Short but full of options: The 9th at Sweetens Cove

An in-depth analysis of the 9th hole at Sweetens Cove Golf Course


Short par-3s are fun but treacherous. Although the thought of a hole-in-one often slips its way into a player’s mind, short par-3s are typically penal holes. Their theme is “hit it or else.” To intimidate the skilled golfer, forced carries are often employed. It’s a useful tool that creates uncertainty with the game’s very best (see the 12th at Augusta), but presents an extreme and sometimes unrealistic challenge for golfers with a low trajectory shots (seniors, women, juniors).

One unique version of the short par three can be found at Sweetens Cove, on the 9th, which plays to a distance of 88 to 148 yards . It gives golfers of all skill levels a fair shake. Credit for this hole’s brilliant design and construction goes to Rob Collins and Tad King. The duo utilized a redan slope – usually reserved for long par-3s – on a hole that requires an eight iron or less for the vast majority of golfers. It’s an idea that would cross very few architects’ minds because it’s a feature that has little purpose for the accomplished golfer. It’s a slope that gives a low trajectory player a chance for something special. Listen to our podcast with Rob Collins here

Big hitter, the Llama – For longer players, the 9th plays like your traditional short hit-it-or-else hole. A miss short right is met with an awkward chip over the massive redan slope. A short miss left or long, find treacherous bunkering. An average shot that finds the green complex leaves a challenging two putt. Likewise, a good shot yields an excellent birdie chance.

Where it differs – The best golf holes offer alternative routes (options) for golfers. Sweetens 9th does that with its redan slope. It gives the lower trajectory player a shot at hitting it close or even in. A well executed low running shot up the right side will ride the slope down towards all pins. A shot not struck hard enough will find the same awkward pitch from the right side and one too strong will find the same back bunker.

The difference between Sweeten’s shortie and almost every other short par three is that everyone has a real chance at a birdie, or even a hole-in-one.

Want proof? During a girl’s high school golf match in August of 2016, back to back holes-in-one were had and followed with a closing hole-in-one to win the tournament. That’s right, three holes-in-one, on the same hole and same day in a girl’s high school match.