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glenn.hackbarth@gmail.com

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Gamble Sands too easy?
« on: May 12, 2017, 05:23:44 PM »
Played GS for the first time yesterday.  I had seen comments, including on this site, that GS is "easy," allowing many players to shoot their personal best.  If I had to highlight one attribute of the design, I would say flexibility.  The course could be set up to play "easy", especially if there is no wind, but couldn't it also be set up to play much more difficult?  The key to this flexibility is the size and shape of the greens and the teeing grounds.  I love the tees, many of which are huge and virtual extensions of the fairways.  The tees not only allow holes to be set up vastly different lengths from day-to-day but also permit important changes in the angle of tee shots.  Those different angles and lengths could keep the course entertaining even for someone who plays it frequently.  A different mix of risk/reward decisions could figure in each round.  As for the greens, most do not have severe contours (although a few do) but there are some irregular shapes that permit flags to be located close to knolls and subtle ridges that provide protection.  Yesterday, I would guess the greens rolled about an 8 on the Stimp. Increase those greens speeds a little, and throw in some wind, and I think GS provides plenty of challenge as well as interest. Although it was calm yesterday, I would think a 15 mph wind is common given the location.

Tyler Kearns

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2017, 05:46:31 PM »
I loved Gamble Sands, a really enjoyable experience - wide fairways, beautiful setting and excellent conditioning.  Obviously, Kidd produced a much easier golf course after some pretty severe criticism and subsequent remodelling of his previous work, but I don't understand the negative response from some people.  A golfer walking off a course after shooting a very good score is a happy golfer and somebody who is likely to return.  Unfortunately, many people equate difficulty with quality.  There are plenty of hard courses out there and I think we could stand to have a few more new courses designed in a similar vein to Gamble Sands.


TK

glenn.hackbarth@gmail.com

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2017, 06:18:39 PM »
Tyler,  To be clear, I am not being critical of "easy" courses.  My intent is to praise Kidd for producing a design that can be enjoyable for different levels of players.  Anyone can do "easy" for everyone or "hard" for everyone.  It requires skill to produce a design as flexible as GS.  In enjoyed it thoroughly.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2017, 06:24:46 PM »
I really liked Gamble Sands -- enough to put it in the front of Volume 3 of The Confidential Guide.


There's a fine line to be toed between making courses enjoyable for the masses, and making them challenging enough to keep better players interested.  If you look back to the archives of this web site, you'll find one or two discussions on whether Pacific Dunes was challenging enough for good players.


My idea of a balance is just different than David's.  Gamble Sands can be a bit boring with regard to short game play ... there are a lot of long putts without a lot of break.  I think the short game needs the same attention as the long game.


As Glenn says, one good thing about Gamble Sands is the flexibility available in the setup of the course.  Some designers are afraid of that, because it leaves so much in the hands of the operators to find the right balance.  [Haven't we all played somewhere that the setup of the course was just stupid hard?]  In that vein, I very much enjoyed having a couple of projects like Ballyneal and The Sheep Ranch where there are no tee markers at all, and every group can make their own determination of what they want to try.

Tyler Kearns

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2017, 09:20:22 PM »
Glenn,


I wasn't suggesting you were being critical of Gamble Sands based on it not being a very difficult golf course.


Tom,


I would agree, my only real criticism of the golf course is the relatively benign green contours.  Part of the game I enjoy most is being presented with multiple options to get a recovery shot close and that is somewhat lacking at Gamble Sands.


TK

Sean Leary

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2017, 02:35:29 PM »
I am one who has commented on the easiness of Gamble Sands, having seen quite a few career rounds there. I am a huge, huge fan of the place, and frankly, these days, I like easy. I do think that pins could get tucked to make it more difficult, and when the wind is up it plays harder as well, of course.


I just wonder whether if there were more interest in and around the greens, whether it might be "better." I think it theoretically could be Top 10 modern with that, that's all.

Kalen Braley

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2017, 05:51:17 PM »
Based on pics I've seen, is Gamble Sands the kind of course that looks somewhat challenging on the tee, but plays easier than it looks?  Never played it, but its at the top of my list on my next visit to the PNW.


P.S.  Perhaps a KP at Gamble in the future?

Sean Leary

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2017, 06:02:32 PM »
Based on pics I've seen, is Gamble Sands the kind of course that looks somewhat challenging on the tee, but plays easier than it looks?  Never played it, but its at the top of my list on my next visit to the PNW.


P.S.  Perhaps a KP at Gamble in the future?


I would agree with that assessment.


Too remote for a KP..

Kalen Braley

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2017, 06:10:38 PM »
Based on pics I've seen, is Gamble Sands the kind of course that looks somewhat challenging on the tee, but plays easier than it looks?  Never played it, but its at the top of my list on my next visit to the PNW.


P.S.  Perhaps a KP at Gamble in the future?


I would agree with that assessment.


Too remote for a KP..


We held one at Sagebrush ...I don't think GS is more remote than that is it?


Bandon is remote too, but with so many courses, different animal...
« Last Edit: May 15, 2017, 06:13:07 PM by Kalen Braley »

Sean Leary

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2017, 06:29:00 PM »
Similar to Sagebrush. 4 hours from the airport in Seattle.

Joe Zucker

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2017, 09:15:38 PM »
I played Gamble Sands earlier this spring and found the course to play very links-like.  I think the easiness of the course can be attributed to a combination of the firmness of the turf, the width of the fairways, and relative lack of importance for angles because of flattish greens.


Two major point on the positive side for GS is the extremely firm and wide fairways.  The ball rolls forever out there.  On some of the downwind holes I was able to drive it very close to the greens when I was not expecting to.  It's also fairly hard to lose a ball which is going to keep the scores down.  However, I would not say the course is too easy because the bunkers can be pretty deep, preventing approaches from fairway traps or tough recoveries around the greens.  The fairway bunkers on the par 5 third and left of the green on 15 stand out in my mind.  With any kind of wind, you're bound to find some of those hazards and it could run up a score for an average player.  If you can avoid them, there is really no easy to ever put up a big number though.


In my opinion, the easy part of the course comes from the lack of punishment from being out of position.  If you are on the wrong side of the fairway at GS, the approach is not that much more difficult most of the time.  For a mid handicap player, it's still a par/bogey option.  Other modern courses in the minimalist fashion punish out of position tee shots with much more difficult approaches.  Tom notes this above with his idea of balance being different from Kidd's.  Both courses at Streamsong seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum to me, kick approach farther away from the hole if you were not at the perfect angle.


I don't think GS is one of the very best modern courses and is a step below the courses at Bandon, but it's still a lot of fun and worth the drive from Seattle. 

Sean Leary

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2017, 12:06:07 AM »
Joe,



What did you think of the location of 15 green? I don't understand why that green wasn't moved back to where 16 tee is. Could have been an absolutely epic skyline green.

Thomas Dai

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2017, 07:15:38 AM »
"To easy". I would humbly suggest that no course should be considered "to easy" by handicap players until they can shoot under par every time they play it.
atb

glenn.hackbarth@gmail.com

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2017, 09:53:42 AM »
I am curious about which tees people played on GS. 


I played the orange tees...6700 yds on the card.  From orange tees, number 3 is a strong par 5 at 622 yds.  Number 4 is a short par 3 (160 yds), but this is one of the greens with significant contour (flag was just beyond central swale, requiring precise distance control to get close).  Number 5 is a 497 yd par 4: Tee shot plays downhill, but unless you hit a long, accurate tee shot flirting with the left-hand fairway bunker, you are left with a 190 blind shot from a downhill lie.  Number 6 is a 231 yd par 3, which is never easy in my book, even if you can sling it in from the right.  I hit the right to left shot, but was just off on the line and found the bunker. Hit another and it ran through the green over the back.  Number 7 is a reachable par 5 (473 yds), but to be in position to go for the green a long accurate drive is required with bunkers threatening left and right. Number 11 required a tee shot near the bunkers on the right to avoid playing over the greenside bunker with flag close behind. After a 260 yd drive, number 13 required a 200 yd + carry to clear the bunker short of the green.  Laying up leaves an obscured shot to the green.  On 14, I took the safe path to the right-hand fairway, leaving a short iron to green, but flag was protected by the front bunker.  Number 16 is a par 3 requiring a long iron.  Number 18 is a reachable par 5, but to get into position for that you must flirt with bunkers left and right. 


To be sure, GS has three short par 4s that should be easy pars if you know where to hit it.  But each presents interesting choices off the tee if you want to use driver.


GS's course rating from the orange tees is 72.1 but with a slope of only 121.  That seems about right to me. 


The previous day I played Chambers Bay from the navy tees: course rating 75.6 and slope of 139.  GS is no Chambers Bay for difficulty, but it is not a pushover from the orange tees...especially with some wind.  Yet the bogey golfer can easily work his or her way around.

Kyle Harris

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2017, 02:06:09 PM »
18*5=90
18*3=54

With a whole lot of golf in between.

There's a career round where the guy shoots an 88, and then there's a career round where the guy shots a 59.

I highly doubt we're seeing a flurry of 59s at Gamble Sands.
http://kylewharris.com

Constantly blamed by 8-handicaps for their 7 missed 12-footers each round.

Thank you for changing the font of your posts. It makes them easier to scroll past.

Peter Pallotta

Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2017, 02:59:06 PM »
The question, in general, is: when is too easy actually too easy, ie not any fun?
Played a local Par 5 last week with two friends - a 'short Par 5' let's call it, or a half par hole: 450 yards from the back, a little down hill, quite wide, some trouble off the tee, front green-side bunkers.
We all made a hash of it: mediocre drives for one and all, poor second shots across the board, fair to middling thirds, two okay two-putts and one fine one.
We walked off with 2 pars and 1 birdie. The best golfer among us, and the most card and pencil type, said "They should lengthen this hole". What he meant was: a birdie is no fun when it comes too easily.
Two pars and one birdie for a threesome of pretty average golfers. Too easy a golf hole?
I parred it. Should I be complaining/criticizing? On the one hand, you could say that it obviously wasn't too easy for me; on the other, I can tell you that I've rarely been so bored in my life.
We're not 8 years old - we don't expect or even want such gratuitous gifts, especially not from men (architects) our own age. It's patronizing - "here little rabbit, here's some yummy treats for you".
Peter
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 03:07:46 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Joe Zucker

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2017, 03:12:45 PM »
Joe,



What did you think of the location of 15 green? I don't understand why that green wasn't moved back to where 16 tee is. Could have been an absolutely epic skyline green.


I never even thought of that, but I could see the green there.  I guess moving the green back 50 yards would make the hole too long if you wanted to keep the short walk from 14 to 15.  But moving the tee up and making a longer walk could make for a better hole.


Peter, I agree with you.  Golf courses are way too hard and long.  More courses should be 5,700 yards and allow average players to hit wedges into greens occasionally.  AS Kyle said, these career rounds are almost certainly not in the 60s, so why does it matter if someone cards a career best 87?  They probably had a blast and golf is supposed to be fun.

Sean Leary

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2017, 04:41:10 PM »
I will say we don't hear too much about courses that may feel too easy, but we do about being too hard. Its a step in the right direction for sure.


I love the place and am glad they built it the way that they did. But the architecture nerd in me wonders what night have been, that's all.

Kyle Harris

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2017, 07:07:31 PM »
Peter,


I look forward to the story of your group's eagles the next time you play the hole you described.
http://kylewharris.com

Constantly blamed by 8-handicaps for their 7 missed 12-footers each round.

Thank you for changing the font of your posts. It makes them easier to scroll past.

Peter Pallotta

Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2017, 07:19:53 PM »
Peter,

I look forward to the story of your group's eagles the next time you play the hole you described.


Kyle - what I assume is sarcasm aside, do you really measure a golf hole (and its relative challenge, and fun) by score alone? Two golfers together hit 8 mediocre shots in a row and both of them walk away with pars. Do you think we walked away satisfied - or that we'd even remember the hole fondly? I can't believe you're suggesting that only when one or both of us get eagles on the hole can I come on here and reasonably suggest that this golf hole (and such golf holes in general) are too easy and not fun/engaging. But then again, maybe that's exactly what you're suggesting. If so, that's a surprise to me.   
Peter 
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 07:22:24 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Doug Bolls

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2017, 11:55:44 PM »
I played Gamble Sands last July - what a wonderful golfing experience.  Nice, wide fairways played to one of my golfing objectives - hit every fairway.
A BIG piece of property with very BIG bunkers - I managed to avoid every one of them - my thought as I was going around the course = "those are very big bunkers, but they are avoidable".
Too easy - I think it depends on the weather - we ran into some windy / rainy stuff about 1/2 way through.  That made things tougher.
Loved the course overall - plan to go back.
db

Sean_A

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2017, 03:40:21 AM »
I would be amazed if I found Gamble Sands too easy. I have never played a course I thought was too easy.  Difficulty is rarely the issue (and if it is courses are on the too difficult end of the spectrum), at least for me.  And I would also say much depends on how the difficulty is achieved.  There can be quite interesting, but difficult courses.  The issue is really about interest and I think for the vast majority of players it is far easier to create interest when the difficulty level is not cranked up.  There are an awful lot of well known one and dones out there for 18 cappers.  There can sometimes be a fine line, but still I reckon most courses are not too difficult, its just that a decent percentage of famous courses are difficult! Just as true, there is a decent percentage of unknown courses which are interesting to play more than a few times a year.   

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Blackmoor, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend & Alnmouth

Kyle Harris

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2017, 08:30:16 AM »
Peter,

I look forward to the story of your group's eagles the next time you play the hole you described.


Kyle - what I assume is sarcasm aside, do you really measure a golf hole (and its relative challenge, and fun) by score alone? Two golfers together hit 8 mediocre shots in a row and both of them walk away with pars. Do you think we walked away satisfied - or that we'd even remember the hole fondly? I can't believe you're suggesting that only when one or both of us get eagles on the hole can I come on here and reasonably suggest that this golf hole (and such golf holes in general) are too easy and not fun/engaging. But then again, maybe that's exactly what you're suggesting. If so, that's a surprise to me.   
Peter

Not particularly sarcastic, but at the same time I can't help but wonder why you wouldn't feel particularly angered/frustrated/concerned that you managed to leave a few shots out there? If the hole were truly easy and uninspiring I tend to believe that at least you could garner some frustration over that and that perhaps the next time you played the hole that emotion would build or ebb as the case may be.

I think your thought process is straddling the line between necessary stimulation and over-stimulation. Sometimes all a golf hole needs to present is the opportunity to get away with mediocrity in order to lose to someone that is more engaged in that moment.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 08:35:04 AM by Kyle Harris »
http://kylewharris.com

Constantly blamed by 8-handicaps for their 7 missed 12-footers each round.

Thank you for changing the font of your posts. It makes them easier to scroll past.

David Davis

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2017, 09:43:19 AM »
I'm hoping to make the trip out there last week of September when I'm out in Oregon visiting family. Sounds like a nice drive to take my mom on and then make her chase me around in the golf cart while I skip across the course shooting my best round ever.


I'm not sure I've ever heard of a course being called too easy. If it's the case that nothing challenges you off the tee and the only difference between a good score and a bad score is putting then I might be able to imagine in I suppose. Or perhaps if the only sense of accomplishment gained out of the round was that you didn't hole enough putts because all greens were perfectly flat while at the same time you didn't see any challenge. It's a stretch however.


It's more a case most likely of us being programed that if the course doesn't make a 5 hcp shoot 90 on the first try there is not any room for growth. Personally I've only tied my best round ever at Sand Hills once and that was this year at Cape Wickham. I won't complain one bit if I beat it.


If you look at the slope there you can immediately see it's not rated as the most difficult course in the country so why would you expect anything else really? It says:


114 from the intermediate tees
118 from the regular tees
121 from the back tees
128 from the medal tees


I'm guessing it plays firm and fast since the course is not lacking in length, especially at 7169 yds from the medal tees. Don't think the intention is for it to be a championship course so that longer than 95% or more from the golfers can take.


I'm interested to see it myself. Upon which time I will happily return to this thread to gloat about how easily I managed to play my best round ever.
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Garland Bayley

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Re: Gamble Sands too easy?
« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2017, 01:40:38 PM »
"To easy". I would humbly suggest that no course should be considered "to easy" by handicap players until they can shoot under par every time they play it.
atb

Or at least have the USGA handicap ratings not hold up so that everyone nets below the course rating.
"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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