The Best Island Greens

1 of 11 Getty Images
TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Hole 17, 137 yards, par 3: There isn’t a par-3 anywhere that induces sweaty palms and an accelerated heart rate better than the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. It’s only a 9-iron from the tips, but to hit and hold its apple-shaped island green requires perfect distance and trajectory -- and maybe a little help from above.
2 of 11 Courtesy of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club (Ocean), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Hole 9, 157 yards, par 3: Pete and Alice Dye first encountered the granddaddy of island greens in 1946 and it was this memory that triggered the creation of their Sawgrass hole just minutes away. A generous bailout area makes it less fearful than its successor, though it might have been just as infamous, had World War II not cancelled the 1939 Ryder Cup that was scheduled here.
3 of 11 Evan Schiller
PGA West (TPC Stadium), La Quinta, Calif., Hole 17, 168 yards, par 3: Pete Dye was skeptical about replicating his Sawgrass island green in the desert, but colleagues, the developers and PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman convinced him otherwise. Backdropped by mountains, the hole differs from its Florida cousin in that it’s lined with rocks, rather than railroad ties, it’s longer by 30 yards and its green is significantly larger.
4 of 11 Joel Riner
Coeur d’Alene Resort, Coeur d’Alene, Ida., Hole 14, 218 yards, par 3: Coeur d’Alene’s enchanting 14th beckons with a 15,000-square-foot green framed by red geraniums, two bunkers, a few conifers -- and is completely encircled by one of North America’s most beautiful lakes. No strips of land here, just a floating island green that’s reachable only by a six-passenger boat. Hit the green and two-putt for par and you earn an award certificate on the ride back.
5 of 11 Courtesy of Apple Tree Resort
Apple Tree Resort, Yakima, Wash., Hole 17, 180 yards, par 3: Winding its way through a Washington Delicious apple orchard, this aptly named layout waits until the 17th to reveal the best of the bunch. This sweet one-shotter plays to an apple-shaped green guarded back-left by a bunker that resembles a leaf. The entire green complex connects to dry land via a stem in the form of a 50-foot walk bridge.
6 of 11 Courtesy of TPC Scottsdale
TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), Scottsdale, Ariz., Hole 15, 558 yards, par 5: Architects Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish were best known for their drivable par-4s, but at the TPC Scottsdale, they dished out their version of an island green on a par-5. Choose the proper tees and it’s reachable by most, but with water in play on every shot, it’s a 3 or 7 kind of a hole. Says 2002 PGA Champ Rich Beem, “It has been one of the best risk/reward holes we play.”
7 of 11 Getty Images
Amata Spring Country Club, Chonburi, Thailand, Hole 17, 145 yards, par 3: Asia’s first and only floating island green is the product of the Lee Schmidt-Brian Curley design team, both of whom once worked for Pete Dye. Fortunately, Sergio Garcia handled this hole better in winning the 2013 Thailand Golf Championship than he did the TPC Sawgrass version earlier in the year, when he splashed twice in his unsuccessful bit to beat Tiger Woods.
8 of 11 Courtesy of Turnberry Isle Resort
Turnberry Isle Resort (Soffer), Aventura, Fla., Hole 18, 571 yards, par 5: One of the most elusive targets in golf is the home green at America’s Turnberry, the product of a Raymond Floyd redesign in 2006. Flanking bunkers, a skinny, mounded fairway and a deafening waterfall offer beauty and menace along the way, but you’ll need both Floyd’s touch and steely concentration to hit and hold this small, wavy green.
9 of 11 Courtesy of Trump National Doral
Trump National Doral Miami (Jim McLean Signature), Miami, Fla., Hole 14, 186 yards, par 3: Renowned teacher and architect of his namesake layout Jim McLean asserts that “at 186 yards, our 14th makes the TPC 17th hole at Jacksonville look like a cakewalk.” He might be right. There’s no bailout, just one tiny bunker and a few tall palms standing sentinel. The Blue Monster next door garners all the fuss, but if the wind is up, the real monster is right here.
10 of 11 Getty Images
Bro Hof Slott Golf Club (Stadium), Stockholm, Sweden, Hole 17, 150 yards, par 3: Lee Westwood didn’t seem to have much trouble with this island green design from Robert Trent Jones II in capturing the 2012 Nordea Scandinavian Masters, but when the wind howls, as it did in the 2011 final round, the hole can be among the toughest on earth. Alexander Noren shot 77 that day -- and still won by seven.
11 of 11 Courtesy of Grand Cypress Golf Club
Grand Cypress Golf Club (East), Orlando, Fla., Hole 5, 153 yards, par 3: Jack Nicklaus apprenticed as an architect with Pete Dye, so it’s no surprise that he popped out a few island greens of his own, including this early version (1986), which features tongues of turf protruding into the water front and left, and a trio of bunkers right and back.