Snake Pit, Bear Trap, Green Mile - best three-hole stretches

Ahead of this week's Valspar Championship, we look at the best named stretches on the PGA Tour

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 8 Mar 2016

"Snake Pit", "Bear Trap", "Cliffs of Doom". American golf loves a good nickname for a tough three-hole stretch.

It is a marketing man's dream, and a PGA Tour fixation, but while there are many cursed corners that are not given a fancy, over-hyped epithet, there are six that live up to the bill.

With the PGA Tour heading to Innisbrook Resort and its slippery "Snake Pit" at 16 to 18 this week, we take a closer look at the best named stretches. 

The "Snake Pit"

Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course in Florida, home of the infamous "Snake Pit, plays host to the Valspar Championship.

This slippery spot - holes 16, 17 and 18 - is one of the toughest three-hole stretches on Tour and many a prospective champion would take even par through here.

The 460-yard par four 16th is the hardest hole on the course - arguably one of the best on Tour - with water down the right, trees down the left and a green that repels misguided balls.

The 17th is a 215-yard narrow uphill par three, before the tight, tree-lined, heavily bunkered 445-yard par-four 18th with a green tucked to the left.

"It really is a hugely challenging stretch," says Notah Begay.

The "Bear Trap"

PGA National’s Champion Course, home of the Honda Classic, heralds one of the toughest stretches in the world through holes 15 to 17.

If you need reminding what to expect when reaching the par-three 15th, with more blue than green guarding the 170 yards to the pin, an inscription on the tee marker from course designer Jack Nicklaus kindly lets you know.

“It should be won or lost right here,” etches Nicklaus. “These three holes are the toughest in South Florida.”

While Adam Scott may have here most recently, he did manage to make a quadruple-bogey seven at the 15th after sending balls into the water. 

"The Bear Trap" has accounted for 18% of all bogeys, 33% of all doubles and 41% of all triples or worse when the PGA Tour has been in town, while 25% of all players have career scores of 10 over par or worse on the trio of holes. 

The "Green Mile"

The closing three holes at Quail Hollow Club showcase a brutal stretch of fairways, greens and water hazards known as the "Green Mile", named after the 1999 prison movie.

Not quite the last walk of a death-row inmate, but the final 1,175 yards nevertheless provides an exacting march for the players.

With the exception of Rory McIlroy, who tore up the "Green Mile" in a course-record 62 to win in 2010, these three holes are brutal.

Holes 16, 17 and 18 have ranked the third, second and first hardest at Quail Hollow Club for the past 10 renewals of the Quail Hollow Championship.

“It’s without doubt the hardest finish we play all season,” says Martin Laird.

"Amen Corner"

Set on the hallowed turf of Augusta National, Amen Corner is without doubt the most renowned stretch of holes in the world.

Starting at the 505-yard par-four 11th – historically the second hardest hole on the course after the 10th  – players must hit a pin-point tee shot through a narrow chute of trees before conjuring an accurate second into a thin, long green being careful to avoid the water on the left.

Next up it is the shortest hole at Augusta, the par-three 12th, with Rae’s Creek on hand to gobble up any balls that stall in the mischievous breeze. Beautiful, iconic and deadly, it's the third hardest hole on the course.

Amen Corner proper ends with the tee shot and second at the treacherous, yet magnificent par-five 13th with 1,600 azaleas lining the fairway. From train wrecks to miraculous recovery shots, this hole has seen it all down the years.

The name Amen Corner was coined in 1958 by writer Herbert Warren Wind after a jazz record titled "Shouting in that Amen Corner".

"Horrible Horseshoe"

It is rare that a course’s toughest stretch lies in some of its opening holes, but that is the case at Colonial Country Club - home of the Crowne Plaza Invitational. 

On what is a short course by PGA Tour standards at 7,204 yards, it is the length of each of these holes that makes the stretch so tough with a 483-yard par-four third followed by a 247-yard par three and 481-yard par four.

And there is no margin for error off the tee on any of them.

Colonial has been called "the hardest par 70 in the world," and is strictly a course for shotmakers. 

"The Cliffs of Doom"

The eighth, ninth and 10th might be rather nice to look at when the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am makes its annual stop on the PGA Tour, but they are not particularly nice to play. 

Pebble Beach in pictures

Starting a tricky run of par four holes at the eighth along the "Cliffs of Doom", golfers must play a precise tee shot over a rock, some 240 yards to the middle of the fairway, leaving a deep breath and mid-iron across a chasm.

The par-four ninth measures 481 yards, with deep rough down the left, no bail out to the right and one of the toughest greens to judge on the course. No wonder it plays the hardest hole at Pebble Beach year after year.

The 10th is not too dissimilar to the ninth, only it measures some 40 yards shorter. Players once aim left of centre on the sloping fairway, but must take enough club on the approach shot to carry the inlet short right of the green.