Odds are, you’ve never played the West Links at Scotland’s storied North Berwick Golf Club, nor National Golf Links on Long Island.

What is a “Redan” Hole, and How Do You Play It

But it’s just as likely that you’ve encountered a so-called “Redan” hole somewhere along the line. If not, you will.

And if you recognize the hole as a Redan, you’ll have a better chance of beating it.

North Berwick’s 15th hole, a 192-yard par 3, is the original Redan. Architect Charles Blair famously emulated it in building No. 4 at National Golf Links, and scores of designers have followed with Redans of their own.

The classic Redan hole features a green which tilts from the right front corner to the back left – sometimes severely – with one or more bunkers cut into the green’s left flank. The front of the green is open, allowing shots to bounce on.

Familiar examples include the seventh hole at Shinnecock Hills GC, National Golf Links’ equally famed Long Island neighbor, which gave the pros fits during the 2004 U.S. Open. The 13th hole at TPC Sawgrass is Pete Dye’s twist on the Redan, with water rather than sand left of the green.

A “reverse Redan” simply flips this configuration, raising the green’s left front portion above the right rear and presenting trouble to the right.

Now that you know what a Redan hole is, here are some tips for recognizing one and using its nuances to your advantage:

  • One side of the green is raised in the front: In itself, this is an unusual sight – most greens slope back to front, or side to side. With a Redan, you may see very little of the green’s surface at all. This makes playing a Redan quite tough on your first go-round, since the green’s contours and the bottom of the flagstick may be hidden from view.
  • Safe play is the high side: Regardless of the day’s pin placement, you really can’t go wrong with a shot that hits the highest part of the green. This will not only send the ball deeper into the green after landing, it’s the farthest point from the hazards.
  • Feed the ball to the hole: If the flag is on the green’s left side, there’s no need to aim directly at it. Remember, the high side is your friend. Play wide of the flag, take trouble out of the equation, and let the green’s slope work for you. This goes double if the pin is near the back of the green.
  • Take mental notes it each time you play it: Since the green surface may be hidden from the tee, you may not know what happens to your tee shot until you reach the ball. Did the shot release several feet after landing? Did it bounce or roll to the left? Did you miss right of the green, only to find it in the center? Understanding how the ball reacts on landing will stand you in good stead on future encounters.

There’s great satisfaction in recognizing a classically designed golf hole, and even greater joy in playing it as the architect intended.

File this info on the Redan hole in your memory bank. You never know when it might come in handy.