Iím not sure I agree, Adam. In fact my point was that cool looking undulation is often not directly related to great golf.
What really makes TOC great is the greens and the perfect mix of how they are approached. Those greens have relatively large, flat pinnable areas. The undulation in and around the greens is almost perfect, partially because it is not too violent and partially because it is somewhat predictable. Sure, that undulation adds immeasurably to the quality of the course but only because it works. The undulation from tee to green is - for the most part - just eye candy. It works in creating different lies to play from and that certainly adds to the unpredictability of the game. We mostly like that kind of thing on this websiteÖ but the reason I really prefer short grass micro-undulations is that they look better than flattish fairways, not that they play better.
Where does undulation cease being called undulation and become more elevation change? I donít knowÖ. What I do know is that I just played Delamere Forest for the first time and it has the best topography for golf that Iíve seen on an inland course in GB&I.
St Patricks undoubtedly has some of the greatest looking fairway undulation of any golf course, old or modern. Mix in the elevation change and it - in theory - is the poster child of this thread. The key should always be a golf course that makes each and every golfer think about different ways they could play each shot. Violent contour does not always promote that, it sometimes restricts it. I am still working out whether St Patricks asks me to play loads of different shots when my intention is scoring. If it does (and it probably does), then I will also be declaring that it should be Top-5 Ireland and then some. But until Iím 100% sure that it asks me more than Ballybee or Lahinch, then it sits just behind them.
Ditto these one timers who come in and state that The Island is better than Portmarnock. If great golf is the aim then that is just the wrong conclusion. For a golfer of my ability (4 handicap but moderate swing speed), I tend to fly my balls in to the greens at The Island. They are receptive and the approaches are too unpredictable. At Portmarnock, I find myself with far bigger conundrums. For higher handicappers, using the ground at The Island is fun on the first few spins. But once you are focusing on scoring for the monthly medal, that unpredictability also becomes a hindrance. Those undulations and dunes and contour sure are great to look at though.
For instance, Iím just back from a weekend where I played Formby for the first time. What a fantastic course. Huge variety. My favourite part of the round were those holes from 11 to 16 where you come back in to the open and you have these wonderful, heaving fairways. Do those fairways make for better golf? I donít know. I know they made me try and carry my ball all the way to the greens. It could be argued that cool looking micro-undulations effect our perception of how good a course is without having an effect on the golf, just as the weather or how well we played has the same result.
Most of what I talk about above is through the green. I think thereís no doubt that extended short grass and contour around the edges and back of greens can add to recovery options for missed approaches.