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Jeff_Brauer

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Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« on: August 13, 2016, 03:48:08 PM »
Had this discussion the other day, when someone told me any course needed Par 72 and back tees at 7000 Yards to attract attention for proper marketing.  Although we have all heard this at some point over the years, I Googled it and only found one article - mine from Golf Industry ten years back wondering why, and if it was still necessary.

Here is a link to my article......

http://www.golfcourseindustry.com/article/gci-0510-jeffrey-brauer-design-concepts/

I know Fazio had many successful high end courses without going over 7K.  I know Doak and CC try in many cases to keep them under 7K.  I know some of the top 100 are (or were) under 7K.  I was told it didn't matter if it was a signature name, but did otherwise......and a quick search does show a lot of courses mention that 7000 yards in the first line of their advertising.  So, maybe it does still matter?

Frankly, from a design standpoint, I realize that costs are going up faster than budgets in this time frame.  Building 7 to 7200 yards for the 1% who play them is one way to run the budget up 4-5% over a 6800 Yard course, thus the desire to keep a project I am renovating/partially re-routing under budget control.  There will be few great players coming out to see this, I am sure.  Not to mention, today, 7K is sort of an in between yardage, not quite long enough for the big boys, too long for everyone else.  If I go over 7, I want to get to about 7200.....

All I am really asking is, are there any stats or evidence out there to suggest that even middle tee players want 7K back tees, even if they will just be a rumor to them? 

I figure the preference for many here is to say screw the 7K, but are there any of you who can recall scorecard yardage affecting their decision to drive a bit out of town and play a new or newly renovated golf course?

Finally, for the few marketing pros who come on here, can you comment on your experience?  For those who read only, a private email to me to convey thoughts would be interesting.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts, pro or con 7000 yards.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 03:56:47 PM by Jeff_Brauer »
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

BCowan

Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2016, 03:56:06 PM »
Jeff,

   Great thread.  I used to overlook short yardages in my younger days.  I now do not discriminate either way, very much enjoyed a 5600 yard track in northern michigan this summer, but I also enjoy a 7100 yard tracks as well.  What I don't understand is, if 1-3% play the tips over 7,000, don't underground irrigate it.  Instead make the tee box rough around the edges, you can also grow fescue in between the next tee box.  I've seen this done at some places and I think it makes the rise in maint 4-5% number fall on its face.  The problem is too much streamlining.  Fairways and greens should get most attention.  The amount of money we spend on hazards aka bunkers is ridiculous in the US.   
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 03:59:11 PM by Ben Cowan (Michigan) »

Jason Way

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2016, 04:00:50 PM »
No Jeff, the yardage has never been a factor I consider in deciding whether or not to check out a course.  I am influenced by whose name is on it, pictures I see, and the recommendations of the people whose taste I trust.  I could care less about the par or the yardage.
"Golf is a science, the study of a lifetime, in which you can exhaust yourself but never your subject." - David Forgan

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2016, 04:02:12 PM »
Ben,

Thanks.  As to back tees, when asked to design a 7200+ course, I do exactly that. Had one client who had me build them 15 x 15 feet - exactly 3 mower passes each way, although if there was only one way in and out, it might have been 3 by 4 passes, or 15 x 20.  That is a small tee!

And, we try to use the smallest heads possible and leave the edges native or fescue, as you suggest, and allow a native carry of up to 180 yards from back there, if we can angle the tee.  One study shows that the typical tee irrigation in the Midwest sprinkles over an acre, which can be cut back a lot if only the more forward tees don't have a native carry.  That said, I saw one study where almost 1 in 4 tee shots is muffed somehow.  And, you would think the back tee carry would be 200 yards, but I recall Jim Colbert trying that carry out during design of Colbert Hills in a north wind and he couldn't make it (none of the golf team could either that day) so we dragged it back 20 yards!
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Mark Saltzman

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2016, 04:34:28 PM »
Jeff, before my golf club atlas days, both yardage and slope (the higher the better) were signs of likely quality. Under about 6200 yards and there was zero chance I would play there. Zero.

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2016, 04:44:55 PM »
Mark,

I understand that 6200, of course.  Wondering more about 6650-6850 as the max yardage for a course.
Thanks, and I agree.  I guess there is still something to at least a "regulation" if not "championship course, and I would view that as at least 6650 or so.

I guess the other part of this is how hung up are folks on par 72?  Again, this crowd, no. But I do hear it a lot from clients as "standard" not to be deviated from.  Again, 70 or 71 wouldn't bother me, although I would wonder about a par 69.  On a related note, Stanley Thompson was a big proponent of the fifth par 3, which I have proposed a few times, to a) save land and cost but more b) because average golfers love the par 3 holes and would find the course more fun.  And, my 6-6-6 routing here in DFW has lots of fan and gets lots of play.  Again, making me wonder why clients love that par 72 and 7K so much.

Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

James Brown

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2016, 05:19:00 PM »
I would put the "enough" number at about 6600 yards for back tees and course rating slightly above par to meet the totally unjustified "is it hard enough" test.  Less than that and you have to explain it. 


For me, I just want a course around 6300-6500 yards and course rating within one stroke of par. 

Thomas Dai

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2016, 05:24:22 PM »
Does anyone other than the designer/constructor (and maybe the maintenance crew) ever measure the length of each hole?

And if they do, on what basis is it done, eg rear of back tee to front/middle/rear of green, inside/outside/middle fairway line of holes with fairways that curve. Must be a few different methods of measurement so who is to say what is or isn't actually 7,000 yds?

Seems like scope for smoke and mirrors and snake oil salesmen.
 
Atb

BCowan

Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2016, 05:32:40 PM »
Jeff,

    Mark nailed it in fewer words then I.  I don't care about what par is, in fact usually par 72 JN courses lack much imagination to play.  I think par should be determined after you figure out what the land gives you.  I am more interested in the sum of the parts and what the land gives.  I do like and notice C & C doing holes with extremes in yardages.  For the tips playing a hole that 430 over and over again is boring, where a drive and pitch 340 hole and a 495 yard par 4 is much more fun.  I also unlike on here don't think every par 5 needs to be hittable in 2.   I have no problem with a par 69, if the land is 100 acres and gives the best product of interesting holes, then I will take it.  In fact i would like to see more courses on 100-130 acres.  The hell with them lawyers.  You hit an errant shot and do not yell 4, month suspension.   

Sean_A

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2016, 06:42:01 PM »
I figure the preference for many here is to say screw the 7K, but are there any of you who can recall scorecard yardage affecting their decision to drive a bit out of town and play a new or newly renovated golf course?

I have never been enticed by high yardage/slope.  In fact, the opposite is true.  I have gone to play more than a few courses as much for their very short yardage as anything.  In fact II, if the marketing bit was 7000+ yards championship course I am less likely to play the course.  There are a ton of modernish courses I have never given a second look. Its really only in the past 15 years or so that I have paid attention to new modern courses.

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 06:43:34 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Tom_Doak

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2016, 06:48:55 PM »
Jeff:


I don't know how many of my courses are under 7,000 yards -- I'd guess about half of them.


I do know that the two highest-rated ones are


Pacific Dunes - 6,633 yards, and
Barnbougle - 6,148 meters [+/- 6,720 yards]


Both are in windy places where the yardage doesn't matter so much, but both put the dagger to the idea that a course "has to be 7000 yards in order to attract attention for proper marketing."   ::)   And yes, I did deliberately hold back the yardage of both courses a bit to make this very point.


In the last ten years, I've found it harder and harder to stay under 7,000.  We've built several courses at altitude, several where the client has some intention of hosting a big event, and a couple where the client is a strong golfer and insists on length.  My old client at Beechtree built an extra tee after we left to take the course from just under 7k to just over.  [A lot of good it did them!]


My dream is to convince a client to let me build a course that's only 6,300 yards from the tips and still interesting for the better player, whether the par is 72 or 68.  I've talked with someone about the possibility recently, so maybe it will happen in a couple of years.  I guarantee you it would draw a lot of attention as there will be a ton of naysayers lining up to prove me wrong!


Also, in case you missed it, there is a thread about North Berwick being a great course running here currently.  I think North Berwick is still just 6,400 yards.

Peter Pallotta

Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2016, 06:53:59 PM »
Jeff - one average golfer's perspective:

I don't need or want 7000+ yards; but when I read that a course is 7000+ from the back/black tees, I can make a pretty good guess that the blue tees will be set at about 6800 yards and the whites at 6500, two distances that I can and do enjoy playing from (especially the latter).   I'm not someone who insists on hitting driver all the time, and in fact I don't even carry one anymore - using a very strong 3 wood instead; but I'm not the biggest fan of "short par 4s" nor do I enjoy hitting wedges and nine irons into most green (especially not every day) -- and so if I course is under, say, 6000 yards I'm going to be hesitant about playing it unless I know that the topography is both interesting and challenging. And, since I'm also not a big fan of most Par 5s, the best marketing for this average golfer would be something like a 6850 yard Par 70 course -- on which I'd play my majority of rounds from the blue tees at 6500 or so.  And I can't think of anyone I've played golf with (average golfers all, give or take a few strokes) who'd have a much different view.

Peter
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 07:22:11 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2016, 08:49:56 PM »
Thomas,

Well, the USGA does have a prescribed method of measuring, and its from center of each tee to center of green, or as close as you can approximate given the free form of each.  The hardest part, I think, is doglegs. I think they say to measure out to the center of the fairway where it bends, then to the green from there. However, on many old courses where the dogleg is at 200 yards and many players play well past it, it would be hard to pick a point.  Most architects use something like 850 feet off the center of the back tee for the "turn point" when developing scorecards, but the final measurements are always different. 

And, in some cases, the course will measure at least the back tees 6 foot off the back edge, if it gets them over whatever hundred yard marker they can exceed, so again, some folks in the biz still think it matters.  And some measure all tees from near the back to stretch it out, on the theory that golfers love beating their score on a challenge, i.e., they feel good shooting a low number on a long course, believing they really played well that day, when in reality, they are playing much shorter than the advertised yardage.  But, we digress.

The thing about distance is I see golfers gravitating to what they feel comfortable playing, like Peter.  I like distances where I hit a few long irons, mostly mid irons and some short ones.  I would feel its too easy on a short course where I was hitting all short irons.  I think the general rule is a 5 iron is 2/3 your tee shot length, so a course should be say, 18 tee shots at 240 and 18 approaches at 160, average 36 shots, or about 6480 yards.  And, I do see players gravitate to those distances more and more.

And, I see some evidence of developers wanting to take out back tees in favor of other community uses, like dog parks, veggie gardens, tot lots, etc. However, that is far from universal, and varies the question somewhat from what do golfers like to what sells houses in a community.

Thanks again for view points.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Tom_Doak

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2016, 09:16:02 PM »
And, since I'm also not a big fan of most Par 5s, the best marketing for this average golfer would be something like a 6850 yard Par 70 course -- on which I'd play my majority of rounds from the blue tees at 6500 or so. 


That would be a much more difficult test of golf than I think you expect.  Each stroke to par is the equivalent of an extra 150-175 yards on the scorecard ... so a 6850 yard par 70 course plays like a 7200-yard par-72.


The Loop at Forest Dunes is about 6700 yards from the back and 6100 yards from the front, but at par 70, it's a pretty tough course.  I haven't even heard of someone posting a good number from the back tees ... the middle tees have been plenty for guests so far. 

BCowan

Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2016, 09:19:30 PM »
Tom,

    throw the yardage out the window if one is getting 50+ yards of roll.  The other track they water the hell out of the fairways the day I played it.  When you open your sub 6200 yard track, Jkava and I will unveil our 9,000 yard track ;) :o

Peter,

    You wouldn't like WPJ tracks, he was fond of 5 par 5's on many of his courses, Sylvania CC original Park routing had 7 par 5's, Holy Toledo.  ;D :o
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 09:27:30 PM by Ben Cowan (Michigan) »

Joe Zucker

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2016, 09:23:11 PM »
This concept seems really similar to the signaling theory of education.  Do we learn valuable things in school or does a college degree just signal that the person worked hard or is smart?  For this question, does a 7,000 yard course mean it is better or just signal that there is a certain level of quality to be expected?


From the perspective of the average golfer, I think 7,000 yards on the card is a fairly reliable indicator that the course will be good enough (at least from the retail golfer's perspective).  We on GCA would argue that they are looking at the wrong things, but from the average golfer's opinion of what makes a good course, looking for 7,000 on the card is probably a rational thing to do.  There will probably be enough bunkers and water hazards to please their hearts.


I have no evidence that courses that hit 7,000 are better on average, but I can't think of too many bad ones.  I fully agree that this number is arbitrary and 6,600 - 6,800 is great for a back tee.  But people love round numbers and the tour has made 7,000 a mental "anchor" for yardages.  That number will be as tough to overcome as it is meaningless.

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2016, 09:35:42 PM »
Joe,

Thoughtful response, and I think my friend would agree that its a signal that many pick up on.

And some think, in the internet age where more golfers are introduced to a new (to them) course via the web, and have famously short attention spans (down from 17 minutes to 10 minutes in just a decade by some measurements.....and apparently even shorter during election cycles (Politicians count of our memory span being shorter than the lifespan of a fruit fly, apparently) a few pictures and 7,000 yards probably get the course over the first cut pretty easily. 

If they don't have any word of mouth from reliable friends, maybe they start looking at other things as they explore diligently, like reviews, and what not.....or just pull out the credit card and figure its only five hours of my time.....who knows, really.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Thomas Dai

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2016, 04:30:37 AM »
Thanks for the detailed explanation Jeff. I wonder what happens in other parts of the world?


There's an altitude effect on distance as well. To what extent is this taken into consideration in design and distance?


Atb

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2016, 07:41:08 AM »
Altitude is taken into consideration in design, but not measurement.

I use the rule of thumb of a yard per yard plus or minus for uphill and down hill shots (actually works out to % uphill/downhill, like 3 yards over 300 is 1% gain or loss.

Forrest Richardson put a nice chart in his book regarding elevation effects.  We know Denver, a mile high, adds 15% and you can probably divide evenly from sea level or so to figure your plus or minus in percent from your typical playing elevation.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Mike Sweeney

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2016, 08:15:21 AM »

Thanks in advance for any thoughts, pro or con 7000 yards.


I would take a look at what John Ashworth is doing with his marketing for: http://www.goathillpark.com


"For Shotmaking and Socializing"


I can't find yardage on the website, just that it is a "short course". I know it is under 6000 yards from playing there. Ashworth sold his brand to Taylor Made, and he now has a new clothing brand. Goathill seems to be a fun laboratory of golf+clothing for him, and it seems to be working very well.
"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us."

Dr. Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Tom_Doak

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2016, 09:02:10 AM »

I can't find yardage on the website, just that it is a "short course". I know it is under 6000 yards from playing there. Ashworth sold his brand to Taylor Made, and he now has a new clothing brand. Goathill seems to be a fun laboratory of golf+clothing for him, and it seems to be working very well.


Goat Hill is a weird little course.  It was built in the 50's as a private, nine-hole club (!), but when that failed the city took it over, and a local golf pro jammed 18 holes into the space of nine.  It is very tight in some places, and obviously there's not room to make it really long, yet there is some good golf there. 


John used to play it regularly, and when the city started talking about selling it off and letting someone develop it [there was talk of a soccer stadium, which would have been interesting on the side of a hill], John fired up the locals into protesting it, and wound up taking over the lease to operate it.  He seems to be having a great time with it, and is doing his best to turn "shortness" into an asset instead of a liability.  I got a Goat Hill t-shirt in the mail Friday, for sponsoring his 100 Hole Hike there.




Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2016, 09:10:08 AM »
Yes I think it is still important to have a course at 7000 yards or more. It may not seem as important to this group, but it does not represent most golfers. When I tell people I played X course, many will ask either what is the slope or how long is it. To be honest, when I was younger I fell into the same trap. I was a low handicap in my thirties and forties. My home course was about 7100 yards and always played it back. Then I went to England and Played Rye. The only reason I played it was because it was in the top hundred in the world. It is under 6500 yards and par 68. I thought it would be little more than a pitch and putt. It turned out to be one of the most difficult courses I have ever seen. It was brilliant with some of the best par threes and par fours I know. Yet when I tell some guys about the course they don't really believe me.
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

"Deep within your soul-space is a magnificent cathedral where you are sweet beyond telling." Rumi

Tom_Doak

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2016, 09:10:35 AM »
From the perspective of the average golfer, I think 7,000 yards on the card is a fairly reliable indicator that the course will be good enough (at least from the retail golfer's perspective).  We on GCA would argue that they are looking at the wrong things, but from the average golfer's opinion of what makes a good course, looking for 7,000 on the card is probably a rational thing to do.  There will probably be enough bunkers and water hazards to please their hearts.


I have no evidence that courses that hit 7,000 are better on average, but I can't think of too many bad ones.  I fully agree that this number is arbitrary and 6,600 - 6,800 is great for a back tee.  But people love round numbers and the tour has made 7,000 a mental "anchor" for yardages.  That number will be as tough to overcome as it is meaningless.


I agree with the idea of "signaling," and yet it signals all the wrong things -- you will lose enough golf balls to be happy?


The only positives would be if one assumes that a newer course is in better shape -- but many of these long courses are 50 years old, and fail that test -- or that modern designs are superior, and we all know that's a lie.


This could be easily solved in golf course architects pushed back against it and used their platform to invalidate the idea.  If only they had an effective organization to discuss the topic and try to correct the problem ... but instead they would wind up writing a white paper on why "choice" is so important.   >:(   


Incidentally, I had the brainstorm the other day that the only way to get the good players to favor an equipment rollback would be to keep building shorter courses.  If we built courses where their longer drives did them no good, and they had to lay up often, they would respond by favoring an equipment rollback so they could hit driver again [and regain their natural advantage].  The more architects play into the idea that courses have to be lengthened, the less chance there is that players will want the equipment rolled back.

Matt MacIver

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Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2016, 10:40:39 AM »
I think having a 7k course and being able to say you have a Championship course are synonyms. At least that's what the non GCA.com owner and player think.


I'm told our new owner thinks balanced nines are highly preferable so he'll likely change our 35-37 that has five par 3s and five par 5s into even 36-36...and given our house-bound routing will all be done via pencil strokes on the scorecard. I suspect he'll still keep the back tees at 7088 yards.

BCowan

Re: Par 72, 7000 Yards "Required" for marketing?
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2016, 10:51:48 AM »
  If only they had an effective organization to discuss the topic and try to correct the problem ... but instead they would wind up writing a white paper on why "choice" is so important.   >:(   

   I disagree completely and great change happens at the bottom up.  Choice is important, Free To Choose.  Let's not get ideological for there are market forces at play.


Incidentally, I had the brainstorm the other day that the only way to get the good players to favor an equipment rollback would be to keep building shorter courses.  If we built courses where their longer drives did them no good, and they had to lay up often, they would respond by favoring an equipment rollback so they could hit driver again [and regain their natural advantage].  The more architects play into the idea that courses have to be lengthened, the less chance there is that players will want the equipment rolled back.


   I disagree again, voluntarily getting a few clubs to play their championship flight with a rolled back ball and technology is how you get this ball rolling.  The Ohio Golf Assoc tried it, and that is another way.  Proper change happens from the ground up, not through Central planning from Far Hills.   ;)

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