The attributes of Friar's Head?
In my opinion the course pretty much hit a homerun in all the aspects of golf architecture, and as we all know the aspects of golf architecture in the overall can be pretty numerous.
So as not to get too lengthy on a post maybe I'll just write about one or two for now.
It's one thing to take a "golf walk" on a not fully "designed up" routing, or even walk it fully finished. But just in the sense of routing structure and variability I can't imagine how the course could be routed much better. Using two vastly different topographies the course flows from the dunes to the flatlands, in/out, out/in, in/out, out/in.
That's really good and doing it more than that probably wouldn't have been structurally possible in a routing sense with any real efficiency nor probably necessary in any other sense. More than that, even if possible (which it isn't), may have been sort of topographically schizophrenic for any golfer given the vast difference in the spectrum from super flatland to some of the wildest natural topography I've ever seen.
I think #1 & #16 bookend the other holes in the dunes well. #1 is one I really would need to play to get a better feel for but #16 was one super gorgeous natural landform that any architect who can say the word shouldn't have missed and probably had to have in a routing sense.
Ran went over all the holes and the flow of them really well in the write-up so no need to do that again. The only little problem areas I could see during construction (Coore basically says that any routing and designing up generally has at least 4-5 little problem areas to overcome somehow) were #2 and #11, the commute from #14 green to #15 tee, the commute from #15 green to #16 tee and the sort of topograpical step down or up from #17 green to #18 tee (wherever that would best be).
I've never played the course, only walked it a few times so how did they deal with those things I felt might be problem areas in a routing sense?
I was afraid there was going to be a real redundancy with #2 and #11--sort of a feeling like; "haven't I played this hole before?". But Ran and others have said that somehow they designed up those two basically similarly routed holes that overcame that potential problem maybe totally.
In a sense these two holes may be remarkably similar to what Geo Crump wanted to do on #2 and #11 at Pine Valley by creating a front nine/back nine "balance" presentation in the same spot on both nines that was both similar in one sense and different in another at the same time. That'a another story that someday should be compared to Friar's #2 and #11.
The next area was the commute from #14 green to #15 tee. It seemed a bit circuitous and steep but there just wasn't any other way. I think it will be an interesting little break, and interesting little roundabout walk and thank God no one pushed to give up on one incredible green site which makes #14 and also a tee site on #15 that just had to be!
The walk from #15 green to #16 tee maybe even more circuitous as it seems you're coming back and walking around but again just like the one from #17 green to #18 tee golfers who have any understanding of routing and natural aspect based architecture should come to see there was just no other way to do it without really compomising natural golf holes or the extraordinary topography of the land itself.
And finally the last three hole stretch basically moving back and forth along a west to east line along the length of the dunes is the best finish the course could or should have. But if you could have seen what once was up there particularly in the 18th hole corridor then you'd really appreaciate how clever and land sensitive Coore and Crenshaw and the Boys can be.
When standing on what is now approximately the 18 tee and looking toward what is now the 18th green I thought if I go down there I'll never be found again. That's how wild that topography was. But when I walked along that hole after it was done I just couldn't see what they'd done exactly and I couldn't remember what it actually used to look like--because the impression was basically the same and they tied-in their created fairway topography perfectly with what was always on the flanks of that hole corridor (or at least I think it was--that's how well they did it).
That's just the routing but the thing that many more golfers will react to, I'm sure, is how completely they either left things or made things in the overall to seem as if it had always been that way. And that goes all the way from the largest scale stuff to the most minute. The look of naturalism on that course from largest to smallest is simply astounding and pretty much totally complete.
That's the feeling and look to me. Next is what it plays like. I don't know that but from what I've heard that's equally as interesting and impressive as the first part.