Hole No. 16 at Forest Hills GC - Most Interesting Holes Series | Oregon Golf Association

Hole No. 16 at Forest Hills GC - Most Interesting Holes Series

By Gretchen Yoder, Manager of Handicapping & Course Rating
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Tied for fifteenth in our OGA series about the Most Interesting Holes is the 16th hole at Forest Hills Golf Course.

The 16th hole is a slight dogleg right par 4, over water, with tees at 376, 348 and 315 yards.

Sounds simple, right? Wrong. The drive off every tee is to a blind landing zone for anyone who can hit more than 150 yards. A slight dip in the fairway becomes a sharp downhill lie, to the nice flat landing area that is not much deeper than your average green. Longer hitters will think about laying up on their drive. Shorter hitters will have to deal with a probable layup on their second shot or hitting off a downhill shot to an uphill green.

Tall fir trees line both sides of the fairway narrowing the landing zone even further. Balls hit left or right can play a nice game of plinko and end up in some very interesting places.

The pond itself, at the bottom of the hill, isn’t too far to carry… if you layup to the right place to start with. More trouble comes in on the other side with a green about the size of a postage stamp, sitting on the side of a hill. Missing the green can cause some interesting up, down, side hill lies, if you are lucky enough not to roll back into the water. Thankfully, the green itself is mostly level.

There are many aspects about USGA Course Rating that I could bring up with this one. Water Hazard carry, Forced Lay-Up, Green Target (longer shots to smaller greens make for more difficult golf), Rough and Recoverability, and more. I’m going to focus on something a little out of the manual. Par.

We’ve been talking about Par more and more often. People tend to take Par personally far too often. Par has one, and only one, definition. From USGA Handicap System Manual, Section 16 Par Computation:

"Par" is the score that an expert player would be expected to make for a given hole. Par means expert play under ordinary weather conditions, allowing two strokes on the putting green.”

Here is a neat little chart that explains the USGAs Yardage Guidelines/Effective Playing Length for Par:





Up to 250

Up to 210


251 to 470

211 to 400


471 to 690

401 to 590


691 and over

591 and over

There are very few exceptions to this Rule. For example, a 220 yard hole that goes uphill 30 feet and takes a 90 degree turn around tall trees would be a par 4. A 475 yard hole that is sharply down hill in Central Oregon where the Scratch Golfer hits further may be considered a par 5. Here’s an article about Par if you’d like to learn a little bit more.

Unless a golfer is an “expert player”, they should have no expectation of hitting Par on a regular basis. This is part of the reason the entire Handicap System exists, to even the playing field and make the game more equitable. With the Play it Forward momentum, golfers are moving forward to make the game more enjoyable for those who don’t hit the ball quite as far. Fairly often, when the tees move forward, Par will change in the Course Rating System.

The 16th hole at Forest Hills is my nemesis. I was lucky to learn how to play golf at “The Hills” while working there for about 14 years. I have probably lost more golf balls in that pond than the rest of all the holes combined. I am perfectly happy with laying up my second shot, missing the green and having to chip up and 2 putt if possible. My goal is always to play that hole in 6 shots (and hopefully one golf ball!). I understand perfectly that it is a Par 4, even though my “personal par” would be a 6. I can’t expect the rules to change because I am not an expert player.

Tyler Brooks, PGA Head Professional at Pendleton Country Club, nominated #16: Players must play a blind tee shot down a narrow fairway with trees guarding left and right. Hit the ball too far off the tee and you are in the pond short of the green. Lay up too short and you are forced to play a long iron off a downhill lie over the water and into a severely elevated green. If that isn't tough enough, the green is miniature in size and there is a steep bank in front of and behind it. Par is always a good score on this hole.

* The 16th hole at Forest Hills Golf Course earned 56 fan votes to tie for 15th place in the OGA's "18 Most Interesting Holes" contest. Throughout the year Gretchen Yoder, OGA Manger of Course Rating & Handicapping, will explain what makes each hole unique and describe the ideas behind rating these gems.

Next Up: Hole No. 15 at Brasada Ranch, Powell Butte, Ore.

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