“I don’t care if they make golf balls that go 5,000 yards. The Bear Trap will stand the test no matter what the equipment is, because they’re not holes you can overpower. It’s not about length, it’s about precision and guts.”
For me, it was a case of nothing to lose: I’d already littered the opening nine with double bogeys, but I heated up just as the course did. I wrestled the Bear Trap to the ground with a bogey and two pars and felt triumphant enough to light a cigar.
No matter the tee, hole 15 is a golfer’s nightmare. “When we put the water there it became a monster because of the awkward wind” that usually blows right to left, Nicklaus says. In 2010 this was statistically the toughest par-3 on the entire PGA Tour.
There’s water all along the right of the par-4 16th hole as well, although it’s a greater factor on the second shot. A bold tee ball right can cut the distance to the green while flirting with a bunker. A safer shot left leaves a longer watery span to the dance floor.
The 17th is another pure carry with a yawning bunker on the left and nothing but water on the right. The bunker is hardly safe, since an aggressive explosion can fire a ball right into the drink. It’s pretty much hit the green here, take your medicine, or reload.
But fail or succeed here, and the Bear Trap beckons for another go ’round.
Floyd found that out after his 1994 debacle, making par on 14 consecutive holes on the final day as he waltzed to a five-stroke win in the 1995 Senior PGA Championship. If terrorized by the Bear Trap the year before, Floyd had returned to tame it, turning it into a harmless cub.