It is long. As much as a summer day is long. It is looooooong.
We are referring of course to the 12th hole at Meadow Farms Golf Course in Virginia — the longest hole in the United States, with a monstrous par 6 totaling 841 yards!
Golf is a sport built on skill, technique, and precision, but increasingly over the recent past, it has been transitioning into a game of strength and power too. World-class technology that goes into developing the balls and clubs for professionals is the main contributing factor in this shift towards the application of brute force on the fairways. The swings are harder, the drives carry longer, and the players are stronger. To whack the club, you need to pump iron. Fitness is as important as finesse.
South African Bobby Locke had coined the phrase, “You drive for show, but putt for dough.” Both Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson have played a role in taking the sport in the direction of ‘power golf’, where athleticism and dynamism blend to create those long drive which has and always will enthrall spectators. Long drivers like Bryson ‘The Scientist’ DeChambeau pull in crowds to rival those of the championship leaders. That big-hitters tend to draw hordes to the galleries is an established fact. Therefore, the courses also have to keep up and have holes that allow them to strike 400 yards.
It is here that Bill ‘Farmer’ Meadows and his Meadows Farms Golf Course enter the conversation. The longest golf hole in the United States, the Americas even, has 2 lakes, 4 tees, a 3-leaf clover-shaped bunker, and a green roughly stretches acres both ways. To say that it is intimidating coming up to the tee and seeing that the hole is more than 800 yards long would be an understatement.
But it is essential in a shifting market, for courses are constantly trying to come up with a longer hole and bragging rights of a new Guinness World Record. And it is very much possible because par sixes were rare and unusual. Fewer than 1% of courses have holes harder than a par 5. The United States Golf Association, which governs the game in this country, doesn't have a definition or standards for holes beyond that. Anything longer than 691 yards is considered par 6 for men, and anything longer than 591 yards is a par 6 for women.
A proliferation of private golf courses has naturally encouraged one-upmanship amongst the competition. Every amateur, pro-aspirant, and their 18-handicap uncle wants to play a round at the course with the longest hole in the country.
Meadows Farms, opened in 1993, is a showy golf course in itself, with holes landscaped to look like a facsimile of the Augusta and fairways strategically pruned to tastefully mimic a shapely naked female form.
When Farmer thought of converting 300 acres of his cattle farm into a golf course, he reached out to architect, Bill Ward Junior, who came up with the idea of building a long hole. Farmer insisted that it had to be the longest. At that time, the 948-yard, par-7 world record holder was at the Koolan Island Golf Course in the Buccaneer Archipelago of Western Australia.
Both settled for the longest in the States. And Hole 12 was born.
Sloped hill, lake, dogleg right, another hill, hazard. Phew!
A lengthy, strong drive and a couple of fairway woods followed by a short iron can bring the hole within reach for a par. That is tough enough as it is; added to that, as one reaches the green, it is found to be protected by a water hazard. You can toil, ride your luck and reach almost half a mile only to be done in by the picturesque body of water. That’s a proper challenge wrapped in an erstwhile grazing pasture.
"I wanted to build an honest par 6," says Ward Junior. He did just that.
And it continues to draw players.
There are elevated tees; bounce bunkers; rock and railroad tie walls in and around the greens; bunkers waiting to catch an errant shot; an island green; a stunning waterfall. If you are visiting for a round, make sure you have the best golf technology and pieces of equipment to notch up a good score. Par will be a major accomplishment and a Blue Tees Golf Rangefinder to get the exact distance will help a lot in that pursuit. Godspeed!