6 Great Double Dogleg Holes

During the first few decades of the 20th century, architects A.W. Tillinghast and C.B. Macdonald often engaged in good-natured debates about course design. While Macdonald favored the strategy of implementing template designs, Tillinghast most often let the natural land dictate a hole’s inherent shape and strategy. That said, Tillinghast—who garnered the nickname “Tillie the Terror” during his career—was a strong advocate of the dogleg and, in a 1926 issue of Golf Illustrated, he declared himself the inventor of the double dogleg (an act that he said he completed 15 years earlier).

Although it’s difficult to confirm if Tillinghast truly did invent the double dogleg hole, it’s clear that the design caught on. Here, we spotlight six great examples of holes that dogleg twice, including the most famous example penned by the template’s self-proclaimed creator.

5th Hole, Whistling Straits (Straits)Kohler, Wis.

Remember Bryson DeChambeau’s drive on the 5th hole of The Straits course at Whistling Straits during the Ryder Cup in 2021—you know, the one where he took an unfathomable line to the right over the gallery and seemingly miles away from the fairway? You wouldn’t know it from watching that 417-yard tee shot or the subsequent flip wedge that set up a tap-in eagle putt, but the 5th hole plays as an intimidating double dogleg for us mere mortals. With a broad water hazard on the right that’s in play from the tee, players must first find the fairway to the left, then avoid another water hazard that flanks the left side of the fairway as the hole meanders its way to the right, then back to the left around that same hazard to the green. As hole names are concerned, this one—Snake—is spot on. But it’s not the only double dogleg at Destination Kohler. The 475-yard par-four 6th hole on the Meadow Valleys course at Blackwolf Run is appropriately named “Serpentine,” though its curves are more subtle than the par-five 5th on The Straits. Nevertheless, its shape—and the placement of cavernous bunkers and penal native grasses—rewards players who can hit a right-to-left-curving drive and a left-to-right approach shot.

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Whistling Straits (Straits), 5th hole (photo courtesy Destination Kohler)

15th Hole, The National Golf Club (Moonah)Cape Schanck, Victoria, Australia

As the handiwork of co-designers Greg Norman and Bob Harrison, the Moonah course at The National Golf Club south of Melbourne is one that features serpentine-shaped fairways on several holes. That said, the 15th hole, which plays more than 570 yards from the back tees, is the standout of that group. A left-to-right-shaped drive on this hole is the best strategy off the tee, though a straight tee ball will bounce and roll along the firm, fast fairways and will also position players in a favorable spot for their second shot. From there, golfers will be left with a choice—to either take a straight line toward the green (cutting the corner of the hole’s late dogleg to the left) or to shape a layup that corresponds with the right-to-left curvature of the fairway. In either case, once players take aim at the green, they’ll be best rewarded if they attempt to use the slopes on the putting surface to funnel shots toward the hole. Such is proof that on this hole, the shortest distance to the pin isn’t necessarily a straight line.

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The National Golf Club (Moonah), 15th hole (photo by William Watt)

5th Hole, PGA West (Pete Dye Stadium)La Quinta, Calif.

Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of most average golfers like a sprawling water hazard, especially one that’s positioned in the target area of a player’s customary miss. Unfortunately, golfers will be forced to face their fears on the 5th hole of the Pete Dye Stadium course at PGA West (named Double Trouble), whether it’s off the tee or on their subsequent shot. To start, drives must be hit over and then to the right of a broad water hazard that runs down the left side of the fairway. A slightly smaller—though no less menacing—water hazard then runs down the remaining right side of the fairway and fronts the bunkerless green. At only 535 yards from the back tees, this par five is reachable in two; however, any successful attempts in that regard will require players either hit directly over both hazards or work the ball right to left off the tee and then left to right from the fairway. Double trouble, indeed!

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PGA West (Pete Dye Stadium), 5th hole (photo by Matt Hahn)

4th Hole, Bethpage BlackFarmingdale, N.Y.

With its fairway bisected by a ridge, this short par five (designed by Tillinghast) doesn’t play like a traditional double dogleg, even though the fairway does serpentine around and above a series of massive bunkers. With no obstacles that force players to shape shots in conjunction with the fairway’s routing, golfers can boldly attempt to clear those sand traps. But for those who choose to make the 4th play as a three-shot hole, players will begin by hitting drives that curve from right to left, following the lower portion of fairway as it wraps around a sprawling fairway bunker. From there, players laying up will curve their second shots from left to right to an upper level of fairway that positions them to hit wedge shots back to the left and onto a well-guarded putting surface. As suggested above, most golfers are likely to take straight lines over this hole’s sand-filled hazards today, but back in the 1930s when the Black course opened, the 4th hole undoubtedly forced players to carefully navigate around those hazards.

8th Hole, Los Angeles Country Club (North)Los Angeles, Calif.

Typically, a double dogleg introduces two instances that at least strongly encourage players to shape their shots in both directions. This means that the vast majority of players will likely be uncomfortable for one of those two shots. Fortunately, on the 8th hole of LACC North, the fairway can easily receive tee shots that curve in either direction. Yes, a left-to-right shape is ideal, but players can also hit drives that curve right to left, since the aggressively sloped landing area typically feeds balls down to a level section of the fairway on the right. From there, golfers who are playing the percentages will need to curve their second shots around a grove of sycamore trees on the left. The bold, on the other hand, can take a straighter route and attempt to carry those sycamores on a direct line with the green. At 537 yards, this is the shortest of the three par fives on the course, yet because the hole requires exacting shots hit to small targets, it ranks just inside the nine hardest holes on the scorecard.

9th Hole, Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Cougar Point)Kiawah Island, S.C.

The concluding hole on the front nine of Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s first golf course, Cougar Point, is a lengthy, twisting par five, one that brings an expansive pond into play down the right side of the fairway. While that hazard impacts the first two shots that players will encounter, a bailout away from the water isn’t an option—at least not one that strays too far left—as an OB line runs up the entire left side of the hole. The yardage guide urges a conservative strategy: “Consider keeping your woods in the bag.” But golfers playing from the back tees aren’t likely to feel quite as squeezed with their drives. Better still, if they can favor the right side of the fairway with those tee shots, golfers will face a less daunting layup, not to mention a chance to go for the green with a second shot that turns right to left.

Have you ever played a double dogleg hole? Tell us about your experience in the comment section.

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