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Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #50 on: August 13, 2009, 04:40:10 AM »
Tom

I find it interesting that you seem to be weighing total yardage against funk.  I tend to agree about the total yardage, but I don't understand how that is related to funk if the concept of multiple tees is meant to take care of this potential problem.  For instance, just about any championship course goes over the precipice for me if I have to stand back at 7000 yards.  I think this is more or less the charge leveled against some of the new links over here - they are just too difficult - built in the championship mode with yardage and having many of the same characteristics of good links, but they are in no way championship courses.  I know I have found the approach very odd and perhaps you are correct with your convictions comment to do one or the other and never the twain shall meet.   

Another aspect I find interesting is the yardage on a hole with the funk.  Tobacco Road's 15th is only a layup and wedge - thats fine.  What is ott is the green.  If that pin is stuck anywhere far left it can't be got to with the second unless you are a huge hitter and can go over a large portion of the trees right off the tee.  One can't even fly over the green with the second and hope for a chip and putt 4 because there is hard pan sand and vegetation back there.  Needless to say, I don't really like the hole. 

In fact, Tobacco Road in mini evaluations goes over the precipice in a few areas.  Wide and shallow greens.  Greens which one can be on, but not putt at the hole.  One could even argue the forced carries go over the precipice.  Finally, one could also say the waste areas are ott.  I know a lot of people who can't get out of them properly and some are deep as hell.  Essentially, its a pick up.  I don't like the constant use of this hard pan sand, but at least I can get out with some proficiency.  In a related subject, I watched three guys struggle like mad with the bunkers at Yeamans because of their deepness and compact nature.  I know one guy disliked the course because of this maintenance issue.     

Thanks, you have helped me figure out The Road a bit as to why I would never want to play that course on a regular basis from a design perspective. 

Ciao     
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #51 on: August 13, 2009, 05:12:45 PM »
Sean:  Your thoughts on Tobacco Road sound quite similar to my own.  Too many wide and shallow greens and potential impossible putts for my tastes, but at least it is at 6600 yards where you've got a short iron in your hands for most of those, so they're unlikely to destroy you.  I do not believe in building tees for 1% of golfers ... if you build tees at 7200 yards, you cannot then claim that no one is supposed to play them except Tiger.

Rob:  I have still not seen Tetherow, but your thoughts on David's attitude toward the 50/50 precipice are consistent with what he seemed to be saying about The Castle Course.  And I think if you talked to him now, he would tell you he'd approach it differently.

Bill M:  I have never really thought about the cost difference between 6600 yards and 7200.  It's probably not as much as it sounds, because the amount of ground irrigated is usually determined by the length from the FORWARD tees ... if you just refrained from building some back tees, you'd probably still need close to the same amount of fairway.  But if you design the course shorter from all the tees, then there would be some significant savings. 

Also, if keeping to 6600 yards meant you kept the course a bit narrower, that would help on the budget as well.  But, unless you're building less bunkers or smaller greens, or moving less dirt because you don't have to do work to stretch the course ouit, those parts of the budget would remain pretty similar.

Sean_A

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #52 on: August 13, 2009, 06:57:23 PM »
Sean:  Your thoughts on Tobacco Road sound quite similar to my own.  Too many wide and shallow greens and potential impossible putts for my tastes, but at least it is at 6600 yards where you've got a short iron in your hands for most of those, so they're unlikely to destroy you.  I do not believe in building tees for 1% of golfers ... if you build tees at 7200 yards, you cannot then claim that no one is supposed to play them except Tiger.

Rob:  I have still not seen Tetherow, but your thoughts on David's attitude toward the 50/50 precipice are consistent with what he seemed to be saying about The Castle Course.  And I think if you talked to him now, he would tell you he'd approach it differently.

Bill M:  I have never really thought about the cost difference between 6600 yards and 7200.  It's probably not as much as it sounds, because the amount of ground irrigated is usually determined by the length from the FORWARD tees ... if you just refrained from building some back tees, you'd probably still need close to the same amount of fairway.  But if you design the course shorter from all the tees, then there would be some significant savings. 

Also, if keeping to 6600 yards meant you kept the course a bit narrower, that would help on the budget as well.  But, unless you're building less bunkers or smaller greens, or moving less dirt because you don't have to do work to stretch the course ouit, those parts of the budget would remain pretty similar.

Tom

The odd thing about The Road is that I still like it even though it is hopelessly flawed. 

Your reply about multiple tees is odd in so much that many archies try to sell at least some of their design based on this concept.  You don't believe in tees used by 1% of golfers?  While I agree with you, I would like to know your reasons if they don't involve money.

Finally, I don't see that it matters if one has a 3 iron or wedge in his hand if accessing the flag as described with TR's 15th can't be done.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Bill_McBride

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #53 on: August 13, 2009, 07:03:36 PM »

Bill M:  I have never really thought about the cost difference between 6600 yards and 7200.  It's probably not as much as it sounds, because the amount of ground irrigated is usually determined by the length from the FORWARD tees ... if you just refrained from building some back tees, you'd probably still need close to the same amount of fairway.  But if you design the course shorter from all the tees, then there would be some significant savings. 

Also, if keeping to 6600 yards meant you kept the course a bit narrower, that would help on the budget as well.  But, unless you're building less bunkers or smaller greens, or moving less dirt because you don't have to do work to stretch the course ouit, those parts of the budget would remain pretty similar.

I was wondering if the wider corridors required for a longer course (given today's equipment, historical dispersion patterns, and litigious society) might mean a greater than 10% increase in irrigated turf.  That would mean disproportionally greater cost for the 7200 yard course.

Married to a short hitting lady golf junkie, I also know you could shorten courses from all tees as you mention without upsetting the ladies  ;)

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #54 on: August 13, 2009, 07:50:31 PM »
Bill M:  Guys are going to hit it just as wild with their drivers on a medium-length par-4 as on a longer one.  They just grip it and rip it, wherever.

Sean:  I lost a ball on 15 at Tobacco Road last year, hitting wedge toward that very hole location, so you're preaching to the choir, man.

My distaste for tees that only 1% of golfers are supposed to use is twofold.  First, their very existence tempts a lot more than 1% of golfers to play them, and the course plays severe and slow as a result.  Two, sometimes the tees are only there to drive up the total yardage, and the shot values don't really work even for that 1% of players; so they're just there for checklist-minded raters.


Sean_A

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #55 on: August 14, 2009, 05:22:17 AM »
Bill M:  Guys are going to hit it just as wild with their drivers on a medium-length par-4 as on a longer one.  They just grip it and rip it, wherever.

Sean:  I lost a ball on 15 at Tobacco Road last year, hitting wedge toward that very hole location, so you're preaching to the choir, man.

My distaste for tees that only 1% of golfers are supposed to use is twofold.  First, their very existence tempts a lot more than 1% of golfers to play them, and the course plays severe and slow as a result.  Two, sometimes the tees are only there to drive up the total yardage, and the shot values don't really work even for that 1% of players; so they're just there for checklist-minded raters.



Tom

Thanks for that.  I have long thought that non championship courses with these back tees is worse then a scam, its bad for the game for the reasons you cite.  Not to mention that often times aesthetics are compromised by too many teeing areas.  I spsoe this is why I am impressed with archies who "hide" some of the teeing gronds.

Ciao

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

TEPaul

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #56 on: August 14, 2009, 05:35:56 AM »
"What I want to discuss is the subject of whether there IS such a line that can be crossed, or whether there is no such thing ... and whether golf course architecture has to push that line (and how far) in order to be really good."


TomD:


It just occured to me that to answer your question, even a little bit, of whether there is a line that can be crossed (The Precipice)....and whether golf course architecture has to push that line (and how far) in order to be really good, the answers are probably staring us right in the face----eg just look at the history and evolution of golf architecture and the courses that have done it and become hugely respected and those that have tried and failed.

My take is golf architecture in a general sense should not try to push that line in order to be good. Golf architecture in a general sense should probably head in the opposite direction from The Precipice in the future!

But can selective courses push that line to The Precipice and get away with it and become highly respected and considered great, even the greatest?

So what does the history of architecture tell us about that?

It seems like enough golfers feel that architecture generally has gotten too close to The Prepice in difficutly whether it be sheer length or a degree of penality that is too high and too much (OB, water etc).

But look at Pine Valley; look at Oakmont and those few special courses that have always been preceived by most all golfers as really difficult or the most difficult. These courses are loved or at least globably respected (Pine Valley both loved and respected and Oakmont probably more respected than loved) and pretty much always have been. The same might be said for Merion East or even Baltusrol or Winged Foot or Shinnecock. Why is that? How did those two or few manage to get to that status and perception and stay there all these years? Truly, that alone is a fascinating question to ponder.

How did those two or few get away with it and get to that level? Who would say they aren't great architecture as well as really difficult (The Precipice)?

I would say that the respect they generated perhaps from the beginning with one (Pine Valley) and over time with the other (Oakmont) and those others have to do with some things we rarely consider about them.

1. Their club's (membership) ethos.
2. One has a full blown major tournament history. The same is true of Merion East and those others mentioned!

Pine Valley is probably the most interesting of all to put your question to-----eg The Precipice! It has some architectural elements no other course I'm aware of has;

1. It has wide playing corridors and NO ROUGH! (at least not historically----eg the narrow bands they have today are only for mower turning), minimal water and no OB. As tough as it can be when one gets off its fairways it is actually pretty rare to lose a ball there (very good caddies that way).
3. For most all of its membership it is not their only club
4. It is a male only club


I would say "The Precipice" in architecture (extreme difficulty) essentially has its own odd "supply/demand" equation----eg if there are only a few (a small supply) in the world that are precieved that way that somehow reach that status of love or at least respect for their difficult and being near The Precipice the demand to play them will always increase but if you COMPLETELY replicated them 10 or 20 times around the world their love and respect and demand might actually exponentially plummet.

But perhaps not-----in any case, in my opinion, it is really Pine Valley that holds the true key and answers to your question. There are some things about it that we tend to forget are just so different than most any other golf course in the world and more complex still its "ethos" membership emanating from Crump's original idea (a course just for champions) may be one we rarely consider or understand how to consider as it applies to your question-----pushing towards The Precipice.

Tom, there is an analogy here I think is applicable that my father used to cite. Back in the 50s and early 60s he worked for Spalding and they decided to manufacture a set of clubs that they advertized and marketed as being ONLY recommended for golfers who were a 2 handicap or less. They actually said they were serious about that because they did not believe that other golfers could successfully use them.

They simply could not make enough sets they were selling them out so fast!  ;)






Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #57 on: August 14, 2009, 05:52:44 AM »
Tom P

Thats an interesting theory regarding Pine Valley and I think it holds up to handicap players.  But do you think Pine Valley would hold up to the best in the world the way championship courses do?   I get the impression, like nearly all courses, the pros would just hit right through many of the great elements which make Pine Valley what it is.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

TEPaul

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #58 on: August 14, 2009, 06:10:14 AM »
"I get the impression, like nearly all courses, the pros would just hit right through many of the great elements which make Pine Valley what it is."


What great elements are you talking about you think the pros would just hit right through?

Melvyn Morrow

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #59 on: August 14, 2009, 08:44:08 AM »

Tom D

I feel over the many years some of the newer courses have not maintained their challenge and therefore the fun factor. The modern concept re golf is defined by the word ‘Easy’. However, when was golf ever meant to be easy. Was it not the challenge of the golfer against the Links & weather? The fun and excitement of hitting a good shot, of coming through each and every hole, be they 9 or 18 with a sense of satisfaction. Not through beating Nature or the course but by ones skill and working with the land. Somewhat like old Seadogs who never fight the sea ,knowing that they will inevitability lose but work in harmony with her.

The use of doglegs, blind holes, mounds (dykes even), stone or rock walls and of course, yes the penal bunkers (positioned not necessary for the average player but more to combat the professionals). The requirement to consider strategy rather than relying on brute force. The blind holes are a key to perhaps, not control but tempering down the need to hit the long ball. There is little the designers can do to the ball in the air, but he can dictate what awaits the ball on the potential landing zones. The likes of Motor Sport F1, where there are certain tracks that make the strategy of 3 pit stops quicker than two. The current penal hazards do little to persuade the Pro’s that there are other options to the long ball attitude. That seeking to follow the actual course would in the long run be more beneficial. That is not to say that the hazards on the course should not be set from average to severe on the understanding that there will be more approach options. This allows for the average as well as the gifted golfer to enjoy the. Perhaps in time getting players to appreciate that there is more skill in the controlled strategic approach than trying to hit the ball into next week.

I, of course, do not have the answer. However, I feel the game needs to stop thinking distance and more on the challenge, fun aspect of the game. My preference is a shorter course with more obstacles/hazards, limiting distance options with the additional bonus of being able to easily play two rounds in the day.

Strategic courses maybe the more enjoyable to spectators and TV audiences alike when viewing Championships. Observing each player hitting a shorter distance and therefore more often may bring out the real depth of their skills and also give the paying public some real value for money.

I also believe that this type of course could be more cost effective and with the hope that they could easily be considered for Tournament/Championship contest. Whilst attracting general golfers to try their luck/skill on the same course as their heroes, thus generating more revenue in turn for these clubs.

As I have mentioned previously but not well received, I also believe that all Majors should limit the choice of club manufacture by either a single one manufacturer or a few. Again like Motor Sport F1 the same choice of tyres are provided for each team competing, in the past some years has seen more than one choice of manufacture, but with golf this could be on a rota basis per Major. In other words, each golfer has the same set of clubs with just minor adjustments to suit those individuals.

I have been called traditional, of living in the 19th Century, but here is a suggestion that is totally radical and offers potential more fun and enjoyment for the paying spectators. Just think that whilst knowing all the players are setting off with equal equipment, that skill and luck will dictate the winner. Don’t expect the equipment manufacturers will be that happy, but then we need to decide who is actually runs golf and Why.

Melvyn           


John Kirk

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #60 on: August 14, 2009, 10:55:45 AM »
I'm trying to concoct something worthwhile to say here:


    * Main Entry: prec·i·pice
    * Pronunciation: \ˈpre-s(ə-)pəs\
    * Function: noun
    * Etymology: French, from Middle French, from Latin praecipitium, from praecipit-, praeceps headlong, from prae- + caput head — more at head
    * Date: 1613

1 : a very steep or overhanging place
2 : a hazardous situation; broadly : brink


For me, a golf course goes to the precipice when too many balls literally go into steep or hazardous places.  A course where balls often fall into water, out of bounds, or steep, hazardous terrain are the type of difficulty that goes "over the edge" for me.

Many players seem to find steeply sloped greens particularly demoralizing.  A convex green with short grass recovery areas can be very painful.  But the perception of difficulty can be amplified.  Here are some of my scoring statistics.  I've been keeping hole-by-hole for a few years at a few courses:

Pumpkin Ridge - Witch Hollow: very gentle, predictable surfaces, and yields many putts with small breaks.
30.58 putts per round
Ballyneal: Big greens with huge slopes, putts tend to be predictable and easy to read.
33.92 putts per round
Stone Eagle:  Medium size greens with significant internal contouring, tough to read at times:
32.89 putts
Kinloch:  Medium size greens, broad significant slopes, but few internal features, maintained very fast:
32.30 putts per round

I'm a decent but certainly not an outstanding putter.

Last statistic:

35 rounds at Kingsley.  Average scores on the par 3s:

2:   3.49
5:   3.46
9:   3.34
11:  3.51
16:  3.43

In the last two years, I've made two birdies and one bogey at #9, all the rest pars.  While it is true my strength is short iron play, I believe this challenges the perception of difficulty for these holes.


Last thought about severity.  Crystal Downs just came up in an unrelated discussion.  Crystal Downs is incredibly severe in many ways, but it strikes as the kind of course where I shoot 81, with 11 bogeys and 7 pars.  Other than the 17th hole, and possbly the 11th hole, it is more a course where llittle errors lead to one extra stroke.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2009, 11:08:08 AM by John Kirk »

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #61 on: August 14, 2009, 12:10:05 PM »
John:

I don't know what to make of some of your statistics.  In the end, maybe I don't want to know ... one of the things I am trying to do as a golf course architect is get inside people's heads a bit, so they can't understand the odds and so only the smartest of them will figure out the right plan of attack for themselves.

Anyway, I don't have stats on Crystal Downs, but I'm pretty familiar with it, and from observation I would have to disagree with your summary of it.  In every good round I've ever witnessed there, the key was that the player made 2-4 birdies, instead of just pars.  And in every bad round I've seen, there were either multiple double bogeys or one really big number.  Perhaps you would like to make 7 pars and 11 bogeys, but it seldom happens that way.

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #62 on: August 14, 2009, 03:27:23 PM »
Coming to this one a little late but for what its worth hear are some random thoughts off the top of my head.

Definition of Precipice - the point where the task required is beyond the skill levels of the player such that luck plays a bigger part than skill for the shot to turn out well. Clearly therefore the line will be different for each player. When looking at a course overall rather than an individual shot, I think the precipice point is where you are unable, no matter how you play, to steer your ball round the course without giving yourself numerous shots as defined above.

I tend to play links golf more than any other type of course. The weather does of course play a huge part in links golf, one day playing with a gentle breeze, the next playing into a howling wind. As a consequence of that (pet theory coming up) links courses over time have had a degree of flexibility built into them. What I mean by that is that generally they allow a player to guddle there way round by keeping the ball in play, they don't have unmakeable carries and can make a reasonable approach to the green even if they can't take on the flag directly.

To give a couple of examples. Carnoustie - I absolutely love playing there even though I've yet to break 90 off a 9/10 handicap. I can however get round without ever feeling that I had absolutely impossible shot (other than when I'm upto my arse in gorse due to my poor play). Carnoustie is generally regarded as one of the tougher major venues.

Last year I played a Jack Nicklaus course in Florida which had the smallest, hardest greens I've ever come across. I had one of my best ever days with the driver, hitting most of the landing areas but had absolutely no chance on the approach shots. I played with a couple of guys who were low single figure players and they had similiar problems. For us the JN course was over the prcipice but Carnoustie was not yet I bet the tour pro's would lap up the JN course.

That being the case, how do you design a course which isn't over the precipice for everyone without dumbing it down to the nth degree ?

Niall

Carl Nichols

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #63 on: August 14, 2009, 03:46:04 PM »
This is only a small point, and perhaps an obvious one, but I much prefer when the design feature that is considered the edge/precipice doesn't result in lost balls, but instead allows the player to play the same ball again, even if from a really difficult spot.  I generally enjoy some severity, but not if (for example) the severity feeds balls into a water hazard.

John Kirk

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #64 on: August 14, 2009, 05:32:53 PM »
John:

Anyway, I don't have stats on Crystal Downs, but I'm pretty familiar with it, and from observation I would have to disagree with your summary of it.  In every good round I've ever witnessed there, the key was that the player made 2-4 birdies, instead of just pars.  And in every bad round I've seen, there were either multiple double bogeys or one really big number.  Perhaps you would like to make 7 pars and 11 bogeys, but it seldom happens that way.

Hi Tom,

I can only judge Crystal Downs based on my own experiences, playing and watching others.  Quite obviously you would have a much better feel for the scoring distribution.  However, since the course is reasonably wide, with few out of bounds and no (is that right?) water hazards, the player generally doesn't incur many penalty strokes, so there will be less of that common type of double bogey (or higher).
 
I think I've played four rounds there, scoring between 77 and about 83. Either the first or second time, I had a great round going, starting on the back and only about 1 over after 12, before losing the putting stroke and finishing with four bogeys and a double on the last six holes.  Overall, I think I've made 4-5 double bogeys, including one round without a double.  I found birdies hard to come by, but the course is short, so you would think you'd have several opportunities to hit accurate short iron shots.  That doesn't feel like the case.  Along with Pasatiempo, the longest short course I've ever played. 

Yannick Pilon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #65 on: August 14, 2009, 08:34:36 PM »
To me, the precipice is a place an architect should flirt with with his design, without going over.

The tricky thing, however, is determining when an architect has actually gone over it....  And that, depends on the golfers personal preferences.

I believe that an interesting/fun/great golf course should have a couple of elements, being hazards, greens or natural elements like rough, that create fear in the golfer, in order to influence his strategy or mental approach towards a shot or hole.  By the way, I like the idea that architects should try to create different emotions in golfers, as they play their rounds....  Here are a couple of examples to illustrate my thoughts on the subject, the first three from Tom Doak's courses, since he started the post:

Pacific Dunes, hole no. 3, Par 5.  Bunker on the right side of the green.  The thing is so deep and so fearsome I believe many players probably opt to use the hand wedge once in a while to get out of it....

Pacific Dunes, hole no. 6, Par 4. Bunker on the left side of the green, way down at the base of the hill.  This bunker shot is just so frightning I would not be caught dead missing the green to the right.  Yeah, I know, easier said than done, even with a wedge in your hands!

Stone Eagle, hole no. 8, Par 5.  Fairway bunker on the right side of the first landing zone.  Once again, this must have been a carry at one point, it must be close to 25 ft deep.  John Kirk can be a witness here, he told me not to go right on my drive, but I have a tendency not to listen....  I will always remember how gracefully I came out of there on my first try!!

Other examples of this could include some greens at Friars Head (Front left pin on no. 7) and St Georges in Toronto (Green no. 3), the 14th at Bandon Trails, the Redan 7th at Shinnecock, the 16th at Cypress Point....  I think you guys get the picture....

Can these shots be done?  Sure they can.  Can they ruin a hole or a round once in a while?  Sure, they probably can as well.  My point is, hazards like this will generate heated debates.  Golfers like myself, will absolutely love these nasty hazards and remember them for the rest of their lives.  They will destroy us once in a while, but they will also create great memories that will leave us wanting to play around or in them again and again. (As a matter of fact, if this does not impact the pace of play, I usually like to try a shot or two in these types of hazards, just for the fun of it!)

Others will throw up in disgust at the idea of finding themselves in these hazards again, knowing very well they will not be able to get out of them or conquer them... which is what I refer to as going over the precipice.

I think the key is also leaving enough room for golfers to go around these hazards, without forcing them to necessarily confront them.  That makes a big difference in how those hazards or features will be perceived by golfers.

Almost all the greatest courses I have seen over the past few years have elements that flirt with the precipice, but yet, all of these courses don't go over it.  I believe this is because of the visions of their designers, who, in my mind, knew where to create enough challenge to make their courses interesting for most golfers without going over the edge.  And that, is great design.

Just my two cents.

YP
www.yannickpilongolf.com - Golf Course Architecture, Quebec, Canada

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #66 on: August 14, 2009, 09:22:22 PM »
Yannick:

One of the questions I asked in the first post is whether people think a course has to flirt with the precipice in order to be great.  Many have neglected this point; you said that "almost all" of the great courses you have seen flirt with it, implying that one or two do not.  If you don't mind my asking, which courses were those?

I'm not sure I have ever seen a great course that didn't flirt with disaster.

Bob_Huntley

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #67 on: August 14, 2009, 10:08:05 PM »
Tom,

I played in the 1996 British Amateur at Royal St. Georges and Deal. Tha practice round and qualifying days blew 40 miles per hour...noone matched par at RSG in qualifying...but on Day one or two of Match Play the wind died and I watched Justin Rose dismantle (I think it was Segio but it could have been a different Spaniard teen) his opponent on the 13th green at 6 or 7 under par.

I would think if you're designing courses with potential changes in condition (weather or course) that dictate that wide a scoring spread you'd better stay well away from the precipice. "Easy" holes can be fun and carry the challenge of expectations. Hard holes have a place, but it's limited IMO.

Haven't played Jim Engh's courses yet but the two Mike Strantz courses I've played look dramatic but are really pretty easy..get them rock hard with some wind and maybe not.

Jim,

You are quite right. The Shore at MPCC is a pussy-cat sans wind. A brisk breeze makes one helluva difference.

Bob







Adam Clayman

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #68 on: August 14, 2009, 10:16:47 PM »
I can easily see how a course that pushes no envelope could be great. This does remind me of some of the old theads on braking design rules. Once twice maybe a third time is ok. But too much of anything is bad. Just as too many trees or too many ponds became rote and now. .. Just crap.
"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

Nick_Christopher

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #69 on: August 14, 2009, 10:44:37 PM »
Courses must have an element of approaching the precipice of severity on at least some holess to earn the distinction of great.  Golf is a unique game played in nature.  What makes great courses stand out, is when natural elements (or artfully produced man-made elements) are utilized to introduce an element of drama for a well-executed shot.  The level of drama and thus the enjoyment of the shot and the course are elevated when severe elements are introudced.

If this weren't the case, we would all give up golf and bowl. 

Yannick Pilon

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #70 on: August 14, 2009, 10:58:17 PM »
Tom,

The first two that come to mind are Garden City and Riviera.  Sure they both have elements that kind of flirt with the precipice, but in my humble opinion, they don't come close to the edge....

Garden City is amazing in its overall simplicity on a great site. (Nobody will ever convince me that this site is flat!)

Riviera is amazing in its overall artistry and strategic creativity on a decent, but in my mind far from great site.

On these two courses, I don't find anything that strikes me as being controversial, scary, or over the edge (except maybe for Garden City's 12th green ;D).  They are simply great courses in their own rights.

What elements of these two courses flirt with disaster in your mind?  I guess the simplicity of GC can be interpreted as flirting with disaster for some, but not in my book, anyways....  As for Riviera?  Can't think of any right now.

YP
www.yannickpilongolf.com - Golf Course Architecture, Quebec, Canada

Peter Pallotta

Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #71 on: August 14, 2009, 11:06:04 PM »
Yannick -
Thanks much for that post. Reading it, a whole bunch of littler things fell right into place for me.
Peter

Nick_Christopher

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #72 on: August 14, 2009, 11:10:37 PM »
The precipice however is certainly site-dependent.  Great architiects figure out where that variable line is with each unique site.  

The concept of a precipice could be thought of as having multiple varaiants as inputs.  Perhaps another less dire way to look at it is that the artchitect has to keep all the plates spinning to make sure the audience has fun.  

Some of the plates include:  length, precision, drama, fun, wind, conditioning, etc....

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #73 on: August 14, 2009, 11:14:35 PM »
Yannick:

Those are both good examples, although I think how they are viewed is dependent on the time frame.  As TEPaul suggests, many of these courses were quite controversial in their day, but it is hard to stay that way for 80-100 years -- either people accept the controversy or reject it over that term.

In the early 1900's, Travis' changes to Garden City were significant and fairly controversial.  By the modern lens, the same course would be considered almost featureless by some, but I don't think THAT could be construed as the kind of course which is at the edge of the precipice.

I think Riviera is different.  I believe that LA (North) and Bel Air were much more edgy designs, but at Riviera, Thomas managed to pace the course well enough that you don't ever feel like it's getting close to the edge.  It is not without edgy features -- a bunker in the middle of a green is pretty edgy, as is the contour of the 15th green or the boomerang shape of the 1st green.  He just knew when (and how) to mix in a change of pace, the very thing I think some of this generation's designers need to be better at.

Sean_A

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Re: Going To The Precipice
« Reply #74 on: August 15, 2009, 04:54:43 AM »
I think the reason I rejected the idea of a course having to go to the edge to be great was that Muirfield popped into my head almost immediately.  Perhaps this is why many don't think all that much of Muirfield other than to respect it.  I think the charge I have heard leveled against Murfield was it had no soul.  Thinking much past Muirfield its gets difficult to point out great courses that don't push the envelop somewhere.    But then Merion popped into mind.  If I really thought about, I bet the that in fact, the long term well regarded courses don't push the envelop.  I might even say that for some courses, its the pushing of the envelop which keeps it from being great.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

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