Pine valley (No. 1 in World)
In 1951, Philadelphia amateur J. Wood “Woodie” Platt began a round at Pine Valley birdie-eagle-ace-birdie. With the clubhouse just 12 paces from the fourth green, Platt opted to fortify himself before tackling the brutal par-3 fifth. He never left the bar. Six-under-par through four holes on the world’s toughest track, Platt called it a day. “Why go on?” he said later. “I couldn’t do any better — only worse.”
Turnberry (No. 17 in World)
If Turnberry’s Ailsa course lacks the natural ripples and chaotic contours of other Open rotation links, it’s easy to understand why: During World War II, 18-inch-thick concrete was poured over parts of the layout for use as runways. The Ailsa was the setting for the unforgettable “Duel in the Sun” in the 1977 British Open, but conditions were less placid in the 1973 John Player Classic, when 100 mph wind gusts blew a marquee out to sea and almost tossed Australian Jack Newton off the cliffs by the ninth tee.
Cape Breton Highlands Links (No. 71 in World)
Designer Stanley Thompson was known as the “Toronto Terror,” mostly due to his prodigious thirst, impish humor and out-of-control spending habits. Thompson got it all right at this rolling, forested National Park course near the Atlantic Ocean. Each hole bears a Gaelic name; unforgettable is the par-5 sixth, called “Mucklemouth Meg,” supposedly named for a young Scotswoman who could swallow an entire “Bubbly Jock’s [turkey] egg.” Sometimes it’s best not to ask.
Seminole (No. 12 in U.S.)
President John F. Kennedy was a regular at this seaside masterpiece. Once paired with club chairman Chris Dunphy, Kennedy stuck an iron three feet from the hole and waited for Dunphy to concede. “Putt it,” Dunphy said. “That’s the kind of putt that builds character.” “Okay,” Kennedy said, “but we’ll have to hurry. I have a lunch date with the director of the IRS.” Dunphy replied, “That putt’s good.”
Loch lomond (No. 66 in World)
Tom Weiskopf escaped plenty of hazards in his career, but only one proved nearly fatal — a quicksand bog on the 14th hole while he was building Loch Lomond. “I jumped a burn [stream] but didn’t find solid ground,”Weiskopf said. “Before long, I was in up to my chest. No one else knew I was out there. It was early morning, and I was on my own. Luckily, I found a tree root and after two hours I finally pulled free.”
Sunningdale (No. 46 in World)
In its 104-year history, this gem near London has seen many amazing golfing feats, like Nick Faldo’s 62 in the 1986 European Open and Karen Stupples’ eagle-double eagle start on her way to winning the 2004 Women’s British Open. But old-timers insist that Sunningdale’s greatest round was Bobby Jones’ 66 in an Open qualifying round in 1926. Using hickory-shafted clubs, Jones went around in 33-33, taking 33 putts and posting only 3s and 4s on his card. Nine times he required a 2-iron or fairway wood for his approaches. It was as close to perfect as anyone had ever seen.