Way Above Par

Three Unforgettable Holes All Golfers Should Add to Their Bucket List

By Neil Edward Schlecht

Teeing off on the South Course at The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.

For golfers, perfection is a shadow. Always nearby. Never grasped. You catch glimpses sometimes. A sweet swing. A magic putt. But it never lasts long—unless you're playing an idyllic hole, where you might not be perfect but at least the surroundings are. In that spirit, here are three of the most perfect golf holes you could ever find—from the magnificent courses at La Quinta Resort & Club, The Boulders, and Boca Raton Resort & Club. Play them all and experience the idyll.

Hole: No. 5
Course: The Boulders

Stuck between a rock and a hard place is not generally where you want to find yourself on a golf course. But a 200-foot-high, hard granite face is the main attraction at the stunning No. 5 hole on the South Course at The Boulders in Scottsdale, Arizona. Towering over the green is an immovable backstop, a monumental boulder pile that is nearly 12 million years old. The massive pile can be seen from around the 1,300-acre hotel grounds (and even on your way into the resort, along Scottsdale Road).

The Hole: 5

The Course:

The Boulders
South Course

Par: 71

Yardage: 6,726

Rating: 71.9

Slope: 140

waldorfastoria.com/
theboulders

"I believe it's the only resort-course hole in America where you'll find rock climbers rappelling down in full view of golfers approaching the green," says Tom McCahan, director of golf operations. The rock climbers aren't exactly an obstacle on the hole, but the wildlife at The Boulders is another thing altogether. The desert fauna includes bobcats, coyotes, deer, and quail—and they're not infrequent visitors on the course.

Nestled across from the rugged Black Mountain, in the foothills of the Sonoran Desert, The Boulders is aptly named. Ancient rock outcroppings are strewn about the resort's two championship courses, both designed by Jay Morrish, and they come into play on several holes, including the South Course's signature No. 5.

The beguiling 545-yard hole, the first par-five on the course, features a split fairway. The green is reachable in two if you avoid the sand traps along the right side. But given the possibility of overshooting the green on a long approach, it's probably best to play it as a three-shot hole, laying up for a short approach to the tight green wedged in among the massive boulders.

The courses at The Boulders, which earned the resort a Platinum Medal by Golf magazine, are carved out of nature like few in the world. "Even after 21 years," admits McCahan, "I still have to pinch myself and remind myself that this isn't the kind of place most people get to work."

The Hole: 5

The Course:

The Boulders
South Course

Par: 71

Yardage: 6,726

Rating: 71.9

Slope: 140

waldorfastoria.com/
theboulders

Hole: No. 15
Course: La Quinta Resort & Club Mountain Course

Enveloped by the Santa Rosa Mountains in the California desert, La Quinta Resort & Club's Mountain Course is "like looking at a postcard—but one you can actually jump into," says Bill Shaw, director of golf at La Quinta Resort & Club. The course's No. 15 is a gorgeous par-five, 524-yard hole, tucked into the base of the mountains rising above the greens.

Pete Dye, one of the most influential golf architects of the past half-century, created the Mountain Course in 1983. "Dye knew that he couldn't overtake the beauty of these mountains, so he made them part of the canvas," says Shaw.

The Hole: 15

The Course:
La Quinta Resort & Club
Mountain Course

Par: 72

Yardage: 6,732

Rating: 72.9

Slope: 135

waldorfastoria.com/
laquinta

The 15th hole, a dogleg right, wraps right around the base of the mountain. From the fairway, the goal is to aim straight at a peak looming in the distance. The hole isn't a long par-five, but it's not one to attack. Risk takers could try to go over the edge of the mountain to their right and go for an eagle putt, but Shaw cautions: "If you try to get it on the green in two, you better get it on in two—or who knows what you'll make."

La Quinta Resort & Club's Mountain Course features Dye's signature pothole bunkers and small, undulating greens that demand pinpoint accuracy. All of the greens on the Mountain Course are raised, as are many of the tees. From that elevated perspective, the visual contrast between the craggy folds of the mountains and the sparkling emerald fairways and greens makes it tough to estimate distances. "He used the mountains not just to shape the hole, but also to fool you a bit," adds Shaw.

The Mountain Course is just one of Dye's creations for La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA WEST. The fifth architect inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame also designed the Dunes Course at La Quinta Resort & Club and the PGA WEST Stadium Course.

It's little wonder the courses at La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA WEST are so enticing to golfers. As Shaw points out, "It's tough to stay here and look at those beautiful mountains and not want to play."

The Hole: 15

The Course:
La Quinta Resort & Club
Mountain Course

Par: 72

Yardage: 6,732

Rating: 72.9

Slope: 135

waldorfastoria.com/
laquinta

Hole: No. 13
Course: Boca Raton Resort & Club

Water is central to life—and leisure—on Florida's fabled Gold Coast, where the Boca Raton Resort & Club hugs a half mile of pristine beaches. Water's influence is also inescapable on the Resort golf course, even though it lies just inland from the coast.

The course is sprinkled with 12 acres of lakes, and golfers find—but hope to avoid—water on 15 of 18 holes. "Water is there as much for the aesthetics as it is the challenge of the golf hole," contends Boca Raton Resort & Club head professional Mike Trinley. "The course is very user-friendly but still a challenge, and it leaves the vast majority of golfers with smiles on their faces and a desire to come back."

The Hole: 13

The Course:
Boca Raton Resort &
Club Course

Par: 71

Yardage: 6,253

Rating: 69.3

Slope: 128

waldorfastoria.com/
bocaraton

Scenic hole No. 13 is a case in point. "From the tee box, 13 looks innocent enough," says Trinley. "You see a short par-three, with a generous green, and you think to yourself, 130 yards, this is for the taking."

But a bunker shapes the back of the green and a huge banyan tree frames the left side of the hole. Then there's the not-so-small matter of carrying the pond that guards the front of the green. "Even the best players in the world could miss that shot. There's danger at every turn," the head pro says.

Squeezed into just 88 acres, the course isn't long, but it tests golfers' short games. Boca Raton Resort & Club is the ideal setting for the renowned Dave Pelz Scoring Game School. Open to guests, the school is "all scoring—chipping, pitching, putting, reading greens—what I personally think is the most important part of the game," says Trinley. Aficionados may note that Pelz coached Phil Mickelson, one of the sport's greatest short-game players.

Besides the ever-present water, Boca Raton Resort & Club's signature is its colorful history. The original Resort Course dates back to 1926, making it one of the oldest in Florida. Golfing legends Tommy Armour and Sam Snead headed the golf program for more than four decades. In 1997, renowned golf course architect Gene Bates redesigned the course, reconfiguring each of its 18 holes and earning the course a ranking among Golf Digest's top 75 courses in North America.

The Hole: 13

The Course:
Boca Raton Resort &
Club Course

Par: 71

Yardage: 6,253

Rating: 69.3

Slope: 128

waldorfastoria.com/
bocaraton

Golf Goes High-Tech

New gadgets and apps can seriously raise the level of your game. Here are our pros' picks for the coolest offerings available on the green.

The Garmin Approach® S3 ($350; garmin.com), a touch screen golf watch that brings GPS technology to the links, features adjustable pin positioning, distances to layup points, and digital scorecards. "Probably half of our members use Garmin GPS watches," says Mike Trinley of Boca Raton Resort & Club. The Garmin, which requires no subscriptions or fees, comes preloaded with more than 30,000 golf courses.
Golf GPS apps are available for your smartphone, such as Free Golf GPS (Swing by Swing Golf; free through iTunes), loaded with data for more than 34,000 courses worldwide. It details distance from the hole and offers satellite imaging to help you choose the correct club for your distance.
Instruction apps are also popular. Try the V1 Golf App (Interactive Frontiers, Inc., at iTunes) for swing analysis.