As the home of 27 holes – on the Stewart, Cameron and MacKay nines – Thistle Golf Club offers an embarrassment of riches. The Tim Cate design is good from start to finish, regardless of which combination of nines you are playing.
Identifying the best of the best at the North Strand facility isn’t easy, but after some gnashing of teeth, head pro Gene Weldon was able to name his three favorites. Without further ado, here are Thistle’s three best holes from the perspective of its longtime head pro:
- The par 5 fourth hole on the Stewart 9 is an outstanding risk-reward challenge. The hole plays a meaty 543 yards from the tips and 515 yards from the white tees, but the opportunity for birdie or better awaits the bold. Players willing to take an aggressive line over the water that runs up the right side can turn the hole into a long par 4. But you better drive the ball 250 yards to clear the water that fills the elbow of the dogleg right.
“You can put double bogey in play pretty quickly playing that line, but if you get away with it, you have 170 yards to the green and have 2 putts for birdie,” Weldon said. “I always consider it a birdie hole if I hit a good tee shot; every once in awhile I eagle it.”
- The par 3 sixth hole on the MacKay nine is a gem. Playing 184 yards from the tips (144 from the whites), it isn’t overly long but the hole is anything but short on challenge. A large, deep bunker flanks an L-shaped green and an unseen challenge often lurks.
“It’s one of the few holes out here with a lot of trees and if you don’t pay attention, you will miss what the wind is doing,” Weldon says. “You better look up (at the tree tops) and you better pay attention. It’s a real thinking man’s hole.”
- Weldon’s favorite hole on the Cameron nine is the first golfers see when they pull onto the property at Thistle, the par 4 seventh hole. The 380-yard two-shotter is one of the course’s sternest tests. Long hitters will want to layup off the tee because anything that goes longer than 240 yards runs the risk of finding water.
“You don’t have to hit driver but you do have to hit it straight,” according to Weldon. “That’s one hole where water comes into play and then you have a two-tiered green.”
Make sure you check yardages to the pin and know which tier of the green you want to find, otherwise a very difficult putt could await.
What’s your favorite hole at the Thistle?