1. TPC Scottsdale (Stadium) — No. 17: Par 4, 332 yards — Scottsdale, Ariz.
The arena-like par-3 16th grabs the glory, but the drivable 17th is the better hole at this TPC. In-your-face views of the McDowell Mountains lend layering to the flat terrain. The drama emerges from the design, where cross bunkers, native desert areas and a quirky green crowded by water lead to thought-provoking shot options.
2. Pebble Beach Golf Links — No. 10: Par 4, 446 yards — Pebble Beach, Calif.
The hardest hole on the course is fairer and more playable for all handicaps than the more famous 8th and 9th holes. Yet in true Pebble form, it deftly blends beauty and terror. While the green is more receptive from the right side of the fairway, you'll hit from a hanging lie. Those who favor the right side risk flirting with the Pacific.
3. Kapalua Resort (Plantation) — No. 1: Par 4, 520 yards — Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
The plunging par-4 17th and par-5 18th hog the headlines at Kapalua. But few opening holes so skillfully set the tone for scale, challenge and aesthetics. The elevated tee, Pacific panoramas, sloping fairway and less-scary-than-it-looks approach over a gully makes this an ideal first hole, especially when playing the "mortals" tees of 434 yards.
4. Spyglass Hill — No. 4: Par 4, 370 yards — Pebble Beach, Calif.
Its architect, Robert Trent Jones Sr., considered this tiny terror one of his favorites. No. 4's design trumps most equipment advances, insisting on a precise tee shot, followed by an exacting pitch to a diagonal sliver of green that's bracketed by ravenous sand dunes.
5. Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain — No. 15: Par 4, 343 yards — Marana, Ariz.
This brawny 7,850-yard Jack Nicklaus design is short on subtlety, with the 15th a glorious exception. Pros at the WGC-Accenture Match Play are bedeviled by the exaggerated contours that propel less-than-perfect shots into awkward recovery spots. That's what makes this hole great. Prudence would dictate a layup off the tee to an ideal approach yardage, yet the hole plays so short, you're compelled to go for the green.
MY TWO CENTS: SUNSHINE SLATE
With winter in full force in the Northeast and Midwest, here are my three favorite bargains in the warm climes of Florida.
World Woods's Pine Barrens ($40-$119, 352-796-5500, worldwoods.com), an hour-plus drive from Tampa, is a Tom Fazio delight set amid piney, sandy scrub and playable for less than $100 during the week in high season. Heads up, range rats: It also features a two-acre putting green.
PGA Golf Club ($45-$119; 800-800-4653, pgavillage.com) in Port St. Lucie boasts three superb bargains. It's a tough call, but my favorite is the Wanamaker, another Tom Fazio modern classic. Play after 2 p.m. for $79 in February's prime time.
Victoria Hills ($29-$60; 386-738-6000, victoriahillsgolf.com) in Deland has too many houses for some tastes, but where else will you find this much golf for this price in the February sunshine?