Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Clayton Cole spent 17 years as the Head PGA Golf Professional at Cherry Hills—and, recently, played 18 holes there with FedEx Cup points leader Jimmy Walker, who praised it as a “a terrific gallery course; you can move from hole to hole.” Since you’re likely to be in that gallery, here’s a list of the 10 holes Cole considers the most pivotal.
#3. 323 yards | par 4 (pictured above)
Everyone knows Arnie drove the first green in the ’60 Open, but this potential eagle hole will also have players licking their chops. Hitting driver, however, might put them through the green and into the creek. It’s better to be short and right. Left or long? Dead.
#5. 552 YARDS | PAR 4
The Tour cut a stroke from this hole, making birdie here a monumental accomplishment. Creek right, bunkers left and a bisecting cross-ditch squeeze the fairway off the tee. Players then need to hit a high, soft-landing long iron to carry a chasm of sand and hold the severely sloping green.
#7. 415 YARDS | PAR 4
With half the field finishing on No. 9, this decision-filled dogleg left assumes greater importance. A long iron or fairway wood will keep it in the short grass and avoid the bunkers at the elbow. But players hovering around 30th place on Sunday will risk pulling driver.
#12. 219 YARDS | PAR 3
Carrying the water isn’t as much of a problem as finding the right part—in every sense—of a green with a severe spine. Too far right puts players in the sand, and shots at a left pin could spin back into the drink. Long can go very wrong.
#13. 430 YARDS | PAR 4
Deep grass mounds and a large fairway bunker pinch the landing area off the tee, and a creek crosses short of the green. Getting on in two isn’t as much of a problem as getting down in two on one of the course’s trickiest putting surfaces.
#14. 520 YARDS | PAR 4
This long two-shotter curls to the left, where a creek runs along the entire hole. Most drives will find the wide fairway but the downhill approach (probably a 5- or 6-iron) demands precision to avoid the creek and sizable bunkers left and right of a pitiless green.
#15. 242 YARDS | PAR 3
The last of Cherry Hills’ one-shotters penalizes anything but a perfect shot. Players hit downhill to a tiny green ringed by four bunkers. The ubiquitous Little Dry Creek will catch pulled or overdrawn shots. Patrons with Wadley Cup tickets can catch the action here.
#16. 441 YARDS | PAR 4
With the creek bisecting the fairway, players will likely lay up with a hybrid or fairway wood, leading to a delicate short iron shot into a severely sloping, angled green protected by a pair of large bunkers.
#17. 544 YARDS | PAR 5
Seventeen’s island green produced the most putts at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open. That was before a 2009 restoration removed the trees to add more intimidation. It also introduced two sets of cross-bunkers: the first 330 yards from the tee, the second, 405. Bubba might carry the second set, but most will lay up with hybrids or long irons. Then—possibly with the same club—60 percent will go for a green surrounded by three-inch rough.
#18. 487 YARDS | PAR 4
On this tough finisher, players need to carry as much of the lake on the left as they can without finding the right rough. The shorter the uphill approach, the better, as a pair of deep bunkers yawn in front of a green where three-putts aren’t uncommon.