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Classic Holes - Royal Queensland 14th

This article courtesy of the Golf Architecture Magazine

The 14th Hole at Royal Queensland Golf Club
Par 3, 153 metres

Hole Architects – Anning and Russell

Hidden in the far reaches of the Royal Queensland course is one of the par 3 gems of Australian golf. At first sight, the hole appears innocuous enough, but beware the golfer who treats the 14th without respect – for a shortish par 3 it certainly has very sharp teeth.

According to Norman von Nida, it is the wind that makes it such a challenge and he rates it as one of the best in the country. The prevailing south easterly breeze swirls around the tight, small green making club selection vital in playing the hole well. The pear shaped green is just 21 metres long and 16 metres wide, sloping gently from back to front.

"The Von" likens the hole to the 12th at Augusta where sudden wind gusts have sunk the hopes of many aspiring champions. "The wind at RQ’s 14th usually comes from over your left or right shoulder or from straight behind you. When it comes from behind, the small green and perfectly placed bunkers combine to make the shot one of the toughest in golf," he says. "You have to get the feel for the shot because the wind can change on your backswing or downswing. I used to make minor adjustments to my swing on the 14th if I felt the wind change, which is what you have to do at Augusta. Of course at RQ you don’t have a pond in front of you , but I can’t think of anywhere else in the world where conditions are so similar."

The bunkers he talks about guard the front of the green and also eat up shots that drift right or left. An interesting feature is the 11 metre long hollow between the large front trap and the front of the green. This hollow sometimes rewards accurate shots that fly the bunker but still come up short of the putting surface. Sometimes the ball that lands short will pop up onto the green – a number of professionals in the recent ANZ Players Championship were able to get close to a difficult front pin spot this way, while others who landed on the green went through the back.

Any recovery shot from the bunkers is fraught with danger as there is only a small width of green to work with. Any shot that flies the green will require a delicate chip up a steepish bank to recover.

According to "the Von" it is a dangerous hole but potentially a rewarding one, because if you hit the green a makeable birdie putt is the prize. He says that a northerly breeze exposes the hole’s only weakness as this headwind allows the experienced player more control over distance.

The 14th is the turning point of a round at RQ in more ways than one. Like the famous Scottish links which run out, then in, the 14th is at the far end of the back nine and marks the homeward turn. It has also been the turning point of many a round.

Although the indomitable Dr. Mackenzie is credited with designing Royal Queensland, he had no involvement in the creation of this classic par 3, as the 14th was not part of the original layout when the course first opened for play in 1921. Sometime later, in the mid 1920’s, former club captain Eric Anning and greenkeeper A.S. Russell created the hole. Apart from minor works to elevate the tee, this delightful little hole is exactly the same today as it was back then.

by Ross Watson
courtesy of the Golf Architecture Magazine - click for more