The original Short hole was the 5th at Brancaster, now the 4th hole at Royal West Norfolk Golf Club designed by Horace Hutchinson & Holcombe Ingleby (pictured below). C.B. Macdonald believed that every golf course should have one of these holes to test a player’s short iron and putting skills. The Short hole is often times the most picturesque hole on the golf course. As you will see below, Macdonald and Seth Raynor often used dramatic backdrops or elevation changes to enhance their Shorts. I find that these holes are the easiest of the template holes to identify because of their short distance and strong defining characteristics.
The elevated 4th green fronted by sleepers at Royal West Norfolk - Photo Credit: Golf Monthly UK
As the name suggests, the Short hole’s defining characteristic is its length which typically ranges from 130-160 yards. These holes were designed to test a player’s short iron accuracy and putting touch. Short holes feature a large elevated green that typically has the most complex and severe undulations on the course. Macdonald and Raynor often protected their Shorts with deep bunkers in front and on both sides of the elevated green making for difficult up and downs for any shot that misses the green. Unfortunately, with the advent of technology and uneducated greens committees, many of these templates have been lengthened over the years in an effort to beef up yardage on the scorecard.
A sketch of the 6th at Lookout Mountain - Photo credit: F.D. Stein
Success on a Short hole is all about accuracy, distance control, and a deft putting touch. These holes offer players an excellent opportunity to make a birdie, but a shot hit to the wrong section of the green or into a bunker will make for an extremely difficult par save. It is vital for a player to place their ball in the right position to leave an uphill putt that can be hit more aggressively and mitigate the break.
A quick story about a short hole- the last time that I played Shoreacres (featured below), I hit my tee ball on the Short 12th to about 10 feet above and left of the pin – what I thought was a good shot and look at birdie. When I got to the green, I realized I would be lucky to make par. My ball was resting just above a ridgeline, leaving a hard breaking slick putt downhill. I hit what I thought was a terrific putt, only to have it roll 15 feet past the pin which led to a 3-putt bogey and a little frustration as I walked to the next tee.
Chicago Golf Club – 10th – 139 yards
One of the original holes at Chicago Golf is the Short par-3 10th. Measuring a mere 139 yards, the 10th might look like an easy par at first glance but a severely undulated green challenges players of all skill levels. The green contains a thumbprint on the left side which makes any putt that is not directly below it challenging. The right side of the green has another thumbprint as well as a severe false front. A properly placed approach shot will yield a good birdie look at the 10th but average shots face difficult two putts.
The Greenbrier – Old White Course – 18th – 162 yards
The finisher at Greenbrier’s Old White course is the Short. In Keith Foster’s latest renovation, they were able to bring back the thumbprint. It’s not as severe as the original due to modern green speeds and PGA Tour course standards but it makes the green far more interesting as it wrecks havoc on nearly every pin position.
National Golf Links of America – 6th – 141 yards
The Short hole at C.B. Macdonald’s masterpiece is a dandy. The green is one of the course’s largest and most undulating. It features an enormous elephant buried in the center. The center acts like a horseshoe and makes the right and back portions of the green much smaller than they appear. This mound sends balls in all different directions and is pinnable.
St. Louis C.C. – 7th – 155 yards
At Macdonald and Raynor’s gem St. Louis Country Club’s, the 7th is aptly named “Shortie”. The 7th plays up hill to a massive 7800 square foot green. While the target is big, precision is key as a deep thumbprint in the middle of the green segments the hole into many small parts. Missing the 7th at St. Louis will make for a difficult up and down from the treacherously deep surrounding bunkers.
Shoreacres – 12th – 127 yards
Architect Seth Raynor was able to use the natural terrain at Shoreacres masterfully for the absolutely beautiful Short 12th. While only 127 yards, it presents golfers with a challenging shot because of the elevation change and a green with numerous shelves and severe slopes.
Sleepy Hollow C.C. – 16th – 155 yards
One of the most picturesque Short holes lies at Sleepy Hollow C.C. in Scarborough, NY. Designed by C.B. Macdonald & Seth Raynor, the 16th is framed by a bunker that wraps around nearly the entire green, capturing any wayward shot. The bunkering and the elevated green make golfers feel as if their target is floating below the scenic backdrop of the Hudson River. In the fall of 2017, Gil Hanse finished the restoration of the famed thumbprint.
Fox Chapel Golf Club – 11th – 156 yards
Another classic Short, this one from Seth Raynor’s Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh, PA. has a slightly smaller green. The small target makes it a very challenging and intimidating shot for any player. Again we see the signature deep bunkering that guards Fox Chapel’s 11th.
The tee shot to the small, elevated green at Fox Chapel's 11th
Fishers Island Club – 16th – 146 yards
Another Raynor design, this Short hole at the Fishers Island Club features another beautiful backdrop, the Long Island Sound. The green is surrounded by trouble with bunkers catching small misses and marsh penalizing the wide misses, and the prevailing wind can make it play longe than the yardage on the card.
As is typically the case, Raynor saved his wildest green for the Short, making par a good score on the seemingly easy par-3. The 16th green’s exterior slopes funnel shots on the edges into the bunkers while the center slopes to the right, with a thumbprint on the back half which makes any putt not directly below the flag extremely fast. The unique aspect of Fishers’ Short is the right side, which is obstructed from the tee but allows for a pin that seemingly floats in the marsh. Getting to that pin is a tall task and the prudent play is to aim slightly left of it, allowing the slope to funnel the ball to the corner.
Country Club of Charleston – 17th – 164 yards
The Short at the CC of Charleston comes as part of the course’s dramatic close. Following the Lion’s Mouth 16th, players play off the course’s most dramatic feature, a subtle hill to the recently restored 17th green. Consulting architect Kyle Franz brought back the original bunker style which surrounds the 17th’s green in sand. The now island green features a thumbprint in the middle and makes for challenging pins on each of the corners of the green. When the wind blows, this hole becomes particularly vexing.
The Course at Yale – 5th – 147 yards
Arguably Macdonald and Raynor’s boldest design starts with a litany of template holes before reaching The Short 5th. The hole is in desperate need of a bunker restoration to recapture the original look as well as a green expansion. That being said, it is a difficult shot to an elevated green that slopes severely from front to back. A center green spine makes finding the proper side of the green extremely important.
A side view of the 5th at Yale.
Camargo Club – 11th – 140 yards
Camargo is known for its par-3s and the Short 11th is a beauty. Raynor was able to push this massive green up creating deep and large bunkers surrounding the putting surface. While the green is a big target, a tucked flag can bring the deep bunkers and bogey into play quite easily.
The green at Camargo's elegant but intimidating Short 11 - Photo Credit: Jon Cavalier
Blue Mound Golf & Country Club – 7th – 160 yards
The 7th at Blue Mound is a downhill Short that has a beautiful cathedral in the background. I played this hole with a Web.com Tour player and a +3, and in true Short hole fashion, we all hit the green and only one of us walked off with a par as two of us 3-putted due to average approach shots.
Blue Mound's 7th is particularly picturesque from the middle (original) tee box
The Creek Club – 17th – 154 yards
The Creek Club’s Short hole holds the unique distinction of being the only Raynor and Macdonald template that borders a cemetery! Beyond the cemetery adding some intimidation and negative vibes, the green is heavily sloped and had a distinct and devastating thumbprint restored by Gil Hanse.
Yeamans Hall – 3rd – 147 yards
At South Carolina’s exclusive Seth Raynor retreat Yeamans Hall, players find a great Short hole. With only low country marsh as a backdrop, depth perception is thrown for a loop making trusting distance very difficult. The elevated green is enhanced with a thumbprint and is guarded by deep bunkers behind right and in front.
Seth Raynor's Yeamans Hall features a beautiful and challenging short hole
Mountain Lake Country Club – 9th – 146 yards
The 9th was actually added by Charles Banks, Raynor’s protege in the late 20s, during a renovation. Banks was a master of the thumbprint designed green, using it in many of his Short holes. The thumbprint plays a role on nearly every pin. Shots that are slightly off target face a difficult putt due to it’s undulations. More on Mountain Lake’s 9th.
The tee shot to Bank's Short at Mountain Lake
The view from the left highlights the thumb print - Photo Credit: The Bausch Collection at MyPhillyGolf.com
Morris County Golf Club – 3rd – 137 yards
The 3rd is a great little one-shotter at Seth Raynor’s New Jersey gem, Morris County. This Short plays only 137 yards to a severely sloped green, making spin control a must to have a birdie chance.
The tee shot on the Short 3rd at Morris County, a Seth Raynor in New Jersey - Photo Credit: Spencer Waresk
Deep bunkers protect the elevated green - Photo Credit: Spencer Waresk
Lookout Mountain Golf Club – 6th – 126 yards
At the restored Raynor, the membership had to be convinced to bring the Short hole 6th back to its original greatness during Brian Silva’s work at the Chattanooga gem. In the dark ages of golf architecture this hole’s green was bulldozed by membership that thought it was too penal. Silva was able to restore the green to its original height using old aerials of the course, bringing back a great and unique Short hole. Listen to our podcast with Brian Silva discussing template holes here
The restored 6th hole at Lookout Mountain - Photo Credit: Dillon Mays
A beautiful panoramic of Lookout Mountain's 6th. Photo Credit: F.D. Stein
North Shore Country Club – 17th – 125 yards
Raynor afforded players the opportunity to make a birdie during North Shore’s closing stretch. The 17th’s green is set at a 45 degree angle and has two distinct ledges. The back right pin position is elevated by a large slope and requires a precise shot and spin control to keep the ball close.
The beautiful 17th at North Shore CC - Photo Credit: The Bausch Collection at MyPhillyGolf.com
A look at the heavily undulated green complex and back shelf - Photo Credit: The Bausch Collection at MyPhillyGolf.com
Forsgate Country Club – 12th – 159 yards
One of the most distinct Short holes is the 12th at Forsgate which features a pronounced thumbprint on the green. Forsgate has one of the most unique and memorable greens in all of golf on its Short hole 12th.
Above the distinctive 12th green at Forsgate with its severe horseshoe - Photo Credit: Forsgate C.C.