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GolfClubAtlas.com => Golf Course Architecture => Topic started by: Ally Mcintosh on May 17, 2022, 04:27:16 PM

Title: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on May 17, 2022, 04:27:16 PM
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”


Truth or Myth?
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: John Kirk on May 17, 2022, 04:42:51 PM
False.

Wind and firm playing surfaces encourage the ground game.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: PPallotta on May 17, 2022, 05:17:23 PM
Neat idea, Ally -- I'm glad you started these threads, and hope you will add your own views/perspective to the mix at some point.

For me it's a myth. Yes, since undulations and contours necessitate/presuppose a fairway as opposed to a body of water or an expanse of sand or rough, they do *allow for* a ground game; but, far from *encouraging* me to hit a low running shot or to use a putter from well off the green or to take less club on an approach and count on a lot of roll to get me on, the vagaries and uncertainties of these same undulations and contours usually ensure the very opposite, ie that I take the aerial approach instead.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Carl Johnson on May 17, 2022, 05:36:26 PM
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”???  Well, doesn't that depend on many other factors?  Undulation and contour in the right places could make a ground shot the better choice for some golfers, but in other places not.  For me, condition of the ground is key.  Hard, dry, firm flat surface is best for my ground game, such as it is.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Mark_Fine on May 17, 2022, 05:39:34 PM
To echo the obvious and what has already been said, it is all about firm conditions.  There is no “ground” game as we define it if everything is wet/soft.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on May 17, 2022, 06:56:35 PM
Firm conditions are a constant. Everything outside of the hypothesis should be considered non-variables. We are merely talking about substantial contour Vs minimal contour.


The questions may be short but the answers need to delve deeper.


I’ll expand on my thoughts in time. But I think our mind lazily connects cool contours with the ground game when the opposite is often true. Peter touches on why that is the case. Yet it isn’t an absolute. In the middle part of his paragraph, Carl suggests that contour in the right place could make the ground game a better choice. Perhaps we could consider examples?
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Mark_Fine on May 17, 2022, 07:15:40 PM
Ally,
Our 10th hole at Lehigh has a very cool runaway green with a center fairway bunker about 80 yards in front.  When the fairway/green is firm and fast, about the only way to approach that green is to properly judge the carry over the bunker and run the ball on and hope to roll close to the hole location.  When the conditions are soft, the bunker is not in play and it is purely a distance to the hole shot.  The ball will hold despite the contour of the green running away from front to back.  I know what you are getting at but for good/most players it is mostly about conditions.  No reason to mess with the ground when you can fly the ball right to the hole and have it stop.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Garland Bayley on May 17, 2022, 07:58:42 PM
I played much of the back nine of the new course with a drive and a putt from well off of the green, because a hack like me can get the putt in better position than going over everything in the air. Whereas, Pacific Dunes, with significantly more contour would find me playing the ball through the air.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Mark_Fine on May 17, 2022, 08:17:01 PM
Garland,
One of my business colleagues used to putt from 50 yards or more off some greens when we played links courses together in the U.K. He was excellent at it and would often knock it stone dead.  Meanwhile I used to try to hit high flop shots with the wind and ground taking the ball all over the place.  I learned quickly, on a firm windy course, get the ball on the ground ASAP.  But over here with soft conditions I had a distinct advantage although he was still darn good with his putter. 
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Ira Fishman on May 17, 2022, 08:26:31 PM
Ally,


I think the answer may depend upon why one plays the game. If scoring is important, then avoiding the unpredictability of fairway contours makes sense absent windy and/or dry conditions. If one just enjoys watching the ball roll along a well navigated but unpredictable surface, contours provide great fun and challenge. To offer some specific holes: 7 at Golspie, the old 5 (I believe it is now 6) at The Island Club, 18 at NB and Elie (which has several of them), 16 at PD, virtually every hole at Ballyneal plus ones at Kilspindie and Brora whose numbers do not come to mind. Yes, they have the element of playing pinball, but what is wrong with that?


Ira
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: JMEvensky on May 17, 2022, 08:35:19 PM
Ally,


I think the answer may depend upon why one plays the game. If scoring is important, then avoiding the unpredictability of fairway contours makes sense absent windy and/or dry conditions. If one just enjoys watching the ball roll along a well navigated but unpredictable surface, contours provide great fun and challenge. To offer some specific holes: 7 at Golspie, the old 5 (I believe it is now 6) at The Island Club, 18 at NB and Elie (which has several of them), 16 at PD, virtually every hole at Ballyneal plus ones at Kilspindie and Brora whose numbers do not come to mind. Yes, they have the element of playing pinball, but what is wrong with that?


Ira




I think there's a lot of truth to this. For a lot of reasons, living in the US, playing through the air is the default strategy. The only reason to play along the ground is if it's your sole option--until you go someplace where it's fun to try.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: PPallotta on May 17, 2022, 09:26:41 PM
Ira, JM -- do you make a distinction between random contours and undulations and *random-looking* contours and undulations, ie those that the architect has either skillfully created or found-and-incorporated into the design with an eye towards encouraging the ground game?

In other words, do you view pinball-like bounces in the same way as you do the roll off a kick plate that might funnel the ball towards a hard to access pin (if the golfer has smartly used the ground game)?

An honest question, not a rhetorical one -- though for myself that is a very significant distinction.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: ward peyronnin on May 17, 2022, 09:34:36 PM
A blustery wind can create unpredictable forces on the ball similar to the vagaries of wild contouring usually associated with attempting to reach a green. Alternatively smoothe flowing contouring can be studied and acclimated to sufficient to hit shots with a degree of predictability. Discovering kickpoints and roll is endlessly fascinating and adds another layer to the game. So the ground game can be part of any shot on the golf course if conditions are right

I will always always remember the sight at Glasgow Gails of a three iron hit from 190 out lo enough to come to earth about two thirds of the way to the green which tumbled disappearing and reappearing the rest of the way to come to rest a foot form the hole. How damn exhilarating to conceive a shot like that and pull it off!
Even though I have carried between a 2 and 6 hndcp the last couple of decades I decided many years ago that I would never be able to hit pure aerial shots for a sustained enough period to truly satisfy and that, rather than strive for the perfect shot all the time, trying and succeeding part of the time was a much more likely path to satisfaction
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Michael Moore on May 17, 2022, 10:09:21 PM
Confirmed. I understood this on my first round of links golf. At a certain point of undulation and contour, there is a real risk of landing on a wrong slope and wandering very far off base.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: JMEvensky on May 17, 2022, 10:49:42 PM
Ira, JM -- do you make a distinction between random contours and undulations and *random-looking* contours and undulations, ie those that the architect has either skillfully created or found-and-incorporated into the design with an eye towards encouraging the ground game?

In other words, do you view pinball-like bounces in the same way as you do the roll off a kick plate that might funnel the ball towards a hard to access pin (if the golfer has smartly used the ground game)?

An honest question, not a rhetorical one -- though for myself that is a very significant distinction.




I took Ira's comments to mean that playing along the ground wasn't a "serious" way to go about shooting a low score. One only tried it for grins.


Where I mostly play, the soft turf doesn't really lend itself to consistent bounce/roll so you quickly learn the most effective approach is through the air. I CAN hit low pitches--it's just rarely the best way to get it close to the hole.


Let me play a golf course that's usually firm and I'd frequently use the contours along the ground--because it's fun AND it's an effective way to get the ball close to the hole.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Sean_A on May 18, 2022, 02:12:19 AM
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”


Truth or Myth?

I think partially true if the grass is short enough. Because of fairways being too short, these days I will nearly always look to keep the ball on the ground and if slope and contour are available to access the hole while playing away from trouble I am going to strongly consider that option.

Ciao
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on May 18, 2022, 02:54:25 AM
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”


Truth or Myth?

I think partially true if the grass is short enough. Because of fairways being too short, these days I will nearly always look to keep the ball on the ground and if slope and contour are available to access the hole while playing away from trouble I am going to strongly consider that option.

Ciao


Yep this is a good point.


I use the ground more on links courses with an element of predictability as opposed to those with a lot of random undulation on approaches.


But where undulation really comes in to its own is where you can use it when out of position. Again though, there has to be an element of predictability to make it the percentage play.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Thomas Dai on May 18, 2022, 03:11:45 AM
From a specific shot point of view it depends. Predictability from the playing perspective is key to me. Will a specific shot likely finish closer to the hole using the ground in some way or likely be closer playing through the air? A few influencing factors being the stance, firmness/dampness of the lie, landing spot and terrain between the ball and the hole, the type of grass, the height of grass, the trueness of sword, debris or sprinkler heads on the line, which direction is the grass growing and of course wind.
Also, maybe an aside, but from an overall perspective I would suggest that equipment was, or once was, a significant influencing factor, namely in relation to trajectory with the development over time of clubs and balls that allowed the ball to be hit consistently higher into the air and stop relatively quickly, not the case in earlier days.
And then there are developments in construction and maintenance practices.
atb
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on May 18, 2022, 03:29:55 AM
Equipment is definitely a factor that has changed the balance of this equation over time. All other things considered equal, the percentage shot has shifted more towards the air when it is possible to stop shots easier.


Are there examples of courses (usually links admittedly) where violent contour reduces the amount of time you find yourself using the ground on approach shots?
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Sean_A on May 18, 2022, 03:42:35 AM
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”


Truth or Myth?

I think partially true if the grass is short enough. Because of fairways being too short, these days I will nearly always look to keep the ball on the ground and if slope and contour are available to access the hole while playing away from trouble I am going to strongly consider that option.

Ciao


Yep this is a good point.


I use the ground more on links courses with an element of predictability as opposed to those with a lot of random undulation on approaches.


But where undulation really comes in to its own is where you can use it when out of position. Again though, there has to be an element of predictability to make it the percentage play.

Exactly. Most of the time when considering contour and slope I am in recovery mode. But this consideration can be important throughout a round.

Ciao
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: John Chilver-Stainer on May 18, 2022, 04:40:04 AM
Undulating fairways can sometimes offer a downhill lie, where a low trajectory shot is the better option.


Firm undulating greens can deflect a high trajectory shot more than a lower bump and run.


Undulations which inhibit the entrance to a green but promote a feed in from the flanks  will invite a rolling ball strategy.


Undulations aren't only about promoting or not promoting the ground game though. Undulations promote strategic thinking of where to best land the ball and more importantly where it come to rest.


Also visually, which is very much part of the golf experience, they provide a variety of emotions, where a flat fairway just falls flat.



Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Adam Lawrence on May 18, 2022, 05:36:22 AM
I think very complex or severe contouring, where it is difficult to predict how the ball will react when it hits the ground, is likely to work towards persuading golfers to go aerial. I had this thought at St. Patrick's sixth hole which I loved, but where the amount of contour immediately in front of the green led me to conclude that trying to run a shot onto the green was a very risky play and it would be safer just to go over it.

Now of course, if conditions and the shot with which you are presented make it basically impossible to stop an aerial shot, you are between a rock and a hard place (I didn't think that was at all the case at St. Patrick's before Tom intervenes :) )
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Kyle Harris on May 18, 2022, 05:49:00 AM
There is also no variety in the ground game if conditions are so firm and fast that every ball falls to the bottom of whatever contour exists.

Variety exists in two forms:

GETTING there
DEPARTING there

Make the "there" as interesting as needed.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Mark_Fine on May 18, 2022, 05:49:23 AM
Ally,
We all know dead flat ground whether it be greens or fairways would be boring but  everything in moderation including ground contours.  If every fairway was as rumpled as the 8th at Crystal Downs and every green as wild as the 16th at North Berwick, the course would be over the top.  We love those holes because they are unique not because they are common.  Would you say the undulations and contours on these holes promotes the ground game?
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Thomas Dai on May 18, 2022, 06:48:13 AM
A couple of other points -
a) Ground contour also effects a players stance and imo a bump along the ground, which can often travel a surprising distance, is usually an easier shot to play from a difficult sloping stance than a full swing high shot where loss of balance can come into the equation.
b) Conditions impact matters as well. For example, with dry conditions and short grass to a tight pin down wind a bump or even a putt into a bank shot might be a better choice than a higher flighted shot whereas a higher flighted shot might be the better option into the wind. Contour of the landing area being important too. And the next day, next hour even, the wind can be from a different direction. Then there's the effect of dew or drizzle or rain on the ground (and in the air).
c) Returning to equipment, some modern ball types want to go and go and aren't that keen on stopping. Others, when struck properly, will spin and stop.

atb
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Niall C on May 18, 2022, 08:05:18 AM
I think very complex or severe contouring, where it is difficult to predict how the ball will react when it hits the ground, is likely to work towards persuading golfers to go aerial. I had this thought at St. Patrick's sixth hole which I loved, but where the amount of contour immediately in front of the green led me to conclude that trying to run a shot onto the green was a very risky play and it would be safer just to go over it.


Spot on. Plateau greens are a great example. Somewhere in the back of my cupboard I have an old VHS tape with Seve explaining his thoughts on the short game, and one of the things that has always stayed with me was that he advocated landing the ball on the green irrespective of distance from the green and whether there was just short grass between the ball and the green. His reasoning if I remember correctly was that the green would generally have less contour and a more consistent reaction. On that second point I think he was thinking more about playing on inland courses with soft verges but I think equally it would apply to severely contoured links.


Niall
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Sean_A on May 18, 2022, 08:31:13 AM
I think very complex or severe contouring, where it is difficult to predict how the ball will react when it hits the ground, is likely to work towards persuading golfers to go aerial. I had this thought at St. Patrick's sixth hole which I loved, but where the amount of contour immediately in front of the green led me to conclude that trying to run a shot onto the green was a very risky play and it would be safer just to go over it.


Spot on. Plateau greens are a great example. Somewhere in the back of my cupboard I have an old VHS tape with Seve explaining his thoughts on the short game, and one of the things that has always stayed with me was that he advocated landing the ball on the green irrespective of distance from the green and whether there was just short grass between the ball and the green. His reasoning if I remember correctly was that the green would generally have less contour and a more consistent reaction. On that second point I think he was thinking more about playing on inland courses with soft verges but I think equally it would apply to severely contoured links.


Niall

But that's Seve. What about other the 99% of golfers.

Ciao
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Niall C on May 18, 2022, 08:36:33 AM
Sean


If Seve tried to make things easier for himself then why wouldn't the rest of us ?


Niall
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on May 18, 2022, 09:09:19 AM
I love ground contour and micro-undulations on links courses. I’m a low spin player who plays by feel and I cannot always stop balls on green, especially down wind. I pride myself on creatively playing different shots. I love seeing the ball dive up, down and over.


But all other things equal, I use the ground more on courses with LESS undulation.


This is not an absolute. There are examples of undulations which encourage use of ground, whether it be kick-plates or stances or lies. But on balance, contour does not encourage the ground game. This one’s a myth brought about by people tying contour in with firm conditions, wind and wide areas of short grass.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Jason Topp on May 18, 2022, 11:19:33 AM
I would say yes at least if the contours are broad enough to give the player a reasonable chance when he aims for them or regular enough to allow some predictability in what the ball will do on the ground..  Speed slots in fairways and kick plates on greens encourage an approach on the ground.  Similarly, a ball along the ground can be controlled if there is a depression to aim for because the ball will spring forward if short and slow down if long.   


Not an absolute answer as Ally states in his last post but I don't envision much control along the ground on a flat surface.  Undulation is what gives the opportunity to control a shot along the ground.




Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Mark_Fine on May 18, 2022, 11:32:21 AM
Jason,
I was at the Masters one year and watched Mickelson play a flop shot on the lower part of the 14th green (he was on the green) to the back left corner.  He flopped it to take all the contours out of play.  Hit it to three feet and made the putt. 
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Jim Sherma on May 18, 2022, 11:38:59 AM
Tilt and broad slopes can encourage the ground game. Undulation and busyness can add too much complexity and incentivize going over it as best you can.


As much as contour affects the decision green speeds make more of a impact. Fast greens will always make aerial choices with spin a better bet. Let's face it, if a 20 foot putt is scary why would you think you can bump a 7-iron in from 30 yards off the green and get it to stop close to the hole?
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Mark_Fine on May 18, 2022, 12:52:13 PM
Nicklaus once said a bad putt is always better then a bad chip.  I guess he thought differently then Seve 😊
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Sean_A on May 19, 2022, 12:49:00 AM
Sean

If Seve tried to make things easier for himself then why wouldn't the rest of us ?

Niall

Again, the rest of us are not Seve. There is the small matter of skill to consider.

Ciao
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Tommy Williamsen on May 19, 2022, 01:48:37 AM
Tilt and broad slopes can encourage the ground game. Undulation and busyness can add too much complexity and incentivize going over it as best you can.


As much as contour affects the decision green speeds make more of a impact. Fast greens will always make aerial choices with spin a better bet. Let's face it, if a 20 foot putt is scary why would you think you can bump a 7-iron in from 30 yards off the green and get it to stop close to the hole?


I'm with you Jim. If I can get some air under the ball I will try to take out as much of the slope as I can and I love the ground game.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Niall C on May 19, 2022, 02:28:40 AM
Sean

If Seve tried to make things easier for himself then why wouldn't the rest of us ?

Niall

Again, the rest of us are not Seve. There is the small matter of skill to consider.

Ciao


And again, why make things harder for yourself ? That holds true irrespective of whether you are Seve or some hacker.


Niall
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Sean_A on May 19, 2022, 02:42:56 AM
Sean

If Seve tried to make things easier for himself then why wouldn't the rest of us ?

Niall

Again, the rest of us are not Seve. There is the small matter of skill to consider.

Ciao


And again, why make things harder for yourself ? That holds true irrespective of whether you are Seve or some hacker.


Niall

And again, there is a huge skill divide. Seve could hit the ball much further than me, carry the ball much further than
Sean

If Seve tried to make things easier for himself then why wouldn't the rest of us ?

Niall

Again, the rest of us are not Seve. There is the small matter of skill to consider.

Ciao


And again, why make things harder for yourself ? That holds true irrespective of whether you are Seve or some hacker.


Niall

And again, I mention skill. Seve could hit the ball further than me, carry the ball further than me and apply spin/control run-out much better than me. It shouldn't be surprising that I often need to land the ball short of plateau greens (and grade level greens for that matter), assuming I can carry the green which often isn't the case.

One of the biggest problems with discussing golf architecture is far too often the discussion centres around how the best golfers in the world play.

Ciao
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Thomas Dai on May 19, 2022, 03:49:42 AM
One of the biggest problems with discussing golf architecture is far too often the discussion centres around how the best golfers in the world play.
Ciao
It does indeed and also how the individual writing the words plays or how his/her usual gang of mates play.
Easy to overlook that every player male, female, old, young etc etc has different levels of strength, skill, desire, stamina, expectations etc etc and that the game and courses ought to cater for such differences.
atb
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: John Chilver-Stainer on May 19, 2022, 06:02:11 AM
Jason,
I was at the Masters one year and watched Mickelson play a flop shot on the lower part of the 14th green (he was on the green) to the back left corner.  He flopped it to take all the contours out of play.  Hit it to three feet and made the putt.


I was at the Open one year and watched Mickelson play a...............
It was at the Par 3 4th at Muirifield and he had missed the green pin high to the left.
His ball had settled at the bottom of the steep side slope of the green. The surface of the green was well above his head and the flag not more than 3 yards from the edge of green and the side slope transition.
For us spectators it was a juicy situation.
How was he going to get the ball close, and hold on the firm tilted green with little green to work with?
The side slope was enormous.
Would he chip into the bank and pop it up? Would he putt?
This is Phil of flop fame - surely he'll go the arial route.
Phil and Bones conferred for a long time and based on their recent links knowledge at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and then winning it, he decided to go the Scottish way along the ground.
We half expected the putt to excruciatingly not reach the top of the slope and run back to his feet. But he judged it well and the ball rested about 4-5 feet from the hole.
He saved par and eventually went on to win the Open.


As an after note I managed to get him later to sign my " Rustic Canyon" cap I was wearing. The now hand embroidered signature and cap are my prize possession!!!

Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Niall C on May 19, 2022, 06:03:54 AM
Sean


We're discussing Seve's thoughts on the short game therefore distance isn't really a factor. Seve's view was that if he was a couple of yards from the edge of the green and the hole was near the middle of the green for instance, then he'd use perhaps a 6 or 7 iron to chip the ball on to the front of the green and let it run out to the hole. If he was further from the green then he'd use a higher loft club and land it in the same area and again let it run out. He wasn't loading the ball with spin or talking about some fancy lob shot which he no doubt was capable of doing.


His thinking was that he wanted to avoid landing the ball on the verge or even trying to run it through the verge due to the inconsistency of the surface ie. soft over-watered ground, longer grass. The same thinking could apply on a links course with a view to avoiding contours and/or rough ground. And lets be honest, outwith championship courses prepared for a big event, the green surrounds on most links courses can be fairly rough a bobbly compared to the green surfaces.


Niall 
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Jeff Johnston on May 19, 2022, 07:27:04 AM
I think very complex or severe contouring, where it is difficult to predict how the ball will react when it hits the ground, is likely to work towards persuading golfers to go aerial. I had this thought at St. Patrick's sixth hole which I loved, but where the amount of contour immediately in front of the green led me to conclude that trying to run a shot onto the green was a very risky play and it would be safer just to go over it.

Now of course, if conditions and the shot with which you are presented make it basically impossible to stop an aerial shot, you are between a rock and a hard place (I didn't think that was at all the case at St. Patrick's before Tom intervenes :) )


Funnily enough Adam (before you posted - honest) I thought of that example at St Patrick's too, and also say the similar contouring fronting the 8th green (and similar to yourself I loved both of them).


As a counterpoint how about say the par 3 5th at St Patrick's, with the general right to left cant around / on the green and the bunker encroaching on the left - behind or towards which I am guessing the hole will often be cut. To me the combination of the left bunker, fairly open approach (once over the other bunker sitting fairly short) and ground movement called to mind a long right to left pitch and run of a tee shot to creep up to a middle / back pin (even played at c 160/170 yards). All of the foregoing on recall from one sight / play so feel free to call me out on it! Know you've been there Ally, interested in your thoughts as a feel player.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Garland Bayley on May 19, 2022, 08:16:48 AM
...
Are there examples of courses (usually links admittedly) where violent contour reduces the amount of time you find yourself using the ground on approach shots?

Back to Pacific Dunes again. 3, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 18 seem to me to discourage ground assaults. Others would seem to only encourage a ground assault from prime locations. But, 17 (Redan) has ground assault written all over it.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Sven Nilsen on May 19, 2022, 11:50:41 AM
...
Are there examples of courses (usually links admittedly) where violent contour reduces the amount of time you find yourself using the ground on approach shots?

Back to Pacific Dunes again. 3, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 18 seem to me to discourage ground assaults. Others would seem to only encourage a ground assault from prime locations. But, 17 (Redan) has ground assault written all over it.


As someone who has seen a little bit of play on Pac, I disagree with pretty much every one of these assessment except for #11.  If you get the ball to the prime locations, the ground game is fully in play on all of the other holes noted.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Mike_Trenham on May 19, 2022, 04:33:38 PM
Nicklaus once said a bad putt is always better then a bad chip.  I guess he thought differently then Seve 😊


Watch the 1971 US Open playoff, worst wedge play ever by a great golfer playing well.  Nicklaus was horrible with a wedge, kind of like Mickelson with a driver.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Garland Bayley on May 19, 2022, 10:21:53 PM
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Are there examples of courses (usually links admittedly) where violent contour reduces the amount of time you find yourself using the ground on approach shots?

Back to Pacific Dunes again. 3, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 18 seem to me to discourage ground assaults. Others would seem to only encourage a ground assault from prime locations. But, 17 (Redan) has ground assault written all over it.


As someone who has seen a little bit of play on Pac, I disagree with pretty much every one of these assessment except for #11.  If you get the ball to the prime locations, the ground game is fully in play on all of the other holes noted.

Sometimes it is dependent on the skills of the player. Sometimes it is dependent on the knowledge of the course. Sometimes it is dependent on the vision of the player.

I would suggest that I like many average players seldom get the ball in prime locations, so the average player would seldom see the approach from the prime positions. For example, one time I got the tee shot in prime position on #2, and discovered an easy ground approach resulting in a 3. Other times I truly struggled on the hole.

And, some of us are too cheap to hire an expert to give us advice that we can't follow through on most of the time. ;)
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Tom_Doak on May 20, 2022, 09:59:22 AM
I think very complex or severe contouring, where it is difficult to predict how the ball will react when it hits the ground, is likely to work towards persuading golfers to go aerial. I had this thought at St. Patrick's sixth hole which I loved, but where the amount of contour immediately in front of the green led me to conclude that trying to run a shot onto the green was a very risky play and it would be safer just to go over it.

Now of course, if conditions and the shot with which you are presented make it basically impossible to stop an aerial shot, you are between a rock and a hard place (I didn't think that was at all the case at St. Patrick's before Tom intervenes :) )


Funnily enough Adam (before you posted - honest) I thought of that example at St Patrick's too, and also say the similar contouring fronting the 8th green (and similar to yourself I loved both of them).


As a counterpoint how about say the par 3 5th at St Patrick's, with the general right to left cant around / on the green and the bunker encroaching on the left - behind or towards which I am guessing the hole will often be cut. To me the combination of the left bunker, fairly open approach (once over the other bunker sitting fairly short) and ground movement called to mind a long right to left pitch and run of a tee shot to creep up to a middle / back pin (even played at c 160/170 yards). All of the foregoing on recall from one sight / play so feel free to call me out on it! Know you've been there Ally, interested in your thoughts as a feel player.




I agree with Ally that generally it is easier to use the ground game when there isn't much undulation on the approach.  [It seems kind of obvious when you say it that way.]  So, if we want to reward a running approach, we may smooth out some of the contours short of the green to make it more inviting.  Other times, we may leave them to keep the hole more natural and reward the guy who plays through the air.


For the examples from St. Patrick's it was some of each. 


At the 6th [which BTW was the only green built after I left, because we were screening the sand and loam for the other greens there], Eric Iverson raised the green from its natural grade, so that it would tie in better with the ramp up to the next tee.  The steep ramp and little up and over in front of the green make it a very difficult approach shot . . . so you are better off coming in from far away [and running all the way up the slope] or chipping, than with say a 7-iron where it is difficult to run the ball up the bank but also difficult to hold the green if you don't.  I really like that aspect because the hole rewards hitting a good long second shot, which many par-5 holes do not.


At the 8th, I actually cut away some steep ground on the left side of the approach so you could bounce it in over there, making the green a bit more visible from the fairway.  But I felt that the mound short right was an integral part of the hole and we kept it, even though it makes it harder to bounce the ball on.  It's a short drive and pitch hole, so asking you to hit a pitch to that part of the green seems reasonable.


The 5th hole can play quite long, so we felt like we needed a relatively smooth approach area, especially considering the big contour from right to left in the green.  Not by coincidence, that's exactly what we had on the ground.  The only complication was Clyde [I think it was Clyde] adding that little bunker in the front right to make you decide whether you were flying it or going around it.
Title: Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
Post by: Clyde Johnson on May 20, 2022, 03:56:31 PM
The 5th hole can play quite long, so we felt like we needed a relatively smooth approach area, especially considering the big contour from right to left in the green.  Not by coincidence, that's exactly what we had on the ground.  The only complication was Clyde [I think it was Clyde] adding that little bunker in the front right to make you decide whether you were flying it or going around it.


Eric Iverson.


Complicates is a good word, especially if you're trying to chase one on from the back tees. I also like the contrast of scale versus the enormous sand pit short of the approach.