Easiest hole on PGA Tour once again living up to its softball reputation
If you’re a regular golf-watcher, you can probably picture many of the toughest holes on Tour: the meaty par-4 closers at Bay Hill and Quail Hollow; the recently lengthened par-4 5th at Augusta National; the 233-yard par-3 11th at Torrey Pines South. Bruisers all of them.
But what of the easiest holes? Or that matter, the easiest hole, period?
In the 2020-21 season, that distinction went to the 526-yard par-5 5th on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, home of the Tournament of Champions. The boys are back in Maui this week for the ToC, and exactly one round into 2022, Kapalua’s defenseless 5th is already well positioned to defend its title as the Tour’s biggest pushover, as noted Thursday evening in a tweet from Chris Solomon at No Laying Up.
How easy was the 5th? Of the 38 players in the field, 33 made birdie, 2 made eagle, 2 more made par and just a single player — Patrick Reed — made bogey, the result of a blocked tee shot into the native area right of the fairway. Reed hit a second tee ball, knocked his fourth shot on to the green and two-putted for his 6.
The scoring average for the hole on Thursday was a gaudy 4.053, meaning Reed, who shot a one-over 74, lost nearly 2 full strokes to the field with a bogey. Not something you see often.
The 5th actually doesn’t look that easy, at least not for mere mortals. The fairway — which has a center-line bunker — banks left to right, and you can’t miss too far right or you’ll pull a Reed. From the fairway, should you choose to go for it, you’re left with a daunting second over a gnarly ravine that guards the front-right of the green. Trouble can be found!
Just not by Tour pros, apparently. On Thursday, the field, on average, was left with only 177 yards into the green, which doesn’t present much of a risk-reward decision for players who can hit 8-irons that distance. No risk, all reward. Making scoring even easier in the first round: preferred lies were in effect on account of soggy conditions.
“I didn’t find it all too difficult,” South African Eric Van Rooyen said after posting a six-under 67 that has him four back of leader Cameron Smith. “I think the course needs a bit of breeze to really protect it. The fairways are quite wide and it’s playing so soft, so if that doesn’t happen then the scores will be really low.”
And at the 5th, really, really low.
The other easiest holes on Tour last season? No surprise, the top 10 softballs were all par-5s. Runner-up honors went to another Hawaii hole, the 506-yard par-5 9th at Waialae (Sony Open), which had a scoring average of 4.171. The third-easiest hole was the par-5th at Sedgefield (Wyndham Championship), which had a scoring average of 4.220.
The easiest non-par-5 was the 341-yard par-4 15th at TPC Summerlin (Shriners), with a 3.464 scoring average.
Here, courtesy of the PGA Tour’s ShotLink database, are the top 10 most toothless holes from last season: