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JESII

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2009, 02:16:26 PM »

Jim Sullivan--

Which two Strantz courses have you played?  I have played Tobacco Road, Tot Hill Farm, Caledonia, and True Blue, and would not say that any of them is especially difficult.


Tobacco Road once and Royal New Kent several times.

Jim Franklin

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2009, 02:29:29 PM »
Strantz' and Engh's course LOOK very intimidating, but are more fun than difficult which is a good thing.
Mr Hurricane

JESII

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2009, 02:31:11 PM »
Strantz' and Engh's course LOOK very intimidating, but are more fun than difficult which is a good thing.

Agreed...from my limited experience anyway.

Greg Murphy

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2009, 02:43:55 PM »
Tom,

I don't want to derail any of the more thoughtful comments that have general application, but to use a concrete example . . . I've played two of your designs. Black Forest and Apache Stronghold. Once each. The green complexes at BF seemed to me to have gone to and well over the precipice. Nothing at AS seemed to go even remotely near the precipice except for one hole in the middle of the back nine with an arroyo crossing that I didn't "get" on my one trip through. Yet AS was anything but boring. It was a very interesting, challenging and fun experience. I think you had the hand on the volume control just about right on the one course but the other reminds me of a friend who in his early twenties did the sound for a rock band. Concerts would begin with him mixing the sound but by the end he just had everything cranked to the max and the band found itself wondering, what's the point of even having a sound man? You can probably guess the rest.

Sean Eidson

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2009, 03:39:39 PM »
The "Score Crowd" vs. "Fun Crowd" distinction is very helpful here.  The most fun I have ever had playing golf was on a very (30+ MPH) windy day at Old Macdonald.  Because the course isn't rated, and thus wouldn't be included in handicaps, we decided that we wouldn't even take our scorecards and only play our 4 ball match.  

The first two holes were absolutely brutal into the wind - long par 5 with the Hell Bunker, and then the dramatically uphill par 4.  Long story short, I won the holes with a 7 and a 7 and we were off to the races.  This was in a group where I have the worse handicap by 4, 12, and 15 shots.

If there's a precipice, the 20,000 sq ft Biarritz 3rd hole must be near it.  I was ebullient after winning the first two holes and enjoyed that hole and the rest of the round as much as any 10 holes in my life.  The "Score Crowd" part of me would probably have been discouraged by the Double-Triple start and had trouble enjoying the journey.

It sure looked like the guys playing the match at Wine Valley had fun.

« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 03:49:10 PM by Sean Eidson »

Bill Brightly

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2009, 03:56:52 PM »
I would think there is a huge difference in where "the precipice" might exist for a private course versus a resort/destination course. I think you can go a lot further with unusual/quirky/tricky elements on a course that members will play time and again. I think resort/destination courses can be big, bold and have lots of "wow" factor, but I really dislike surprises that I don't discover until after I played a hole. Paying lots of money to travel to a course full of such holes would tick me off. But on a course where members play it time and again, I think such elements can add lots of enjoyment.

I also think there is a huge difference between hard/quirky elements of a hole that every golfer MUST take straight on versus similar elements where a golfer CHOOSES to take on. Long forced carries are the obvious best example, but I'm sure there are plenty of ways to make green complexes extremely hard to play. So if I come up short of the green and end up in a 50 foot deep bunker with poison ivy on the walls and snakes in the bottom, I need to know that I had a safer way to approach the pin. If I HAD to go this way, I am gonna be ticked off at the architect, but I'm OK with it if he gave me a huge bailout option that I ignored.

JMEvensky

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2009, 04:17:32 PM »

 a 50 foot deep bunker with poison ivy on the walls and snakes in the bottom


I think this would probably fall under most people's definition of "precipice".

Steve Kline

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2009, 04:34:41 PM »
Tom I just eante to know what club you hit off the tee on 9 at Kingsley and what your score was... ;D

Seriously, I'm not sure if this is a contribution to the topic, but I think that there is a conceptual line that is crossed, for the bad, when "difficulty" intersects with "lost balls."  Any hazard or problem on a golf course that introduces lost balls is a huge problem.  The biggest problem in golf course design in my view.

16 at CPC was rightly thought to be a marginal design; I think it passes muster (handily) because of its overwhelming beauty, and the fact that a ball that bounds off the rocks into the Pacific is immediately clear to the player and his companions.  The game can continue without a long ball-hunt.

Gotta say I agree with this. I can take about any sort of precipice you designers can dream up, but if it's one where I will be losing balls regularly that course wouldn't be played much by me again. One of the worst things to hit American golf is tall rough. Most courses can't maintain it properly and eats balls and slows down rounds. That puts a course over the edge in my opinion. I'd much rather see wildly sloping greens, some severe bunkering or something else to make the course hard.

John Mayhugh

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #33 on: August 12, 2009, 06:12:35 PM »
There is certainly a difference between going to the precipice on a few holes and pushing the edge on the entire course.  Even though we may talk about impressions of individual holes, the course has 18 of them and I see nothing wrong with pushing the limit on some holes.  But this seems to work best when it's at least partially dictated by the land.

The topic reminds me of Gil Hanse's "Stop Making Sense!" article in Daley's Golf Architecture vol 1.

Ronald Montesano

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #34 on: August 12, 2009, 06:28:40 PM »
Tobacco Road...6532
Tot Hill Farm...6543
Caledonia...6526


Royal New Kent...7372
Stonehouse...6962
Bull's Bay...7200
True Blue...7062

Give a Strantz course another set of tee decks and you see what happens.  I've played True Blue from those tips and found it to be quite demanding throughout.  We always hear starters and their kind declaim "play the proper set of tees for you."  What's to be gained/lost by playing the wrong set, one longer than you can handle?  Simple, really...you get the perspective of fighting a losing battle with valor.

Today we played Tobacco Road and all three of us, a 4, 8 and 20 handicap, were hitting it on the middle of the clubface.  The 4 played the tips, the 8 played the second set and the 20 played the third set (of tees.)  The experience was remarkable for all in the trio.  The blind shots, the wavy greens, the hyper-amoeba fairways, all rewarded us with a memorable day of golf and cart driving.
If you took us all back 40 yards on each hole, as modern courses tend to do, our experience would have been lessened.

Strantz seemed to not care whether his course topped out at 7300 or 6500.  What he built was the course that the land would give him.  I for one am quite sorry that we will never know what the decades of the 50s and 60s (in human years) would have brought from him.  Despite the recession, I feel comfortable stating that Strantz would always have received his commissions.
Coming in August 2023
~Manakiki
~OSU Scarlet
~OSU Grey
~NCR South
~Springfield
~Columbus
~Lake Forest (OH)
~Sleepy Hollow (OH)

Mike_Young

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #35 on: August 12, 2009, 07:14:08 PM »
Is the precipice a tangible or intangible?  For me I would say an intangible based on the ability of the particular player ....short hitter, long hitter, good short game...sand game.....good iron player etc....  Because of these variables it seems that the most difficult course for one may be much less difficult for another based on whether the difficulty lies in greens, length, width, etc....AND so I am not sure I know how to find the precipice....everytime the USGA or PGA thinks they have something that is on the edge...some guy blows it out of the water.....
I watch the Masters and see guys go past where I thought the precipice would be for length or greens that I would think you could not dare pitch,chip or come close and they prove me wrong.....
The precipice is a moving target ....and the really good ones make the guy come back because he feels there is still the chance that somehow he can play a few strokes better than last time.....when a person gets to that course where he feels there is no way he can play it any better then that is over the top and his desire to give it another chance is missing..then maybe he reached HIS precipice....
I may be completely off TD's train of thought but .....it's hard for us to touch... ;)


"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Tom_Doak

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #36 on: August 12, 2009, 07:35:17 PM »
Jed R:

I would agree with you that in most cases, a match play perspective would minimize this debate, but it doesn't eliminate it.  I take a match play perspective in nearlly all instances, but I still encounter holes and courses that I think have gone too far.  I need to analyze why that is, but I'm thinking it's two things:

1.  The ability to play the hole for a bogey.  I never agreed with Trent Jones' thought that every hole should be a "hard par", but I do think a good hole gives you a safe route by which you ought to be able to make bogey fairly consistently.  Michael Dugger is right that a lot of low handicappers fail to recognize this; they think that they ought to be able to attack the hole straightforwardly and consistently make PAR, and that's just a prescription for boring golf.

But, I've played many holes where it is hard to play for a bogey.  In fact, many of them are par-3 holes like the 9th at Kingsley.  Where do you hit it there to make sure of a 4, if your opponent has screwed up off the tee in front of you?  Or do you just have to hit and hope?

2.  As far as courses as a whole, I suppose an architect can choose the line for himself and take his chances with the critics.  However, if he is taking a really great piece of land and turning the dial to the max, I think he is making a mistake.  I did that myself once -- Black Forest, as Greg Murphy pointed out.  I had a client who said he "never wanted anyone to say the course was too easy," and I was in a high-stress phase of my life -- my mom died and I got married that same summer.  It would have been a really neat course with just a bit softer greens, but nobody who was working there or came by ever said that thought out loud.

Carl Rogers

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #37 on: August 12, 2009, 08:55:20 PM »
Dear Tom,
Riverfront ... If you remember....Do the green complexes at holes 3, 5, 7 & 9 in your opinion go up to or over this precipice?

I could mention other holes, but they do not (at least in my mind) engage the notion of precipice offered by this thread.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #38 on: August 12, 2009, 09:45:24 PM »
Carl:

The only one of those greens which might be over the top (to me) is the ninth.  When we were building it I was worried that it was just too small, but we didn't have any more dirt at hand to try and fix that problem.  If I was doing it today I would just tell them to lower the whole thing a foot and make it bigger, but I was reluctant to do that back then, particularly as the course was being built on a shoestring.

#3 is similar to the 13th at Crystal Downs, but not nearly as severe as it is.  #7 is one of my favorites.  And I thought you would say #6, not #5.

Anthony Gray

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #39 on: August 12, 2009, 10:08:38 PM »


  I apologies for joining this late and not reading all the posts. But shouldn't the goal of the architect and owner to be to make a course fun instead of hard. With great respect for the author of this thread, I stated in a past thread that no one wants to travel half way around the world (ie Cape Kids or Barnbougle} to get beat up. Is it profitable for a course owner to build a course that is built for a major championship or for the recreational golfer? Is a course like Whistling Straights for both? Pebble Beach? A happy medium is difficult to achieve. I played Victoria National, but it would not be a course I could play as a member because of my abilities. I admire the designer and developer that resists the need to create a course that disallows the average golfer a pleasant round for the sake of having a "championship course".

   Anthony


Emil Weber

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #40 on: August 12, 2009, 10:19:23 PM »
Anthony,

I think a golf course shpuld be rather fun than hard, too. I have only played one C&C and one Hanse course in my life and I found both courses absolutely fun and enjoyable, although both were quite easy against par. I shot the (then) best round of my life at Rustic Canyon, although I had felt I didn't even have my B-Game on on that day, still it was probably THE most enjoyable round of my life.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #41 on: August 12, 2009, 10:36:16 PM »
Anthony:

I don't know why you thought I would be offended by your post.  I generally agree with you.  And in fact, I think one of the reasons I can get away with "going up to the precipice" of severity fairly liberally is because I tend to do it on courses that aren't that hard.  Barnbougle is 6650 yards, and the most talked-about holes include two par-4's under 300 yards, and a 120-yard par-3.  (There is also a 200-yard par-3 with a wild green, and a much-maligned 490-yard par-4 that is really built for most people to play as a par five, except that it's downwind.)

For that matter, I liked Mike Strantz's 6600 yard courses (Caledonia and Tobacco Road) much better than his 7200 yard courses (Royal New Kent and Stonehouse) because everybody plays them up.  At 7200 yards some of those same features just don't make sense to me, or to very many of the customers.

North Berwick, Painswick, Prestwick, Cruden Bay ... all of them near the precipice, but at each of them the total length is the saving grace.

Anthony Gray

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #42 on: August 12, 2009, 10:37:38 PM »
Anthony,

I think a golf course shpuld be rather fun than hard, too. I have only played one C&C and one Hanse course in my life and I found both courses absolutely fun and enjoyable, although both were quite easy against par. I shot the (then) best round of my life at Rustic Canyon, although I had felt I didn't even have my B-Game on on that day, still it was probably THE most enjoyable round of my life.


  Emil,

  I think many would agree with you. Your comment of Rustic Canyon will be seconded by many on this site. This is the same reason why I simply love Cruden Bay. Why would enybody spend a day on a plane going and coming to play a course that wears you out? Makes no golfing or business sense. Golf should be fun for all levels of golfers. I say this knowing that some courses are built specifically for diffrent levels of golfers. Personally I do not want the expense or travel time to venture to a coures that I can't break 100. I would rather play my home course. Can't wait to play Castle Stuart soon.

  Anthony

 

Chris DeNigris

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #43 on: August 12, 2009, 10:44:30 PM »
As several have said, I think the precipice is a widely moving target depending on the player. For me (and I think a lot of directionally challenged drivers) the precipice is nearer the tee. An abundance of severe driving holes tightens me up considerably more than challenging green sites. If you're comfy in the sand and chip reasonably well most short holes w/o water don't frighten much. Kingsley 2 and 9 boil down to reasonable expectations I think. If you're fortunate enough to find the green after one swing, par is a reasonable expectation. If you miss the green, play for bogey and don't get too aggressive with your approach. 2 putt for 4 and try and make it up on the next. I think the initial recovery shot is what gets a lot of folks in trouble on those 2 holes and sets the stage for a lot of dreaded others. However, if one's short or bunker game is shaky, then those 2 holes are definitely the edge.

Tom- although I really enjoy fun and difficult greens, when I finished my one and only round at Riverfront last fall  I was convinced you had edged over the line. There just seemed to be too many times where I had no chance to get it close on my first putt no matter how creative I got or how well struck the putt. Maybe it was just a particularly sadistic set of pins that day. I do remember wondering if a large chunk of the membership frequently took your name in vain.  >:(

Maybe I just need to play it a few more times!

Anthony Gray

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #44 on: August 12, 2009, 11:04:46 PM »
Anthony:

I don't know why you thought I would be offended by your post.  I generally agree with you.  And in fact, I think one of the reasons I can get away with "going up to the precipice" of severity fairly liberally is because I tend to do it on courses that aren't that hard.  Barnbougle is 6650 yards, and the most talked-about holes include two par-4's under 300 yards, and a 120-yard par-3.  (There is also a 200-yard par-3 with a wild green, and a much-maligned 490-yard par-4 that is really built for most people to play as a par five, except that it's downwind.)

For that matter, I liked Mike Strantz's 6600 yard courses (Caledonia and Tobacco Road) much better than his 7200 yard courses (Royal New Kent and Stonehouse) because everybody plays them up.  At 7200 yards some of those same features just don't make sense to me, or to very many of the customers.

North Berwick, Painswick, Prestwick, Cruden Bay ... all of them near the precipice, but at each of them the total length is the saving grace.

 Tom,

  Thank you for your post. At times it seems that people get offended easily by differing opinions on the DG. Cruden Bay is easily my favorite in the world simply because it is FUN. I find it admirable that a golf course architect would resist the "fame" of designing a major championship course opposed to designing a course that is fun and playable for all levels of golfers. Impressive to give people what they desire than to have a trophy on your mantle. Ironic that you mentioned Prestwick and North Berwick also. I love the two. I think the idea of having a "Champiuonship Course" limits creativity, quirk, and simply fun from course design. I am a golfer and I want to golf, have fun with my buddies and then spend the afternoon with my wife and daughter. I do not want to come home at noon from a round of golf beat up and frustraded. More power to you!!


  Anthony

 

Tom_Doak

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #45 on: August 12, 2009, 11:10:16 PM »
Anthony:

There are a lot of people who don't believe me when I tell them I don't care all that much whether my courses host tournaments.  It is just so ingrained into today's architects that hosting a tournament is the Holy Grail for a golf course.  [At least, that's what they imply on TV.]

I know that some people will assume I'm talking about shot values when I say the length has to be controlled on a course that has a lot of quirky features ... in fact, some will agree with me on that basis.  But I'm just as happy building a quirky feature on a 480-yard par-4 as a 530-yard par-5.  For me, to build a course with quirky features and then also build it at 7000 yards par 72 is to show you don't have courage in your convictions; you are trying to pander to the "championship" mind-set at the same time you're trying to show all the cool things you can do.  If you really believe the game is about fun and your quirky features are going to be fun, then why the heck would you want it to be 7000 yards?

Anthony Gray

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #46 on: August 12, 2009, 11:15:05 PM »


  Tom Doak,

  Thank you. And Refreshing.

   Anthony



Bill_McBride

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #47 on: August 12, 2009, 11:18:12 PM »
Anthony:

There are a lot of people who don't believe me when I tell them I don't care all that much whether my courses host tournaments.  It is just so ingrained into today's architects that hosting a tournament is the Holy Grail for a golf course.  [At least, that's what they imply on TV.]

I know that some people will assume I'm talking about shot values when I say the length has to be controlled on a course that has a lot of quirky features ... in fact, some will agree with me on that basis.  But I'm just as happy building a quirky feature on a 480-yard par-4 as a 530-yard par-5.  For me, to build a course with quirky features and then also build it at 7000 yards par 72 is to show you don't have courage in your convictions; you are trying to pander to the "championship" mind-set at the same time you're trying to show all the cool things you can do.  If you really believe the game is about fun and your quirky features are going to be fun, then why the heck would you want it to be 7000 yards?

Tom, from an owner's perspective (even though I'm not one, just wondering out loud), what do you suppose the difference in cost would be between a 6600 yard tips course and a 7200 yard tips course?

I suspect it's more than 10%.

Just another reason that an entertaining course at 6600 yards is a better outcome than one at 7200 yards.

Matt Day

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #48 on: August 12, 2009, 11:52:53 PM »
Does expected frequency of play by a customer or customer group come into the equation for a designer? If someone with no real interest in architecture played Tobacco Road for example at least once a week would they start to get a bit jaded and critical of the design as the novelty wore off?

I've been reading on another forum a group of guys who played the Black Tee comp at a course called Kennedy Bay which is probably as a close to a links as you would find in Australia.  They played it at 6500 metres with a decent wind and got smashed, however they had a ball. If they had to play that every week though they would be probably all be in physchiatric care....
« Last Edit: August 13, 2009, 05:26:42 AM by Matt Day »

Rob Rigg

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #49 on: August 13, 2009, 12:41:25 AM »
Of all the courses that I have played I think Tetherow takes the golfer the closest to the edge - especially before they made a few changes to reduce the eye candy this past winter.

Regardless of handicap or skill level, you are likely to finish the round with a few bruises and a black eye. You just hope that you were able to land a few punches as well (in the form of birdies or well earned pars).

When they held the Oregon Mid-Am there even some of the best amateurs in the state were destroyed on day one when the wind was up and scores rarely got to or below par on any day of the tournament. Most of the guys were really stoked to be shooting anywhere in the mid-70s.

I think Tetherow is close to the edge for a wide array of golfers for a couple reasons:

1) Visual challenge off many tees (which have been dialed down) which tend to rattle all but the most focused golfer. Note, there is room on most tee shots provided you have a strategy, I think this is brilliant.

2) Challenging green complexes - there are many deep bunkers and the greens are very undulating (hence fescue base). I think this is what gets the sticks and low single digit handicaps the most. Unlike many courses in the US you cannot just fire at the pin because the ball will not stop on a dime. An approach must be placed on the proper tier in order to attack the pin for birdie. Then you have to adjust your putting for the slower, but dangerous movement, of the fescue greens.

Furthermore, many of the putting surfaces are "raised" which can be disorienting as you hit up to them. It is much easier to mentally gauge a shot when you have a full picture of what you need to do.

When Tom speaks of High Pointe and a willingness to alienate 50% of the people who play there, I think that Kidd absolutely did the same thing at Tetherow.

Polarizing course designs can be quite interesting and I tend to enjoy them for the most part because they often have a great deal of strategic merit, quirk and/or originality.

Tetherow tends to provide the "bogey bailout" path on many holes that Tom also discussed - but you have to know where to find it.

The tricky thing for "precipice" courses is providing a layout that members will want to play countless times and visitors will want to see more than once (especially if there is a hefty price tag involved). I would imagine that the ownership and architect would need to be very much aligned on how far to push the design. There are a lot more bogey golfers than scratch golfers in the world, so if you build a "players" course it is probably unlikely that a bogey golfer who shot 120 will be returning too often.


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