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Tom_Doak

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Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« on: November 17, 2011, 04:45:34 PM »
I don't have the energy to search for it right now, so I've just started a new thread.  Admittedly, it's about golf course architecture rather than bankruptcy, but perhaps there are still a few people here interested in the former ...

I've been looking through Harold Hutchinson's 1891 book today, for inspiration for a future project, and came across his description of the 16th hole at North Berwick:

"The sixteenth hole is on a lesser plateau [ed. note:  compared to the Redan which he has just described], with banks on every side, and a dry ditch not far from the hole.  Two drives and probably a short approach are required to reach the green.  The course is level, but a wall crosses near the tee, and, farther on, a burn which often punishes a good drive."

That's all of it.  Nothing about TWO plateaus, or a giant swale in the green similar to the Chasm at Biarritz.  In fact, Biarritz G.C. is also part of Hutchinson's book, with a lot of discussion about how the old third green has been "stolen by the builder".  No description of that green, either!

So, who wants to argue that Macdonald's Biarritz came from North Berwick, after both Darwin and Hutchinson failed to mention it?

Simon Holt

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2011, 05:18:13 PM »
Here we go!

The day we played in the summer Tom, I remember pointing out that slightly raised flat area past the current 16th green.  I am not sure whether or not it is an old tee for 17 or perhaps an old winter tee.  I have now moved into the apartments next to the Marine hotel so have a good view of Redan and a cracking view straight down the 16th green!  I may try and get a good pic one morning.

My parents next door neighbour is the local amateur golf historian.  He is also the current Captain of the Tantallon Golf Club who share the West Links with North Berwick GC and Bass Rock GC.  He is adement that ours is the original green and that when David Strath (our then greenkeeper) went to Biarritz he took the green with him and created the green at said Chasm hole.  I should pick his brain some more about it next time I see him and maybe gather some hard evidence.

Again, as we discussed in the summer, I find it hard to believe that Darwin wouldn't have commented on the green if it was so dramatic back in the day.  However, local bias will for now keep me in the North Berwick camp on this one!

Simon

« Last Edit: November 17, 2011, 05:22:37 PM by Simon Holt »
2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

Simon Holt

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2011, 05:32:06 PM »
I've been looking through Harold Hutchinson's 1891 book today, for inspiration for a future project, and came across his description of the 16th hole at North Berwick:

"The sixteenth hole is on a lesser plateau [ed. note:  compared to the Redan which he has just described], with banks on every side, and a dry ditch not far from the hole.  Two drives and probably a short approach are required to reach the green.  The course is level, but a wall crosses near the tee, and, farther on, a burn which often punishes a good drive."

[/quote]

This might sound stupid but what do you think Hutchison means by two drives?  I find it hard to believe the hole would play that long even back then (assuming he means two good shots).  That stands to further strengthen my growing belief that the area behind the green that I thought might be an old tee is actually the old green which would require two good shots and a short approach.  I am now very curious.  I will also ask Stuart Greenwood, our current greenkeeper.
2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

RSLivingston_III

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2011, 05:40:37 PM »
Its been a while since I last looked through it but seem to recall that the 'golf book of East Lothian' had some info on the 16th, it sure does a good job of covering a majority of the history and the changes to the course during the first two eras. I remember during my last read through that there were a number of feather ball era holes that appeared to be the same ones we play now, before it was expanded from either 9 or 12 to 18.
The 1891 book (Badminton Library of Golf) was addressing the play of the course in the gutty era so it would have been two good wood shots or at least s good long cleek approach shot for the better player. And a three shot hole for the average player, if the tee was located approximately where it is now.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 03:13:08 PM by RSLivingston_III »
"You need to start with the hickories as I truly believe it is hard to get inside the mind of the great architects from days gone by if one doesn't have any sense of how the equipment played way back when!"  
       Our Fearless Leader

Sean_A

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2011, 06:11:26 PM »
It could be the case that the double plateaux green was created after CBM's visit, but I think it entirely possible (especially reading Hutchinson's account published in 1897 (pay special attention to "lesser plateau" - Tom's ed note is his opinion) that the double plateaux existed with only one cut as a green when CBM saw it. It may well be that the ditch was drained and the second plateau cut as a green after CBM came up with the template as we think of the Biarritz.  This is an intriguing idea especially if we are to believe that CBM's Bs rarely had the front plateau cut at green height.     

Simon - if we think that most players could not carry the burn than it seems quite feasible that a good many players would require three shots to reach the green.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Blackmoor, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Winterfield & Alnmouth

Tom_Doak

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2011, 09:23:35 PM »
It could be the case that the double plateaux green was created after CBM's visit, but I think it entirely possible (especially reading Hutchinson's account published in 1897 (pay special attention to "lesser plateau" - Tom's ed note is his opinion) that the double plateaux existed with only one cut as a green when CBM saw it. It may well be that the ditch was drained and the second plateau cut as a green after CBM came up with the template as we think of the Biarritz.  This is an intriguing idea especially if we are to believe that CBM's Bs rarely had the front plateau cut at green height.    

Simon - if we think that most players could not carry the burn than it seems quite feasible that a good many players would require three shots to reach the green.

Ciao

Sean:

I would not argue with that as a possible interpretation ... even though it's very strange that Macdonald credited Biarritz, rather than North Berwick, if in fact the green at Biarritz was copied from North Berwick!


Simon:

Hutchinson's book was released a year before the patent of the Haskell ball.  It is chock full of descriptions of 140-yard carries as if they were really something to worry about, and 380-yard holes are described as "a good five".  The second shot to the seventh at North Berwick is described as a brassy shot.  "Par" at Prestwick [I was surprised to see the term] was listed at 74, but the SSS was 84 (!) and the course record 71.  Overall, a couple of hours' reading justifies a lot of Melvyn's rants about how difficult the game used to be back in the good old days.  

P.S.  It's funny to see so many golf course pictures populated [indeed, overpopulated] with golfers, as opposed to the modern convention.  One guy who keeps showing up playing matches against H.H. Hilton et al. is Mr. A. Toogood.  What a name!  You'd have to be a pretty good player to play competitively with a name like that.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2011, 09:29:10 PM by Tom_Doak »

Bryan Izatt

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2011, 04:34:46 AM »
This photo of the old map hanging in the starter's hut shows the 16th as  a single green of roundish shape.  Nobody I asked could date the map.  Perhaps Simon could find out.




Melvyn Morrow

Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2011, 07:48:19 AM »

North Berwick GC

I attach a couple of reports on North Berwick course. First is the 17th September 1891 article on a Pro Match at NB with Andrew & Hugh Kirkcaldy and B Sayers & Davie Grant. This report has a very basic comment upon the course in the form of a progression of the players. The second in a report on the alterations from November 1906.

The articles read as follows

1891 Pro Match










1906 Alterations



Melvyn

PS Hope this is not too much of a rant ;)

Simon Holt

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2011, 08:24:11 AM »
I think that map is from the early 1900s but will find out for sure.  I took Tom and co into Tantallon clubhouse as they have one in there too.

Greens like 1 and 17 were shared with 17 being home to the RIGHT HAND portion of the 1st green as you look at it now.  This meant that shots into that green crossed each other.  Crazy!

2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2011, 03:20:38 PM »
Bryan,

That plan is very similar to the one that appears in "The golf book of East Lothain" (1896) by John Kerr. In the book, the plan is titled "North Berwick (Enlarged) course." The course was modified in 1895. You can view/download the book here: http://www.archive.org/details/golfbookeastlot00kerrgoog

Here's a clipped part of the eastern end of the course.



One thing to note is the presence of a dark line running along the front of the 16th green. Could this have been a burn or dry ditch?

Kerr recounts a comparion of the old 18 hole layout with the new enlarged layout, that first appeared in Golf, April 5, 1895:

The Gate hole on the return from the wall was more difficult of approach than it is even now, for the putting-ground was then surrounded by water from another burn, the track of which is represented by the present road.

He then writes:

The fifteenth ('Redan') and the last three holes remain as before.

So the 16th then is still the same hole as now, but it was 380 yards long in 1895.

So, it's clear there was a burn here, but where exactly? The dry ditch mentioned by Hutchinson may be a filled in burn. Any what about the present road? Is he referring to the path that leads to the 2nd fairway?

Here's an aerial from Google:



And here's a line drawn through the swale leading up across the 2nd fairway. It doesn't fit too well with the black line in Kerr's plan. A fitted job, I'd say.



If you look again at the plan Bryan posted, you'll notice the greenside bunkers are called the "Gate Ditch Bunkers", so perhaps this was the filled in ditch and my red line should run through both bunkers. In this case, the red line would match up quite well with the black line in Kerr's plan.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2011, 03:30:42 PM by Donal OCeallaigh »

Niall C

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2011, 03:44:46 PM »
Simon

Interesting theory about David Strath taking the design of the 16th with him to Biaritz. If I remember rightly Strath was involved in the early construction at Silloth (need to check) and that the 4th green there was built at that time. I've never played a MacDonald Biarritz but from the descriptions of them I've read on here the Silloth green seems similar in concept even if the swale isn't anything like as pronounced. I think originally the back part of the green equating to the rear plateau was the original extent of the green and eventually the putting area was increased but as usual could be totally wrong about all that.

With regards to yardage, in the 1890's a 150 to 170 yard drive was a very good shot as Tom said.

Donal,

Looking at the plan Bryan posted it looks to me that the green shown is likely the second plateau just judging from its shape. it should be relatively easy to check its position relative to the property lines to the south assuming it was plotted accurately. It still leaves the question of whether the front plateau existed at that time. Perhaps the dry ditch Hutchinson describes is the swale ?

Niall

Bill_McBride

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2011, 03:50:11 PM »
The swale is definitely angled as it crosses the green.   The first time I played there, my caddy told me that putts from front to back or vice versa should be played as if straight, the slopes counteract each other.

Simon Holt

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2011, 03:55:23 PM »
I think the dry ditch was the line of the bunkers potentially and not the swale in the middle of what is now the green.

The area that I mentioned to Tom this summer is the triangular patch to the right of the back plateau in Donal's bottom picture, just below the bushes.  It's raised and as you can see from the aerial it certainly has the appearance of an old green or tee.  

Since all the teeing areas, both current and new, are of a relatively uniformed rectangular shape I would suggest it could well have been a green and not a tee.

If you overlay that area in the picture, on the green on Bryan's map it looks to compare favourably.  The current green is much closer to the children's course OOB, which was the Ladies course back then.

Thoughts?

S
2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2011, 04:58:28 PM »
I think the dry ditch was the line of the bunkers potentially and not the swale in the middle of what is now the green.

The area that I mentioned to Tom this summer is the triangular patch to the right of the back plateau in Donal's bottom picture, just below the bushes.  It's raised and as you can see from the aerial it certainly has the appearance of an old green or tee.  

Since all the teeing areas, both current and new, are of a relatively uniformed rectangular shape I would suggest it could well have been a green and not a tee.

If you overlay that area in the picture, on the green on Bryan's map it looks to compare favourably.  The current green is much closer to the children's course OOB, which was the Ladies course back then.

Thoughts?

S

Simon,

According to Kerr's book, the course was 7 holes up to 1870. In 1877 they extended to 9, but there's no mention of when it extended to 18 holes. He did state that the last 3 holes were unchanged in the enlarging in 1895, so I don't know where that green triangle fits into the puzzle. It could be from before the extension to 18 holes.

Melvyn Morrow

Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2011, 05:31:44 PM »

The extension to North Berwick for 1895 is not that well documented, but what I have found is among the Professional Tournament played on the 5th June 1895 over the extended course. Throughout the Scotsman article some of the changes are mentioned but alas the print is not that great. So below are the 6 pages from that article from 1895.








George_Bahto

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2011, 05:57:01 PM »
I think Tom Doak has it correct - CBM referring to the Hole in France not 16-NB

TD: "even though it's very strange that Macdonald credited Biarritz, rather than North Berwick, if in fact the green at Biarritz was copied from North Berwick!"


I still think CBM's version is  modification of the Biarritz-3rd with Macdonald putting in a Valley of Sin (as a Biarritz the hole was occasionally referred to) ..... swale.

Guess we'll never see or get a description of the original green at the Chasm hole
If a player insists on playing his maximum power on his tee-shot, it is not the architect's intention to allow him an overly wide target to hit to but rather should be allowed this privilege of maximum power except under conditions of exceptional skill.
   Wethered & Simpson

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2011, 06:17:58 PM »
Thanks Melvyn.

There was a match between Vardon and Park Jnr. at NB in 1899. It's described here in Golf Illustrated, Vol. I,

http://books.google.com/books?id=a7AaAQAAMAAJ

It mentions both players getting stuck in the ditch at the Gate hole. Unfortunately I cannot view more than a snippet (probably a geographical restriction on viewing Google books).

Niall C

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2011, 04:45:28 AM »
Simon

I was talking nonsense about David Strath at Silloth, it was another NB man Davie Grant assisted by Mungo Park. For my money though that doesn't mean there wasn't an attempt to copy a basic design.

George

If CBM called his holes Biarritz (?) then its fair to say he got the idea from the Biarritz hole EVEN IF the Biarritz hole was a copy of a basic template. I think there's no doubt that these early guys used templates as much as anyone and its probable given the limitations in earth moving the copies were possibly not as exact as the original. I'd suggest it's also possible that CBM might have been aware of the NB/Biarritz connection but that it was the Biarritz hole he took inspiration from. All total speculation on my part.

I do suspect though that there's probably a few versions around from the European branch of the Biarritz family.

Niall

Melvyn Morrow

Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2011, 07:37:09 AM »

Donal

I have both the reports from The Scotsman regards the Park v. Vardon Matches first at North Berwick then the second at Ganton. The Reports read as follows.

North Berwick on the 6th July 1899















That completes the first Match at North Berwick on the 6th July 1899, will download the Second Match dated 22.07.1899  to Photobucket in a few minutes then post it on this site.
Melvyn

Melvyn Morrow

Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2011, 08:25:02 AM »

Donal

The Second match re Park v. Vardon at Ganton is as follows – reported by the Scotsman on the 24th July but played on the 22nd.

Ganton






 














That completes my info on these two matches.

Melvyn

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2011, 09:29:07 AM »
Tom, I presume Toogood is the Ilkley Professional who laid out Alwoodley. I have a feeling that Tom Vardon, also mentioned, was at some point Professional at Ilkley.

Dónal Ó Ceallaigh

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2011, 12:11:30 PM »
Tom, I presume Toogood is the Ilkley Professional who laid out Alwoodley. I have a feeling that Tom Vardon, also mentioned, was at some point Professional at Ilkley.

Mark,

If you look at Melvyn's reply #14, you'll see Tom Vardon's club was indeed Ilkley.

Melyvn,

Thanks for the match reports.

Rick Shefchik

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2011, 01:10:40 PM »
Tom Vardon's primary club affiliation was Royal St. George's in Sandwich. When he decided to leave England for America in 1911, Horace Hutchinson wrote, “His departure for America is a great loss to Sandwich, where his cheerful disposition made him a general favourite. As an iron player and putter he had no superior, but his driving, especially against the wind, sometimes let him down a little. He invariably drove a very high ball, the result probably of playing nearly all his golf at Sandwich.”
"Golf is 20 percent mechanics and technique. The other 80 percent is philosophy, humor, tragedy, romance, melodrama, companionship, camaraderie, cussedness and conversation." - Grantland Rice

DMoriarty

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2011, 04:41:17 PM »
You guys know that I hate to be a contrarian, but I don't think that CBM's original Biarritz concept was based upon any of these holes thus far mentioned.  The Chasm hole at Biarritz may have given CBM inspiration for later holes, but not for the original Biarritz concept.  Likewise, the 16th green at North Berwick may have been an inspiration or even a model green for CBM, but not for the original Biarritz concept.  

So far as I can tell, the original Biarritz concept was based on a different hole at Biarritz, likely one down by the water in the Chambre d'Amore. CBM discussed the 'inspiring' hole at Biarritz in a June 20, 1906 NY Sun article about his recent trip abroad:  "The idea for one hole comes from Biarritz.  The hole in question is not a good one, but it revealed a fine and original principle that will be incorporated in my selection." No mention of the famous chasm --the description of the hole as "not very good" would seem an incongruous reference if he was referring to the famous Chasm!  

CBM expanded on the description later that year in his article on ideal holes in Outing Magazine where he provided a sample listing of 18 holes:  "15. 210 yards. Suggested by 12th Biarritz making sharp hog back in the middle of the course.  Stopping thirty yards from the hole bunkered to the right of the green and good low ground to the left of the plateau green." Again no mention of the famous Chasm.  Rather, CBM described a "sharp hog back" in the middle of the course [hole] ending 30 yards short.   And the green is a plateau.  Nothing about a double plateau or a dip in the green.  

H.J. Whigham repeated this early understanding in 1913 when describing  the inspiration for Piping Rock's Biarritz:  "There is a Biarritz hole of about 220 yards which is new to this country and is one of the best one-shot holes in existence. There is a hog's back extending to within thirty yards of the green and a dip between the hog's back and the green."   Again, nothing about a chasm.  And nothing about a double plateau green.   Rather the play is over a "hog's back" which is apparently the first plateau.   Then there is the dip which 30 yards before the actual green.  


Here is an early schematic of the Le Phare course at Biarritz.  



The schematic is undated, but judging by the areas with contour lines, I believe the schematic may have been created by Dunn prior to the expansion to 18 holes in circa 1892.    The hole I suspect was the Biarritz is, as CBM suggests, the 12th hole.  The contour lines indicate that there was a ridge or "hog back" running up the middle of the hole, and that the hog back looks like it ends approx 30 yards short of the green.  

Note that by the time this map was created the "Chasm" had already been reduced to a 90 yard hole.  The 12th measured 300 yards, but recall that CBM did not like the hole as it was, and was only borrowing the strategy of the hog back, dip, and plateau green.  
Golf history can be quite interesting if you just let your favorite legends go and allow the truth to take you where it will.
--Tom MacWood (1958-2012)

Niall C

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Re: Old Controversy About The 16th Green at North Berwick
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2011, 08:15:42 AM »
David

Interesting stuff. I had thought the typical CBM Biarritz (never having seen one in the flesh mind you) was a hole of over 200 yards, comprising hogs back, dip/chasm and then a green flanked on either side by deep bunkers/hollows with a swale running through the middle of it and running perpendicular to the line of play. Am I wrong ?

The other interesting thing is the HJW quote from 1913 where he refers to a Biarritz hole which is new to the US (presumably) which kind of suggests to me that this new hole was a variation of an earlier "Biarritz" design already introduced to the US, or are am I missing something ?

Niall

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