The Templates: Short

A history and analysis of C. B. Macdonald's Short template hole



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 par-3 designs to test a player’s short iron and putting skills.

The Short hole is many times the most picturesque hole on a golf course. As you will see below, Macdonald and Seth Raynor often used dramatic backdrops or elevation changes to enhance the aesthetic of their Shorts. These holes can be the easiest of the template holes to identify because of their short distance and bold features.

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. Ranging from 130-160 yards, these holes 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 property. Macdonald and Raynor often protected their Shorts with deep bunkers in front and around the elevated surfaces, making misses difficult to get up-and-down. Unfortunately, the advent of technology and uneducated greens committees has led to many of these templates have been lengthened over the years.

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 a putt that can be hit 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. However,  the severely undulated green challenges players of all skill levels. The green contains a two thumbprints and a severe false front on the right side. Any putt on this green which is not directly below the hole is a challenging one.  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 TPC Course is a Short. During his recent restoration of the course, Keith Foster was able to bring back the  thumbprint on the 18th hole at Old White that had been lost over time. 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 Long Island 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 of the green. This mound acts like a horseshoe and makes the right and back portions of the green  smaller than they appear. The middle of the green sends balls in all different directions but is also available as a pinnable area.

St. Louis C.C. – 7th – 155 yards

At Macdonald and Raynor’s gem St. Louis Country Club, the 7th is aptly named “Shortie”. The hole 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 smaller sections. Missing the 7th green at St. Louis will make for a difficult up and down from the treacherously deep surrounding bunkers.

Shoreacres – 12th – 127 yards

Architect Seth Raynor masterfully used the natural terrain at Shoreacres to create the beautiful Short 12th. While just 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 amongst the scenic Hudson River backdrop. It’s current state is due to Gil Hanse who completed the restoration of the famed thumbprint in the fall of 2017.

Fox Chapel Golf Club – 11th – 156 yards

Another classic Short, the 11th at 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. We again see the Short’s signature deep bunkering guarding Fox Chapel’s 11th.

The tee shot to the small, elevated green at Fox Chapel's 11th

Fishers Island Club – 16th – 146 yards

The Short hole at the Seth Raynor’s Fishers Island Club features another beautiful backdrop in the Long Island Sound. The green is surrounded with bunkers that catch small misses, marsh penalizing the wide misses, and the prevailing wind can make it play longer than the yardage on the card.

As is typically the case with Seth Raynor designs, he saved his wildest green for the Short. Par is always a good score on this 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 Country Club of Charleston sits in the middle of the course’s dramatic closing stretch. 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 recently brought back the original bunker style which surrounds the 17th 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, The Course at Yale 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 still 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. Fresh off a restoration in the fall of 2019, Blue Mound’s 7th has returned to its original form featuring a large moat like fronting bunker and a larger green. The green features substantial back to front slope and a thumbprint in the middle of the green which makes precision key to walking away with a birdie.

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 even slightly off target face a difficult putt. 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 this North Georgia restored Raynor, the membership was 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 very pronounced thumbprint in the green. It’s has one of the most unique and memorable greens in all of golf.

Above the distinctive 12th green at Forsgate with its severe horseshoe - Photo Credit: Forsgate C.C.