It Takes talent to win on any course, but some tracks are better suited for the creative golfer than for the more conservative plodder. A creative player ( Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw and Phil Mickelson fall into this category) is a gambler who can create a shot for any situation. A plodder (a guy like Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson or Curtis Strange) plays from point to point and relies on a basic set of shots. The best players can employ either style, depending on the situation. Here are the best Talent Courses in the world, places where golf is more art than science.
1. Augusta National
Augusta rewards length like no other championship venue, but the approaches demand precise distance control. Conjuring up just the right shots around the swervy, superfast greens is an extreme test of touch and dexterity.
2. St. Andrews
The Old Course was the inspiration for Augusta. The wide fairways encourage aggressive driving, but there is no standard shot for getting out of the deep bunkers, and negotiating the humpy greens demands improvisation.
3. Pebble Beach
This course requires more imagination and shotmaking than any other U.S. Open venue. The tiny, extremely firm greens receive only pure shots. Only the most dexterous can fashion the little shots that will be needed next week.
4. Pinehurst No. 2
Last year's Open leader board speaks volumes. Pinehurst requires a greater variety of short-game shots and more hand-eye coordination than any other place on earth.
5. Shinnecock Hills
The monster par-4s call for the most revealing shot in golf—a long iron to a firm, windswept green.
6. Sand Hills
This modern classic in the high plains of Nebraska was built for shot-making. The lack of trees and the wind make it a links course in the heartland.
The holes fit the eye and define the required shot. No wonder Fred Couples, the master shot shaper, loves this place.
8. Winged Foot
Some think of the West Course as the typical tree-lined U.S. Open layout, but A.W. Tillinghast's finest work leaves more room to maneuver than the other Eastern classics.
9. Royal Dornoch
This ancient jewel in northern Scotland is too remote and too short (6,514 yards) to host the British Open, but top golfers make a pilgrimage there anyway to test their short-iron and fairway wedge games.