Magic on the 18th Hole

Posted on September 17th, 2018 by Herb Rubenstein


Magic on the 18th Hole

                      The 18th Hole in Golf is Magical:

                   What Really Happened on the 18th Hole

                      at the 2018 BMW Championship

By Herb Rubenstein, Golf Pro Delivered, September, 2018 

Everyone who has played golf knows there is something magical about golf, even without reading the book Golf In The Kingdom by Michael Murphy.  Magic was on display at the BMW Championship at the 18th hole at the Aronimink Country Club in Newton Square Pennsylvania.  The Native American word, Aronimink means “the greater stream.”[1]

Keegan Bradley lost and won the BMW Championship the two times he played the 18th hole in the final round and the playoff. Justin Rose lost and lost the BMW Championship on the same 18th hole. In your life as a golfer, if you have played competitively, you know magic happens very often on the 18th hole.  It happened on the 18th hole at Aronimink.

Bradley had not won a tournament in six years.  He had gone from being a Ryder Cup member several years back (being arguably one of the best golfers in the world) to being ranked 120th in the world in 2018.  He missed the cut at the US Open in 2018 at Shinnecock Hills. Justin Rose, a perennial superstar in golf over the past decade, needed to win the BMW Championship or come in second alone to become the number one golfer in the world, his boyhood dream.  On number 18, on Monday at Aronimink, (played on Monday due to rain delaying the final round), both Bradley and Rose achieved their boyhood dreams on the same hole on the same day at the same time.  That is magic.

So, what really happened on the 18th hole at the BMW Championship?

Bradley stood on the 18th tee with the lead at 21 under par (Rose would soon birdie 16 and 17 to go one ahead).  Bradley must have thought he was  just one good tee shot and one good second shot from his first PGA Tour win in six years. The 18th hole is tough – bunker right at 292, uphill almost 500 yards, par four, and it was a cool, wet day when the ball was not traveling very far.

What did Bradley do on 18 in regulation?

Driver. Huge hook left for his tee shot.  Sprayed his second shot way right. Made bogey.

Not what you would expect from a golfer who hit almost every fairway and every green all week. And, Rose who bogeyed the 18th hole during regulation, what did he do on the 18th in the playoff?

Driver. Huge hook left for his tee shot.  Sprayed his second shot way right. Made bogey.

That’s right.  Rose on the 18th in the playoff did “exactly” what Bradley did on the 18th in regulation.  While that might sound like tragedy repeating itself, one has to think the “magic” of the 18th hole got to both Rose and Bradley. [2]

Magic on the 18th hole is the result of both luck and skill as everything is often on the line in a golf match or golf tournament on the 18th hole. The 18th hole is often for golfers (who wager a little or a lot of money when they play) the most important hole, worth as much as all of the other holes combined, in terms of winning or losing money. Every competitive golfer knows that “magic” happens on the 18th hole.

The magic of the 18th hole at the BMW Championship does not end with Rose in the playoff doing exactly what Bradley did on the 18th hole in regulation.  Bradley made his own magic in the playoff to win on 18 to win the BMW Championship.

What did Bradley do in the playoff on the 18th hole?

Driver. Perfect drive, long, right down the middle

Took dead aim at a back right pin from about 190, hit it 20 feet 

Hit a great putt to leave himself a tap in for par and victory.

Think about it.  190 yards, uphill, cool, wet day, playing very long to a back right pin.  What does Keegan Bradley do?  He goes for the pin, hits the shot brilliantly, and wins.  Magic?

Some would say, just great golf.  I would say, Rose and Bradley played 18 at Aronimink twice in one day, and each time for each player there was magic, some good and some bad.  Rose lips out on the 18th in regulation and missed a four and one-half foot putt on the 18th in the playoff, his first miss under five feet in 48 attempts at the BMW.  Something is magical about the 18th hole in golf when so much is on the line, and that magic can work both ways, good and bad. We all know it and have experienced it.

The “greater stream” got to Rose and Bradley on the18th at the BMW.  And, it got to everyone paying attention and watching them at that magical moment in golf on September 10, 2018 because the magic does not end with just their play on the 18th.  At the moment Bradley’s putt went in to win, two golfers, Rose and Bradley, competing against each other, at the same moment in time, both on the 18th hole, achieved their boyhood dreams. For Bradley, it was winning a PGA golf tournament (his third, but first in six years), and for Rose it was becoming the number one golfer in the world for the first time in his career.  When two golfers, competing against each other, both realize their lifetime dreams on the same hole, in the same tournament, at the same time, who can call this anything but “magic.”

About the Author

Herb Rubenstein passed the PGA Players Ability Test in August, 2018 at age 65, making a twenty-foot par putt on the 18th hole when he played his first round of the PAT, and then made a fifty-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th hole the second time he played the 18th to shoot 80 -78 – 158, exactly the qualifying number.  He is a golf pro with Golf Pro Delivered,, and can be reached at or 303.910.7961.

He was captain of the Washington and Lee Golf Team in 1974 and serves as Executive Director of the Brooklyn Golf Alliance,, a nonprofit that works to bring the joy of the game of golf to inner city minority groups and women who have been under-represented in the game of golf from its inception.

[1] ARONIMINK (Delaware and Montgomery counties). Whritenour thinks that Aronimink sounds like a Southern Unami word, aluwahnek, “the greater stream.” See:;jsessionid=E8A243168B1FF47050824B86FB47C180?doi=

[2] The talented golfer, musician, and lawyer, Joel Finkelstein, of the Mid-Atlantic Region, once said, “Golf is exactly like the opera.  At every moment there is either victory or tragedy.”

Magic on the 18th Hole

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