Best par-5 holes in Great Britain and Ireland - do you agree?

The strongest par-5 holes that GolfMagic has ever played in GB & Ireland - have you played any better ones? 

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 2 Oct 2019
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GolfMagic has played many a par-5 in Great Britain and Ireland down the years, some of which have resulted in eagles and birdies, while others have given us nightmares to last a lifetime.

We sat down with Challenge Tour professional Gary Boyd earlier this week to contemplate our favourite par-5 holes in Great Britain and Ireland - and we had very similar opinions, despite initially throwing 36 of them onto the table. 

But a bit like an X Factor audition, we then spent the next hour whittling that number down before sending 18 of them to judge's houses...

In no particular order, here are GolfMagic's 18 favourite par-5s in GB & Ireland...

K CLUB, Ryder Cup COURSE, 16TH HOLE

Ranked regularly in the top three parkland courses in Ireland, the Ryder Cup course at the K Club is a belter.

There are probably four or five standout holes on this venue that hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup, as well as the 2016 Irish Open won by Rory McIlroy, but the best hole for us is undoubtedly the brutal par-5 16th.

Measuring close to 600 yards from the tips, this monster par-5 has a double dogleg that winds its way past the River Liffey, plenty of trees, ample bunkers and dense rough. 

Only the very longest players in the world will have a crack at this green in two, just like McIlroy did in 2016 when finding the heart of the green with a 3-wood from 270 yards. For the majority, however, it's a three-shot hole where par can often prove a very good score given the trainwreck possibilities that await. 

CELTIC MANOR, TWENTY TEN COURSE, 18TH HOLE

The first ever golf course to be specifically built for the Ryder Cup, the Twenty Ten course was designed by the European PGA, golf course architects and Tour professionals in a bid to create one of the most unique Ryder Cup tests of all time. It certainly delivered that with an epic encounter between Europe and the United States, with the home side narrowly coming out on top as the biennial event went into a Monday finish. 

There are plenty of impressive holes on this layout, but for us, the closing hole is one you won't forget in a hurry. 

It reaches 613 yards from the tips, meaning it's just about out of reach for 99% of golfers in two shots. It was just about reachable for us in three strikes, although we did find the rough off the tee which didn't help matters. 

The approach shot into the green is no bargain even with a short iron or wedge, though. You play into a raised green, all over water and with big gaping bunkers both long and short of the pin, placing a real premium on good distance control and judging the slight elevation. 

Just a great finishing hole, but par is very much a solid score here. 

KINGSBARNS, 12TH HOLE

Kingsbarns is a natural beauty and its par-5 12th represents one of our all-time favourites, a hole you will have no doubt seen during the action at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. 

Playing some 600 yards from the tips, this coast-hugging, dogleg left par-5 hole plays into a green by the southeastern headland that marks the course’s furthest reach out into the North Sea. The scalloped beach invites crossing shortcut shots, but tricky winds here make it risky to put the ball in the air out over the sea.

With the North Sea to the left, tee shots will more than likely be sent out to the right, but thankfully there is a slope in the fairway that will bring the ball back into the middle from there. 

The lay-up shot needs to be played between the fairway bunkers over on the  right side, and then you will be left with a wedge that plays into a 65-yard long triple tiered green that means no putt is ever a bargain here. 

Of course you want to make birdies on a par-5, but par is nothing to be dismayed about here. 

Designed by Kyle Phillips in 2000, Kingsbarns is a relative new kid on the block but it's very much a must play if you ever get the chance. It will set you back some £250, but we can assure you that you won't be feeling short-changed. 

LOCH LOMOND, 3RD HOLE

Former host of the Scottish Open, the par-5 3rd hole is without question one of Loch Lomond's most prettiest holes. It's also a real birdie chance if you can get your tee shot away down the middle.

Unfortunately it's a demanding tee shot though, with a bunker guarding drives from around the 280-yard mark. 

The hole skirts the shore and has a lake to the right, so it requires plenty of precision all the way to the green. 

A beautiful putting surface awaits, and well what can we say, we made a 30-footer for birdie here, so we guess it will always hold a place in our heart. 

WENTWORTH, WEST COURSE, 18TH HOLE

Just a classic finishing hole, one of the best in not only the UK but Europe.

Ernie Els not too long ago revamped this par-5 from a hole that was typically always seen as a guaranteed birdie chance for the Tour Pro, to a hole that now requires much better course management all the way to the green. 

Find the fairway - missing the bunker to the left and rough and overhanging tree branches to the right - and you have a chance to reach the green in two shots with a fairway wood or long iron for the big hitters. Miss the fairway, and it's a lay-up short of the newly designed burn running short and left of the green. 

Ross Fisher made an albatross here during the 2019 BMW PGA in September, but others like Paul Casey made a double-bogey. There have been much worse racked up by Tour professionals on this hole in recent years, too.

We don't like to brag, but we got up and down from the greenside bunker on the right side of the green for a birdie. The grandstands were even up ahead of the BMW PGA... it was just a shame there were only about two people watching!

TRUMP INTERNATIONAL SCOTLAND, 18TH HOLE

The final hole at the newly designed Trump International Scotland is not only the longest hole on the course, but probably the best. 

Its elevated tee offers an exhilarating experience with the coast and sky line of Aberdeen in view.

To the left of the fairway are two large winter lakes very much as part of the natural dune landscape on the site.

Bunkers guard this hole just about everywhere, so it requires plenty of course management to find the green in two or three shots here. 

A great closing hole. 

GLENEAGLES, PGA CENTENARY COURSE, 16TH HOLE

Created by Jack Nicklaus, the PGA Centenary Course was venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup, where the cream of European and American golf battled it out on Scottish soil for the first time in more than 40 years. It also recently hosted the 2019 Solheim Cup between the best European and American lady golfers. 

"The finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with," said 18-time major record winner Nicklaus upon completion of his project. 

There are plenty of memorable holes on Gleneagles' PGA Centenary Course, but the best par-5 here is without doubt the 523-yard 16th with its stunning backdrop. 

There is a bunker in the middle of the fairway so the tee shot is no bargain, but from there, it's a real risk-reward hole as the terrain slopes downwards to the green and tempts you to go for the green in two. With water lurking around the green, however, an errant fairway wood can quickly rack up a big number - and that's exactly what happened to us.

Despite leaving the green somewhat heartbroken, the 16th here is a very strong par-5 and one we won't forget in a hurry. We'll just be sure to lay-up next time. 

ROYAL COUNTY DOWN, 18TH HOLE

Royal County Down, home to the 2015 Irish Open, is hands down our favourite golf course in Great Britain - so we just had to find a place for this awesome par-5 18th.

Heading for the Mourne Mountains and the comfort of the clubhouse, you have to negotiate 24 bunkers, heather-lined fairways and one of the severest greens on the course.

The tee shot is straightforward enough, but the fairway must be found to navigate the second part of this hole. The further you hit the second shot the narrower the fairway becomes.

For the approach shot anything from a 3-iron to a pitching wedge may be required, taking great care not to overshoot a very fast green which slopes down from back to front.

The safe shot is once again to the front edge, leaving an uphill putt, but miss the green left or right at your peril as pitches from either side of it are amongst the toughest on the course.

We drained a 20-footer for birdie here to win our match, and complete one of the best golfing experiences we've ever had. 

ROYAL LYTHAM & ST ANNES, 7TH HOLE

Another superb links layout, and up there in our all-time list of favourite golf courses.

This straight away par 5 is flanked either side by bunkers, mounds and thick rough. It measures around 570 yards from the tips, but some 530 yards off the whites. 

Strategic bunkering short of the slightly raised long thin green that slopes away from you makes judging the hole location difficult.

Get a decent tee shot away and you'll be left in the region of 250 yards to reach the green in two shots. 

We chipped in for eagle just short of the green when we played here - yes, the tees were up - so of course this one was always going to make our list! 

FOREST OF ARDEN, CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE, 12TH HOLE

The Arden Course, designed by Donald Steele in 1992, has played host to a succession of international tournaments, including the British Masters and the English Open.

It's a true test of golf designed to make golfers play a wide range of shots, especially at the par-5 12th hole measuring 547 yards from the tips. 

The tee shot is fairly straightforward, with no water or bunkers to speak of - just plenty of trees if you hit it way left or right. 

Find yourself in the middle of the fairway, and you have a decision to make. Miss the fairway, it's a simple lay-up short of the lake. 

A beautiful golf hole with one very pacey green to finish things off. 

WOBURN MARQUESS, 7TH HOLE

Home golf club of Ian Poulter, and our very own Challenge Tour pro Gary Boyd.

The par-5 7th represents the signature hole on the Marquess course, and it all starts with its stunning, yet rather unusual split fairway design.

From the tee, golfers have the choice of playing the hole as a conventional par-5 up the left, or taking the risk of playing up the right and attempting to reach in two.

Miss the fairway though, and you'll likely be chipping out sideways. The trees at Woburn are gigantic! 

At 512 yards, this one is very reachable for the biggest hitters with a good tee shot, though, and the temptation to go down the right side is often the way the birdie hunters will go. 

The hole's pristine fairway and beautiful green only further adds to its appeal. One of the best par-5 holes you'll see anywhere in England. 

CARNOUSTIE, 6TH HOLE

Named after the immortal Ben Hogan who won the Open Championship in 1953, this hole is where Carnoustie starts to turn up the heat.

Normally played into the prevailing wind this hole can be a severe par 5.

Bunkers and out of bounds await the miss-cued drive and although the best line is up Hogan’s Alley between the bunkers and the out of bounds fence, it requires a brave player to drive to that narrow piece of fairway. The second shot is no less perilous with a ditch angling across the fairway and the out of bounds continuing to be a threat.

The approach is reasonably straightforward to an undulating green, particular care must be taken if the pin is located on the back right portion of the green. A player should always be content with a five on this hole as it can be the ruin of many a scorecard.

 

 

ST ANDREWS OLD COURSE, 14TH HOLE

One of the best par-5 holes in Great Britain, and quite possibly the world for that matter.

OB down the right, bunkers down the left, there really is no bail out with the tee shot.

You then have to navigate Hell Bunker, the biggest bunker at the Old Course with your second shot. 

Sir Nick Faldo once claimed the best way for the amateur to play the hole was to play up the fifth fairway, to give yourself the best chance of avoiding trouble and finding the green in three shots.

The green is no bargain either, with slopes just about everywhere no matter where the pin is located. Par is a good score here.

ROYAL BIRKDALE, 17TH HOLE

Ten-time Open venue Royal Birkdale is an absolute beast of a links course, especially when the wind picks up. 

The par-5 17th measures 569 yards from the tips and poses the question straight from the tee shot. 

Drives have to be hit between two large sand dunes avoiding the two bunkers on the right of the fairway.

With the ground here firm, a bullet drive down the middle will normally run for miles. If it's downwind, you might even have an iron into the green giving you the chance to make an eagle or birdie.

Miss the fairway though and get caught up in one of the many bunkers and sand dunes, and you'll do well to get the ball back on the fairway and go on to make a par. 

The two-tier green is well protected with hazards both left and right, so the approach into the green is not the easiest. 

A very strong par-5 hole that can results in eagles, but plenty of disasters. 

WENTWORTH, WEST COURSE, 12TH HOLE

Another beauty from Wentworth, this time at the iconic par-5 12th hole.

The drive needs to be struck over a giant tree that stands roughly 150 yards away from the tee box. Players have to be careful not to veer too far from the centre of the fairway though with a burn coming into play at around the 280-yard mark. 

Miss the fairway and you can get lucky with a lie to still find the green in two, but you will want to find the immaculately cut turf of the fairway to give yourself the best possible chance of clearing the burn at the front of the green and finding the green. 

Bunkers lurk around the green and there is also out of bounds to the left of the green, so the hole is fraught with danger despite offering a golden chance of a birdie. 

A risk-reward hole, typical of most recent renovations on the West Course. 

ROYAL ST GEORGE'S, 14TH HOLE

One of the most intimidating par-5s you will face in Great Britain. 

Accuracy is paramount off the tee with trouble left and OB down the entire right flank to the green. 

There's also a dyke that flows across the fairway at 330 yards, which can catch out the biggest hitters among you.

Dense rough behind the green will cause all sorts of trouble if you go long, so there is a real premium on good distance control with the approach shot. 

The green is a brute, too. It's a really tough par-5 hole, but if you're straight and accurate you can easily get there in two good blows.

A very strong par-5 hole. 

hillside, 11TH HOLE

One of the most underrated courses in the land. 

Hillside's par-5 11th is without doubt its signature hole on the course as it zig-zags its way to the green. 

Even if you do make a double bogey, the incredible view sort of makes up for it... well, sort of. On a clear day, the fells of the Lake District can be seen to the North. 

The hole may only measure just over 500 yards, but it typically plays into the wind and it can therefore prove a tough assignment to reach in two big hits.

Just a beautiful par-5 hole. We encourage a trip to Hillside if you are ever in the Southport area. It's quite superb. 

ROYAL PORTRUSH, DUNLACE COURSE, 7TH HOLE

Royal Portrush designed two new holes ahead of this year's Open Championship at the 7th and 8th, and it received rave reviews for doing so by the world's best players. 

The par-5 7th is a brute at 592 yards from the tips and it runs from an elevated tee and over an area of the links which used to be the 5th and 6th holes on the club’s adjoining Valley course.

Big hitters can look to take on a giant bunker at 300 yards to give themselves a chance of reaching the green in two shots, but the majority of players will be hitting well short of that and laying up with the second shot into a narrow landing area with lots of undulation.

Everything is out there in front of you to see and there is nothing too tricked up about this hole, but veer too far from the fairway and you will likely be hacking your ball out sideways - that's if you can find it. 

We were more than chuffed to stick a five down and move on to the next. 

What is the best par-5 in Great Britain and Ireland? Have you played any of the par-5s we mentioned in this feature? Do you feel a different par-5 should have been included on our list? Share your thoughts on our social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter...

 

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