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Tony Ristola

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Re: Why Subtle is Better? New
« Reply #50 on: July 21, 2011, 12:13:47 PM »
From Shaq's quote o' day...

A golfer who knew only Sandwich golf would find himself at Hoylake much in the position of a child entering for an Indian Civil Service examination. Sandwich golf is simple and bold, but it requires no great variety of play; the Hoylake course is not so attractive at first sight, but the golf it affords is more subtle.   JOHN LOW

In a recent review of Colorado golf club, the poster didn't care for the flat terrain holes. While I found the subtle holes to be exceptionally well done.

Is the reason subtle golf course architecture is so good is because of the challenge the architect has in creating interesting golf on what could be described as bland terrain?

If you feel differently and feel that dramatic golf is preferred, please, by all means, convince us?
Depends how you define subtle. if it means not over the top earthworks... ok, but a course can be dramatic by incorporating features (bunkers, ditches, using existing land forms, trees, strategies) and doing so inexpensively... without moving a ton of dirt. Find a decent site that drains and leave well enough alone; incorporate what is vital and do a phenomenal job making each alteration to the landscape add something to the whole, creating variety, differentiation of looks, shots and strategy, and you should have a very good golf course. Pray you have a superintendent and management that understands and loves the concept. It only takes one individual... one season to undo it all.

Subtle is a safer, more cost effective bet. It can be accomplished faster, with less risk. It's easier to keep everyone on board and easier to remedy misinterpretations (especially if the architect is the absentee variety). It costs less, requires the developer to carry less debt, and if they market the place intelligently, can reap greater rewards. It fits better with the surrounds (if it is a core golf course). If there is a downturn, the chances of survival are greater too, for there is a Margin-of-Safety built into the project. Such courses tend to be more timeless, and require less reconstruction.

To that end, I'd say Pinehurst No.2 fit that bill before the C&C renovation. It was subtle on the surface, but had everything and more to keep golfers interested for a lifetime. If it had been created in 2002, few would have blown the No.2 horn... and doubt it would have made any best of the year lists. The course was a celebration of shot values in Hogan's day... the celebration has changed, as have shot values.

Another way to look at subtle is to take Harbour Town, strip away the trees, and instead of Calibogue Sound, have OB, or long grass. It would lack the charm, but not the shots. On the 2nd the trees would no longer drive strategy, but beside that, the course would still be great fun, just not as pretty, and certainly subtle in appearance.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 12:32:52 PM by Tony Ristola »


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