May 22 2013
The fifth hole at Colonial consistently ranks among the 50 toughest holes on TOUR. (Martin/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
It was in 1941 that Colonial Country Club’s fifth hole was dubbed “Death Valley,” traced to an account of U.S. Open golfers staggering away from the punishment being doled out that year alongside the Trinity River.
More than seven decades later, better players and better equipment have done little to weaken the dogleg’s moniker.
“It’s just brutal,” said David Toms, who captured the Crowne Plaza Invitational two years ago.
Said Masters champion Adam Scott: “If you do challenge anything and go wrong, then there is a big number waiting to happen.”
No. 5 -- the final stretch of Colonial’s “Horrible Horseshoe” -- consistently ranks among the PGA TOUR’s 50 toughest holes in any given season. It was 33rd a year ago, with golfers unable to save par 133 times in 396 plays.
Put another way, one of every three attempts went for bogey or worse.’
“The penalty is quite severe on this hole,” said Scott, for whom Colonial is the only Texas stop he hasn’t managed to win.
Listed at 481 yards, No. 5 presents one of the more claustrophobic tee shots on the TOUR. The Trinity River runs just behind trees to the right of the hole, serving as one of the course’s boundaries.
To the left, meanwhile, is a big ditch that’s just as apt to swallow wayward tee shots. In the prevailing winds, you’ll likely have to start your tee shot over the majestic oaks left of the fairway.
“You’ve got to hit a fade off the tee and the fairway slopes right-to-left,” said reigning champion Zach Johnson. “There is junk right, and you don't want to miss it left. You don't want to be in the rough. Your second shot is no bargain there, either.”
It’s another long, narrow approach to the green, which is well guarded by bunkers and trees.
Though most pros would be happy to walk away from No.5 with par for four consecutive days, Jason Dufner turned it to his advantage to keep the pressure on Johnson last year. Dufner birdied No.5 three times during the week, including the final round.