Many famous golfers through the years have been just as well known for their nicknames as for their playing achievements. Everyone knows Jack Nicklaus is the Golden Bear, or that Arnold Palmer is The King. In more recent years, it’s golfers such as Phil Mickelson (Lefty) and Ernie Els (The Big Easy) who’ve been given memorable and longstanding monikers.
But what about golf courses – don’t they get nicknames too? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. There is one that most everyone knows already – Amen Corner at Augusta National. But there are others too, and some great ones at that.
Here’s our list of the seven greatest nicknames for PGA Tour courses and hole stretches, listed in chronological order of when they’re played throughout the year.
1. The Bear Trap: PGA National Golf Club (The Honda Classic)
The Bear Trap is a three hole stretch (holes 15-17) at PGA National Golf Club, site of the Honda Classic. It was coined in honor of the difficulty and as a tribute to PGA Tour legend Jack Nicklaus. A plaque and bear statue celebrate what has come to be known as one of the ultimate challenges a golfer can face for three consecutive holes.
“I don’t care if they make golf balls that go for a thousand yards. The Bear Trap will stand the test no matter what the equipment is.” – Jack Nicklaus
2. The Blue Monster: Trump Doral (WGC-Cadillac Championship)
Before it was the site for the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Trump National Doral was formerly known as Doral Country Club. From 1962-2006, it was the site for the PGA Tour’s Doral Open. Doral went bankrupt in 2011, and was bought by Trump and renovated in 2012.
The Blue Course is nicknamed “The Blue Monster” because it was considered, when the Doral Open debuted in the early 1960s, to be a very long and difficult course with lots of water.
3. The Snake Pit: Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club (Valspar Championship)
The Snake Pit happens to be the next stop on tour, as the Valspar Championship tees off Thursday and runs through Sunday, March 15th. John Senden is the defending champion.
The Snake Pit refers to holes 16-18 at the famous Copperhead Course. 16 and 18 are demanding par-4’s, with the long par-3 17th in-between. Legend has it this three hole stretch has changed the outcome of more golf tournaments than any on record, hence the name. Just try not to get bit.
4. Amen Corner: Augusta National (The Masters)
The second shot at the 11th, all of the 12th, and the first two shots at the 13th hole at Augusta are nicknamed “Amen Corner”. The term was coined by author Herbert Warren Wind in a 1958 Sports Illustrated article about the Masters that year. In a Golf Digest article in April 1984, 26 years later, Wind told about its origin. He said he wanted a catchy phrase like baseball’s “hot-corner” or football’s “coffin-corner” to explain where some of the most exciting golf had taken place. Thus “Amen Corner” was born. He said it came from the title of a jazz record he had heard in the mid-1930s by a group led by Chicago’s Mezz Mezzrow, Shouting in that Amen Corner.
5. The Green Mile: Quail Hollow Club (Wells Fargo Championship)
Quail Hollow Club opened in 1959, and since 2003 has hosted the Wells Fargo Championship (played annually in May). Located in the Quail Hollow neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, “The Green Mile” refers to the 480-yard, par-4 16th hole, the watery and terrifying 217-yard, par-3 17th hole and the 478-yard, par-4 finishing hole.
Just two years after the first Wells Fargo Championship, the closing holes have borrowed the prison slang nickname to describe the daunting last three holes.
6. Horrible Horseshoe: Colonial Country Club (Crowne Plaza Invitational)
A week after the Wells Fargo Championship, the PGA Tour heads to the “Horrible Horseshoe” at Colonial Country Club for the Crowne Plaza Invitational. When the 1941 U.S. Open arrived at Colonial, club founder Marvin Leonard wanted to be sure his course was up to the challenge of hosting the national championship. So he asked golf architect Perry Maxwell to redesign Nos. 3, 4 and 5 on the course.
The par-3 fourth is a 250-yard behemoth. Both par-4s – the third and fifth – play around 480 yards. Mix in tight turns and large trees on the par-4s, and they play even longer.
“It’s a challenge. You can get through there at 1-over and feel like you’ve played well. If you get through there at even par, you feel even better and feel like you can go on and have a really good round.” – Jim Furyk
7. The Gauntlet: TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship)
Last but not least is The Gauntlet at TPC Sawgrass, the site of The Players Championship since 1982. Like many that made this list, The Gauntlet refers to the final three finishing holes, the par-5 16th, the famed par-3 island green 17th and the challenging par-4 18th.
Which nickname is your favorite? Let us know by leaving a comment below!