The Biarritz Green in Golf

The green on the ninth hole at Yale Golf Course is a biarritz green
Steve Musco/Yale Athletics

A biarritz, or biarritz green, is a putting green that features a deep gully, or swale, bisecting its middle. The gully, which is manicured the same as the rest of the green, usually runs from side-to-side (creating a front portion and back portion of the green bisected by the swale). But sometimes the swale runs from front to back (creating a right side and left side of the green bisected by the swale).

A biarritz is especially challenging when the hole is cut on one side of the swale and your ball is sitting on the other side, requiring a long putt that must travel down the gully then up its other side to reach the hole. Some golfers choose to pitch over the gully rather than putt through it. Obviously, when approaching a biarritz green it behooves the golfer to get his ball on the same side of the swale as the flagstick to avoid having to putt across the gully.

Most biarritz greens are found on par-3 holes, but occasionally one will turn up on a par-4. They are not very common in today's golf course architecture. But giants of the classic age of golf course architecture (from the first half of the 20th century) such as C.B. MacDonald and Seth Raynor often utilized the biarritz on one hole of their golf courses.

The Original Biarritz Hole

A hole whose putting green is a biarritz is often called a "biarritz hole." Who created the first biarritz?

The original (called a "template hole" in golf architecture parlance) was built by Willie Dunn Jr. at a golf course in the town of Biarritz, France. The course is today known as the La Phare Course at Biarritz Golf Club. The original hole was the club's par-3, No. 3, and at the time it was built it was named "Chasm." (To this day, "chasm hole" or "chasm green" are synonyms for a biarritz design.)