The Biarritz Hole

The Biarritz hole derived from the 3rd hole at the Golf de Biarritz in France where it was originally known as the Chasm hole. The architect of this course, built in 1888, was Scotland’s Willie Dunn. Sadly, this hole no longer exists due to changes to the course due to hotel construction on this valuable piece of the property. It featured a carry of about 160 yards over the titular chasm–an inlet from the ocean– to a massive green (Images). The putting surface featured two large flat zones front and rear that were divided by a deep swale and guarded on both sides by bunkers. It is believed that only the rear platform was ever pinned—totaling between 210 and 240 yards—making the hole essentially a test of a player’s ability to hit both long and straight (this was certainly a driver during the Dunn brothers’ time). 

The rest of the putting surface’s dimensions are largely conjecture as the original lasted only four years. Whatever else may have remained of the hole after the hotel was built was eliminated during World War II. Furthering the mystery of the origins of this hole as one of Macdonald’s templates is the unlikelihood that he was ever in France during its brief existence.

Notable American versions of this hole are found at Yale Golf Club, Fishers Island, and the Chicago Golf Club (Images). The 16th at Cypress Point is in some respects faithful to the first iteration in France with its forced carry over an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. This routing is believed to have been suggested by Raynor in the original routing of the course that was modified by Mackenzie after Raynor’s death.