The 8 best island greens you won’t see on TV this week

The island green at Couer d'Alene golf course

The floating island-green 14th at Coeur D'Alene is reachable only by boat.

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Often emulated, never equaled. So it has been said of the island-green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, a par-3 that has inspired more copycats than we can count. Yet not all island greens are would-be Sawgrass clones. Quite a few are characters all their own. Here are eight fine examples of the form.

Coeur d’Alene Resort, Couer d’Alene, Idaho

14th hole, 218 yards, par-3

Most island greens aren’t really islands; they’re linked to terra firma by a walkway or a bridge. The 14th at Couer d’Alene is a different story. Its expansive putting surface, fringed by flowers and pines, floats in a crystalline lake, with no physical link to land. It is reachable only by a six-passenger boat. 

The Creek Club, Locust Valley, N.Y.

11th hole, 195 yards, par-3

All due respect to Pete Dye, but C.B. Macdonald had the idea long ago. Working with Seth Raynor at this high-end private club, the Golden Age master dreamed up a hole aptly named “Island,” with a Biarritz green ringed by marshland and waters that rise with the tide.

The Creek Club in Locust Valley, N.Y. Evan Schiller

Golden Horseshoe, Gold Course, Williamsburg, Va.

16th hole, 169 yards, par-3

One of the early island greens of the modern era, this one was designed by the original “Open Doctor,” Robert Trent Jones Sr. And though it doesn’t quite require surgical precision, you do need to be on point if you want a reasonable look at birdie on the large and subtly contoured putting surface.

The Kittansett Club, Marion, Mass.

3rd hole, 167 yards, par-3

Miss most island greens, and you’re in the water. On this exhilarating hole, designed by William Flynn, an errant shot is more apt to splash in the sand, which rings the entire green, creating a different kind of island effect.

The Kittansett Club in Marion, Mass. Patrick Koenig

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Ocean Course, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

9th hole, 144 yards, par-3

Pete Dye credited his wife, Alice, for suggesting the idea of an island green at Sawgrass. Alice, in turn, said she was inspired by the island green at the Ocean Course, a 1928 Herbert Strong design.

PGA West, La Quinta, Calif.

17th hole, 168 yards, par-3

Born of the same Dye parentage, and host to a PGA Tour event, the island green here is a Sawgrass sibling but not a twin. For starters, it is longer than the one in Ponte Vedra. It also plays downhill to a rock-ringed green. Hence its nickname: Alcatraz.

PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. Getty Images

Punta Mita Pacifico Golf Course, Punta Mita, Mexico

Hole 3B, 194 yards, par-3

Known as the “Tail of the Whale” and billed as the only island green set in the Pacific Ocean, this arresting par-3 plays as an optional hole. But if you want to putt out, there’s no choice: you’ve got to take a little motorboat to get to the green.

TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), Scottsdale, Ariz.

15th hole, 558 yards, par-5

Not all island greens are on par 3s. At this year’s WM Phoenix Open, Nick Taylor took three shots to reach the 15th green, laying up on the water-guarded par-5 en route to victory.

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