The best hole I ever played: There’s nothing easy about The Jockey Club’s treacherous 10th

March 7, 2020

Our knowledgeable crew of course raters have stuck pegs in the ground just about everywhere. But which holes stand out as the greatest they’ve ever played? We asked them, and they replied with love letters about their faves. This offering comes from GOLF Magazine rater Kristel Mourgue d’Algue.

It’s always heartbreaking to select one favorite hole in the entire world, leaving so many worthy others by the wayside. However, the 10th hole of the Red Course at The Jockey Club, 10 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, stands out to me for its deceptive simplicity and brilliance.

When you learn that Alister MacKenzie designed the course in 1935, with help from Luther Koontz, an engineer specialized in drainage and irrigation, you know it will be worth the trip. The maestro of golf design artfully transformed a flat piece of land with the creation of what now looks like natural mounds, hollows, swales, push-up greens and false fronts. At 6,700 yards from the tips, the layout isn’t long by today’s standards, and many of the fairways are quite wide, as on the 10th, a reachable but treacherous par-5.

The 10th hole at The Jockey Club in Argentina.
Getty Images

From the tee, the hole looks rather simple, with ample landing area and few bunkers. But as you approach the green, the dangers mount. In a design reminiscent of the Road Hole at St. Andrews, the green is firm and obliquely situated, with an 180-degree angle of attack. Adding to the complications, it is also elevated, with a huge false front and a putting surface as contoured as a roller coaster. Even if you lay up to the left side of the fairway, leaving yourself a good look at the green, the approach is intimidating, given all the slopes and the relatively little space you have to land your ball. But going for it in 2 is no bargain either. You need to summon some Argentine panache to do so, or at least be exuberantly reckless, as Seve Ballesteros was back in 1992. Invited by ‘Chino’ Vicente Fernandez to play an exhibition match celebrating the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in America, Seve flew the 10th green in 2. He was then forced to execute his third shot from his knees with a long iron between trees that then stood behind the 11th tee. Seve being Seve — he hit it four feet from the flag and sank the putt to make an unbelievable birdie. Thankfully, he avoided spending too much time going up and down the Aconcagua mountain range that represents the putting surface.

Kristel Mourgue d’Algue has been a GOLF Magazine panelist since 2019. She’s played 60 of the Top 100 Courses in the World.

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