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Kyle Harris

Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« on: November 07, 2011, 06:25:03 PM »
Dean Stokes's thread on putting green speed has pushed me to start a topic that's been swimming in my head for a few days.

At which point in a player's development is the concept of fairness first introduced? A rank beginner will think little as to whether or not a feature on a golf course is "fair" simply because they are more concerned with overcoming their own limitations. They expect to score poorly.

However, as benchmarks are reached, the player begins to expect that the golf course accommodate the skills acquired in learning the game.

Is this concept of fairness learned? If so, when do players start expecting certain results from their skills and how does this place demands on both golf architect and golf superintendent?

If innate? How does the concept of fairness factor into the notion of sport and golf?

Mac Plumart

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2011, 06:30:55 PM »
I think it is learned. 

Watching my son play (7 years old), he has no concept of "fair" golf course features.  He just wants to eventually get the ball in the hole.  No complaints about anything.

Watching some of my weekend golf pals play, they complain about everything under the sun.  Greens are too fast, too slow.  Rough is to high.  Sand to soft, too wet.  Everything is unfair...or so it seems.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Kyle Harris

Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2011, 06:32:20 PM »
I think it is learned.  

Watching my son play (7 years old), he has no concept of "fair" golf course features.  He just wants to eventually get the ball in the hole.  No complaints about anything.

Watching some of my weekend golf pals play, they complain about everything under the sun.  Greens are too fast, too slow.  Rough is to high.  Sand to soft, too wet.  Everything is unfair...or so it seems.

I hadn't considered an age factor, and I am certain there is one.

jeffwarne

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2011, 06:35:27 PM »
I think it is learned. 

Watching my son play (7 years old), he has no concept of "fair" golf course features.  He just wants to eventually get the ball in the hole.  No complaints about anything.

Watching some of my weekend golf pals play, they complain about everything under the sun.  Greens are too fast, too slow.  Rough is to high.  Sand to soft, too wet.  Everything is unfair...or so it seems.

Mac,
Wait until the parents teach your 7 year old that nothing about sports is "fair"
The teams aren't fair, the refs aren't fair, the playing time's not fair, this kid's too big, too good........
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Cory Lewis

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2011, 06:37:40 PM »
I think it is learned, but I will say that in my observations of watching people play, many people view fairness as their ability to hit the shot they want all the time.  This happens alot with the lob wedge and an undulating green.  The average player will struggle to hit their lob wedge on the exact perfect spot on the green and will view the green as unfair if they hit what they perceive as a good shot and the ball ends up in a bad place.
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Kalen Braley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2011, 06:38:07 PM »
I'm reminded of SuperTramps song:

When I was young
It seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle
Oh, it was beautiful, magical

And all the birds in the trees
Well, they'd be singing so happily
Oh, joyfully
Oh, playfully watching me

But then they sent me away
To teach me how to be sensible
Logical
Oh, responsible, practical

And then they showed me a world
Where I could be so dependable
Oh, clinical
Oh, intellectual, cynical

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2011, 06:38:18 PM »
Jeff...

No worries on that front for my son.  He knows life isn't fair and that the meek get nothing.  You make your own way regardless if the cards are stacked against you.  If someone else is complaining about this or that, ignore and pass them by!!

Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Peter Pallotta

Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2011, 06:48:41 PM »
Great question, Kyle.  

One of the many interesting aspects is how the answer has/does/might influence the goals and decisions of clients and architects, i.e. how an assumed demographic of potential golfers has been/might be used as a guide for the nature and degree of 'un-fairness' the marketplace will bear.

The easy example is Bandon -- Mr. Keiser had to have had a pretty clear notion that the majority of retail golfers who'd travel out there for a golfing pilgrimage were at a place on the fairness continuum (both in terms of their talent/level of skill and their knowledge/appreciation of gca) that allowed him and his architects quite a bit of flexibility in this regard.

Peter  

« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 08:28:05 PM by PPallotta »

Kyle Harris

Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2011, 06:49:48 PM »
I think it is learned, but I will say that in my observations of watching people play, many people view fairness as their ability to hit the shot they want all the time.  This happens alot with the lob wedge and an undulating green.  The average player will struggle to hit their lob wedge on the exact perfect spot on the green and will view the green as unfair if they hit what they perceive as a good shot and the ball ends up in a bad place.

Cory:

This is sort of the logic I see Dean applying in the other thread, except with the putt. I think the statement I made as to it being likely he executed his plan for the putt flawlessly applies with the lob wedge example.

The extreme example is something along the lines of hitting a pure 3wood from 20 feet off the green and complaining because the ball ended up 230 yards away from the hole.

Sean_A

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2011, 04:07:50 AM »
I certainly think the concept of fairness in golf architecture is learned.  I had an interesting experience at The Castle Course a few weeks back.  Beforehand, I had not really believed in the concept of fairness in relation golf.  I have heard the claim of OTT greens etc many times and dismissed these blatherings as missing the point of the game.  The greens at Castle Course made me re-evaluate my stance on the issue.  I still fall firmly on the side of fairness being a total non-issue in golf architecture, however, I did begin to wonder about what is reasonable.  The problem with "reasonable" is it suggests a link with logic.  I can't get myself to circle around these concepts in architecture.  The only logic I can come up in architecture is to allow the land to dictate the style and substance of the course.  That said, in the case of CC, it is completely manufactured.  So this begs the question of why "the test of reasonable" was tried to such an extreme measure and why it didn't seem self evident that the envelope doesn't stretch that far.  This is a very different matter to working on an extreme site where extreme solutions must be expected.  Anyway, its a bit of a ramble with no answers and more questions - sorry.

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

Dean Stokes

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2011, 08:14:29 AM »
Kyle, it seems you never read my first post on the thread i started rearding putting green contours. Please re read and maybe my next few posts also. See where you can find the word 'fair' before you brought it up along with the word 'unreasonable'.

Again for those who haven't read it......when 3 average to good golfers hit shots on a green to within 30 feet and not one of us can get those putts within 10-15 feet of the cup is there something wrong with a. The design of the green(contours), the green speed or where the hole was cut? NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING UNFAIR! where did i mention that Kyle? Unfair is where some clown builds a cart path 4 feet from the edge of a green that you cannot see and your ball pitches on it and goes out of bounds!!!!! And even that is not really unfair just crap design again. When you tee it up at a resort course (where many people will ever play only once, therefore you dont know the green complexes precisely), and three of you hit good shots and three putt from reasonably close....i dont think it is unfair - i think it is crap design and/or poor course set up. The agronomy/green speeds/course set up are equally as important as course design and can add to up to ruin a great golf course design. Again.....NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING UNFAIR! Wow!!!!!!! I have played golf for 32 years Kyle and have rarely if ever called something unfair. I have hit crap shots that deserved bad results and i have also seen a lot of good/bad course design that doesnt make for unfair golf......and i am a little miffed you associate me with unfair. My question had zero to do with that.
Living The Dream in The Palm Beaches....golfing, yoga-ing, horsing around and working damn it!!!!!!!

Adam Clayman

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2011, 10:33:49 AM »
Fairness in golf is contracted, like a disease.

The fact that a specific pin position is too severe is the function of two factors. The speed and slope. 

This fascination with faster greens speeds has a downside and it's this disease.
"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

Eric Smith

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2011, 10:52:10 AM »
 ??? ;D Fair is the F word.

When I was 16 I fired a career low 76 in my High School District Championship and was immediately directed to the 1st tee for a playoff with two other players who were much more accomplished golfers than I...but I was ON. 8) I crushed my 5 wood off the tee beyond their drives and we we were off. I was so jacked up that when it came my time to play my second, from right at the 150 marker, I hit my 8 iron and completely airmailed the green into a drainage ditch. :o :-X Three hack-outs later I'm left to walk in defeated. Crushed. Crashed.  

Not fair (!!), or something like that, was my feeling at the time. Why, God, why, did you invent adrenaline?? My dad was there, and as we walked back to the clubhouse he said to me, 'son, life isn't always fair'. It took me a while to get over that, to learn from the experience, but, like all things, I did eventually.

I think the game of golf is exactly like life and that is one of its greatest attributes. So for me, the answer to the question would be - learned.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2011, 10:53:42 AM by Eric Smith »

Lou_Duran

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2011, 11:08:14 AM »
The age old question of heredity vs. the environment.  I vote mostly for the former, though the latter has large impact on how we look at the world.

Living organisms of all types seek to survive and multiply.  Our wiring dictates that a rub of the green in our favor is perceived as either the result of good architecture that we recognized and took advantage of with proper execution, or as a well-deserved break/"what makes the game so enticing".  Against us, it is poor design, bad maintenance, stupid course set-up, or an undue lucky break benefiting our opponent.

Typically, most of us have the reasonable expectation that our actions are more or less closely related to the results we get.  The word "reasonable" is the key here, and, unfortunately for many, it is too conditional for their comfort.  For example, if I hit a flop shot on a parkland golf course after some rain, it may not be unreasonable to expect that the ball may hit the fringe and stop (as it did to me on #15 at Providence GC at the DC).  In many cases, that was the shot- just not under those conditions.

Another example is the current Occupy Movement where, reportedly, college graduates are protesting the lack of employment opportunities in light of the five and six figure debt they've incurred to acquire their education.  Even in the best of times, is it "reasonable" to expect that a degree or academic concentration in transgender studies or the sociology of inter-city minority populations might not produce the type of employment income needed to pay for the essentials and retire their debt?

"Fairness" is among the most abused concepts or words in our culture.  As someone else has noted, there is nothing fair in life.  The best we can do is take things as they come and make the best of them.  Preparation as well as how we view the world are key in how we do this.  As with my play on #15, for the most part, we make our own luck.  Before my ill-advised flop, I hit a timid approach based on an uncontrolable (to me) factor- that my opponent wouldn't be able to get out of trouble.  My whining after seeing that my well executed flop plugged on the fringe was unreasonable as well as unproductive.

Someone much wiser than me noted that heredity determines potential- what something may become- while the environment influences what actually happens, what it becomes.  In golf, playing with better players has typically elevated my game.  And though we bitched and moaned incessantly in our gangsome about bad bets, unfair pin placements, and landing in divots at critical times, it generally followed that those who played best prevailed.  Of course, we typically played scratch; handicap golf is another game all together and totally "learned".    

  
« Last Edit: November 08, 2011, 04:33:08 PM by Lou_Duran »

Joe_Tucholski

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2011, 12:54:40 PM »
As most have said I think the idea of fairness is learned.  But at the same time what Dean described is something that I think many will innately dislike.  The bit about a beginner being happy with everything because they have no expectation of score is ok...but I have to assume that a beginner won't like playing a course where a ball won't come to rest within 10-15 feet of the hole unless it is in the bottom of the cup because they may never finish the hole.  They have to learn to think it's unfair, which is a method for them to justify why they innately dislike it.

I haven't seen a golf course setup where the ball will not physically stop within 10-15 feet even if placed but I think any beginner would dislike such a setup.  I also understand that type of setup isn't exactly what Dean was describing (I think he was saying you can't stop a putt 10-15 feet from above the hole only) but I think there are many people who innately dislike like the pin placement he describes.

So I guess in my mind someone saying they think something is unfair is their learned way to say they don't like it or that others won't like it.

Kyle Harris

Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2011, 05:45:00 PM »
Dean:

Likewise, you should probably read the first sentence in my post. Your post pushed me to post on this subject, which I had been thinking about well before your post. Not wanting to sidetrack your thread too much, I started this one.

Jaeger Kovich

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Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2011, 07:48:04 PM »
Kyle, I think the real question here is: how long does it take to realize that golf is not a fair game?.. I came to grips with golf not being a fair game about 2 years ago and have enjoyed playing the game even more since I figured this out.

Seems to me the Scots naturally understand, as it is their game, that its not fair, nor was it ever meant to be fair. Then somewhere as it crossed the Atlantic, Americans just assumed the right to expect certain results and this notion of unfair lies, or unfair green speeds or contours was born. Golf is not a fair game. Just because a particular shot or lie or feature is beyond "your" particular ability doesn't make it unfair. As long as everyone is still playing the same golf course by the same rules, thats as close as one gets to fair in this game.

Do you think it is possible do design a "fair" golf course?

Carl Rogers

Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2011, 02:24:09 PM »
Perceived Fairness bears some relationship to Consistency of the Condtions of Play .....

Ian Andrew

Re: Sense of Sporting Fairness: Learned or Innate?
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2011, 05:17:45 PM »
The question of fairness only comes up when there is a desire to post a particular score. One of the freedoms of not playing for a score is that nothing is unfair ... unless you canít actually hole out.

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