It's rare I come across something I've never seen before on a golf course, but that's exactly what happened to me last week.
And, I'm willing to bet that unless you've played where I was playing, you have never seen this either.
In fact, it might be the first of its kind in the entire world.
What was so unusual?
The course was the Four Seasons Golf Club in Costa Rica, but the bizarre sight was NOT the white-faced and howler monkeys all over the place.
(Monkeys on a golf course are unusual, but not unprecedented; you can also find them in Barbados at Sandy Lane's aptly-named Green Monkey course).
Rather, I noticed the most unusual feature on the par-3 fifth hole.
From the tips it is listed at a meaty 215 yards and the entire green is guarded by a long pond on the right. There is bail out room on the left, but a line of bunkers stands ready to swallow wayward shots (see below).
As I glanced at my scorecard, I noticed this was the number one handicap hole on the entire golf course.
This got me thinking: surely I have played many difficult par-3s, but has one ever been the No. 1 handicap hole?
So, I searched my memory and came up with some contenders:
The 5th at Pine Valley...
The 9th at Yale...
The 14th at Royal Portrush...
The 16th at Cypress Point...
The 17th at Kiawah's Ocean Course...
Alas, these contenders were all pretenders.
Very difficult holes, yes, but none is the No. 1 handicap on its course.
By the way, "No. 1 handicap hole" doesn't mean, "the hardest hole."
Instead, it's the hole where a bogey golfer will most likely need a stroke as an "equalizer" against a scratch golfer.
Said another way: the hole that typically produces the biggest differential in their scores.
(Use that, my fellow bogey golfers, if anyone tries to deny you a stroke on a par-3 simply because it's a par-3.)
And guess what? I played three rounds at this course and shot double bogey, double bogey, bogey on the hole.
So, as bizarre as it seemed at first, this par-3 surely felt accurately handicapped at No. 1.
How about you? Have you ever come across a par-3 that was the number one handicap...or one that should be? Do you see anything wrong with giving strokes on a par-3 even if it's highly handicapped?
Please share your thoughts or read what other are saying below.