Hole No. 15 at Old Macdonald - Most Interesting Holes Series
By Gretchen Yoder, Manager of Handicapping & Course Rating
Tied for fifteenth in our OGA series about the Most Interesting Holes is the 15th hole at Old Macdonald.
The 15th hole is a slight right dogleg par 5 with tees at 535, 482, 424, 340 and 313 yards. Playing from elevated tees one can see the bunker trouble and difficult rough on the right side. Designed by Tom Doak and Jim Urbina, Bandon’s fourth 18-hole course is meant to pay homage to Charles Blair Macdonald. Hole 15 is planned with a nod to #18 at Southampton New York’s National Golf Links.
As with many of the holes on Old Mac, the fairways are fairly generous, even if there are very few flat lies. Hitting a ball in the fairway and keeping it there are two different issues. A mishit tee shot could land a golfer in trouble left and even more trouble in the large bunker right. Avoiding the bunker on the next shot is imperative to a decent score on the hole. The bunker short of the green is deep and particularly gnarly.
The green is sizeable but has several areas where a ball would not easily hold and could roll off a good distance. Considerable contouring would also make it a more challenging putt if the golfer is not close to the hole. Be aware that the golfer will have difficulty seeing the surface of the green depending on their distance. This factor is called “Visibility” and would add to the Green Target Obstacle (For info on Green Target, Click Here).
Don’t forget to take a last look at the ocean before heading back inland for the last 3 holes.
Descriptions of the green include the word “tier”. For USGA Course Rating we have to go by some very strict definitions. “A tier is a plateau. To be tiered, a green must have a minimum of two definite plateaus of surface area separated by a two-foot or greater elevation difference.” That two-foot elevation must also meet the minimum of running at least 50% of either the width or depth of the green and be steep enough where a ball, when placed, would roll out of position. While there is a section of over two-feet of difference, it is less than half of the width of the green.
Per the USGA, we would call this green “highly contoured”. If the Course Rating Team added a tier to the green, which would raise the Green Target number as well as affect the bogey golfer’s Green Surface rating. In this situation, if we assessed the green as having a tier, it would artificially raise the Course Rating. Old Macdonald has plenty of challenges, but a tier, by Course Rating standards, is not one of them.
From Tom Doak’s hole by hole description:
"Westward Ho!" - This long par-5 plays back into the setting sun to a green up on the primary dune, overlooking the ocean. The heaving contours of the fairway are like ocean swells; the key shot is the second, which must either get past a deep bunker on the right or be aimed safely short and left of it, which makes the uphill third shot much more difficult. The green is sharply two-tiered, so the correct length of the approach is paramount.
From Bandon Dunes website:
“Westward-Ho” - This mid-length par five plays straight towards the setting sun. A tee shot hit towards the left-center of the fairway will give players a chance to get near the green in two. There is a bunker on the right side of the fairway that sits short of the green. You might take an extra club as you are hitting to an elevated green that is tiered.
The 15th hole at Old Macdonald tied for 15th place with 56 votes. Throughout the year Gretchen Yoder, OGA Manager of Course Rating & Handicapping, will explain what makes each hole unique and describe the ideas behind rating these gems.
Next Up: Hole No. 16 Forest Hills Golf Course, Cornelius, Ore.