Golf Club Atlas

GolfClubAtlas.com => Golf Course Architecture => Topic started by: Kyle Harris on December 01, 2017, 12:52:38 PM

Title: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Kyle Harris on December 01, 2017, 12:52:38 PM
An underrated common thread of all my favorite courses are putting surfaces that vary in size and scale relative to their surroundings. Coincidentally, the memorability of a round for me seems tied to the change in that relative scale from hole-to-hole.

It seems that a hallmark of the mass-produced era of golf architecture was a more consistent size and scale to putting surfaces with only one or two token changes in size to give subject for conversation in the 19th hole.

Which courses effectively vary the scale and size of their putting surfaces to the point of providing a subtle interest not noticeable enough to discuss?
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on December 01, 2017, 01:03:22 PM
This is an interesting question although I disagree with the premise that better courses should have big variety in the size of their greens.


Many of the very best classic courses have quite consistent green sizes.


Nevertheless, it would be a good exercise to find which of the great courses I know has the biggest variance in green areas.


Agree that greens are better when in scale with their surroundings.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Tom_Doak on December 01, 2017, 01:10:40 PM
Pacific Dunes has greens from 4000 sq ft up to 9000.  The smallest ones (6 and 11) do suffer due to the popularity of the place.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Kyle Harris on December 01, 2017, 01:29:38 PM
Ally,

I didn't intend any particular premise on the subject, though I did note that a common thread on all my favorite courses is a variety, or perhaps better, a juxtaposition of size and scale from hole-to-hole. It also seems that the post-War era of golf architecture, which was marked by a more mass produced approach to construction, has more consistently-sized putting surfaces than their forebears.

I agree that this is not a hallmark of every great course and that great courses can have consistency in the sizes of their putting surfaces. But, as you said, it is interesting to note which ones have significant variance, and I would propose that variance is among the attributes which make the course great.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on December 01, 2017, 03:15:45 PM
Kyle,


Yes. In general I always think about mixing up sizes (in greens, bunkers and other features) but it struck me that many of my favourite and best courses do not mix things up in green sizes.


So I wonder if it really is a big indicator in assessing quality.


I'm going through the "big" links courses trying to work out which one gives the most variety in size. Still not sure.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 01, 2017, 05:28:18 PM
Is there a time period - era aspect here? As in what equipment was around to contribute to initial construction and maintenance immediately thereafter?
Atb
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Tom_Doak on December 01, 2017, 05:36:18 PM
Ally: in America, at least, green sizes have grown more similar over time because of maintenance.  Riviera is famous now for small greens, but in fact it had some small ones and some large ones per George Thomas ... they just shrunk the large ones over the years.  I would guess this is quite common: you discover what is the smallest size that holds up, and then rationalize that you can shrink the wasteful big ones.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Peter Pallotta on December 01, 2017, 09:24:15 PM
I’d never read that before about Riviera, Tom.
Did some classic courses get self-conscious as they got older and their reputations grew?
Did committees become aware of which features seemed to garner the most attention/praise, and so begin to accentuate and highlight those features (and eliminate ‘outliers’)? 
Were greens on these classics seen as the ‘faces’ that best revealed the character of the course, and so drew the most attention (from golfers and committees alike)?
Just wondering what other factors might explain the relative uniformity of green sizes at various top-flight courses that Ally notes.
Is the more typical ‘danger’ over time at many high-quality courses (save those Kyle has in mind) not entropy but instead homogeneity?
Peter
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Sean_A on December 02, 2017, 04:58:40 AM
I would think the smaller a set of greens is the more difficult it is create variety, but then sometimes large greens don't offer much variety either.  I wouldn't have a clue as to the varying green sizes of my favourite courses. Although it srikes me that Royal Worlington does fairly well in this regard without having and properly large greens that is.  Beau Desert might have more variety though...a very under-rated set of greens there. 


Ciao
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Ira Fishman on December 02, 2017, 07:01:38 AM
Although they vary more from Medium sized to truly Enormous, the greens at Primland are a good example of variability in size and scale. Particularly the scale matching the majesty of the mountain top setting and the very large and deep gorges that surround the course. On some holes you can see out forever, and the greens often mimic that feeling.


Ira
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Adrian_Stiff on December 02, 2017, 10:54:56 AM
The Size (square metres) of a green does not always tell the full story. The Shape of the green and the internal contouring play a much bigger role in the availability of pinning space and also needs to be factored by the green speed. You also need to factor months of grass dormancy or semi dormancy or number of rounds.


In the UK something like the 'Postage stamp' 8th @ Troon is just too small to cope with the amount of play. This is the ultimate in doing what is good for golf and good for the turf. The dilema is you can't really do anything about the expansion of the green for the benifit of the turf because it changes the hole too much, so you need to build an alternative relief hole.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: MCirba on December 02, 2017, 11:24:53 AM
Don't know the exact dimensions but the course that jumps immediately to mind when we discuss green size variability is Tillinghast's Fenway Golf Club, profiled on this site. 

http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/usa/fenway-golf-club/

Charles Banks' Forsgate is another good one.

http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/usa/forsgate-country-club/
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Jeff_Brauer on December 02, 2017, 03:17:54 PM

I recall Bill Coore, then up for ASGCA membership, with me, President of ASGCA in the audience......I wasn't there to intimidate, but was interested in asking the question about how they restored the greens at Riv. I think Geoff Shack's book had just come out, showing the wide variety of green sizes and shapes at the original Riv, and how they had morphed into 4000 SF ovals for the most part.  He answered, tentatively, that yes, they felt it best to restore the greens to what the members thought they always were, not what they always were.  And, a large part of that was the thought that Riv would no longer be a championship course if the greens were too easy to hit.


As to the basic thread premise, like Ally, I tend to strive for a variety of green sizes.  I grant that there are many great courses that have a theme of big or small greens, and fewer eclectic ones that have great variety in green size, so I don't think about in terms of greatness.  And, I think about it more to distinguish holes when working on an average site to make it closer to good than average.


The general thought is a 5000 green will stick out after a 10,000 SF as different, so I often place them close together, if not one right after the other, to enhance the look. All this under the bigger design idea that every hole ought to have something unique about it and be memorable after the round.  Obviously, the greens must fit the site, the hole length and strategy, etc., but its usually not hard to arbitrarily decide one should be big (takes a big site) whereas small ones usually present themselves by virtue of a small green site.  That can't be small because of an opening in the trees, because if anything, you need to clear the trees more to give better agronomic conditions.  It has to be a naturally small knob site, or maybe a narrow site and the green is longer, but very skinny in one direction.



Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Joe Hancock on December 02, 2017, 05:39:04 PM
Kyle,


I’ve been thinking of your thread all day while out doing lawn work and putting up lights. Now that I’m good and tired, here’s my thoughts:


Kingsley’s #15 came immediately to mind, what with a tiny green(2500-ish?) scrunched into to the corner of the apparent play corridor at the end of a long 4.


Also, I think the variability of green sizes happens as much within the exercise of routing the course moreso than any other conventional (over)thinking. Great green sites dictate the green size above and beyond what the architect thinks or does after the fact...if they are smart enough to recognize that.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Tom_Doak on December 02, 2017, 06:00:09 PM
I agree with Joe that the chosen green site has an enormous effect on the eventual size of a green, if you are trying to work with the contours in situ.


One reason many courses have similar-size greens is that the architect has proposed the same amount of fill be deposited at each green site.  I rarely import fill to green sites at all and usually get more variation as a result.


Peter: to your earlier query, I think the greens at Riviera shrunk because good players praised the shot values of the smaller ones, so the superintendent figured he could cut back the sizes of the bigger ones to save $.  The pros love small greens because they reward good iron play, which most pros pride themselves on.  This is why Harbour Town, Pebble Beach, and Riviera, the three smallest sets of greens on Tour, are routinely voted the players' faves.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Thomas Dai on December 02, 2017, 06:30:22 PM
A question if I may - what about green size in relation to pitchmarks and thus potential ongoing maintenance issues when lots of high flighted short irons and wedges will no doubt be hit into a green on say a short par-3 or a short par-4 or even a par-5?
Atb
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Joe Hancock on December 02, 2017, 09:00:05 PM
A question if I may - what about green size in relation to pitchmarks and thus potential ongoing maintenance issues when lots of high flighted short irons and wedges will no doubt be hit into a green on say a short par-3 or a short par-4 or even a par-5?
Atb


That’s as much a maintenance and construction issue as it is a design issue.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Sven Nilsen on December 03, 2017, 11:52:02 AM
You only notice it when the size of the green seems out of whack with the shot required.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Jeff_Brauer on December 03, 2017, 12:58:08 PM

You only notice it when the size of the green seems out of whack with the shot required.


Sven,


Over the years, I have noticed golfers comment on a feature because it is difficult, unusual, or unusually pretty.  I guess "out of whack" would fit under unusual, but have never heard that particular comment.  It does raise the question of green size vs. shot.  I think we have debated here whether an over sized green has potential to make a golfer get a bit lazy on their approach, because it is much easier to put it on the green, if not close.  I doubt it, but there is that theory.


As I have noted, I generally subscribe to the theory of sizing larger greens for longer shots, but make sure to have one undersized for a long hole and one oversized (perhaps with sections) for short ones. I guess you would call those out of whack?  I have heard comments about a small green at the end of a long par 4, but my theory on that one is 1) best way to test long iron play for good players, and 2) many average golfers can't reach in two, and thus are playing wedges, so its perfectly sized.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Jack Carney on December 03, 2017, 04:16:58 PM
Just off hand many great courses; Merion/ Shinnecock/ Aronimink etc etc green sizes vary with the shot length.


I do know that the greens of many courses were cut much small during gasoline rationing in WWII. The National Golf Links first green remains about half the size of the original design or so I have been told.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Kyle Harris on December 04, 2017, 06:02:25 AM
Some of my favorite holes have putting surfaces that are the smallest on the property for an approach shot that is one of the longest on the property. Plenty of room around them, however, and the scale is in harmony with the surroundings.

It's not unreasonable to ask an expert player to get up-and-down from 20 yards off the putting surface.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Tom_Doak on December 04, 2017, 06:07:21 AM
Some of my favorite holes have putting surfaces that are the smallest on the property for an approach shot that is one of the longest on the property. Plenty of room around them, however, and the scale is in harmony with the surroundings.

It's not unreasonable to ask an expert player to get up-and-down from 20 yards off the putting surface.


There are famous holes like that all over the UK, starting with the Road Hole, Sea Headrig, and the 16th at Deal.  Most of them were three-shot holes in the early days and evolved into brutish par-4's, but that's in keeping with how the average golfer plays them.  I like to include one such hole on many of my own courses.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Jeff_Brauer on December 04, 2017, 08:32:27 AM

Kyle,


Agree on that theory.  For a really long par 4, you can't make the green a big enough target, given the max recommended 70-75 foot spacing for sprinklers.  So, I sometimes use the fw length grass around the greens to effectively increase the target.  I doubt many will chip in for bird, but few should miss par for any reason other than their own bad shot.


When I look at a finished routing, I find the longest downwind par 4 and make that a deep, two tier green, because Jack once told me he liked to use the reduced spin to run a ball up to the second tier.  Some argue with that, but WTF, if its good enough for Jack, I take it.


Then I look for the longest headwind par 4, and give that the small green, actually across the line of play, since that is the miss pattern for good players, maybe 60 foot deep and 90 feet wide.  The headwind helps stop the shot in shorter distance by increasing spin.


Similarly, the longest par 3 gets the smallest green, counterintuitively perhaps, again to test long irons (while compensating for average players with multiple tees) and because its less likely to ball mark up.  Conversely, sometimes my largest par 3 green is on the shortest par 3 for inverse reasons.  Seems like a good place for wild contours, and the size reduces pitch marks.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Sean_A on December 04, 2017, 09:41:04 AM
Jeff

Your idea of using fairway to increase the size of the green is where links have a huge advantage.  Greens can effectively be made much larger because of the turf and soil without the added expense of keeping green height grass.  This is also one of the benefits of grade level greens and can make greenside features more effective.  I play a course where many downplay the flatter holes on the course, yet these are some of the best holes on the course.  You get a hole like 11th with the green streaming straight from the fairway and it is something special.  This photo highlights how effective the concept can be.  Look at the space between the left bunker and green...quite a gap, but with fairway height grass on links it doesn't much matter. 
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4577/38353256362_323f9d0e9a_b.jpg) (https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4577/38353256362_323f9d0e9a_b.jpg)

But that isn't to say that a large green doesn't have value so long as there are contour/slope advantages on the green.
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4564/38328489236_92300b7155_b.jpg) (https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4564/38328489236_92300b7155_b.jpg)
 
Ciao

 
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Jeff_Brauer on December 04, 2017, 09:46:33 AM

Sean,


Great photos and examples.  I try to keep my long par 4 greens pretty low to the ground, and yes, plus/minus green level fairway chippers are best way to expand targets, unless you use a Redan bank, punch bowl, or any kick plate.  Similarly, on a short hole, usually a par 3, while I don't do it often, I do like a perched green with fall away fairway cuts, which is also somewhat borrowed from the links.


Cheers.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on December 04, 2017, 09:46:51 AM
Where's that last picture, Sean? Cooling looking green.


Ally
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Adam Lawrence on December 04, 2017, 10:00:57 AM
Where's that last picture, Sean? Cooling looking green.

Ally


I think that's Burnham's sixteenth. Recently extended by Mackenzie and Ebert.
Title: Re: Green Sizes: Variability and Scale
Post by: Sean_A on December 04, 2017, 10:16:39 AM
Where's that last picture, Sean? Cooling looking green.

Ally

Ally

The green used to look like this. I think it is a big improvement.
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4524/38353228082_3a09244745_b.jpg) (https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4524/38353228082_3a09244745_b.jpg)

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4564/38328489236_92300b7155_b.jpg) (https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4564/38328489236_92300b7155_b.jpg)

Ciao