Amen Corner. For true golfers, just saying the name evokes a wistful smile and a rush of mental images at one of the game’s most historic and celebrated courses: Rae’s Creek, the Nelson and Hogan bridges, the pond fiercely guarding the 11th green, azaleas blooming behind the par-three 12th hole, and the 13th tee box tucked away in the farthest reaches of Augusta National Golf Club.
The nickname for that stretch has been around a good while—since the year Alaska was approved as a U.S. state—coined by Hall of Fame sportswriter Herbert Warren Wind in a 1958 Sports Illustrated article. That was not only the year the two bridges were dedicated in honor of Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, but it saw 27-year-old Arnold Palmer win the first of his four Masters titles.
Technically, the way Wind described Amen Corner (inspired by a jazz song he’d heard years earlier) was the second shot on 11, the 12th hole and its swirling winds, and the first half of the par-five 13th. But the name has evolved over time to become synonymous with perhaps the most well-known three-hole stretch in the nation. In honor of Amen Corner, here are a handful of our other favorite nicknames when it comes to three-hole stretches in the golf world:
“The Bear Trap”
Holes 15–17, PGA National Resort & Spa—The Champion Course (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
Jack Nicklaus is known for some challenging course designs and, outside of Amen Corner, the Bear Trap might be the most well-known (or best-branded) stretch of holes the pros play every year. A life-size statue of a bear and a plaque precede this daunting trio of holes that includes two tough par threes sandwiched around a par four and a heck of a lot water. “I don’t care if they make golf balls that go for a thousand yards. The Bear Trap will stand the test no matter what the equipment is,” says Jack, who’s never been shy about suggesting a roll-back of ball technology. And while most of us will never get a chance to walk across the Hogan Bridge, the bear statue photo is basically a prerequisite for guests taking their first stab at the Bear Trap.
— PGA National Resort (@PGANatl) February 18, 2020
“The Green Mile”
Holes 16–18, Quail Hollow Club (Charlotte, N.C.)
This moniker stems from the 1999 movie adaptation of the Stephen King book by the same name, which refers to the last walk of a death-row inmate. It took root years ago from a Charlotte sports talk radio show, which decided the diabolical closing stretch at Quail Hollow needed a good name, not that you’ll find any reference to it on the club’s website. A lake guards both the 16th and 17th greens, the former a par four that can stretch over 500 yards and the latter a long par three that plays entirely over water. The 18th is consistently one of the hardest finishers in the pro game, a long par four that demands players avoid a windy creek meandering up and through the fairway before wrapping around the left side of the green.
The Green Mile at Quail Hollow. pic.twitter.com/MJbPBs5G3k
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 9, 2017
“The Snake Pit”
Holes 16–18, Innisbrook Resort—Copperhead Course (Palm Harbor, Fla.)
Call it another example of good branding if you want, but the final three holes at Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course comprise one of the most challenging finishing stretches on the PGA Tour. A large bronze statue of a snake with its tongue out sits before this slithery trio of holes, which features two challenging par fours (Moccasin and Copperhead) as well as the long, narrow, uphill par-three 17th (Rattler) that actually has the largest green on the course. The trick is getting there…and golfers are forewarned there’s plenty of bite for those who miss the green.
— Innisbrook Resort (@Innisbrook) October 31, 2020
“The Horrible Horseshoe”
Holes 3–5, Colonial Country Club (Fort Worth, Texas)
The unique element about the Horrible Horseshoe is how early in the round this taxing trio comes. Colonial hosts the longest-running PGA Tour event to take place at the same site (outside of majors) and the club’s hardest three-hole stretch is home to more bogeys than birdies year-in and year-out. Holes 3, 4 and 5—two demanding par fours and a long par three with a raised green—form a horseshoe around the practice range. The “horrible” appellation is just an added alliterative touch for a stretch that’s never seen a hole-in-one at No. 4 (during the PGA Tour event’s tournament rounds), and features the Trinity River right and practice range out of bound left on the dogleg 5th, the toughest hole on the course.
Just try to make par.
That’s how most guys will prepare for the Horrible Horseshoe pic.twitter.com/32A2wkfZbI
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 24, 2017
“The Devil’s Elbow”
Holes 16–18, Corales Golf Club—Puntacana Resort & Club (Dominican Republic)
Situated along rocky cliffs and bays, Corales features six stunning oceanside holes on the Caribbean—three of which comprise the concluding stretch called El Codo del Diablo (The Devil’s Elbow). The par-four 16th plays directly toward the water and varies day-to-day depending on the wind, while the par-three 17th sits atop a rocky cliff, where it’s not unusual to have sea spray blow onto the small green. The par-four 18th is a striking closer, with a bite-off-what-you-dare forced carry over the Bay of Corales that can yield dramatic late changes to the scorecard.
The Devil’s Elbow, Corales’s last three holes, features the striking eighteenth hole with a dramatic forced carry over the cliff lined Bay of Corales, an inspired capstone to a memorable and breathtaking golf experience. Are you ready for the challenge? https://t.co/YDcZNaHvqw pic.twitter.com/yZHyYSzfrl
— The Westin Puntacana (@westinpuntacana) November 9, 2019
There are plenty of other nicknamed stretches in the golf world, some better known than others. The last three holes of TPC Sawgrass, for example, are loosely known as “The Gauntlet,” though the majority of everyday golfers are probably more focused on the island green 17th. There’s also “The Cliffs of Doom” comprised of a trio of par fours at Pebble Beach (8, 9, and 10), a scenic smorgasbord that golf writer Dan Jenkins once referred to as “Abalone Corner” as a play on Augusta’s Amen Corner.
So, whether three holes or otherwise, is there a favorite nicknamed stretch you’ve come across in your golf travels? The more obscure—or local legend—the better!