After reading his story, and realizing that I played one-third or six of the holes on his list, I decided to come with my version of the Dream 18. However, instead of picking my perfect golf holes, I decided to create my "Nightmare Nine." These are nine holes that consistently give me problems every time I play them. Everybody has some golf holes like that that they face on a regular or semi-annual basis. These are the holes that you begin thinking about in the parking lot while putting on your golf shoes; holes where you will gladly take bogey and run--not walk--to the the next tee.
So here is my nine holes of hell. They play to 3,077 yards and equate to a Par 36, with five Par 4s, two Par 5s and two Par 3s.
#4 Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club, 413 Yards, Par 4 -- From a slightly elevated tee, it is about 260 yards to a pond that is surrounded by high marsh reeds. You want to play down the left side in order to even see the flag. This will also give you a shorter shot over the water. The small sloping green sits about 25 yards beyond the water, with trees on the right and behind. Get too far to the left on your tee shot and you are hitting out of gnarly rough. Get too close to the water and you have to get the ball up extremely quickly. Many of my approach shots have met with a watery ending on this hole.
#4 John F. Byrne Golf Club, 293 Yards, Par 4 -- A short Par 4 that requires a precise and accurate tee shot from an elevated tee through a very narrow opening in the tree line along the creek that runs across the fairway about 145 yards off the tee. If you manage to navigate the narrow gap off the tee, the fairway slopes hard from left to right and your approach shot plays uphill to a postage stamp-sized green jutting out of the slide of the hill. Miss long or left and you have almost no chance of keeping the ball on the green with your chip shot.
#15 Fox Hollow Golf Club, 560 Yards, Par 5 -- Teeing off on the top of the hill, you cannot see the L-shaped dog leg right at the bottom of the hill. You have to hit your lay-up from a downhill lie to a small landing area which is easy to have your ball run through. You third shot is straight uphill to a small green. In a mid-1990s review of Fox Hollow for The Inquirer, Logan described playing it this way: "It takes two solid, straight shots to get the ball down to a hollow, where the 15th suddenly takes a 90-degree turn right and heads uphill into a bunkered, sloping green. Cutting the corner here is out of the question." Most times I've been happy to reach the green in 5.
#11 Walnut Lane Golf Club, 134 Yards, Par 3 -- This short hole plays in a small ravine and plays straight uphill. Often, the top of the flag is barely visible from the tee box. A small creek crosses about 20 yards in front of the tee box. Miss left, and if you can even find your golf ball, you are hitting straight up off the side of hill. Miss right and trees will slap your golf ball down well short of the green. As someone who hits a draw, I usually miss left because I try to hit the ball too hard to get it up the hill. I must confess, however, that I did birdie this hole in 1998. I think that was the only time I have ever hit the green with my tee shot.
#11 Island Green Country Club, 305 Yards, Par 4 -- The hole from which the course drives its name. Your tee shot plays slightly downhill and requires nothing more than a long- to mid-iron. You want to keep your tee shot to the right for the best angle to the green, which sits on an island in the middle of a pond. Miss left and you can't see the green and could be hitting off a sidehill lie with the ball below your feet or out of tall, fescue-like grass. The green is medium-sized and slopes from back to front. Miss the green anywhere but in the front and your approach shot is probably wet.
#18 Bensalem Township Country Club, 379 Yards, Par 4 -- This hole doglegs right about 240 yards off the tee. From there, it goes down to a creek that intersects the fairway about 25 yards in front of the green, which slopes severely from back to front and is well bunkered. Run your tee shot through the fairway and you could be chipping out the woods. There is room to miss your approach shot to the right of the green, but you could be pitching over a bunker to the green. In the summer, you could have a gallery on the clubhouse patio, which hosts numerous weddings and other events. The hole becomes even more difficult if I need a good score to shoot in the 90s. For me, 5 is always a tremendous score on this hole.
#4 The Rookery, 290 Yards, Par 4 -- Unless you are the longest of hitters, this is not the risk/reward hole it appears when you stand on the elevated tee. The fairway runs down to a large pond about 160 yards off the tee. To clear the pond, it will take a drive of over 270 yards, which can be made all the more difficult by the ever-present wind. Usually, the tee shot is nothing more than an 8-iron; and even that can run into the water. Be careful you don't get too close to the water or you could easily top your approach shot into the drink. The green is large and usually fast, so even if you do hit the green in two, a two-putt par isn't always guaranteed.
#15 Horsham Valley Golf Club, 184 Yards, Par 3 -- This hole can ruin more good rounds. The signature hole at Horsham Valley, it is a longer Par 3, with the green guarded by a creek in the front and on the right, while trees cause problems for any shots to the left. Overhanging trees on the right can also knock down tee shots well short of the creek in front, causing a delicate pitch shot over water to the narrow green, which is also guarded by bunkers on the left and in the back.
#18 Paxon Hollow Country Club, 519 Yards, Par 5 -- The closing hole at Paxon Hollow closes out my "Nightmare Nine." The tee shot is narrow, with trees protecting the right and a creek running down the left. Your second shot is uphill, over the creek, to a fairway that slopes from left to right, with the right side being protected by a huge tree that can cause problems for your third shot. A large, two-tiered green sits at the top of the hill at the foot of the clubhouse, with bunkers behind and to the left. Miss long or on the wrong tier and you could easily see your chip or putt run off the front of the green.
So there you have my "Nightmare Nine;" nine golf holes that can derail my round no matter how well I'm playing. I would gladly take a 45 for those nine any time I tee it up.
Photos by The Muni Golfer