Definition of 'Finishing Hole' in Golf

Golfers sometimes use the term "finishing hole," or we sometimes hear announcers on tournament broadcasts using it: "Tiger and Phil have reached the finishing hole." And the definition? It's mostly just what it sounds like: the hole that is the finish of the round.

But there are some subtleties depending on whether you are talking about the finishing hole of a golf course or the finishing hole of a round. So let's go into that.

A golf course's finishing hole is straightforward: it's the last hole on the course. The hole where the golf course finishes. If Podunk National Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course, then the 18th hole is the finishing hole. If it is a 9-holer, then the ninth hole is the finishing hole.

The finishing hole of a golfer's round, however, might be something different. Picture, for example, a pro tournament using split tees, in which some golfers begin play on the No. 1 tee while others start the round from the No. 10 tee. The finishing hole for those teeing off No. 1 is the 18th hole.

But what about those teeing off No. 10? For them, their rounds finish on the ninth hole (they play holes 10-18 first, then holes 1-9). So in that case, the finishing hole for those rounds is the ninth hole.

You can also imagine a tournament using a shotgun start, with a group teeing off from each hole on the golf course. The finishing hole, then, would be different for each group.

So a golf course's finishing hole is straightforward: That is either the ninth hole on a 9-hole course, or the 18th-hole on an 18-hole course. It's the last hole on the golf course. The finishing hole for a round of golf is usually the 18th hole, but is sometimes the ninth, and, in less common instances, might even be any given hole on the golf course.

The key, in both respects, is that the finishing hole is the hole that marks the finish of play. Makes sense!

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