Larry Canning: What’s the scariest golf hole you have ever played… without laughing?

Larry CanningONE of my millions of twitter followers and respected golf photographer, Adrian Logue, recently sparked a timely “sitting at home in front of computer” conversation by asking the question “what’s the scariest hole you ever played?”

It’s a great question and one that had me thinking long and hard … the 15th at NSW maybe? 14th at Lakes Resort Pauanui? Every hole at Joondalup? All worthy winners but the one that stands out for me is the 5th at Warnambool. Not only has this hole seen me pondering whether my career could end then and there but on one unforgettable day way back in the 1980’s I actually feared for my life. 

It was the first round of the Victorian PGA Championship and by shear fluke I was drawn with my roomy and mate, Chris “Hearny” Hearn. Our third player was a Queensland colleague and good bloke who I won’t name for fear of a potential lawsuit. Like I said he was and no doubt still is a ripper of a bloke and a good player but when it came to patience, let’s just say he didn’t have that club in his bag. I’m going to call him Roary.

By the time we had arrived at this terrifying piece of golf course architecture Hearny and I were even par and Roary, well he had jumped out of the gates like a bullet with birdies on the first three holes. A missed short putt on the 4th still had him at 2 under but he was clearly not very happy.

Warrnambool Golf Course
Warrnambool Golf Course

Standing on the elevated 5th tee all you can see is an ocean of thick, gnarly scrubland with this tiny slither of a fairway. They don’t use a mower to cut this fairway they use a machete. Word has it if you enter the rough looking for your ball you’re supposed to notify the SES of your plans.

Hearny had the honour and hit a superb iron shot, piercing the centre of this ludicrously narrow fairway. I shrewdly went back a club to allow for my impending deceleration and followed with a panicky half backswing and an even shorter follow through which I disguised with a fake wrist injury. Luckily the ball came right out of the centre of the face and it flew down the left edge of the fairway, safe and sound.

Now it was Roary’s turn. He took a big hard practice swing as if to say, I don’t like this hole and I should be at least 2 shots better than I am by now anyway. Sadly this hole didn’t like him back and his tee-shot started out over the trees on the right, then curved further right. This ball was never going to be seen by human eyes again.

I know Hearny was just trying to say the right thing but his timing of “Aaah Roary, better hit a provisional mate, just in case” was far from perfect. Roary went to his bag reefed another ball from the pocket and, as the rules state, with teeth in fully clench position said “provisional!”.

His next ball started in the same direction but this time curved even further and in the general direction of Adelaide. With a guttural scream he buried the head of his club that deeply into the turf all you could see was the grip. Back to the bag for pill number three. Now this is when it became dangerous. I’m standing there watching a livid Roary yelling stuff I hadn’t heard since I watched the Exorcist, while trying to extricate his club out of the ground, and I started giggling like a little kid.

Seriously readers I knew it was easily the most inappropriate thing I could have done but I just couldn’t help myself. Luckily he couldn’t hear my sniggers over his bellowing but I knew it wasn’t going to be long before I had to shut-up so he could attempt his next tee shot.

He finally gave up on the club in the turf and without even looking at the number on the sole, ripped another option from the bag. His next swing looked like he was killing an Eastern Brown Snake but the ball managed to find the short grass and Hearny, our two young caddies and I scurried off the tee before I burst into hysterics. I have no doubt he would have killed me with absolutely no remorse. I remember Hearny saying to our impressionable bag toters “Just keep walking and whatever you do… don’t look back!”   

It was an image I will never forget on a hole that should only inspire horror not bloody humour. I have played that hole a number of times since and for some reason never missed that fairway. Mind you, the pathetic lack of clubhead speed I was mustering wasn’t enough to reach the scrub.

EDIT: So readers, what is the scariest hole you have ever played? You can us the ASG comments section below, or comment on the twitter or facebook posts linked below



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