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Matt_Ward

When Nines Get Flipped
« on: May 22, 2003, 11:39:50 AM »
Just returned from a major golf trek through the Southwest and had the pleasure in returning to Pinon Hills in Farmington, NM. Also, had the opportunity to meet with Adam Clayman during my time in town.

Pinon Hills is one of the finest munis we have in America IMHO. The layout by Ken Dye is well done and the array of holes is mixed very capably throughout the round.

The issue?

Not too long ago the course flipped the nines. You now start on the 10th and the flavor of the course has changed because the demands of the back side are clearly more "intense" than what you have with the front. It was explained to me that such a change was done because it permits course personnel to watch the 10th tee (in close proximity to the clubhouse) while the original 1st hole is a bit beyond view (but not by that much I might add).

Clearly, you still play all the holes but the flow and sense of design presentation gets tilted in a manner that I believe doesn't serve the original intent of the architect.

I wonder how others feel and if there are examples like the one at Pinon Hills. Are there any really bonafide reasons why such a change should take place. I'm still puzzled by the one I found at Pinon Hills although I'm still a huge fan of the course.

Thanks! ;)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

A_Clay_Man

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2003, 12:11:40 PM »
In Pacific Grove, the nines were switched some years back. The result was IMHO a good decision. Firstly, the anticipation of the majesty that is the backside is something to salivate about. Also, the local gentry enjoy the front nine, I assume because it's of a parkland style and finding your ball in the iceplnat can take strength and stamina.

I played Riverdale Dunes with the reverse config and feel I still haven't played the course intended.

Pinon Hills is great golf because IMO Ken Dye took from many genres to create a course that is enjoyable and challenging for all levels. Grant it, that the site dicatates the limits of what an archie can do, here at pinon I doubt if even Tommy could see what should've been done different on each individual hole. Routing, is another matter and the placement of the clubhouse is probably the biggest culprit for why it isn't perfect. That implies it is close enough that that was not a bash. But in a symphonic vien, the current config has the listener entering in the middle of the build-up and climaxing before being close to finished..
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:05 PM by -1 »

CHrisB

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2003, 12:21:41 PM »
Sedgefield CC in Greensboro, NC (Ross, 1924) is a neat old-style course with a beautiful uphill left-to-right finishing hole with the green tucked in the shadow of the Tudor clubhouse, which arcs around the green and let's everyone inside watch players play the hole.  The hole is at the center of this aerial:

Unfortunately the hole is now the 9th, with the 18th hole a short par-5 across the street (to the right in the aerial).

From what I understand (from multiple sources), the members flipped the nines many years back because the original starting holes were too difficult, and scorecards were ruined too early.  Instead of starting with four difficult par 4's and a 238 yard par 3, not the start is three more comfortable par 4's, a short par 3 and a reachable par 5.

When the Club hosted a Nationwide Tour Event a few years back (then the Nike Tour), the Tour used the original sequence with the finishing hole below the clubhouse.

Like Pinon Hills, a good course that still works with the current sequence, but a head-scratcher for sure.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Jeff Goldman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2003, 12:27:26 PM »
They flipped the nines a few years back at a Chicago course called Seven Bridges, supposedly because the (now) first and second holes are the hardest on the course, and it's a relief to get through them.  The first is a short par 5 with an island fairway that's crowned.  if the ground isn't rain softened, anything with any spin that isn't straight down the middle runs into water.  A lot of people absolutely hate the course because of the tricks like that to pump up the difficulty.  Was once expensive (>$100), but now runs specials all the time.

Jeff Goldman
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
That was one hellacious beaver.

shanew

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2003, 12:32:35 PM »
matt said--

Clearly, you still play all the holes but the flow and sense of design presentation gets tilted in a manner that I believe doesn't serve the original intent of the architect.

and i couldn't agree more.  too many times the "operational" side of the development team decides to take matters into their own hands.  their rational has been that it is merely two nines of golf.  however, on some courses, the ebb and flow of the design concept starts with a few easy holes--or @ least a nice mix of 3's, 4's and 5's...

i'll give two examples...there is a muni course here in phx that starts 465 par 5 and 205 par 3!  on a weekend, it can take a good 45 minutes to play those two holes due to the lonnnnnggg waitttttt

second example is a course we worked on in west phx.  the 11th hole is a shortish par 4 with a pseudo-island green.  they made this the 2nd hole and caused a complete bottleneck--too difficult too early!  thanksfully the general manager of the community played the course and decided to switch the nines back...

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

Bob_Huntley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2003, 12:38:23 PM »
Obviously, the switching of nines can only take place where the focus is on the positioning of the Clubhouse.

Can you imagine the horrors of switching nines at Cypress Point?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Scott_Burroughs

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2003, 12:40:15 PM »
Good flipping:  Augusta

Bad:  my club, Wake Forest GC.  Current #1, 711 yard par 5.  ???  ??? 'Nuf said.  #10 is downhill 400 yard par 4.
#9 comes right up to clubhouse with tough green, #18 is in back, by the parking lot.  

No wonder I try to start on the back as much as possible.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

shanew

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2003, 12:49:57 PM »
711 par 5???

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

Scott_Burroughs

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2003, 12:52:54 PM »
Shane,

Yes.  It was once (as of about 3-4 years ago) the longest par 5 anywhere.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

shanew

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2003, 01:05:28 PM »
and i want THAT to be my first swing of the day!  that might make me change my mind on no mulligans!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

BCrosby

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2003, 01:10:17 PM »
The nines at East Lake were flipped. The original finishing hole was what is now the reachable par 5 ninth. A terrific hole with lots of options.

The 18th is now a 230 yard uphill par 3. Also a good hole, but I've never liked it as a finisher.

My best guess is that the nines were flipped for the Ryder Cup in 1962. They did it, I assume, because there is little room behind the 9th green for stands. The green abuts the main entrance road and the clubhouse.

Up until the early nineties, you could still see the original starter's shack at the back of the 10th tee. It was falling apart and removed when Cousins and Rees redid the course.

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

Michael Dugger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2003, 01:13:48 PM »
shanew

What brings you around golfclubatlas.  I so totally agree about playing a 711 yard par 5 right off the bat.  We have about a 620 yarder on one course around here in Oregon and it just seems to go on forever.  711 YARDS.  

Scott, have you ever birdied it??
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

Ben Cowan-Dewar

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2003, 01:22:00 PM »
Matt,
The change at Banff Springs is one that hurts the course. Not exactly a nine flip, but the renumbering of holes does hurt Thompson's dramatic start and finish.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Dan Kelly

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2003, 01:29:49 PM »
They flipped the nines at Interlachen last year for the Solheim Cup -- presumably (I don't know why) because they thought the 9th (shortish par-5) was a more interesting match-play hole and was, therefore, a better 18 than the real 18 (short par-4); and because there is much more spectator room around 9 than around 18.

Good flip, I think.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:05 PM by -1 »
"There's no money in doing less." -- Joe Hancock, 11/25/2010
"Rankings are silly and subjective..." -- Tom Doak, 3/12/2016

Scott_Burroughs

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2003, 01:33:49 PM »
Michael D,

Yes, I've birdied it once from the tips.  Parring it from there is no small feat.  Downhill for first 300 yards, but straight uphill for last 150, and has tough two tier green.  Creek crosses at 195 from green that makes hole bad.  No hole that long should have a layup shot, which is what it causes on 2nd shot unless drive is bombed 320+.  

Hole is more fun from blues at 620.  Need good drive to have decent chance at clearing creek in two.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

shanew

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2003, 01:49:03 PM »
mdugger--

what brings me to gca is the same passion for golf architecture that everyone else that posts on the is website possess...call me a "lurker"!  i've been around here for a year or so and there is rarely a day when i don't read everyone's tremendous posts...

a 600+ yard par 5 works for me as an opening hole--great spacing!  but 711 is plenty of space!  when i read scott's post i thought he meant the 1st tee was next to a 7-11--easy access to an early morning big gulp...

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

Martin Del Vecchio

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2003, 01:56:23 PM »
Someone told me that the nines were flipped at the New Seabury Ocean (formerly Blue) coursre on Cape Cod, but then flipped back.

The first change makes sense; the beauty of the course lies in the first nine, some of which are along Nantucket Sound with views of Martha's Vineyard.  The back nine has no views, and runs through some housing.

The second change also made some sense, since the at-the-time 1st (which is now again the 10th) is a par dogleg 5 that you can either 1) bomb it over the trees and reach in 2, or 2) lay up and play it as a 3-shotter.  

Apparently this is not a good idea for a first hole, since it caused so many delays.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Matt_Ward

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2003, 03:37:37 PM »
The thing that amazes me about flipping nines is the flippant manner by which these decisions can be reached. Pinon Hills doesn't have the original 1st hole THAT far away from the clubhouse.

When you change the nines (minus the possibility of a safety issue and I'll even give a facility the benefit of the doubt if it's a speed of play issue) you are taking a design that has ALREADY been calculated to play from a certain perspective.

I can only imagine this must piss off a good number of architects because the flow of how the course is played is now altered.

Scott -- you're right about Augusta but I have to wonder if there are more examples in which the result has been less so than more so.

Anyone playing Pinon Hills needs to play the course as originally intended -- when you come to the final two par-5's that play uphill you'll know the meaning of having "gas in your tank" to play them at that point in the round.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2003, 09:00:55 PM »
Matt:  It is not rare for there to be some arguments back and forth during construction about switching the nines ... luckily no client has done it to me yet.  We've gone back and forth over Barnbougle, for instance, although I think everyone is on the same page now.

Honestly, if I see a routing where the ninth or tenth hole would be a good par-3 I am sometimes drawn to it, because then I know no one will think about flipping the nines!!

Bob - I actually played Cypress Point once starting on #10 ... we were a bit late for our tee time.  We got to 16 way too early, and it was really weird.  Likewise, it was pretty strange to play the ninth and then have to quit ... if ever a hole made me want to play more golf that's one of them.

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

JohnV

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2003, 06:16:29 AM »
Sometimes on weekend mornings the folks at Pumpkin Ridge will switch nines on Ghost Creek.  It actually plays 20 to 30 minutes faster when they do that because the real front nine is harder and it is better if the players get 9 holes in before playing those holes.

Also, on frosty mornings the front nine always takes longer to thaw than the back so they start on 10.

The problem with it is that #10 is the best birdie opportunity on the course and to take it on as the first hole and then not birdie can set the day off poorly.  Also, it is nice to have it right after #9 which is the hardest hole on the course.

I'm glad they only do it occasionally and not permanently.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2003, 07:06:15 AM »
This "trend" is very often a greenkeeper's or pro's method of imprinting their name on a course. I could list several other areas of change we see thatr do not take much $$ on their part, nor deep physical change to the golf course; revised logos, changing hole names, playing with mowing patterns, adding trees, etc.  

I am usually not for flipping nines unless there is a change in the site new clubhouse, roads, practice, adjacent development, etc.  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
    www.golfgroupltd.com
    www.golframes.com

TEPaul

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2003, 08:11:13 AM »
Two interesting side by side courses that had nine flips early on---Shinnecock and NGLA!

My own course had a nine flip that only lasted for one year. Why did they do it? They thought it was a lot easier to get a drink of liquor at the turn that way!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:05 PM by -1 »

A_Clay_Man

Re: When Nines Get Flipped
« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2003, 08:00:12 AM »
Anyone who does get to play CPC, and when the member says "let's start on __" (insert a number) because there are groups on 1,2 and 3, are you gonna balk? nah, This does happen frequently there.

Courses like Las Campanas (sunset) could never pull-off a switching of the nines. The palpable building in difficulty (narrowness and shot demands) make the front seem almost as if it were built for the nine hole set who may have lost some of their vinegar.

While Pinons dramamtic finnish is more subtle, I find that most of the early holes (orig config) set you up for the later surprises. One of those surprises NLE and that was a 3/4 across the fairway waste bunker on the orig 16th. This feature was invisible from the tee and IMHO was perfectly placed, to not only set-up the cross carries on 18 (orig.) but also to catch any unsuspecting bomber of the ball who values distance over strategy. Not that the remaining 60 yd shot from the waste area was all that difficult but it sure could catch a few egos.

One other great gottchas on that hole is the fairway bunker placement. For most of your round you faced fairway bunkers that were placed on the preffered side. (preffered because of the angle of the greens opening) but on this hole the bunker is placed on the least preferred side. (ok, to a front right pin this left bunker is a decent angle if played just short of) I viewed this as sort of a nice way of making the golfer think rather than assume.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

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