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.


A “Redan” hole is a type of golf hole design commonly found on golf courses, especially in classic and traditional course layouts. The term “Redan” comes from a famous golf hole at North Berwick Golf Club in Scotland, which was designed in the 19th century. Redan holes are known for their unique and challenging characteristics, and playing them effectively requires specific strategies. Here's an explanation of a Redan hole and tips on how to play it:

What is a Redan Hole? A Redan hole is typically a par 3 hole with a sloping green that tilts diagonally from high on the back-right to low on the front-left. The green's contour often creates a ridge or a pronounced slope across the middle, running from the back-right to the front-left. The front-left portion of the green is usually guarded by a deep bunker or hazard.

The main objective of a Redan hole is to force golfers to hit a precise tee shot that lands on the right side of the green and uses the contours to feed the ball toward the pin. The design promotes strategy and skill, as golfers must carefully select their club, aim, and trajectory to navigate the green's slope and avoid the hazards.

Tips for Playing a Redan Hole:

  1. Club Selection: Choose the right club based on the distance to the pin and the slope of the green. A club that provides enough carry to reach the right side of the green is essential. Golfers may opt for a long iron, hybrid, or even a fairway wood, depending on their distance.
  2. Aim Right: Aim your tee shot to the right side of the green, away from the deep bunker or hazard guarding the front-left portion. The slope and contours will naturally feed the ball left towards the pin.
  3. Use the Slope: Take advantage of the green's slope by hitting a shot with enough spin to control the landing and roll. A shot that lands high on the back-right portion and rolls toward the center-left can be beneficial.
  4. Account for Wind: Consider the prevailing wind direction and speed when selecting your club and aiming. Wind can significantly impact the trajectory and carry distance of your tee shot.
  5. Avoid Short-Siding Yourself: Short-siding refers to leaving your approach shot on the side of the green closest to the pin, where the hole location is tight to the edge. It is challenging to get up-and-down from this position, so try to avoid it by aiming for the right side of the green.
  6. Focus on Distance Control: Precision with distance control is crucial on Redan holes. Practice hitting shots with varying distances to get a feel for how the ball reacts to the green's contours.
  7. Read the Green: Take time to read the green and identify the subtle breaks and slopes that could affect your putt. Green reading is crucial for a successful putt on a Redan hole.

Remember that each Redan hole may have its unique challenges and features, so adjust your strategy accordingly. Playing Redan holes can be a rewarding experience for golfers who embrace the strategic aspects of the game and appreciate the classic design elements found on many traditional golf courses.

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