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Mike Tanner

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how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« on: October 14, 2009, 11:23:40 AM »
I just read a posting on Tom Dunne's outandback.com about a Mike Nuzzo-penned essay that appears in Paul Daley's book, Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective, Vol. 5.

In the essay Mike posits that there are three categories of golfers: those that want to be challenged, those who are attracted by the course's environment/beauty and those who are interested in the fun factor. He goes on to speculate about how those groups perceive golf courses and the implications that their attitudes have in terms of course rankings, among other topics.

I'd say that most DGers are probably in the third group. Check out the essay on Mike Nuzzo's website. I'd like to know what other members think of it. 
Life's too short to waste on bad golf courses or bad wine.


Mike Tanner

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2009, 12:28:16 PM »
Jeff,
Thanks for posting the links. Sometimes work cuts into my CGA productivity.
Life's too short to waste on bad golf courses or bad wine.

Garland Bayley

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2009, 02:09:19 PM »
I'm interested to know if Mike is going to test his theory that his three groupings are the correct ones.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Jud_T

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2009, 02:40:22 PM »
Mike,

great post! just read the article and I think Mike is right on the money...seems to me that developing fun courses would be the best return on investment, given the lower development and maintenace costs...I'd love to see a thread about the best courses in each category.  This breakdown makes a ton of sense to me and explains a lot of the debate that goes on here particularly as it pertains to course ratings...a must read for all GCA'ers as well as all you out there lurking!!
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2009, 03:05:54 PM »
Thank you for posting the links and your comments Jud.

Bayley,
I test it all the time here in the treehouse.
If I wanted to skew the panel ratings of a course I know exactly who to invite.

I thought about working with Moskowitz to really nail it down good - expensive.
Who has seen the gladwell video?
If not I recommend it highly:
http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

I do think we could conduct a survey her and get close enough.
The results would be 3 lists - the best fun course, the best pretty course, the best challenging course.

What i think is the greatest benefit is that when a "fun" player finds a "fun" course they will really love it.
See the video about coffee and scoring - it is towards the end....

Please ask some questions and guess which camp you are in?
Or course?
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil, Dr. Childs, & Tiger.

Bill_McBride

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2009, 03:13:53 PM »
Thank you for posting the links and your comments Jud.

Bayley,
I test it all the time here in the treehouse.
If I wanted to skew the panel ratings of a course I know exactly who to invite.

I thought about working with Moskowitz to really nail it down good - expensive.
Who has seen the gladwell video?
If not I recommend it highly:
http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

I do think we could conduct a survey her and get close enough.
The results would be 3 lists - the best fun course, the best pretty course, the best challenging course.

What i think is the greatest benefit is that when a "fun" player finds a "fun" course they will really love it.
See the video about coffee and scoring - it is towards the end....

Please ask some questions and guess which camp you are in?
Or course?

Mike, which greens at Oakmont would you say are "flat?"   ??? ;D

I personally found Cypress Point to be challenging, beautiful (to say the least) and fun.  What now, does a course have to just one?  Or is Cypress Point a bad example.

I suspect my leaning is toward "fun" courses.

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2009, 03:21:56 PM »
Great question Bill.

What we view the greatest courses have elements of all 3.
Oakmont is challenge first, beauty (maintenance) second, fun a close third - but still very high because of the thoughtfulness of the architecture and design

Cypress Point another great example - any golf course is challenging for me - but for the pros the words we hear are "eat it up" ...
"not enough to challenge the pros"  Tim Finchem is saying that about courses in Brazil.  Any course can challenge anyone.
Cypress - beauty and fun tie for first here - challenge 3rd.

Pine Valley is highest on all 3 counts

Augusta used to be skewed higher to test and fun and has long ago skewed toward maintenance and beauty

Think about your average course - there was a thread about those somewhere.
I never play an average course.
An average course often came about trying to please all 3.
You can't.
Every client wants to please everyone (all 3).
They can't (unless it is Sand Hills)
If they set out that way - they are doomed.
I don't think the goal of Sand hills was to make a challenging course first.
They decide public, resort or private.
They have nothing to do with peoples tastes - seems to be mostly economics.
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil, Dr. Childs, & Tiger.

Garland Bayley

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2009, 03:28:15 PM »
So how does one decide to go for all three and hit a home run, or to skip going for all three, because it will only result in mediocrity?

One's talents?

The land?

The client?
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Jud_T

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2009, 03:30:38 PM »
I'm definitely in the fun camp.  I love courses like Lawsonia, Lost Dunes, Kingsley, TOC & Prestwick.  I find courses like Medinah (Challenging) and Butler (Challenging) as well as Pebble (Pretty), somewhat overrated, but that's all solved by your methodology.  It makes a lot more sense to talk about, for instance, the architectural merits of Medinah and Butler in the context of only challenging courses.  It makes no sense whatsoever to compare these courses to St. Andrews.  The only grey area then resides in which bucket (pretty, challenging, fun) to place certain courses (i.e. Pac Dunes i'd say is both pretty and fun)...The debate within a category then becomes much more focused...
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Bill_McBride

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2009, 03:30:50 PM »
Great question Bill.

What we view the greatest courses have elements of all 3.
Oakmont is challenge first, beauty (maintenance) second, fun a close third - but still very high because of the thoughtfulness of the architecture and design

Cypress Point another great example - any golf course is challenging for me - but for the pros the words we hear are "eat it up" ...
"not enough to challenge the pros"  Tim Finchem is saying that about courses in Brazil.  Any course can challenge anyone.
Cypress - beauty and fun tie for first here - challenge 3rd.

Pine Valley is highest on all 3 counts

Augusta used to be skewed higher to test and fun and has long ago skewed toward maintenance and beauty

Think about your average course - there was a thread about those somewhere.
I never play an average course.
An average course often came about trying to please all 3.
You can't.
Every client wants to please everyone (all 3).
They can't (unless it is Sand Hills)
If they set out that way - they are doomed.
I don't think the goal of Sand hills was to make a challenging course first.
They decide public, resort or private.
They have nothing to do with peoples tastes - seems to be mostly economics.

Wolf Point?

1.  Fun    2.  Challenge    3.  Beauty

It is Texas but #3 isn't far behind.

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2009, 03:33:37 PM »
Bayley
I think all 3 and the awareness to know which is which.


If a developer wants to sell homes why don't they make the prettiest course they can first?
Every home has a stunning view lots of well maintained green and flowers.
That course doesn't need to be 7500 yards - it could be 6100 yards.
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil, Dr. Childs, & Tiger.

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2009, 03:41:25 PM »
Wolf Point.

We built it in the order of our clients preferences - Fun, Challenge, Beauty
He didn't spell it out, and he would have disagreed at times if I laid it out for him.
Don and I thought this was the best plan - and practically achievable.

When he kept asking to make it harder I didn't start shrinking fairways and adding bunkers.
The whole time i wanted to remove bunkers - and so did DON!  :)
He had no idea how hard it could have been.
And when Don gets it firm and fast it is too hard for him to break 80.

If the wild flowers come up in a non-drought year  - it will be very pretty to even a casual observer.
It is not the perfectly manicured beauty that many appreciate.
I think it is beautiful every day - the creek, the expanse of grasses, the green surfaces....
Many wouldn't agree.

For me another big part of writing the essay has allowed me to think of the guy who like beauty or challenge (M. Ward) with equal respect - just different.

Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil, Dr. Childs, & Tiger.

Bill_McBride

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2009, 03:47:17 PM »
Wolf Point.

We built it in the order of our clients preferences - Fun, Challenge, Beauty
He didn't spell it out, and he would have disagreed at times if I laid it out for him.
Don and I thought this was the best plan - and practically achievable.

When he kept asking to make it harder I didn't start shrinking fairways and adding bunkers.
The whole time i wanted to remove bunkers - and so did DON!  :)
He had no idea how hard it could have been.
And when Don gets it firm and fast it is too hard for him to break 80.

If the wild flowers come up in a non-drought year  - it will be very pretty to even a casual observer.
It is not the perfectly manicured beauty that many appreciate.
I think it is beautiful every day - the creek, the expanse of grasses, the green surfaces....
Many wouldn't agree.

For me another big part of writing the essay has allowed me to think of the guy who like beauty or challenge (M. Ward) with equal respect - just different.



My ranking (Fun, challenge, beauty) was of course a relative ranking.   Sounds like you agree.   It is a special experience!  It must be really something with the wildflowers.  Bluebonnets?

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2009, 03:52:35 PM »
wildflowers.  Bluebonnets?

Yes - Bluebonnets - bluebonnets - in with a bigger mix that Don specified - I don't know the rest.
They planted right before the 100 year drought started?
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil, Dr. Childs, & Tiger.

Rob Rigg

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2009, 04:02:31 PM »
Mike's essay is great food for thought and also speaks to the perspective that we should have on GCA.com - ie) different people will like different courses/architects.

I am sure that many of the treehouse members would be in the "fun" camp with courses like NGLA, Ballyneal, Pac Dunes, TOC, OM (when it opens), Lawsonia, etc. at the top of their list and I definitely agree. That is probably one of the reasons why Tom Doak is so revered on the site, along with C&C, they build "fun" courses with a lot to think about.

I appreciate a challenging course, like Tetherow (which I have played) or Oakmont (which I have not played), but I would not like to have one as my home course. On a bad day, I still want to be able to enjoy myself without getting too beaten up.

Beauty is a nice plus on a course - golfing next to a factory, highway, power plant, airport, etc. is not my favorite - a nice course with a great view is relaxing and good for the soul. However, beauty can come in several forms - aesthetics on the course and aesthetics off the course. I believe that great architects have a talent of incorporating on course beauty into their fun yet challenging routings. Off course aesthetics can be incorporated but also overdone, to the point where they compromise the design.

How many elevated tee shots to valley fairways providing beautiful vistas can a golfer handle in a round - for some it is many, for me it is a few because those types of tee shots are a lot of fun, but I prefer variety. Uphill tee shots and semi-blind tee shots are also a lot of fun and create a different type of anticipation off the tee.

Jud_T

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2009, 04:51:13 PM »
Rob,

semi-blind tee shots bring an element of chance into the game, something no serious golfer can abide  ;)
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Jason Topp

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2009, 11:47:30 PM »
Thanks for posting this.  It is one of the more interesting thoughts about golf course architecture that I have considered for some time.

It helps to put in context my Green Committee discussions in which I attempt to talk about hazards tempting a player to take a risk and everyone else ignores me and focuses instead on a shot being properly punished or on flowers.

It also explains why I don't pay much attention to bunker style or feature shaping.  I must be a fun/challenge/beauty type of guy.

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2009, 11:20:52 AM »
Rob,
I find it hard to believe that if you saw Oakmont that you wouldn't jump at the chance to be a member - cost permitting.
From walking the course - it looks that fun.
It may be challenging / fun tie beauty
and the fun is still higher than 99% of the courses out there...

Jason - Thank you.  Welcome to the tribe.
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil, Dr. Childs, & Tiger.

David Savic

Re: how do you perceive a golf courseóMike Nuzzo essay
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2009, 11:55:49 AM »
One of the better course I have ever played for the fun factor, beauty, good strategy and made my 7, 8 hanicap fell like a 5 or 6 handicap; plus made me want to go back out and play again, again, similar to when I  was kid, was Holston Hills. I played out there a few years back in a Donald Ross Society Event. 

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