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Frank Pont

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Re: Silvies Valley Ranch
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2014, 05:26:11 PM »
For those of you who do not have Tom Simpson's book, here is the Appendix I on The Reversible Course. :

The Reversible Course

To play a course backwards was an alternative that commended itself for many sound reasons almost as soon as golf courses
came into being. Within living memory the Old Course at St. Andrews was habitually played in reverse, and for all we know it may
still be so played. At North Berwick, and probably on most, if not all, of the older courses, the custom prevailed, in order, as it was said, to " rest the course."

In other words, this procedure helped to preoerve the fairways over a given area from being unduly cut up with divot marks-a point
on which opinion was then particularly stringent; it also gave the grass time to recover in the places where divots had been cut. Some
method of the kind was absolutely necessary when courses were so much shorter than they are now and required the playing of a greater number of strokes within a much more limited area. In fact, iron play was rather frowned upon and discouraged as being unduly destructive of good turf. The modern practice of tearing the fairways to pieces, as well as the tees at the shorter holes, would have been regarded-and rightly so-with horror.

It will be remembered, too, that " the green," by which was meant the entire extent of the links, had very largely to look after itself. It was never so patched up or so carefully tended as it is to-day to help its wounds to heal. The course was reversed and played backwards at stated intervals to enable it to gain a little rest between whiles and recover the trueness of its surface. In addition to this, the immediate neighbourhood of the putting greens was found to be greatly benefited by a variation in the line of the approach.
It will be worth while to note some of the indirect effects of so contriving a course as to enable it to be played the other way round. We can still see the principle embedded in the Old Course at St. Andrews the one course which is the best example of the evolutionary priociples peculiar to golf. No doubt the history of the changes that have taken place there is well known to the majority of the students of the antiquities ofthe game; how the play extended at first over only six holes; how these six were subsequently doubled by using them on a homeward journey of which we have evidence in a fine series of double greens; and how, finally, the twelve holes were made up to eighteen by the addition of a " loop " at the further extremity much in the same way that a new wing is added to a mansion which has outgrown its capacity.

The impressive width of the large putting greens still remains as one of the most distinctive features of a historic course, although the course itself was once far narrower. " Hell Bunker "was originally the threatening hazard of " the Hole Across going out," showing us how almost absurdly to our eyes the play over the links was compressed. This compression is still often vividly brought to our notice at the most noteworthy holes, although more elbow-room in course of time has been providentially allowed. Still, according to Mr. Joshua Crane's somewhat remarkable system of reckoning the merits of individual courses, St. Andrews suffers the indignity of many bad arks set against her credit on account of the tightness of her" margins." These margins, however, have withstood the test of time and mark the limits within which the interior holes were played in either direction alternately.  As regards the opening and finishing holes at St. Andrews nothing could be finer or more appropriate than the simplicity which adds dignity to design in providing a promenade for the townspeople over turf free from the disfigurement of unsightly artificial hazards. The Swilcan Burn and the Valley of Sin are quite adequate in themselves to justify these holes in the absence of any other distinctive golfing features. But once the play is opened after crossing the Burn we become involved in a network of holes over an exceptional golfing terrain, an undulating maze of attractive folds in the ground, amongst which the inexperienced would be quickly lost but for the guidance of expert conductors. The confusion is bound to be bewildering until familiarity breeds admiration. The mind at this crucial point of the round is kept constantly on the alert,  so much so that whichever the way one might be playing, whether backwards or forwards, the interest stimulated by the complexity of the problem is equally keen.

We are inclined to believe that these holes owe much of their fascination to the fact that there were, and are still, reversible; that in this old and discarded principle of reversibility lies one of the great possibilities in the way of development so far as modern golf  architecture is concerned. Ruch a scheme might conceivably be found to be the best antidote to an existing tendency towards the undue repetition of stock devices which are always liable to creep in and create a monotony of design. Anything that would be likely to conduce to greater freedom and elasticity is a development to be heartily welcomed by everyone. Surely there are many advantages to be gained in making two courses out of one, in doubling over the same ground the character of the strokes, in rever~ing on the technical side the penalties of pulled or sliced shots, and in adding on occasions an entire novelty to the approach shots?

To find an opportunity of putting the idea to a practical test by attempting the experiment on a course of the ordinary pattern is not
always altogether easy; yet it must have suggested itself before now hundreds of times to many of our enterprising players. Some exceptional occasion is needed when the course is empty-during, for instance, the very early hours of the morning, or possibly during a deluge of rain when only fanatical enthusiasts would venture out on the links. One such experiment is within our recollection, when four Oxford undergraduates chose the latter of these alternatives during- a hurricane of wind and rain, probably because they referred a soaking at a reasonable hour to the less agreeable novelty of having to rise at daybreak.  The experiment was certainly as entertaining to the spectator as to the players, since a number of fine shots during the round were needed to bring off approaches to distant greens from rough country at strange angles. The course in question was by no means so well adapted to a reversal as many we know of; it was bisected and bordered by roads which had to be crossed more frequently by the other way about than by the right way round. The culminating point of the match was reached in playing to the green of the last hole (owing to a slight error by one of the players) of a highly dangerous shot down the whole length of a street on which, fortunately, there was no traffic at the time, over a crossroad at the further end, at the same time narrowly shaving the clubhouse which by the more direct route would have had to be carried.  Luckily everything went well, and nothing happened to mar the success of the venture.

The conditions, at any rate on this course, were not of the best for playing in reverse fashion; and on a certain number of courses it is
obvious that such a scheme would be entirely out of the question. It will be as well therefore to enquire very briefly what are the ideal conditions and advantages to be gained by such a reversal, and also to enumerate the points of application which are involved. A glance at the accompanying skeleton plan of three holes designed on this principle will give an idea of the way in which a full round could under favourable conditions be made possible. In this plan it will be observed that only the more ambitious routes are indicated. In order to avoid confusion we have confined ourselves to marking the spoor of the Tiger, leaving the tracks of the Rabbit across his own fairway to the imagination of the reader to fill in as he pleases. A closer examination, however, will show that every consideration is given to the weaker player whichever way the course is played. At the two longer holes he cannot reasonably expect to reach the green in the same number of strokes as his more powerful rival, but he has every opportunity of equalising on handicap terms. There is plenty of room for him if he chooses to take his chances.

The advantages claimed for a reversible course may be summarised as follows:

1. As to the practical value of such a scheme one gain would be, as we have seen, that the greenkeeper finds a " resting " interval for
the course (of, say, a month at a time) which would be of the greatest benefit over certain parts of the fairway in repairing divot holes. It would also give the grass during this period an excellent chance of recovery without interfering with the play.

2. In the neighbourhood of the greens, also, it can easily be realised how devastating can be the effect of continuous traffic to the entrance of a green. The ground through any kind of " bottle-neck " tends to become consolidated beyond the point that is desirable for the healthy growth of the delicate grasses. Concentrated traffic of the kind closes the pores of the ground and hinders the steady development of good turf, at the same time adding considerably to the task of the green" keeper in keeping the course in good order. If the ground periodically obtains a rest, the difficulty is appreciably less. Over the fairways there is not the same danger. Here the walking is much more widely distributed, and the delicacy of the surface through the green is not of the same importance.

3. It is not suggested that every kind of ground is suitable for a reversible course. What might be called the heroic courses are practically out of the question so far as reversibility is concerned except at enormous and unjustifiable expense. Prestwick, St. George's Sandwich and Gleneagles, to take three examples, would obviously be impossible to reverse whatever sums of money might be spent on them. It should be clearly understood that we are considering the matter purely on the supposition that the course must be equally good whichever way it is played.

4. The ideal site for a reversible course would be ground already under grass, such as park land. Here possibly the best golfing featun:s
might be rather conspicuous by their absence, but this, although a matter of importance, would not be a vital consideration when we weigh the advantages and disadvantages connected with courses on grass land already under cultivation. That is not to say, however, that the principle is in any way inapplicable to courses where the ground is rich in natural golfing features, such as are to be found on the best of the Surrey heaths. The only point we wish to emphasise is that marked or bold inequalities of surface are not prima facie suitable for the purpose we are discussing. Obtrusive plateau greens, for example, if they are raised above a certain point, would at once involve serious difficulties, since in one direction it would be a question of playing up to a higher level and in the other of running
down to a lower.

5. As regards the effect of wind on a course, there is nothing more irritating than having to play a long series of holes either with or against it. Far the better plan is for the direction of the holes to be well broken up during a round-as it were, by a process of tacking. When a course is so constructed that it is generally affected throughout by a prevalent wind from a certain quarter, which really does prevail, an alternative way of playing the course will be found to be a considerable relief-at any rate during certain periods of the year.

6. The most obvious advantage of all is the increased pleasure and variety in having two courses instead of one. To the practical mind,
also, the idea should make a strong appeal because you practically get two courses for the same money, or (to put it in another way) you belong to two golf clubs for the payment of one subscription. Supposing that the course is really representative, at least 76 golfing shots of character will be available instead of the normal 38 (allowing for the customary two putts on each green); and as regards the additional pleasure gained by a change of direction it is only necessary to think of the experience of motoring along a country road and returning the same way. Two entirely different aspects of scenery arc provided. When, therefore, this
factor is combined on a golf course with an entirely separate range of shots, the gain must be acknowledged to be very considerable. A player would never grow tired of the course under these far more varied conditions. Another point is that there need not  necessarily be the same lengths in regard to each of the individual holes; so that here again there would be an agreeable variation.

7. The questions of design that are involved are of the very first importance. The problem would naturally be considerably easier if
the course were laid out with this particular end of reversibility in view; and, above all, the scheme lends itself to the " strategic " type of design. Little, if any, additional bunkering on a strategic course would be needed for the reverse play. In fact, additional bunkers, except where absolutely necessary, would be both undesirable and superfluous. A dog-legged hole to the right would be converted automatically to a dog-legged hole to the left, and vice versa. As a matter of necessity also the tee shot at such holes would have to be placed in the reverse direction- to the extreme right or left as the case might be. This of itself would demand a greater test of skill and intelligence on the part of the player.  On a" penal " course, the fairway of which is smothered in bunkers, the result of attempting a reverse course would not only be tedious and boring, but quite without point or interest. The design would of its own accord fall to pieces.

8. The Adaptation of the ordinary type of course to the reversible might prove rather an expensive matter, although often it would prove a feasible proposition. The principle is obviously more suited to a new course. When a new course is in contemplation there could be no objection to incorporating the idea in the skeleton plan provided that the ground lent itself to such a treatment. In such an event the additional cost would be comparatively little. The extra fairway area would not, even under the most adverse circumstances, have to be more than 25 per cent. of the whole. The greens, it is true, would have to be slightly larger (possibly an increase of 20 per cent.) than we should generally favour, but no larger than those that are usually constructed. Also, no
extra tees would be required-certainly not more than are generally in use on an ordinary course.
One reservation should be noted in this connection-that if the ground were badly shaped a certain increase of superficial area might be necessary. But, assuming that the ground were of ordinarily good formation, the normal one hundred and twenty-five acres would suffice. The chief difficulty with which the architect is faced in making full use of the really suitable golfing ground on any given  roperty is not so much the getting of the player to the place where a green is eminently suitable as the getting him away from it without excessively long walks between the green and the next tee. For this reason an awkward piece of ground might make the designing of a reversible course extremely difficult, if not quite impossible.

9 Our view is that a course constructed on the principles we have been advocating should, if possible, be played in the same order of
holes in either direction-that is to say, play would be from the clubhouse to Green 17,and in strictly reverse order until Green 1 is reached, when the play would be from Tee No. 2 to the 18th green. But there is no real necessity to make a hide-bound rule on the point. In the centre of the course a divergence might be made if' it were felt advisable, although it would probably present a few additional difficulties. The chief reason for our preference for a similar order of play is that it is generally the sides of the greens which are guarded by bunkers. In principle the angle of the approach should be the same whichever way the course is played-that is, along the length of the green. Here, again, everything would depend on the lie of the ground and its peculiar formation.

10. As a last suggestion, supposing that it is admitted that the possibilities available on an eighteen-hole course belonging to a club
are enhanced, do not the same possibilities apply with still greater force to the private course which often embraces only nine? There are none of the difficulties to be encountered in endeavouring to reconcile the conflicting views of individual m,embers, nor is there the same likelihood of so many players being on the course at one and the same time that people will get in the way when the reverse nine holes are played to complete for all practical purposes a full eighteen of which every hole is different. Neither is the additional cost of construction or the additional area of ground required likely to cause any great hesitation if the advantages to be gained are carefully weighed.

We have said that possibly the ideal ground for a reversible course is the kind which corresponds to park land or ground already under
grass; and these are precisely the conditions which usually dictate the laying out of private courses. A little ingenuity on the lines we have put forward might help wonderfully to relieve the monotony of many of the minor links, without, so far as one can see, any corresponding disadvantages. But, whether short or long, there seems to be no very convincing reason, provided the conditions are favourable, why a method approved in the past should not be revived with even greater advantage in the present.

Frank Pont

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Re: Silvies Valley Ranch
« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2014, 05:32:10 PM »
Kudos to Dan Hixson for beating Tom Doak to the reversible holes implementation.

I saw this in March when it was posted ... kind of a bummer after I'd pitched my idea to Forest Dunes last fall.  [The 2012 posts say nothing about the reversible concept.]

It's not exactly a new concept.  I've been interested in trying it ever since I read the Appendix to Tom Simpson's book on architecture, thirty years ago ... Simpson designed a couple of short, 3-hole reversible courses for private estates.  I've heard of it being done for nine holes.  As far as I know, no one has yet to open an 18-hole reversible course.

The dates on their web site make it unclear which of our courses will open first.  Doesn't really matter, it's cool to see someone else is doing it.

The first discussion of the reversible 9 holes Ullerberg course was in Sep 2012 here on GCA.,53521.0.html

 Its a pity that it takes so frustratingly long to get planning permission to build a golf course in Holland...... hope to break ground in Spring 2015.....


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Re: Silvies Valley Ranch
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2014, 06:45:01 PM »

On your Ullerberg course, how are the reversed nines played to make 18 holes?  Take a break until everyone finishes in one direction before starting the second nine the other way?  Do you foresee a need to have two pins on some holes to ameliorate extraordinarily difficult spots which work well in one direction but not in the opposite?

This concept would seem to work well for an ultra-low volume club.  I wonder if Messrs. Nuzzo and Mahaffey considered a reversible course for Wolf Point with nearly half the amount of grass to maintain.

Frank Pont

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Re: Silvies Valley Ranch
« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2014, 05:21:53 PM »

the idea is to play one direction one day, the other direction the next day, and on some days to do a shotgun start clockwise in the morning, have lunch and do a shot gun anticlockwise after lunch once a week.

I expect the greens to be big, and the undulations to be such that they would be pinnable from both directions.

The Blue course

The Red course

Garland Bayley

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Re: Silvies Valley Ranch
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2015, 10:20:02 PM »
I think a bit of the course appears in the flat in the distance just to the left of the sign.

The Silvies Valley website has announced they will open this year.

"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


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Re: Silvies Valley Ranch
« Reply #30 on: July 02, 2015, 12:06:47 AM »
The website may be too optimistic. Heard that grassing was delayed because of a hard winter there. Odds are opening in 2017, possibly 2016. I will check with Slag if we meet up next week.

Garland Bayley

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Re: Silvies Valley Ranch
« Reply #31 on: September 21, 2016, 03:07:31 AM »
Bump for those interested.
"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


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