For most golfers, the only thing scarier than being stranded on a remote island is having to hit to one with a flagstick in it.
And just as the deserted-island theme has inspired literature (Robinson Crusoe, Lord of the Flies), film (Swiss Family Robinson, Cast Away) and television (Gilligan’s Island, Lost), the island green has been a golf architecture tool for more than a century.
Pete Dye is widely credited for popularizing the concept with his creations: the 17th at TPC Sawgrass’ Players Stadium (pictured, above) and the PGA West Stadium course’s 17th, known as “Alcatraz.” (Sawgrass is the host of the Players Championship, and Alcatraz was the scene of Lee Trevino’s hole-in-one in the Skins Game.)
But island greens—as well as the fear and fervor surrounding them—are hardly a new concept. The first was at New Jersey’s Baltusrol’s original course, where George Low built a moat around the 314-yard 10th in 1903. Then as now, the island green elicited both admiration and disgust in equal measure. The hole was so controversial during the 1904 U.S. Amateur that officials had to use an alternate green. (When A.W. Tillinghast expanded Baltusrol to 36 holes in 1918, he got rid of the island green.)
As long as architects want to scare golfers, they will continue to build island greens. Dye’s holes you already know about. Click on the link below to see 10 other island greens that are golf’s equivalent of a trip to the dentist.