Most Breathtaking Par 3 in The Carolinas
Updated: Apr 8
Sounds simple, right? What is the "Most Breathtaking Par 3 in The Carolinas"? As we found out, it's not so simple. Thankfully, we have a platform to help us decide - maybe not once and for all and probably with a high degree of subjectivity - which hole deserves that title!
First, let's give credit to how this debate came about...
No doubt a great hole! Hard to beat, even in winter! Not a bad cut there too, Charles! The Cliffs at Glassy have long been on our wish list of courses to play. We've never been ones to grovel, but probably would if it meant playing that course & that specific hole! Any course that gets named '4th most scenic course in America' has to be near the top of anyone's bucket list right? After all, the only ones ranked higher go by a single name... Cypress, Pebble, Augusta. 'Glassy' will most certainly have a strong case to state in the debate to follow.
So how do we determine exactly which hole is the most breathtaking par 3 in the Carolinas?
Glad we asked! But, we didn't develop the list on our own. After all, golf is waaaay too subjective for one website, magazine or person to declare, "this is the best, go play there" (though we know many try to do just that). We asked some of our most trusted and well-traveled NC/SC golfing compatriots to give us their top picks too. We couldn't pick them all, but we feel the selection is as diverse as it will be challenging to choose a winner!
Also, you'll noticed we pretty much ignored (most of) the central regions of the states. That isn't to say there aren't great par threes there - because there are a ton of them! You may have heard of some of them (Pinehurst anyone?). Again, this isn't a poll to determine the best one-shot hole - but instead the most heart-stopping, break out your camera, don't give a darn if you lose three balls because its so breathtaking...hole.
For those types of holes, we look to the "extremes" across the Carolinas!!!
Since we're in March, why not settle it March Madness style??? We've put together a bracket - consisting of sixteen holes, broken down into four 'regions' - to create the hopefully non-trademarked infringing 'Sweetest 16' one-shotters from the Palmetto and Tar Heel states.
HOW THE VOTING WORKS
Voting for each matchup will take place in the Instagram 'Stories' on our @GolfCrusade account.
We will update this page as the voting determines the winners and advance teams to the next round, then profile each subsequent matchup.
The Rounds will mirror the NCAA Men's Tournament Rounds.
Saturday, 3/27 - Sweetest 16
Monday, 3/29 - Elitist 8
Saturday, 4/3 - Finalish 4
Monday, 4/5 - Championship Flight
We'll post the polls on the first day of and they'll run for 24 hours. Share it with your friends. No one wins anything for this, but it's nice to have the larger sample size and let's face it - Instagram and the internet were made for looking at golf courses all day. Are we right?
THE BRACKET & CRITERIA
We came up with four 'regions' to pod our nominees in such a way it would determine the most breathtaking hole from amongst their peers, before contrasting the styles in the Finalish Four and Championship Flight. In scouring the respective landscapes, we settled on four types of holes from which to pod and battle it out:
Mountaintop - Not a much cooler feeling that flushing an iron at elevation and watching it fall... forever.
Postcard - You'll literally find these holes on post cards or in picture frames
Coastal - The Carolina Shores are littered with quantity and quality
Strantz - we said we went to the extremes to pick the nominees! And besides, of course we would do something like this!
As for the criteria for selection, each hole had to be big on views (long views and/or wow factor), high on memorability and have the ability to make you/your...
heart skip a beat
break out the camera and take an excessive amount of photos
just stand there and take it all in for a couple minutes
While architecture and strategy are somewhat important, they are vastly less vital than the eye test. The brackets balance nicely, with eight holes hailing from each side of the state line.
One thing we are big on is, "what is the view YOU see when YOU play?" In other words, no drone photography can be considered since the breathtaking part has to be YOUR REACTION when you see it yourself. Zoom lenses are fine, but the shot has be from the ground to be evidence!
As for voting criteria??? Now it's up to YOU! Head over to our Instagram Stories to vote for each round!
SWEETEST 16 Live voting begins evening of 3/26
Linville Ridge Hole 16 | Bobby Weed | Linville, NC
Wolf Laurel Hole 6 | W.S. Lewis | Mars Hill, NC
SCOUTING REPORT: Jumping right in from the top of their respective mountains, Linville Ridge and Wolf Laurel are the two highest courses not only in the state, but in the United States east of the Mississippi River (in terms of elevation above sea level). Each of these holes tees off around 5000 feet and drops 11 and 20 stories, respectively. If you like the 'fall off the world' shot, then this matchup is for you!
Mountain Air Hole 10 | Scott Pool | Burnsville, NC
The Cliffs at Glassy Hole 13 | Tom Jackson | Landrum, SC
(click to expand panoramic images - credit: The Cliffs) SCOUTING REPORT: While both feature the massive long views around which this contest was built, that's where the similarities end. Mountain Air is the elevator shot, dropping 220 feet from tee to green, with Blue Ridge vistas for days from its perch 4900 feet above sea level. The Cliffs brand was built on this hole from Glassy, but is more of a traditional hole you'd see in the plains - just stuck on a mountaintop 3000 feet up.
(Credit: Links Magazine)
Wade Hampton Hole 17 | Tom Fazio | Cashiers, NC
Diamond Creek Hole 17 | Tom Fazio | Banner Elk, NC
(Credit: Elitegolfcourses.com) SCOUTING REPORT: The Postcard Region might as well be the Fazio Region. Two of his most elite mountain frame jobs battle in the Sweetest 16 in what could have been a Championship Flight matchup! We don't know if a rivalry exists between the elite of the elite Wade Hampton and Diamond Creek clubs, but this matchup might start one!
(Credit sagevalleygolf.com / Thom Abbott)
Sage Valley Hole 2 | Tom Fazio | Graniteville, SC
The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards Hole 17 | Tom Fazio | Sunset, SC
(Credit: The Cliffs)
SCOUTING REPORT: Two similar shots, two massively different settings! Sage Valley, aka Augusta Northeast, wastes no time getting to the knee knocker on its second hole. Conversely, The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards builds anticipation to its penultimate hole and makes you carry 250 from the tips out to the (virtually) island green.
Harbour Town | Hole 17 Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus | Hilton Head Island, SC
Atlantic Dunes | Hole 15 Davis Love III | Hilton Head Island, SC
(photo credit on both to Sea Pines and/or golfdaily.com)
SCOUTING REPORT: What views do you prefer: marshes, Intracoastal Waterway and sunsets or beaches, Atlantic Ocean and sunrises? The Battle of Hilton Head (or of Sea Pines Resort for that matter) pits it's two best par 3s against each other.
Carolina National Ibis #5 | Fred Couples | Bolivar, NC
Cassique at Kiawah Island Club Hole 5 | Tom Watson | Kiawah Island, SC
(photo credits to Evan Schiller, Kiawah Island Real Estate, Golftripper.com click for pano)
SCOUTING REPORT: The island green at Carolina National is perhaps the biggest surprise in the field. We like the underdog and picked one of our personal favorites to join the fray! Cassique on the other hand needs almost no introduction. It's the best course on Kiawah you can't play, but it might be the best course on Kiawah, period. This hole might be too!
All holes from courses designed by the master of the par 3: The Maverick, Mike Strantz
(Tot Hill Farm photo credit: EliteGolfCourses.com)
Tot Hill Farm Hole 3 | Mike Strantz | Asheboro, NC
Tobacco Road Hole 14 | Mike Strantz | Sanford, NC
SCOUTING REPORT: One photo from each course is all you get here. Tot Hill Farm's 3rd hole was recently named one of Golf Digest's 'Best 18 Holes Built Since 2000'. High praise! From this pre-2005 view, you'll see why. Tobacco Road's 14th was probably the most nominated hole from our expert panel. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. (Tot Hill Farm photo credit: EliteGolfCourses.com)
True Blue Hole 3 | Mike Strantz | Pawleys Island, SC
Bulls Bay Hole 14 | Mike Strantz | Awendaw, SC
SCOUTING REPORT: True Blue's island green, complete with beach, is something out of a fairy tale, especially at dawn with the mist popping off the gators' backs! Bulls Bay's 14th plays up to its famed Shinnecockian Clubhouse - and it's amazing covered porch where people will watch you either dunk balls in the drink or land in one of the Normandy-esque dune bunkers. Good luck either way!
MORE THAN 2700 VOTES WERE CAST!! AND THE SWEETEST 16 WINNERS ARE....
MOUNTAINTOP REGION RECAP: In the opening matchup, Wolf Laurel held the lead at the first TV Timeout, but after that it was all Linville Ridge. 'The Ridge' took home two thirds of the nearly 300 votes and advances to face The Cliffs at Glassy in the Regional Finals. Mountain Air Country Club's 200-foot drop shot came in as one of the experts favorites to win it all. Mountain Air made a late charge, but bows out after a matchup with the hole that is widely considered THE signature hole amongst all The Cliffs courses. The 'Glassy/Ridge' matchup is going to be a barnburner!
POSTCARD REGION RECAP: "The Fazio Four" was loaded with prestige. This wasn't about the course as a whole, this was about the singular, and in most cases, signature hole! In the 'Battle of Backdrops', Diamond Creek's waterfall and cliff face took down Wade Hampton's signature exposed mountainside. On the aquatic side of the ledger, The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards squeaked by Sage Valley by the slimmest of margins amongst all of the Sweetest 16 matchups! Looking ahead, we can't wait to see how the votes allign given the contrasting settings of the two surviving Fazio gems!
COASTAL REGION RECAP: In his final Bracketology release, Carolina National was Joe Lunardi's 'Last Hole IN' the field. Unfortunately for them, they drew a buzzsaw in Kiawah Island Club's Cassique Course. It was expectedly the widest margin of victory in the Sweeter 16, yet it was great to see Boom Boom's marshland marvel make an appearance! Did name recognition help Harbour Town eek past its youngest sibling across the island? Maybe? We'll see how the voting lines are drawn in the Elitest 8 when Harbour Town and Cassique colide!
STRANTZ REGION RECAP: Did brand names play a roll again in the Tot Hill-Tobacco Road matchup or was it short-term memory instead? Those that have played Tot Hill only in the last 15 years have never seen the 3rd hole the way it looks in the matchup photo. The voting margin was a bit surprising - but maybe that's just our love for THF talking. That's what we vote, right?!? Tobacco Road's Stewart Cabin marches on to face True Blue's island delight, which edged out Bulls Bay in another tightly contested vote.
MOUNTAINTOP: Linville Ridge #16 vs The Cliffs at Glassy #13
POSTCARD: Diamond Creek #17 vs The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards #17
COASTAL: Harbour Town #17 vs Cassique #5
STRANTZ: True Blue #3 vs Tobacco Road #14
Regional titles are on the line!!! An award for being the Most Breathtaking Par 3 from a region is still something you hang on the fridge! Instagram Stories will go live sometime Monday. Polls will be open for 24 hours.
Vote. Share. Enjoy!
SO WHO MARCHES ON???
MOUNTAINTOP: Glassy breezed to a relative easy victory over Linville Ridge, somewhat of a surprise given the sheer beauty between the two. Regardless, the hole that started the whole debate marches on to the Finalish 4 and has to be considered a favorite to take it all!
POSTCARD: In the closest of the 12 matchups in the first two rounds, Diamond Creek's waterfall and rocky backdrop edged Keowee Vineyard's peninsula par 3 by JUST FOUR VOTES! Considering over 3700 votes have been cast to date, that's pretty darn close!
COASTAL: Another tight matchup - this one by just TEN VOTES - Hilton Head defeats Kiawah. Is this another case of more people having seen Harbour Town on TV and playing it on video games (or in person of course)? Impossible to tell, but we'll find out when two of the most recognized brand name courses in The Carolinas do battle in the Finalish 4, because...
STRANTZ: It's all chalk in The Maverick's Bracket as Tobacco Road stomps its way to another easy win over True Blue's island oasis. If drones were allowed, perhaps this vote is closer, but we are where we are for a reason.
FINALISH 4 VOTING STARTS 4/3
FINALISH 4 VOTING
The Cliffs at Glassy #13 cruised to a very easy win on the left side of the bracket, while Tobacco Road #14 faced it's stiffest test yet and squeaked out the 'dub' on the right side. Harbour Town & Diamond Creek went through a pair of Murderer's Rows just to get this far and leave with the titles of Coastal and Postcard Region Champions, respectively!
The Cliffs at Glassy #13 vs. Tobacco Road #14
This is for all the golf ball-sized marbles!
We have the hole that inspired the bracket challenge versus the most nominated hole from our crack panel of golf addicts and degenerates.
Over 4750 votes were cast over the breadth of the challenge.
Huge thanks to all that participated and made your thoughts known!
Now, without further a do, The Golf Crusade proclaims that
THE MOST BREATHTAKING PAR 3 IN THE CAROLINAS IS...
Post-game Insights From Your Golf Crusaders
Before you click 'unsubscribe' or tear us apart for putting on such a subjective contest, let's remember two things.
It was for fun. Did it teach us something? Sure, it's that golf is awesome! It is the most beautiful concoction of nature, artistry, bulldozers and turf on Earth, yet it is completely in the Eye of the Clubholder which style is more appealing.
It is important to look at the place we conducted this poll. It's where the majority of our following interacts with us of course, Instagram. You know who is really good at Instagram? Tobacco Road. It would not be hard to argue that they are as good as any course in the world at marketing their course through their owned channels. Show us another golf course that has the following they do AND the interaction they have. You probably can't. The only one we can think of is Sweetens Cove. And guess what? Tobacco Road was Sweetens Cove before Sweetens Cove was cool.
None of this takes anything away from the champ! We love Tobacco Road. It might also be the most played hole on this list from the voters. How many of the votes came from people who have actually stood on the 17th tee box and at Wade Hampton or gazed off into the vast 50-mile views from the tips at the 10th at Mountain Air? Our guess is not very many.
BTW - Did you see what we did there with the Eye of the Clubholder thing? Pretty proud of that one we must say! Trademark pending.
We also think with any tournament, the first question usually asked is, "did the best team win?" We think you have to stand back and ask that here too...
Did the most breathtaking hole win?
All we know is that the fans vote says YES! We certainly do not dispute the results of our own poll, but of course we have our own opinions and bias. We do know that if we just posted our picks without asking you, it would have looked much, much differently!
In fact, here are the brackets we filled out:
Want to fill out your own? We're going to add this template to our IG Stories as well. Let everyone know who you picked by sharing it and tagging @golfcrusade in your post!
There are certainly some holes that were left out of the bracket, either by the fact we forgot about them and no one spoke up until after we started or that there is just too much damn good golf in The Carolinas!
That's a problem we wouldn't mind tackling over the next 40 years!
Sincerely Fores, BMAC & Dooner
Your Golf Crusaders