Best 18 in the Triangle:

The Back Nine

By Henry A. Lister, PhD

Writer & Photographer, GOLFHOLES.COM

USGA Course Rater

Golf is more than striking the ball into the hole. We relish the time outdoors, the mystery of creeks and ponds, the majesty of great trees, and comfort of well-managed meadows. Often, the concentration required to play well can block our appreciation for a holeís unique characteristics. Many of the holes on this second nine were selected because each one offers a moment of awe, tranquility, and peace that we seek from the good walk we spoil chasing the little white ball. Donít make anything out of the fact that I picked three 13th holes; itís just typical that the middle holes in a nine is the most interesting.

1st WAKE FOREST - It seems gimmicky to have a 711-yard hole (only a par 5!), and modern architects would NEVER design such a hole. Whatís worse, itís the starting hole. You donít get this much fun out of most opening holes, so while you bang away to reach the green, relish the long walks you get between shots and develop a pace that will carry you through the day.

8TH EAGLE RIDGE - This par 3 is said to be one of Tom Kiteís favorite holes. Easy to reach at 166/155 yards, but itís tough to put the ball near the pin. The setting for this hole is quite enjoyable. Stop worrying about your putt on this tiered green long enough to look up and enjoy the scenery. A par here can win not just the hole, but your bet for the day.

13th DUKE - Not the longest or hardest hole on the course, but what a beauty. Hitting over the pond to the green on the second shot is knee-rattling, but easier than what you just faced at the 12th hole. The holeís idyllic setting on this tough course is a great breather. Enjoy the walk, the quiet, and the carp in the pond.

13TH CROOKED CREEK - Both a favorite and nemesis! Off the tee you are more concerned with the lake than placement; wrong approach! The second shot (if you can see the green) makes or breaks you on this par-4 hole. The woods, water, dogleg, and isolation from the rest of the course gives this hole a special character.

13th THE PRESERVE - The prettiest in this group. The view from the tee down to the lake-bordered green is stunning. Easy to reach in two despite its length, but tough to put the ball where you want it on the green. This hole (and course), should be played during the height of fallís colorful display.

14th UNC Finley - Those who played here prior to Fazioís re-do will recognize remnants of the old par 5 14th. This simply designed par 3 can be vicious if you canít hit it straight. You can still feel giddy when you reach this distant corner of the course, find the green from the tee, and see deer, hawks, and other wildlife - in downtown Chapel Hill, no less.

14th HILLANDALE - This hole has played a big role in many competitions. Getting your par 4 on this 430/421 yard hole requires two strong shots. Once you are on the green at the back end of the course, you donít feel like you are in an urban area. The walk to the next tee is short but peaceful - until you face your next tee shot!

15TH THE NEUSE - The signature 14th overshadows this serene but quite challenging par 4 that features a rolling fairway and well defended green. Your fear of missing the green and memories of 14th make this ďThe Hole You Are Mostly Likely To Overlook.Ē Par here is a big victory.

17th FALLS VILLAGE - At this point in round, your match is usually decided. So this short (374 yd) par 4 is just the tonic to bask in (or salve to heal) the dayís results. Like the rest of the course, you are in unspoiled wilderness. Walking up to your take your approach to the green, it is easy to recall why you play this game. Just donít forget about the hidden trap on the front right or your walk will be spoiled.