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The Ten Toughest Courses

Are tough courses, and then there are these ten monsters
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Bacon, May/Jun 00

(continued from page 5)

It's appropriate that Jack Nicklaus should have at least one course in the Top 10 Toughest, and he actually has two. With pins and greens seemingly everywhere, the Renegade is one of his most distinct creations.  

There are two pins on every hole, the white flags being easier positions to reach than the gold. There are 12 double greens and six holes with separate greens for the white and gold pins. The toughest the course plays is gold-to-gold, from the gold tees to the gold pins.  

Rather typical of a tough Nicklaus course, the driving areas tend to be generous and the green complexes tend to be treacherous. The first hole tells you a lot about the course. It's a 464-yard par 4 with a wide fairway but a shallow green that is surrounded by deep bunkers. Nearly every green at Renegade is elevated and shallow, a combination that makes it very difficult to hold par with long irons or fairway woods, and very difficult to recover from the surrounding sandpits.   If you like tough par 3s, the 230-yard fourth is tailor-made. You are looking at a carry of 215 yards over water to a green that slopes from left to right. If you miss left, you are in a wasp's hive of bunkers and it's next to impossible to get your sand shot close to the hole.  

The 13th hole can kill you. It's a 474-yard par 4 with a fairway that collects balls down to the right. The green is only 18 paces from front to back, and even good players often hit fairway woods into this one.   The fairways are bordered by maintained waste areas that you can play from, if you're not dead against a cactus, a mesquite tree or a rattlesnake. If you're like Nicklaus and can hit high, soft long irons, then the greens are nearly flat and simple to putt. But we know you're not like Nicklaus.    

NO. 9 BAYONET COURSE FORT ORD Seaside, California
Yardage from back tees
Course Rating
Slope Rating

The Bayonet Course at Fort Ord holds an almost mythical position in the world of California golf. In a state that brims with exquisite private clubs and exquisite resort courses like Pebble Beach Golf Links (a 20-minute drive from Fort Ord), the Bayonet Course stands out as an exceptional public golf course and an excruciating test of golf.  

The course was designed by none other than Fort Ord's commanding officer in 1954, Maj. Gen. Robert "Bourbon Bob" McClure. He may have had some help from architect Jack Neville, but it's a better fable if you believe that Bourbon Bob created this gem with help from "volunteer" soldiers stationed at the base.  

What Bourbon Bob and his golf platoon wrought is a remarkably sensible course distinguished by narrow fairways lined with gorgeous cypress trees, and greens that tilt and pitch to confound approach shots and frustrate putting. You no doubt have heard of Augusta National's Amen Corner. Bourbon Bob designed Combat Corner, holes 11 through 15.   Qualifying rounds for PGA Tour cards have been played on the Bayonet, and the course has held up to the best players in the world. Three holes on Combat Corner, the 423-yard 11th, the 471-yard 13th and the 215-yard 14th, were the three toughest holes in the 1998 PGA Tour qualifying round.  

Former baseball star Reggie Jackson lives in Pebble Beach and plays most of his golf at the Fort Ord courses. "You want to talk about tough, it's the toughest course in the area," Jackson says about the Bayonet. "It can humble you." Quite a statement, coming from Reggie Jackson.    

Yardage from back tees 7,204
Par 72
Course Rating
Slope Rating

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