 

Everyone can remember Kevin Na’s travails at the 9th hole in the 2011 Valero Texas Open, when the American lost track of how many shots he had taken on his way to a duodecuple bogey of 12 over par. At first he thought 15, but revised that to 16.

 

 

Ray Ainsley though beat that par four score at the 1938 US Open at Cherry Hills Country Club, when he hit his approach to the 16th into the water. Rather than accept the penalty, Ainsley attempted to play his ball from the water with disastrous consequences.

His ball drifted in the stream as Ainsley repeatedly swung at and attempted to hit it. By the time his ball was in the cup, he had carded a 19, which is still the highest ever score on a single hole in US Open history.

 

Incredibly, the highest score on a par three hole is actually higher than for a par four. Japanese golfer Mitsuhiro Tateyama suffered that ignominius fate at the 2006 Accom International at Ishioka Golf Club in Japan.

Playing his second shot at the par-3 8th, Tateyama could only hit his ball into the bushes and from there he took a further 14 shots to hack the ball out. After putting the ball into the hole, Tateyama signed for a 19 on the Par 3.

 

“There were more reporters around me than for the leader,” Tateyama is reported to have said following the round. “That must be a world record or something.”

Well there’s good news and bad news for Tateyama, while it is the highest score we can find a professional carding on a par three, he is still four shots off the world record.

 

That ‘honour’ is owned by Tommy Armour who managed to shoot 23 on the par-5 17th during the 1927 Shawnee Open. Armour struck an incredible ten tee shots out of bounds, before finding the middle of the fairway with his 11th shot.

Indeed, discounting the ten lost balls, Armour actually made a four with his 11th ball, hitting a nice approach and two-putting!

 

It’s not like Armour was a duff player, this hole came just a week after Armour had won the 1927 US Open Championship.

 

 

In terms of amateur play, there’s no real confirmed record of the worst ever score, though Angelo Spagnolo’s 66 at the famous island green 17th at TPC Sawgrass (as immortalised above), is worth mentioning.

 

The term for 15 or more over par is an “archaeopteryx”. From one golfer to another who has endured the frustration of a round-wrecker, I really hope you don’t ever have to use it when describing a hole you played on!

 

 

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