The original redan hole is the 15th hole at North Berwick Golf Club in Scotland, designed by Ben Sayers. Many consider the redan as the best par 3 design in golf. I think it’s a phenomenal design because of the options it gives golfers of different skill levels. Birdies, pars and big numbers can be had by great players and average players alike.
Redan holes typically range from 180-215 yards and feature a 45 degree right-to-left angled green that is protected by a deep bunker that runs along the left side of the green. Redan and reverse redan (same concept except they are angled left to right) greens carry a great deal of slope that typically runs towards the bunker and from the front of the green to the back of the green. An easy way to spot a redan is by their defining shoulder or hump on the right side of the green, which will help funnel balls towards the middle of the green. Traditional redans also typically feature a short bunker and a bunker behind the sloping shoulder to penalize wayward shots. If you find the back bunker, a par save is highly unlikely.
A player’s strategy on redan holes will be determined by skill and their preferred shot pattern. A highly skilled player who plays a draw will love these holes as they will be able to shape a shot to a pin effortlessly. For less-skilled players or players who hit a left-to-right shot, the hole becomes quite tricky. The obvious bailout position is in the short and right of the green, but that will leave a challenging pitch that is heavily influenced by slope. The best place to bail is long and left which will leave an uphill chip back to the pin.
Redans in the wild
Let’s take a look at examples of redan holes at both classic and modern designs.
North Berwick Golf Club - 15th - 190 yards
The Original Gangster, the 15th at North Berwick is where Macdonald and so many other architects drew their inspiration. North Berwick’s redan will set the tone for all of the other versions you will see later in this piece. The green slopes heavily from right to left and front to back and is guarded by extremely deep bunkers on the left side as well as long and right. An ideal miss is long as it leaves an uphill chip shot back to the pitched green.
Chicago Golf Club - 7th - 207 yards
The 7th at Macdonald's Chicago Golf Club stretches to 207-yards and calls for a precise long iron shot that moves from right to left. A shot that lands on the right shoulder will funnel back to the middle of the green. The seventh at Chicago Golf's one of the most pronounced and severe redan holes of those listed. Some consider it the best rendition of the hole in the world.
National Golf Links of America - 4th - 195 yards
Those that don't think Chicago Golf's is the best, consider NGLA's the the greatest redan hole in golf. Macdonald many bold features into the 4th at NGLA, including a large right to left slope and an extremely deep bunker, forcing even the best players to bail right.
Shoreacres - 14th - 185 yards
Designed by Seth Raynor, the 14th is a dramatic redan hole as evidenced by the deep bunker guarding the green and the large shoulder along the right side. This redan hole is unique because of the ravine that Raynor was able to use as an added penalty for a left shot.
As you can see, a shot played short and to the right leaves a player with an awkward chip shot that will be heavily influenced by the shoulder on the right. A poor shot runs the risk of rolling into the greenside bunker.
Fox Chapel Golf Club - 6th - 192 yards
At Fox Chapel Golf Club outside of Pittsburgh, Raynor employs a reverse redan for the 6th hole. The hole mirrors the 14th at Shoreacres except the green angles from left-to-right rather than right-to-left.
Camargo Club - 15th - 192 yards
Seth Raynor’s Cincinnati classic has one of the best redan holes in golf, the 15th which stretches to 192 yards. Notice how well Raynor is able to use Camargo’s rolling terrain to his advantage, blending the 15th hole perfectly into the natural terrain.
St. Louis Country Club - 16th - 185 yards
At C.B. Macdonald’s Saint Louis Country Club, you will find another reverse redan on the 16th. While Macdonald always preferred a right-to-left redan, here the natural terrain called for a left-to-right sloping green. This redan’s slope isn’t quite as pronounced as some of the others but is a splendid design that requires a player to execute a left-to-right shot to get the ball close.
Sleepy Hollow Country Club - 7th - 217 yards
The 7th at C.B. Macdonald’s Sleepy Hollow is a beautiful downhill reverse redan that plays a stiff 217 yards. While this redan’s shoulder isn’t as pronounced as others, it makes me think it may play tougher in today’s modern era as the back left bunker is much more in play. A shot from there is very challenging to get up and down.
Newport C.C. - 14th - 209 yards
Site of the first U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur, Newport C.C. is one of the most historic golf clubs in all of America. Here we will see our first redan hole not designed by Macdonald or Raynor, as Newport's course was designed by William Davis their first club pro and later renovated by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast.
Greenbrier “Old White” - 8th - 234 yards
The redan at C.B. Macdonald’s only public access course is a dandy. The photo below shows the natural topography made for an ideal redan site. A wise player will keep their shot towards the right as the green is guarded by the deepest bunker on the course. Old White's redan is one of the few that plays to the original intention of the hole with its yardage which requires a low running shot.
Shinnecock Hills - 7th - 189 yards
A little history lesson goes along with this one. After C.B. MacDonald designed the neighboring National Golf Links, he and Seth Raynor were enlisted to redesign Shinny. The course was then redesigned again by William Flynn, who removed many of MacDonald and Raynor’s changes except for the par 3 7th. This hole (that golf fans will get to see in the 2018 U.S. Open) is nasty. The green has heavy slope from front to back, which forces players to play short of the green and right into Macdonald and Raynor’s design strategy.
Fishers Island Club - 2nd - 172 yards
Seth Raynor’s seaside masterpiece, Fishers Island, features a redan hole early in the round. This one is a bit shorter than a typical redan hole and has the added water element short of the green to play with a player’s mind.
Fishers Island Club - 12th - 389 yards - par 4
Fishers Island also has a two-shot redan. The par 4 12th, features a reverse redan that makes for a vexing short par four. Players have to approach the challenging green complex from a miriad of uneven lies. The green complex also features a subtle knoll in the back half that creates a small added challenge.
The Course at Yale - 13th - 213 yards
The 13th at Yale is a beautiful downhill redan at one of Seth Raynor’s best designs. At 213 yards, it still calls for a relatively long-iron approach but the downhill makes this redan play a little bit shorter.
The Creek Club - 8th - 185 yards
Macdonald built a beautiful reverse redan at Long Island’s The Creek Club. A good mid-iron shot requires a player to hit a high cut to the left to right sloping green.
Lookout Mountain Golf Club - 13th - 203 yards
Here’s a shot of the redan hole at Seth Raynor’s Lookout Mountain. Since Raynor didn’t keep records of his work, it was only recently discovered that Lookout Mountain was in fact a Raynor design. The 13th has all of the core features of a redan with the deep front bunker as well as the short framing bunker.
Mountain Lake Country Club -11th - 160 yards
The redan from Seth Raynor’s beautiful Florida course Mountain Lake. The 8th at Mountain Lake features a dramatic sweeping right to left slope that influences shots hit on the right side of the green. The slope of the 8th has to be seen to believe its truly remarkable. While the 8th at Mountain Lake is shorter than your typical redan hole its bold shaping makes up for it.
Bandon Dunes - Old Macdonald - 12th - 237 yards
Tom Doak and Jim Urbina's take on the redan at Bandon Dunes’ C.B. Macdonald tribute course has a bit of a twist on the traditional version. The 12th plays from a longer yardage to accommodate for modern technology and features a smaller bunker on the left side. A snippet of Doak’s full description can be found here.
“Our Redan is a bit different; the left bunker does not come across the front of the green as far as would be typical for the hole, but the bank of the green feeds short balls out to the bunker. Only a straight fade will work here.”
Yeamans Hall - 6th - 190 yards
One of the best Seth Raynor designs is the exclusive Yeamans Hall in Charleston, South Carolina. Here is a look at their redan hole, the sixth that has an extremely nasty back left pin position as featured here.
Blue Mound Golf and Country Club - 1st - 398 yards - par 4
Unlike most on this list, the first hole at Seth Raynor’s Blue Mound is a two shot redan hole! It serves as the opening hole at the Milwaukee course, and is an interesting take on the traditional par 3 because a player must hit a good tee shot in order to be in position to hit the green.
While this hole has changed significantly due to modern technology, imagine a situation where you were required to hit a long-iron shot into this par 4 green as opposed to today a short-iron or wedge.
Blue Mound Golf and Country Club - 13th - 185 yards
Blue Mound’s par 3 version of the redan hole is a beauty that plays downhill. The green has considerable slope from right to left and front to back making short putts extremely challenging. Just as with the par 4 1st, this beautiful redan has been changed by technology as today players are able to hit a mid-iron approach rather than a long-iron.
Black Creek Club - 7th - 239 yards
Designed by Brian Silva, the Black Creek Club features a reverse redan that stretches to 239 yards. Silva wanted the 7th at Black Creek to play like Macdonald’s original intention in the early 1900’s, requiring players to run the ball up and utilize the slope of the redan to hit the ball close. This is an extremely difficult and absolutely beautiful reverse redan.
Black Creek Club - 11th - 195 yards
Silva’s Chattanooga gem also features a traditional redan hole that has all original features: 3 bunkers, one short, a deep left bunker and a long right bunker, along with a heavy right to left sloping green.
Forsgate Country Club - 7th - 217 yards
A Charles Banks design, Forsgate has a ton of great template holes including the 7th, their redan hole. The 7th is a reverse redan, and I like the yardage it’s played at because it requires players to hit an accurate long-iron shot (Macdonald’s original intention).
Los Angeles Country Club - North - 11th - 244 yards
The George Thomas masterpiece features an incredibly difficult reverse redan. Stretching to 244 yards from the back tee box the 11th plays slightly downhill but the long shot, deep bunkering and sloping green make par a tough score to come by.
Cavalier Yacht and Golf Club - 18th - 210 yards
The redan finisher at Cavalier, a Charles Banks design in Virginia Beach, is unique as Banks brought a water hazard into play. Unlike most redan holes, players do not want to miss long or left on the 18th, making the hole all the more challenging.
Somerset Hills C.C. - 2nd - 205 yards
I have been told by many that the 2nd at Somerset Hills is the hardest redan hole in the world. Designed by the great A.W. Tillinghast, this redan stretches to 205 yards and has a tremendous slope to it. As described by a fried egg member, “Bogey is a decent score, par is great, and birdie unheard of…”
Philadelphia Cricket Club - 15th - 240 yards
When Keith Foster was hired to restore Philly Cricket, he removed a lot of trees from the 15th and some yardage to make Tillinghast’s redan 15th play like its original intention. Playing at 240 yards, the 15th requires players to hit a long-iron, hybrid or fairway wood into the green. To hit a good shot you likely will need to land the ball short and run it up.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort - Pacific Dunes - 17th - 209 yards
Old Macdonald isn’t the only course at Bandon Dunes that features a redan hole as Tom Doak employed the design on the 17th hole at Pacific Dunes. A tough one-shot hole on the closing stretch makes a player navigate an downhill target that’s heavily protected by a deep bunker.
Sweetens Cove - 9th - 152 yards
Here’s a look at how Rob Collins, a modern architect, is still using these templates in his design 100 years later. The 9th at Sweetens Cove is a hybrid of two of Macdonald’s template holes, “the redan” and “the short.” As you can see, the redan features are unmistakable as a giant shoulder rests on the right side of the green, allowing players to bank shots off it towards the pin.
A look at the extreme redan sloping from the right side of the 9th green.
A view from the left side of the green.
Sand Valley - 3rd - 225 yards
Coore and Crenshaw use the redan heavily in their designs. They feature a pronounced redan hole at their newest project, Sand Valley. Here’s a look at the 3rd hole, which features a massive shoulder that will kick balls to the center of the green. I missed right of it, not recommended.
Playing off the right mound can lead to great reward, but if you miss it you are left with an extremely challenging shot.
A slight difference from the Macdonald & Raynor versions that you will see in Coore & Crenshaw’s version here is a less-sloped green from front to back.
Kingsley Club - 16th - 205 yards
Located in Northern Michigan and designed by Michael DeVries is the Kingsley Club, which features a redan par 3 on the 16th hole. DeVries adds a twist to the original design with two bunkers behind the green to add penalty to a shot that misses long.
Downers Grove Golf Club - 8th - 192 yards
The original site of Macdonald’s first course Chicago Golf Club, Downers Grove Golf Club has 5 of the 9 original holes still intact. Over time, this municipal has allowed the greens to shrink and diminished many of Macdonald’s original designs, but on the 8th, you can still see the distinct redan characteristics. This was the first redan hole built in the United States!
As you can see, the green at Downers Grove Golf Club’s 8th hole has shrunk over time. Hopefully, a restoration will happen and the green will move back to the right and the bunker guarding will be deepened.
Longue Vue Club - 3rd - 202 yards
A neighbor of Fox Chapel, Longue Vue Club was not to be outdone with its redan hole, designed by Scottish golf professional, Robert White. What I love about this redan is the way White was able to carve the hole out of the natural terrain. All of the land flows right to left and downward, which gives this redan a beautiful natural feel.
The Riviera Country Club - 4th - 236 yards
The historic George Thomas design features a beefy redan hole, the 4th that requires players to hit a precise long iron shot into the severely sloped green. To make matters worse for players, this hole usually plays into a sea breeze. Due to its length, the 4th at Riviera plays like the original intention, forcing players to land it short and run the ball up to the green.
Ben Hogan called the 4th at Riviera "The Greatest Par 3 in the world" a statement which is hard to disagree with. Here is a look at the green.