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Tom_Doak

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Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #50 on: July 07, 2010, 01:52:47 PM »
And if we could only understand how the Sunningdale's et al of the heathlands manage to achieve excellence without a focus/reliance on great greens, we'd all be instantly allowed entry into the secret coven of golf course architects....or at least have a better idea of how some new American courses might achieve the same (if and when the land doesn't naturally lend itself to the creation of a great set of greens)

Peter

Peter:

I think the secret there is simple ... people are suckers for heather!!  And they have some valid reasons.  It's a very effective and beautiful solution to the problem of "rough".  Take it away, and only social standing would keep Sunningdale mentioned in the same circles as the best parkland courses in the USA.  Wentworth has already been outed.

Tom Huckaby

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Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #51 on: July 07, 2010, 01:54:18 PM »
Ed:

For me, it's all about how the greens work as one plays them.  And in terms of how they play at Pebble, I find the greens to be very interesting and very inspiring..almost for the reasons you state!  Some are titled, some have subtlety caused by the poa or whatever (although my experience is it's more the subtle contours than the poa), but one way or the other, all are confounding.  That is, I have played there many times and I am no closer to figuring them out now than I was at the first play.

If that's not interesting, or inspiring, then I don't know what is.

But if one wants to discuss the quality of their design, hell if I know!  I just know how they work in practice.



Tom Doak:  well said re Sand Hills.  Man I can't see a world where those greens are "ho hum."

Ben Sims

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #52 on: July 07, 2010, 01:57:40 PM »
Kenny Baer:

I'd put Prairie Dunes and Ballyneal up there as having among the 10 most severe sets of greens in the world.  So, Sand Hills probably IS a notch down from those.  But, ho hum?  Not.  Heck, you can putt off any number of the greens at Sand Hills.  #6 would be a severe green on any course.  #9 is treacherous if you're putting over the crown in the middle.  #10 is severely tilted.  #18 is nuts.  They are not ho hum.

Don't feel alone, though.  A friend of mine who is on the ranking panel for GOLF Magazine told me he didn't like courses with severe greens, yet he has Prairie Dunes and Crystal Downs and Pine Valley among his top ten courses, and all of those are on the top ten most severe greens list.  It is amazing to me how many details of architecture a good golfer can miss, but it's taught me not to worry so much about what they think!

Tom,

In line with the contrarian motif of this thread, lets add another dimension.

Name some courses with markedly severe green surfaces and green complexes that aren't considered great greens.

Anthony Fowler

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Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #53 on: July 07, 2010, 01:58:19 PM »
Steve, you may be right that I haven't played No. 2 enough or in the right conditions.  I played the course once with soft, wet greens.  I would love to go back and see the greens when they are firm and fast.  Nonetheless, each hole becomes much less exciting once you are on the putting surface.  The opposite is true for courses with great greens like Prairie Dunes and Crystal Downs.  Looking at those old pictures of No. 2 makes me sad think about how much better the greens could be today.

Having played Torrey over 100 times, I feel like the course's biggest fan and biggest critic.  Every time I played it I found something new that I loved and something that I thought could be improved.  In my book, it's a great course from tee-to-green (although I can think of some obvious improvements) and it is not just another muni.  Rees did actually make the course much better while still leaving significant room for improvement.  I never played Bethpage before the Reestoration but I imagine the same is true there.  Both courses are "great" but generally lack excitement on the putting surfaces.  I suppose it's what the USGA wants and it works well for their purposes, so I can't blame Rees for delivering what was asked, but great putting surfaces could really vault these courses into a new category.

Jerry, I would love to hear what you think Torrey could learn from Commonground.  Are you talking about the internal contour in the greens or something more?    

Ben Sims

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #54 on: July 07, 2010, 02:00:17 PM »

But if one wants to discuss the quality of their design, hell if I know!  I just know how they work in practice.


Young Padawan, I can teach you the ways of the Force...of Beard Pulling. 

Tom Huckaby

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #55 on: July 07, 2010, 02:07:10 PM »

But if one wants to discuss the quality of their design, hell if I know!  I just know how they work in practice.


Young Padawan, I can teach you the ways of the Force...of Beard Pulling. 

Please don't.

 ;D


Kyle Henderson

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Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #56 on: July 07, 2010, 02:18:56 PM »
I nominate Bandon Dunes (Kidd). A great course with very little movement in the greens, especially in comparison to the surrounding terrain.
"I always knew terrorists hated us for our freedom. Now they love us for our bondage." -- Stephen T. Colbert discusses the popularity of '50 Shades of Grey' at Gitmo

Anthony Fowler

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #57 on: July 07, 2010, 02:19:52 PM »
Name some courses with markedly severe green surfaces and green complexes that aren't considered great greens.

This is a pretty interesting question.  A lot of times we talk about great greens as if it's so easy to make them by just adding severity.  I get the sense that those few architects that can build great greens actually spend a lot of time figuring out how to make the greens playable despite their severity and excitement.  I would be great to hear some of the architects talk about this process.

I would offer Arcadia Bluffs as a set of severe green surfaces that are not great.  They greens are very quick, set on severe slopes, and have a lot of internal contour.  However, I would not consider them to be "great" greens for a couple reasons.  First, they are often poorly suited to the hole.  Second, they are extremely unplayable in spots where the best I can do on a 25 foot putt is to leave myself a 15 foot putt.  This type of severity is the opposite of exciting; it's somewhat boring.

Consider the 9th hole as an example; it a ~200 yard downhill par 3 that typically sees a lot of wind.  If the pin is front left, the hole is not particularly playable.  If you miss at all short, you will catch the false front and be left with a difficult 30+ yard pitch.  If you miss long (on the green but just past the pin) or left, you will not be able to keep your second shot within 15 feet of the hole.  Your margin for error on the tee shot is unreasonable given the wind and length of hole, even for tour players.  Obviously the informed player will know that his miss is short and just accept the difficult pitch shot, but it is not exactly exciting golf to know that a well executed shot will have little chance of success.  

I think in general, most architects shy away from building severe greens because it is very difficult to do it well.  Even the members of Rock Creek Cattle Company are complaining about their greens.  Imagine if a less competent architect build equally severe greens at the local public course.  I cannot imagine that it would go over well.  

Jerry Kluger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #58 on: July 07, 2010, 02:26:53 PM »
Again , I would say that any course with greens which need to be at 13 feet to be at their optimum is a lesser course in my book.  Commonground has really good green complexes and not just greens - approaching some of those greens from the wrong angle is really challenging and that is what it should be all about - not making them so fast that all you are doing is lag putting. I haven't been to Torrey for a long time but I did play it often and other than the views and the planes flying over there was little that was memorable.  Don't keep making excuses for Rees - let's see what C & C do at #2 and then guess at what Rees would have done.    

Scott Warren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #59 on: July 07, 2010, 02:27:36 PM »
I nominate Bandon Dunes (Kidd). A great course with very little movement in the greens, especially in comparison to the surrounding terrain.

I heard a story that Kidd's greens at the Castle Course and Machrihanish Dunes (though I am told Paul Kimber did most of the work there) were intended as a direct response to critics who called his Bandon geens boring and/or said he couldn't build interesting greens.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #60 on: July 07, 2010, 02:30:41 PM »

Tom,

In line with the contrarian motif of this thread, lets add another dimension.

Name some courses with markedly severe green surfaces and green complexes that aren't considered great greens.


Ben:

I've seen many severe greens that were not, in my view, great greens.  However, this is a difficult assessment to make because it's a sliding scale ... every person has a different point at which they think contour goes from being cool to being "over the edge".  [And, for some people, it's clear that some do not countenance the greens at Crystal Downs or Augusta National, even though they are consistently named among the BEST COURSES IN THE WORLD.]

For my tastes, greens get too severe when you get to the point of six-foot tiers.  Some guys here love Mike Strantz's greens, but I'm not a fan because of the huge tiers in some of them ... I think they are out of scale with the normal putting and chipping strokes.  

At the same time, I think you can also have greens with too many little movements, though it would take some careful analysis to determine why I think Walter Travis' greens are almost always terrific, and Jack Nicklaus' new internal contours generally seem over the line.  I think a lot of it goes back to context, though.  Travis' greens are coming at the end of parkland holes on a 6,400 yard course; Jack's are coming at the end of holes with severe hazards on a course that totals 7,500 yards.


P.S. to Anthony:  You are dead right with the first paragraph in your post.  I spend the majority of my time on site looking at all the potential recovery shots around all of the greens, and looking at the most severe putts on each green, trying to ensure that they are all okay given the nature of the hole in question.  My standard for what's acceptable is somewhat different than that of others, but it is rigorously applied.  That's why I think other architects generally fail when they try to build a hole (or a course) with more severe greens ... because once they cross the line of their own internal standard, they don't have any means of judging whether the green is good or not.  [It's either that, or they just don't really see enough of the greens before there is grass on them and they realize a large percentage of them need to be rebuilt.]
« Last Edit: July 07, 2010, 02:32:26 PM by Tom_Doak »

Pete Lavallee

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #61 on: July 07, 2010, 02:32:10 PM »
 Don't keep making excuses for Rees - let's see what C & C do at #2 and then guess at what Rees would have done.    

C&C aren't touching the greens at #2; so how is this a valid comparison?
"...one inoculated with the virus must swing a golf-club or perish."  Robert Hunter

Scott Warren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #62 on: July 07, 2010, 02:36:08 PM »
Context, which Tom touches on above, has to be the most important factor here, doesn't it? You can't really appraise a set of greens/green complexes without considering the course as a whole. What are magnificent greens for one course could well be terrible for another.

Ben Sims

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ho hum greens...Great course
« Reply #63 on: July 07, 2010, 11:50:33 PM »
Context, which Tom touches on above, has to be the most important factor here, doesn't it? You can't really appraise a set of greens/green complexes without considering the course as a whole. What are magnificent greens for one course could well be terrible for another.

Scott,

This makes sense, but is akin to saying something along the lines of, "I wonder what Lincoln would've done after 9/11?"

There have been a few times I have thought just the opposite of what you say above.  That is to say, that the greens I've seen on one course would do well at another.  I think if you transplanted a few greens from Common Ground in Denver to our course on base here at Laughlin AFB, it would instantly make sense. 

In fact, I can think of a pretty sweet career model that would include renovating green complexes at DoD courses to add character and fun to a collection of courses that badly need the fun quotient to get higher. 

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