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Strategy vs demand in architecture?!
« on: March 16, 2003, 07:31:54 PM »
As long as I've been on here it seems that many contributors treat strategy as almost completely synonymous with a good golf hole--possibly the only necessary ingredient.

I think Geoff Shackelford describes strategy well.

Options, to be good should be tempting
Temptation is at the base of it all.

Certainly good holes can be made most interesting by fascinating and tempting options to choose from which make up interesting strategies in golf holes.

But what about the type of golf hole that is strictly a demand test? There're plenty of those around and some famous ones. What about a hole such such as Merion's #18, or Pine Valley's #15?

I wouldn't say holes like that offer much in the way of options, not to accomplish the same end anyway. To me they're basically strict demand holes--to hit your best shots to have a reasonable change at par.

Strategic holes are certainly the essence of intersting golf holes but I'm not sure they're essential throughout a good golf course. At least not the way we seem to speak of good strategic holes as offering multi-options. Mix in some real high demand holes too and you have some excellent variety in my opinon.

What do you all think of some of those holes that're apparently a bit low on options and high in demand even if that demand is one dimensional? Holes like Merion's #18 and maybe Pine Valley's #15?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


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Re: Strategy vs demand in architecture?!
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2003, 07:13:16 AM »
Tom -

Didn't want to see this good question slip farther down the page.

I agree that a mix of "demand" and strategic holes is a good thing. (Though you won't hear me complain if forced to play a course with 18 good strategic holes.)

The reason that demand holes don't get talked about much is because...well...there isn't much to say about them.

They are (a) easy to design (make it long, pinch the landing areas, tighten green approaches, or some variation of the foregoing), (b) uninteresting to play (usually you gotta hit it straight, high and long and then do it again), and (c) hard to remember (usually).

It seems to me that a lot less thought and imagination are required to build a good demand hole. It is child's play to create a hole with a low TEP number (remember that one?). So they don't normally make for good discussions, at least if you want to talk about architectural values. There's no there there.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


Re: Strategy vs demand in architecture?!
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2003, 09:03:53 AM »
Par 3's most naturally fall into this category.

    For a great, demanding par 4, I nominate #15 at The Quarry @Giants Ridge. It's a dogleg left 470 yard par 4 allowing a maximum tee shot of 270 yards. The hole demands both accuracy and good distance control to have an iron shot 2nd left to the green.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


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Re: Strategy vs demand in architecture?!
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2003, 12:48:14 PM »
Tom Paul:

I support the concept of "demand" holes or shots. In particular, I like approach shots that require a certain shape shots to set up realistic birdie opportunties. For me that implies greens with multiple and varied pin positions, including some that really require specific shots to optimize scoring prospects.

The trick, I suppose, is how many "demand" shots you want to put into one golf course and how you accomodate those that simply don't have the skill to take on such shots.

As for the former, I don't have any specific number in mind, but given that you want variety in "demand" just as you want variety of "options", it probably makes sense to have 5-8 such shots in a round.

Creating "demand" shots cannot be entirely at the expense of "options". There still needs the "option" of a relatively safe play for the man who knows his skills are limited.

In the context of Pine Valley I think of the tee shot on #5 and #14 as "demand" shots; ditto for the approach on #8.

I always felt that the approach to #13 when the pin is far left is somewhere in between "demand" and "option". For the guy who has been hooking the ball all day, being aggressive on a left side pin placement is scary. On the other hand, playing too far out to the right can easily leave a situation where two putts are far from guranteed.

Not to totally wimp out with some middle of the road answer, but for a long time I"ve felt that the ideal course would have some balance between demand and options, calling upon the good player to execute a variety of shots and think his way through the option holes. For the less talented player, the demand holes should inspire him to improve but not leave him totally worn out and discouraged.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Tim Weiman


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Re: Strategy vs demand in architecture?!
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2003, 01:37:44 PM »
Tom Paul,

I think a course like Huntingdon Valley would be a good example of what you are talking about.

For those of you that are not familiar with Huntingdon Valley, it is an excellent course outside of Philadelphia, designed by William Flynn.  At HVCC there were originally three nines, A, B, and C.  The "C" nine was left to grow over during the depression era, and the A&B nines became the original 18 that most golfers know.  About 5-6 years ago the club restored the "C" nine.  

At HVCC, Flynn created a great mix of strategic and demanding holes.  What is interesting is that as you progress through the course from A to B to C, the demand element from Flynn is increased as well.  Some examples of high demand holes from the original 18 would be #'s 6,9,14,and 18.  I know many players in this area that would regard every hole on the "C" nine as high in demand, and a few more players that would throw in a few expletives for the "C" nine due to "abnormally high" scores.

Maybe Tom can expand on Flynn's design thoughts at HVCC.  I find them to be very interesting as it relates to architecture and scoring.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


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Re: Strategy vs demand in architecture?!
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2003, 05:11:45 PM »
Great topic. I'm surprised there are not more responses!

I don't think of any particular course, or sequence of holes. I think of individual holes. I don't think a hole is either strategic, with options, or a demand hole.

A strategic shot option needs some demand. Who would stay at the speed limit if they weren't at least a bit concerned about the possibility of a ticket?

If a hole has two basic options (I leave it to the golfer to provide innumerable sub-options, shading closer to hazard, shot pattern, etc.) then the options can be either approximately equal in penalty and reward, or there can be a superior option, albeit with enough risk to present a mild dilemma to the golfer, no?

The superior option, if it exists, should have more demand, i.e., a smaller target or more hazards. The key is to generally (no formula here) try to match penalty with reward. Too strong, and the temptation is gone, unless at a critical point in the match.

The secondary option, usually something like laying up short of, or giving wide saftety to, bunkers to take them out of play, but resulting in a longer shot from a more difficult angle or lie, etc. should be easy to play from the tee. The strategic theory is that if a golfer takes himself out of a good chance at birdie by playing the easy, yet longer way, there is no need to punish him further.

On holes where two approximately equal options exist, the golfer is left to his own devices of shot pattern, game strength, etc. to determine his strategy.

A third option is where there is a variable preferred strategy, based on daily conditions, like wind and pin postion. Different landing areas may have relatively equal punishment and challenge, and the golfer simply needs to recognize which conditions exist that make one more favorable that day. The amount of demand here can be whatever the architect wants.

The theory extends to approach shots, even though they are, almost by definition, more focused on accuracy. However, if one side of the green is well guarded, and the other not, the golfer can decide just how close to aim at the pin, under the conditions. The beauty of these shots is that your game, wind, moisture, etc. always provide a sliding scale of options, rather than the cut and dried options created by hazards.

Golf courses can have all. If a course had all Leven holes, rewarding a carry risk, the long player would surely win most matches. Mixing holes that favor certain shot patterns, accuracy, etc. equalize different players to a certain extent, allowing all golfers to compete.

A balanced course should have several "demand" ashots, but I think they should be limited to about two tee shots, one or two par 5 second shots, and three/four approaches per round.

IMHO, I try to design them where all factors help in success. As one prominent golfer I know once said, "Let's see, wind blowing right, fairway angled right, ground slopes right. Partner, theres smarter guys than me, but dammit, I think I'll hit a fade!" Certainly, a demand shot is easier, when it is, well, easier!

Located correctly, they can challenge the great player, while perhaps helping the average one. Good places are long par 3's, where the tees can be moved appropriately, and long par 4's, where we presume the average player is approaching on his third - with a wedge. Of course, the short approaches anticipated by par 5 and short par 4 holes are also good.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach


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Re: Strategy vs demand in architecture?!
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2003, 07:25:43 PM »
There is nothing wrong with a one-dimensional hole that requires a precise kind of golf shot.  The problem comes when you have a course that has the majority of its holes like this.  Options create interest, and interest is what holds a golfers attention and keeps them coming back again and again.  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Strategy vs demand in architecture?!
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2003, 08:04:08 PM »
Until reaching the bottom I was going to say something along the lines of Mark's words. But he's done a "fine" job, as usual! Anyway, I feel diversity is key. There is a thread about MacKenzie and his opening for long hitters -- but it seems this was not across the board, as he occasionally did the opposite.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA


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