Golf architect Tom Doak has suggested the most-imitated hole in the world is the par-three 15th hole at North Berwick in Scotland, a hole known as “Redan”—a French word for a projecting feature in a fortification.
The Redan is a popular template typically featuring a plateau green that’s higher on the front right, slopes away fairly significantly to the back left and has a bunker that protects the front left flank of the putting surface. The Redan green is usually on a 45-degree angle, with mounding on the right side that can be used to help funnel tee shots toward pin positions in the middle and back left. The reverse Redan is designed similarly, just in the opposite direction.
There’s a wealth of examples of the Redan, and holes inspired by the template, at courses throughout the U.S.—the following are 10 of my favorite versions.
Blue Mound Golf and Country Club (Wis.)—13th hole
This is actually the second Redan green Seth Raynor built at this private club in the Milwaukee suburbs. The first is on the par-four 1st hole, but this downhill par three is a more traditional version, featuring considerable slope from the front right to back left. It plays a tad shorter than some other Redans but has wonderful natural slopes.
The par-3 13th at Blue Mound, a Redan with an exceptionally high shoulder, ensuring that the hole plays as intended pic.twitter.com/3wfCgktDCG
— LinksGems Golf Photos (@LinksGems) January 19, 2016
Cavalier Yacht and Golf Club (Va.)—18th hole
Previously the 9th hole at this Charles “Steam Shovel” Banks design, the Redan par three is now the closer at this par-69 Virginia Beach layout, which has a nearby outdoor seating area called the Redan Deck. With a water hazard curling around the left side of the hole, it makes shots played long or left of the green far more treacherous than at a typical Redan.
Chicago Golf Club (Ill.)—7th hole
In addition to the distinction of having the first 18-hole course in the U.S., Chicago G.C. has one of the most classic examples of C.B. Macdonald’s Redan. With the angle of the green and protective front bunker, the ideal attack is often to hit a low, running shot over the bunker in front of the right side of the green that climbs onto the putting surface and curls down to a back left pin position.
Fishers Island (N.Y.)—2nd hole
Another example of a Redan hole coming early in the routing, this version from Raynor is a bit shorter than some others and includes water in front of the green (and protecting bunker) for an added visual challenge. The slope of this green is a bit less pronounced than many other Redans.
National Golf Links of America (N.Y.)—4th hole
There’s almost five feet of pitch from upper right to lower left on the green of this iconic Redan hole, where players standing on the tee are also often challenged by wind blowing directly into their faces and a very deep fronting bunker. Many consider this to be the best version of the hole in the U.S. (and some will say anywhere).
Old Macdonald (Ore.)—12th hole
Doak employed a version of the Redan at Pacific Dunes, but his take at Old Mac is actually called “Redan.” There’s a deep bunker guarding the left flank of the plateau green, but it doesn’t stretch as far across as is common. Instead, the bank on the front right side of the green will feed short shots off the tee down and into the bunker—perhaps to the dismay of some purists.
Piping Rock (N.Y.)—3rd hole
Another highly regarded take on the Redan template, the sloped kickplate on the right of this Macdonald design can seemingly reject a ball away from the green as readily as it might yield a carom that funnels a ball toward the middle of the green.
Shinnecock Hills (N.Y.)—7th hole
Phil Mickelson famously said that the 7th at Shinnecock is a great hole, at least until the USGA gets a hold of it. Three bunkers frame this hole, perhaps most notably one in the back left that ends up catching quite a few tee shots. The bank in front of the green can prove particularly challenging to navigate for those seeking to play the carom to the back left.
Somerset Hills (N.J.)—2nd hole
The first par three at this renowned club in Bernardsville, N.J., is architect A.W. Tillinghast’s take on the Redan, with much of the green hidden from view despite the elevated tee. The putting surface is deep and steep, with a severe cant to the green from right to left. Miss short and a player’s tee shot will tumble backwards into bunkers at the base of the false front.
Yale (Conn.)—13th hole
With the Redan at this historic layout playing a bit downhill, Raynor’s protégé Charles Banks said it becomes evident the desired play is to catch the approach a little above and beyond its center for a kick in or carom off the right corner and a curving roll across the green to the pin at the back left corner. When properly executed, Banks notes, “the play of this green is one of the most pleasing and interesting plays in golf.”
— Evan Schiller (@Evan_Schiller) July 30, 2015
Surely, you’ll have other versions of the Redan that aren’t on this list, so be sure to let us know your favorites in the comments.