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15″ Wide Hole – What Would You Shoot?

Photo by Dom Furore

If the hole was fifteen inches wide, what would you shoot? Ten strokes better? Twenty? Well, some lucky folks got to find out recently and the results were pretty surprising. Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde dreamed up the event called the WIDE Open after hearing some comments about how making the hole bigger would make the game more fun. Held at one of my favorite courses in America – Pine Needles Lodge & GC in Southern Pines, NC – The event drew about 60 golfers of all handicap ranges. The event replaced the standard 4.25 inch wide holes with cups that measured 15 inches wide. That’s almost 4 times the size of a regular hole, for you mathematically challenged out there.So, how did everyone do? There was no word on how long they played the course, but we’ll assume the regular men’s tee and women’s tees were used, making the course play about 6000 yards for the men and 5000 for the ladies. The gross division was won by Steven Hahn, who shot a six-under 65. In the net division, 11 handicap David Sidden shot a 68 for a net 57! Several prizes were given out for the longest putt made (60 Feet), the fewest putts (15), and the most shots holed from off the green (four). The lowest score of the day was actually posted by an employee of the club, who could not be in the tournament. A plus-1 handicap, he shot 58 with four chip-ins! Because he works for the resort, his score didn’t count for the tournament or prizes.

The super large hole was popular to say the least. Scores went way down, nearly all the groups got around the course under four hours and most players left the flag in while putting, since the flag couldn’t interfere with the ball rolling in the hole. The gross division winner Hahn said he didn’t remember ever having laughed so much during a round of golf. Even though the prospect of shooting a crazy low score is attractive, many of the participants said they wouldn’t want to play that way every time.

This event proves just how important the short game is to your overall scores. Making it easy to putt and chip with a large hole allowed an 11 handicap golfer to shoot a 3 under par 68 on the par 71 layout. I’m speculating here, but most 11 handicap golfers shoot scores in the mid eighties. By the same token, a plus-1 handicap who shoots scores around par most of the time was able to shoot 14-under! Clearly a 15 inch wide hole has a huge impact on scoring. Just imagine what a PGA Tour player would be able to do on a course setup like that!

The WIDE Open will be covered in the June issue of Golf Digest. Make sure to check out Golf Digest’s new iPad app as well, they have just published an all-digital edition of the April issue for it, and we’ll be reviewing it very soon.

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