The Champions’ 18: The Top 18 Golf Holes of 2012 as Picked by the Winners Themselves
Myrtle Beach, SC Jan. 11, 2013 – Every year the NGA TOUR promotes a schedule that features marquee venues that have hosted more combined PGA, LPGA, Web.com and Champions Tour events and USGA and College Championships than any other tour in developmental golf.
With events at Killearn Country Club in Tallahassee, Fla., which has hosted 21 PGA TOUR and four LPGA Tour tournaments, past Web.com Tour venues like Three Ridges Golf Course in Knoxville, Tenn., and the Country Club of South Carolina in Florence, S.C., and current Champions Tour host Rock Barn Resort & Spa, NGA TOUR professionals literally walk in the same footsteps of so many PGA TOUR champions before them.
The 2012 NGA TOUR members were able to experience the same trials and tribulations these Championship courses, with their most difficult risk/reward holes, had put so many of today’s PGA TOUR champions through in the past.
To choose the best 18 golf holes from this past year would be a daunting task for anyone, so we went straight to the best possible source we could find to help us, the champions from each event. The following are the top holes at each Pro Series event as selected and told by the players who we simply refer to as 2012 NGA TOUR Champions.
KILLEARN COUNTRY CLUB (Tallahassee, Fla.) – Hole No. 13 (525 yards, par 5)
Tyson Alexander (Gainesville, Fla. – College: Florida): “I would probably have to say the par-5 13th. It’s one of the better designed holes I’ve played on the NGA TOUR. It takes two well executed shots to get to this par 5 in two. Definitely a birdie hole though!” The par 5 yielded only two eagles during the week and had 63 fewer birdies than the next closest par 5.
Tyson played the hole well, going 3 under over the four day event with three birdies – a run that would even make past Champions Chi Chi Rodriquez and Lee Trevino take notice. He ran away from the field in the season opening event held at the former host to the PGA TOUR Tallahassee Open, shooting 18-under par and finishing six and seven shots better than his next two closest competitors, past NGA TOUR Players of the Year Jeff Corr (2011) and David Skinns (2008). The win at Killearn, where 2012 PGA TOUR winner Ted Potter won in 2011, helped the former Florida All-American go on to finish seventh on the NGA TOUR money list.
GOLDEN HILLS GOLF & TURF CLUB (Ocala, Fla.) – Hole No. 16 (476 yards, par 4)
Ken Looper (Mandeville, La. – College: LSU): “I would have to choose No. 16 because it was the most demanding hole on the course. It was the longest par 4 on the course and required a slight draw off the tee to avoid the bunkers on the left and rough on the right. The green was very firm and fast, so only a high soft shot had a chance of remaining on the green. I also chipped in for birdie there last round to get to 7 under.”
The 16th hole played as the toughest hole on the course on Day 1 with a +.70 stroke average and fell no lower than fifth the rest of the week. Looper’s final day chip-in proved to be a winner, holding off 2011-12 BWS money title winner and future 2013 Web.com Tour member Randall Hutchison by a shot. Looper’s win at Ocala, an event home to and also won by 2012 PGA TOUR winner Ted Potter in 2011, would go a long way to earning him Co-Rookie of the Year on the NGA TOUR in 2012.
CHATTAHOOCHEE GOLF CLUB (Gainesville, Ga.) – Hole No. 12 (162 yards, par 3)
Matt Savage (Tallahassee, Fla. – College: Florida State): “My favorite hole was the par-3 12th. It’s a great par 3 that can play tough without making you hit a long iron. The elevation change and fall off on the left side of the green make it a tough short iron shot. And when that green is fast, it’s a tough one to putt. I five-putted it in 2011.”
With a combined two-day total of 2-over par, the 12th played as a birdie hole in Round 1, then became the fourth-toughest hole on the course second day when the rains came. Following suit, Savage birdied No. 12 in the first round and bogeyed it in the second. Savage was leading the event with a two-day 7-under-par total and had a chance to get his first NGA TOUR win before rains forced the event to be cancelled. Future 2013 Web.com Tour members Nick Rousey, Randall Hutchison, and Connor Arendell were on his heels, though at 5 under.
CUTTER CREEK GOLF CLUB (Snow Hill, N.C.) – Hole No. 18 (575 yards, par 5)
David Skinns (Lincoln, England – College: Tennessee): “There are a lot of great holes at Cutter Creek but the best hole, in my opinion, has to be 18. It’s such a good risk/reward par 5 and provides the perfect finish to a great golf course. In order to attack the green in two, you have to hit a perfect tee shot. The bail out area to the left of the green leaves a very tricky chip/pitch shot, so it’s important to stay aggressive in to the green as well.”
Risk/reward was right as there were eight eagles on the 18th, but there were also 13 scores of double bogey or higher. With his playoff win at Cutter Creek, Skinns grabbed his first of three victories on the year. He would go on to make the cut in all 11 events he played on the NGA TOUR in 2012, earned over $100,000, won two NGA TOUR Web.com Tour exemptions and have three top-20 finishes in eight Web.com Tour starts.
SCOTCH HALL PRESERVE (Windsor, N.C.) – Hole No. 18 (555 yards, par 5)
Mark Silvers (Savannah, Ga. – College: South Carolina): “The 18th hole at Scotch Hall is a fantastic hole because it gives you options. You can go right or left of the bunker off the tee to shorten the hole but flirt with the water. The 18th is reachable, but it takes a brave shot to go for the green. You can make a 3, but you can also make a 6. Great finish to a great course.”
Like Cutter Creek’s finishing hole, the 18th at Scotch Hall was also a true risk/reward hole, yielding the second fewest pars for the week. Only six eagles were recorded and 53 scores of bogey or higher were posted. With several holes along the majestic Albemarle Sound, the beauty of Scotch Hall Preserve can make you forget how treacherous the layout can be. Silvers, the 2012 NGA TOUR Golf Achievement Award winner, 2012 Big Break Greenbrier Champion and 2013 Web.com Tour member, knows this all too well after shooting a four-day, 8-under-par total for his first NGA TOUR Pro Series win. The former Gamecock standout finished the week by going eagle, birdie, birdie, bogey on the tough finishing hole. Fellow 2012 NGA TOUR winners Rick Cochran and Jay Woodson finished tied for second, one shot back.
CROSS CREEK PLANTATION (Seneca, S.C.) – Hole No. 18 (466 yards, par 4)
Brandon Brown (Shelbyville, Ky. – College: Eastern Kentucky): “My favorite hole is the 18th. It’s a great view with the water and one of the biggest clubhouses in the background. It also is the toughest hole with water to your right and bunkers on the left. The second shot is a blind shot with runoffs on both sides. This is my favorite hole because of the difficulty and with all the pressure being on the 18th.”
Cross Creek Plantation, as you would expect from a former host of PGA TOUR Qualifying School, played difficult throughout the entire week. The 18th had almost as many bogeys (161) as pars (203) during the event week, finishing with a +.47 stroke average. At 13-under par, Brandon held off future 2013 Web.com Tour member Nick Rousey in a playoff to get his lone win of the 2012 season at The Mountain Lakes Classic. He would go on to win the NGA Pro Series Money Title for the second straight year, take home Player of the Year Honors, and play in his first PGA TOUR event on an exemption secured by the NGA TOUR into the Reno-Tahoe
Open. Brandon is hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2004 Cross Creek Champion Parker McLachlin, who is now a PGA TOUR member.
SAVANNAH LAKES VILLAGE-MONTICELLO (McCormick, S.C.) – Hole No. 2 (421 yards, par 4)
Chas Narramore (Kingston, Tenn. – College: Middle Tennessee State): “My favorite hole is No. 2 at McCormick. It’s a great hole for a couple reasons. It’s a downhill par 4 with a bunker on the left landing area and a bunker on the right landing area. If you hit it too far there is a hazard that the ball will roll into. The second shot is over a hazard with a well-guarded green. It’s a great hole!”
The scenic, yet treacherous, hole played as the third toughest hole of the tournament with nine scores of triple bogey or higher. Only Nos. 12 & 16 yielded fewer birdies. Narramore thoroughly enjoyed the hole, playing it in 3-under par on his way to a three-stroke victory. Consistently voted as the top event on tour by the players, past
champions at Monticello include Web.com and PGA TOUR stars Kris Blanks, Camilo Villegas, Michael Connell, Matt Harmon, Philip Pettitt Jr., and Will Wilcox.
MOUNT VINTAGE PLANTATION GC (North Augusta, S.C.) – Hole No. 18 (429 yards, par 4)
Robby Ormand (Austin, Texas – College: TCU): “I’m biased towards the 18th hole at Mount Vintage because it was the only hole we played in our three-hole playoff. As a golf hole, it’s unique in the sense that it’s a 90-degree dogleg to the left and goes straight back up a hill to an amphitheater-style green. For a finishing hole, it’s great, because everyone surrounding the green can see so well down the fairway, as well
as the green. It is truly a neat hole to win a playoff on for a golf tournament.”
The 18th at the former LPGA Asahi Ryokuken International Championship host proved to be another true risk/reward hole as evidenced by the 51 birdies and 92 scores of bogey or higher during the four-day event. Ormand birdied No. 18 on the final day to force a playoff with future 2013 Web.com Tour member Nick Rousey and he grabbed his first NGA TOUR Pro Series win. Ormand did post a first-round 63 tying the course record set by current PGA TOUR star Brian Harman in the event only a year earlier.
CHERRY BLOSSOM G&CC (Georgetown, Ky.) – Hole No. 17 (519 yards, par 5)
Rick Cochran (Paducah, Ky. – College: Middle Tennessee State): “When you think of Cherry Blossom, you instantly think number No. 17. It’s a big, dogleg right par 5 with OB left and a hazard down the right. When players are in contention, this hole can definitely make or break your tournament.”
Standing on the 17th tee at Cherry Blossom, recognized by Golfweek as the top public course in Kentucky for seven years straight, can be intimidating to even the best golfers on the NGA TOUR. With a narrow fairway and no green in sight, a player must game plan accordingly before attacking the hole. Cochran, who reached the final four of this year’s Big Break Greenbrier, navigated the challenging layout at Cherry Blossom with a final-day 66, including a birdie on No. 17, to earn his first NGA TOUR Pro Series win. The win capped an outstanding season that saw Cochran have eight top-20 finishes and six T6 or better finishes en route to finishing fifth on the season ending NGA TOUR money list.
THREE RIDGES GOLF COURSE (Knoxville, Tenn.) – Hole No. 15 (312 yards, par 4)
David Skinns (Lincoln, England – College: Tennessee): “The drivable par-4 15th is my favorite hole at Three Ridges. It can provide a chance to kick start a really good finish to your round. In order to have an eagle putt, the drive has to be both straight and carried all the way to the green. There are plenty of tough pin positions on the green as well, so it’s easy to short side yourself.”
While the 15th hole at the former host of the Web.com Tour’s Knoxville Open did yield three eagles, it also caused 34 scores over par, making it another great risk/reward hole. Skinns managed to birdie No. 15 the first and last day of competition on his way to a three-shot win, his second of the 2012 season. The victory gave him back-to-back wins in the city where he starred as an amateur at the University of Tennessee. The win also helped him secure the NGA’s exemption into the Web.com Tour PHS Wichita Open.
SOUTHERN HILLS COUNTRY CLUB (Hawkinsville, GA) – Hole No. 6 (354 yards, par 4)
Jay Woodson (Richmond, Va. – College: James Madison): “I loved No. 6 at Southern Hills. It is a great risk/reward hole. If you have the wind at your back, you can reach the green if you can squeeze the ball between two hazards left and right of the green. I birdied this hole in the final round to gain some momentum after starting off with three straight bogeys.”
While the reachable par 4 did yield two eagles during the week (one of which belonged to Woodson), it played mostly at par during the four-day event. Woodson won in a playoff at Southern Hills, where 2012-13 Web.com Tour member Philip Pettitt won just a year earlier. Woodson shot 4 under the final day to force a playoff with Leroux Ferreira and went on to earn his second career NGA Pro Series victory, his first since his 2004 rookie season. After spending the majority of the 2011 season away from the Pro Series, Jay stormed back in 2012, finishing 12th on the season ending money list and returning his name to the upper echelon of players to watch out for on tour.
STERLING COUNTRY CLUB (Houston, Texas) – Hole No. 9 (595 yards, par 5)
Anthony Broussard (Addison, Texas – College: North Texas): “The ninth hole was my favorite at Sterling Country Club. I liked the hole because it fit my eye and required a nice tee ball in order to reach it in two shots. I felt as if I won the tournament on this hole, because I birdied it in all four rounds. Particularly the last round, because I felt I gained a few shot cushion which gave me assurance.”
The longest hole on our list, the 595-yard par 5 yielded eight eagles, 200 birdies and 44 scores of bogey or higher. Anthony finished the event at 9-under par, pulling off the rare feat of winning as a nonmember and holding off eventual Player of the Year Brandon Brown. He would proceed to finish out the season on the NGA TOUR by not missing a cut in his final four starts.
GOLFCREST COUNTRY CLUB (Pearland, Texas) – Hole No. 1 (539 yards, par 5)
Travis Woolf (Fort Worth, Texas – College: TCU): “My favorite hole at GolfCrest is the par-5 1st hole. I liked the hole because it fit my eye. I could hit a fade off the right edge of the left trees to give myself the opportunity to hit the green in two with a mid to long iron and get my round started with a birdie or eagle. I birdied No. 1 on my first hole of the tournament and chipped in from short of the green to the back left pin for eagle in the middle of my second round to keep my momentum going for what became the final round and last stretch of holes to help me win.”
With 14 eagles and 34 scores of plus one or higher, the opening hole at GolfCrest proved to be a true risk or reward. Travis played the hole in 3-under par on his way to a two-day total of 10-under par, earning him a victory in the rain shortened event and the NGA TOUR’s exemption into the Web.com Tour Utah Championship. Past Champions at GolfCrest include PGA TOUR star Keegan Bradley in 2009 and Web.com Tour star Matt Harmon in 2010.
ACHASTA COUNTRY CLUB (Dahlonega, Ga.) – Hole No. 3 (183 yards, par 3)
David Skinns (Lincoln, England – College: Tennessee): “This is a course filled with great golf holes. The scenery alone makes every one of them seem very special. In terms of just quality of golf hole, the par-3 3rd hole is probably the best. It’s a tough par 3 with water short and right; this hole requires nothing less than a great shot. If you bail out left, you’ll be left with a very difficult up and down so you have to just hit a quality shot.”
No. 3 played as the most difficult hole on Saturday, the all-important Moving Day, with a +.29 stroke average. Skinns kept his play consistent by paring the hole all four rounds on his way to his third win of the 2012 season. With the win, Skinns also earned the NGA TOUR’s exemption into the Web.com Tour News Sentinel Open.
TIMBERCREEK GOLF CLUB (Daphne, Ala.) – Hole No. 11 (437 yards, par 4)
Phillip Choi (Orlando, Fla. – College: Florida): “I like the 11th out there (at TimberCreek) because it has lots of trouble and forces you to hit a quality shot. Also the green has quite a bit of slope so you have to place your second shot in the proper area.”
Choi, an All-American out of Florida who turned professional after his sophomore year, had trouble with No. 11 his first round, posting a double bogey. Not letting the difficult par 4 get the best of him, Choi birdied the hole both days during weekend play on his way to his first NGA Pro Series win, holding off 2011 Rookie of the Year and future 2013 Web.com Tour member Ryan Spears. With the win, Choi also received the NGA TOUR’s exemption into the Web.com Tour Mylan Classic, his first ever Web.com Tour start. He would also go on to play the Web.com Tour
Miccosukee Championship, where he would tie for 37th.
ROCK BARN GOLF & SPA (Conover, N.C. – Hole No. 14 (573 yards, par 5)
Jonathan Randolph (Brandon, Miss. – College: Ole Miss): “First of all, there are so many good holes at Rock Barn to choose from, but I would have to say my favorite hole was the par -5 14th hole. It has a demanding tee shot with no room to bail out no matter what club you choose. It’s at a pivotal point and sets the tone for the final few holes down the stretch of the tournament.”
An All-Nicklaus Team Member at Ole Miss, Randolph only had one birdie on the par 5, which didn’t yield a single eagle all week. In contrast, the par-5 14th hole had 72 scores over par. Coming off his T21 finish at the PGA TOUR True South Classic, Randolph bested 2011-12 BWS money title winner Randall Hutchison and 2012 NGA Player of the Year Brandon Brown by three strokes at the longtime Champions Tour Greater Hickory Classic host to earn his first NGA TOUR Win.
COUNTRY CLUB OF SOUTH CAROLINA (Florence, S.C.) – Hole No. 2 (512 yards, par 5)
Blayne Barber (Lake City, Fla. – College: Auburn): “I really liked hole No. 2. It fit my eye well to hit a draw off the tee and it was very reachable. I liked it because it provided a great opportunity to get under par early and start the round moving in the right direction.”
With 12 eagles and over 200 birdies during the four-day event, the second hole offered players a chance to get off to a fast start with a big reward on the track that played host to the Web.com Tour’s South Carolina Classic for many years. With the win, Barber followed in the footsteps of past champions of the event including Lee Janzen, Tom Lehman, Charlie Rymer and Jerry Foltz. Barber was pushed by 2013 Web.com Tour member Andrew Loupe the entire event and stayed hot the rest of the
season, winning four times in five starts.
THE MEMBERS CLUB AT WOODCREEK (Elgin, S.C.) – Hole No. 17 (517 yards, par 5)
Jonathan Randolph (Brandon, Miss. – College: Ole Miss): “My favorite hole at Woodcreek was the par-5 17th hole. It’s a great hole and gives you a solid chance at birdie or eagle, granted you can execute two shots. If you can navigate the extremely tricky green, this hole could be the difference between a strong finish or an average finish.”
The 17th hole at Woodcreek was as much a risk as a reward hole with about the same number of eagles and scores over par being made. Randolph managed to beat the curve by finishing the hole at 1-under par over the four days. Randolph’s win was his second in his final two NGA Pro Series events with a Web.com Tour start mixed in between. The strong finish earned him Co-Rookie of the Year honors with Ken Looper and has definitely put him as one to watch in 2013. Coincidently, current
Web.com Tour member Philip Pettitt Jr. wrapped up his 2009 Rookie of the Year award by winning this event at the end of the season.
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