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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

2005 Jazzy Awards -Best Golf Hole: No. 4 at BLACK ROCK C.C., Boston, MA


After seeing close to 100 courses this year, many ranked in the top 10 in America in either the public or private rankings, this was exceptionally difficult. I played many incredible, creative, beautiful, and strategic golf holes. In one stretch, I played Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, and Monterey Peninsula (Shore Course). Nevertheless, this year’s winner is far off the beaten track.

Brian Silva is quietly building golf courses for the ages. Because he trades what the pro tour thinks is a good hole or course for what history proves is a good hole or course, he frequently flies below the radar screen, but Black Rock has angles and design features that rival National Golf Links in Southampton.

The course is a living textbook of classic holes and angles. The most interesting and fun hole is the par-5 4th. Players stand on the teebox and face a huge trapezoid-shaped grass covered rock about 400 yards from the tee which Silva calls the “Green Monster.” The Monster also has Silva’s trademark horizontal bunkers cut into the face of the hill like a stack of pancakes for visual stimulus.

After the drive, they can either lay up short of the Monster or go for the green. Either way the approach is blind, but Silva makes that point moot. Beyond the bunker complex, the fairway drops off for 100 yards at a 45 degree angle and empties into a punchbowl green. Brilliant.

Runner up: #10 at The Club at Pradera, Parker, CO

There are too many phenomenal holes at Pradera to praise here, but the 311 yard par-4 10th is fiendishly clever in its intricacy.

From the tee, the green sits beckoning…almost winking like a harlot with teased hair in a short skirt at the end of the bar. But two deep muscle bunkers sit dead center of the fairway short of the green. Moreover, the green drops off sharply on all sides and is surrounded by devilish grassy chipping areas. The green drops off sharply, so chips are to be played thoughtfully and delicately. Even so, Engh gives the player options. Bump and run? Pitch and check? Putt? Any will work.

Once again, Jim Engh says more in 311 yards than most architects say in 450.