Classic Golf Hole Design: The Reef Hole

Albert Warren (A.W.) Tillinghast was a famous golf course architect during the early 20th century who designed a number of famous golf courses in the United States including Baltusrol Golf Club, Winged Foot Golf Club, Bethpage State Park, and Ridgewood Country Club to name a few. He felt one-shot or Par 3 holes with character where critical to making a truly great golf course design.

Tillinghast proposed “The Reef Hole” (Photograph 1). The hole would measure over 200 yards and provide multiple ways of playing the hole. “The Reef” refers to the diagonal ridge or ravine that would divide the fairway into two areas. Tillinghast used the analogy of the diagonal ridge as tricky reef water outside the harbor. He proposed multiple ways of playing the hole the more challenging but greater reward shot would be toward the green over the large ridge or pit. Safer shots would be to an open area then chip up to the green.

Tillinghast never designed a true “Reef Hole” but several variations of it exist on some of his designs. The 10th hole at Ridgewood is a Par 3 over 200 yards that has a diagonal bunker that divides the fairway into two areas. Photograph 2 and 3 were taken from the tee and next to the diagonal bunker at Ridgewood, respectively.

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