Perhaps no hole is more recognizable, and more feared, than the 17th at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. The par 3 hole, with its island green and water everywhere, was on display last week at The Players Championship.
That got us thinking: What are the best water holes people can play in the Tampa Bay area? There are more than 70 public courses in our area, and most of those snake their way through wetlands or around lakes. Which holes get people nervous before they even step on the tee? Which holes look tame, only to have water where you least expect it?
Here's what we came up with:
Par 4, 320-yard 1st at Westchase Golf Club, Tampa
The course is carved through wetlands, so it's going to have water everywhere. The first hole is a taste of what to expect. It is short and the temptation is to blast a driver. But there is water down the entire right side and out of bounds to the left. And any approach shots that slide to the right are going to get wet.
Par 3, 200-yard 15th at Diamond Hill Golf Club, Dover
From the blue and white tees this hole looks extremely daunting. It sits nearly 100 feet up on a cliff and looks down on a lake. The small green sits just behind the lake and looks like a postage stamp from the tee box. It's no picnic from the women's or senior's tees, either. Though there isn't the elevation, there is still a carry over water and the sand trap that guards the front of the green. Most of the holes aren't like this at Diamond Hill, which makes it unique and nerve-wracking.
Par 5, 450-yard 3rdat Seven Springs Golf and Country Club, New Port Richey
There is water down the entire left side of this hole, and it juts out near the landing area. A perfect tee shot to the right makes it tempting to go for the green in two. But water protects the front of the green, meaning the approach shot must carry to the green. There is no way to avoid water on this hole.
Par 3, 145-yard 6th at the Eagles Golf Club, Forest Course, Odessa
Perhaps playing the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is out of reach. But this is an island hole as well. It is a little longer than the TPC hole, but the green is wider. The hole is 158 yards at its longest, but for most golfers it requires a carry of about 140 yards to reach the island green. It can be intimidating from that length, and if the wind is blowing it's even tougher.
Par 3, 263-yard 14th at Heritage Harbor Golf and Country Club, Lutz
The yardage is from the back tees. It plays a more reasonable 131 yards from the white tees, but there is still a carry over a pond. From the back, the tee shot requires two carries over water. First there is a 100-yard-wide wetland, then the pond in front of the green. It takes about a 225-yard drive to carry both water hazards. The green doesn't have much depth, so it's tough to get close.
Par 3, 172-yard 8th, at The Golf Club of Cypress Creek, Ruskin
There is no bailout on this hole. The only thing between the tee box and green is water. And since the green slopes from back to front, even short shots that manage to clear the lake may roll right back in. Cypress Creek is carved through wetlands, and this hole has a great view. Not only does it overlook the lake but the other swamplands are visible from the tee box.
Par 5, 483-yard 6th at The Claw at USF, Tampa
The hole is a test of nerves. A lake borders the entire left side of the fairway, which is a dog leg left. The challenge is to cut off as much of the lake as possible to set up a shorter second shot. There is also the option to bail out right, but even then there is still some water to clear. And water isn't just a factor on the tee shot. It's in play all the way to the green.
Par 4, 445-yard 18th at Fox Hollow Golf Club, Trinity
You've just played 17 holes on a championship course and now you have to deal with this. The hole has water on both sides of the fairway and there doesn't appear to be much landing area from the tee box. And if you do manage to find the fairway, the second shot must carry to the green because water juts out on both the right and left side. The illusion is that there seems to be dry land on this hole. Actually, there is very little.
Par 4, 445-yard 18th at TPC Tampa Bay, Lutz
There is a lake down the right side of the fairway that will drown any balls that fade off the fairway. But what makes this hole extra maddening is the creek that snakes down to the right side of the green. Everything on this hole must stay left. Many a Champions Tour player has fallen victim to the creek during the annual Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am.