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Ally Mcintosh

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GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« on: May 17, 2022, 04:27:16 PM »
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”


Truth or Myth?

John Kirk

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2022, 04:42:51 PM »
False.

Wind and firm playing surfaces encourage the ground game.

PPallotta

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2022, 05:17:23 PM »
Neat idea, Ally -- I'm glad you started these threads, and hope you will add your own views/perspective to the mix at some point.

For me it's a myth. Yes, since undulations and contours necessitate/presuppose a fairway as opposed to a body of water or an expanse of sand or rough, they do *allow for* a ground game; but, far from *encouraging* me to hit a low running shot or to use a putter from well off the green or to take less club on an approach and count on a lot of roll to get me on, the vagaries and uncertainties of these same undulations and contours usually ensure the very opposite, ie that I take the aerial approach instead.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2022, 07:33:34 PM by PPallotta »

Carl Johnson

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2022, 05:36:26 PM »
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”???  Well, doesn't that depend on many other factors?  Undulation and contour in the right places could make a ground shot the better choice for some golfers, but in other places not.  For me, condition of the ground is key.  Hard, dry, firm flat surface is best for my ground game, such as it is.

Mark_Fine

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2022, 05:39:34 PM »
To echo the obvious and what has already been said, it is all about firm conditions.  There is no “ground” game as we define it if everything is wet/soft.

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2022, 06:56:35 PM »
Firm conditions are a constant. Everything outside of the hypothesis should be considered non-variables. We are merely talking about substantial contour Vs minimal contour.


The questions may be short but the answers need to delve deeper.


I’ll expand on my thoughts in time. But I think our mind lazily connects cool contours with the ground game when the opposite is often true. Peter touches on why that is the case. Yet it isn’t an absolute. In the middle part of his paragraph, Carl suggests that contour in the right place could make the ground game a better choice. Perhaps we could consider examples?

Mark_Fine

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2022, 07:15:40 PM »
Ally,
Our 10th hole at Lehigh has a very cool runaway green with a center fairway bunker about 80 yards in front.  When the fairway/green is firm and fast, about the only way to approach that green is to properly judge the carry over the bunker and run the ball on and hope to roll close to the hole location.  When the conditions are soft, the bunker is not in play and it is purely a distance to the hole shot.  The ball will hold despite the contour of the green running away from front to back.  I know what you are getting at but for good/most players it is mostly about conditions.  No reason to mess with the ground when you can fly the ball right to the hole and have it stop.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2022, 07:30:18 PM by Mark_Fine »

Garland Bayley

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2022, 07:58:42 PM »
I played much of the back nine of the new course with a drive and a putt from well off of the green, because a hack like me can get the putt in better position than going over everything in the air. Whereas, Pacific Dunes, with significantly more contour would find me playing the ball through the air.
"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

Mark_Fine

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2022, 08:17:01 PM »
Garland,
One of my business colleagues used to putt from 50 yards or more off some greens when we played links courses together in the U.K. He was excellent at it and would often knock it stone dead.  Meanwhile I used to try to hit high flop shots with the wind and ground taking the ball all over the place.  I learned quickly, on a firm windy course, get the ball on the ground ASAP.  But over here with soft conditions I had a distinct advantage although he was still darn good with his putter. 

Ira Fishman

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2022, 08:26:31 PM »
Ally,


I think the answer may depend upon why one plays the game. If scoring is important, then avoiding the unpredictability of fairway contours makes sense absent windy and/or dry conditions. If one just enjoys watching the ball roll along a well navigated but unpredictable surface, contours provide great fun and challenge. To offer some specific holes: 7 at Golspie, the old 5 (I believe it is now 6) at The Island Club, 18 at NB and Elie (which has several of them), 16 at PD, virtually every hole at Ballyneal plus ones at Kilspindie and Brora whose numbers do not come to mind. Yes, they have the element of playing pinball, but what is wrong with that?


Ira

JMEvensky

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2022, 08:35:19 PM »
Ally,


I think the answer may depend upon why one plays the game. If scoring is important, then avoiding the unpredictability of fairway contours makes sense absent windy and/or dry conditions. If one just enjoys watching the ball roll along a well navigated but unpredictable surface, contours provide great fun and challenge. To offer some specific holes: 7 at Golspie, the old 5 (I believe it is now 6) at The Island Club, 18 at NB and Elie (which has several of them), 16 at PD, virtually every hole at Ballyneal plus ones at Kilspindie and Brora whose numbers do not come to mind. Yes, they have the element of playing pinball, but what is wrong with that?


Ira




I think there's a lot of truth to this. For a lot of reasons, living in the US, playing through the air is the default strategy. The only reason to play along the ground is if it's your sole option--until you go someplace where it's fun to try.

PPallotta

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2022, 09:26:41 PM »
Ira, JM -- do you make a distinction between random contours and undulations and *random-looking* contours and undulations, ie those that the architect has either skillfully created or found-and-incorporated into the design with an eye towards encouraging the ground game?

In other words, do you view pinball-like bounces in the same way as you do the roll off a kick plate that might funnel the ball towards a hard to access pin (if the golfer has smartly used the ground game)?

An honest question, not a rhetorical one -- though for myself that is a very significant distinction.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2022, 09:30:14 PM by PPallotta »

ward peyronnin

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2022, 09:34:36 PM »
A blustery wind can create unpredictable forces on the ball similar to the vagaries of wild contouring usually associated with attempting to reach a green. Alternatively smoothe flowing contouring can be studied and acclimated to sufficient to hit shots with a degree of predictability. Discovering kickpoints and roll is endlessly fascinating and adds another layer to the game. So the ground game can be part of any shot on the golf course if conditions are right

I will always always remember the sight at Glasgow Gails of a three iron hit from 190 out lo enough to come to earth about two thirds of the way to the green which tumbled disappearing and reappearing the rest of the way to come to rest a foot form the hole. How damn exhilarating to conceive a shot like that and pull it off!
Even though I have carried between a 2 and 6 hndcp the last couple of decades I decided many years ago that I would never be able to hit pure aerial shots for a sustained enough period to truly satisfy and that, rather than strive for the perfect shot all the time, trying and succeeding part of the time was a much more likely path to satisfaction
"Golf is happiness. It's intoxication w/o the hangover; stimulation w/o the pills. It's price is high yet its rewards are richer. Some say its a boys pastime but it builds men. It cleanses the mind/rejuvenates the body. It is these things and many more for those of us who truly love it." M.Norman

Michael Moore

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2022, 10:09:21 PM »
Confirmed. I understood this on my first round of links golf. At a certain point of undulation and contour, there is a real risk of landing on a wrong slope and wandering very far off base.
Metaphor is social and shares the table with the objects it intertwines and the attitudes it reconciles. Opinion, like the Michelin inspector, dines alone. - Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First

JMEvensky

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2022, 10:49:42 PM »
Ira, JM -- do you make a distinction between random contours and undulations and *random-looking* contours and undulations, ie those that the architect has either skillfully created or found-and-incorporated into the design with an eye towards encouraging the ground game?

In other words, do you view pinball-like bounces in the same way as you do the roll off a kick plate that might funnel the ball towards a hard to access pin (if the golfer has smartly used the ground game)?

An honest question, not a rhetorical one -- though for myself that is a very significant distinction.




I took Ira's comments to mean that playing along the ground wasn't a "serious" way to go about shooting a low score. One only tried it for grins.


Where I mostly play, the soft turf doesn't really lend itself to consistent bounce/roll so you quickly learn the most effective approach is through the air. I CAN hit low pitches--it's just rarely the best way to get it close to the hole.


Let me play a golf course that's usually firm and I'd frequently use the contours along the ground--because it's fun AND it's an effective way to get the ball close to the hole.

Sean_A

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2022, 02:12:19 AM »
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”


Truth or Myth?

I think partially true if the grass is short enough. Because of fairways being too short, these days I will nearly always look to keep the ball on the ground and if slope and contour are available to access the hole while playing away from trouble I am going to strongly consider that option.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Bamburgh Castle, Erewash, Gullane 2, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2022, 02:54:25 AM »
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”


Truth or Myth?

I think partially true if the grass is short enough. Because of fairways being too short, these days I will nearly always look to keep the ball on the ground and if slope and contour are available to access the hole while playing away from trouble I am going to strongly consider that option.

Ciao


Yep this is a good point.


I use the ground more on links courses with an element of predictability as opposed to those with a lot of random undulation on approaches.


But where undulation really comes in to its own is where you can use it when out of position. Again though, there has to be an element of predictability to make it the percentage play.

Thomas Dai

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2022, 03:11:45 AM »
From a specific shot point of view it depends. Predictability from the playing perspective is key to me. Will a specific shot likely finish closer to the hole using the ground in some way or likely be closer playing through the air? A few influencing factors being the stance, firmness/dampness of the lie, landing spot and terrain between the ball and the hole, the type of grass, the height of grass, the trueness of sword, debris or sprinkler heads on the line, which direction is the grass growing and of course wind.
Also, maybe an aside, but from an overall perspective I would suggest that equipment was, or once was, a significant influencing factor, namely in relation to trajectory with the development over time of clubs and balls that allowed the ball to be hit consistently higher into the air and stop relatively quickly, not the case in earlier days.
And then there are developments in construction and maintenance practices.
atb
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 03:39:25 AM by Thomas Dai »

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2022, 03:29:55 AM »
Equipment is definitely a factor that has changed the balance of this equation over time. All other things considered equal, the percentage shot has shifted more towards the air when it is possible to stop shots easier.


Are there examples of courses (usually links admittedly) where violent contour reduces the amount of time you find yourself using the ground on approach shots?

Sean_A

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2022, 03:42:35 AM »
“Undulation and contour promotes the ground game.”


Truth or Myth?

I think partially true if the grass is short enough. Because of fairways being too short, these days I will nearly always look to keep the ball on the ground and if slope and contour are available to access the hole while playing away from trouble I am going to strongly consider that option.

Ciao


Yep this is a good point.


I use the ground more on links courses with an element of predictability as opposed to those with a lot of random undulation on approaches.


But where undulation really comes in to its own is where you can use it when out of position. Again though, there has to be an element of predictability to make it the percentage play.

Exactly. Most of the time when considering contour and slope I am in recovery mode. But this consideration can be important throughout a round.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Bamburgh Castle, Erewash, Gullane 2, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

John Chilver-Stainer

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2022, 04:40:04 AM »
Undulating fairways can sometimes offer a downhill lie, where a low trajectory shot is the better option.


Firm undulating greens can deflect a high trajectory shot more than a lower bump and run.


Undulations which inhibit the entrance to a green but promote a feed in from the flanks  will invite a rolling ball strategy.


Undulations aren't only about promoting or not promoting the ground game though. Undulations promote strategic thinking of where to best land the ball and more importantly where it come to rest.


Also visually, which is very much part of the golf experience, they provide a variety of emotions, where a flat fairway just falls flat.




Adam Lawrence

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2022, 05:36:22 AM »
I think very complex or severe contouring, where it is difficult to predict how the ball will react when it hits the ground, is likely to work towards persuading golfers to go aerial. I had this thought at St. Patrick's sixth hole which I loved, but where the amount of contour immediately in front of the green led me to conclude that trying to run a shot onto the green was a very risky play and it would be safer just to go over it.

Now of course, if conditions and the shot with which you are presented make it basically impossible to stop an aerial shot, you are between a rock and a hard place (I didn't think that was at all the case at St. Patrick's before Tom intervenes :) )
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 05:55:38 AM by Adam Lawrence »
Adam Lawrence

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Kyle Harris

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2022, 05:49:00 AM »
There is also no variety in the ground game if conditions are so firm and fast that every ball falls to the bottom of whatever contour exists.

Variety exists in two forms:

GETTING there
DEPARTING there

Make the "there" as interesting as needed.
http://kylewharris.com

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Mark_Fine

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2022, 05:49:23 AM »
Ally,
We all know dead flat ground whether it be greens or fairways would be boring but  everything in moderation including ground contours.  If every fairway was as rumpled as the 8th at Crystal Downs and every green as wild as the 16th at North Berwick, the course would be over the top.  We love those holes because they are unique not because they are common.  Would you say the undulations and contours on these holes promotes the ground game?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 06:13:38 AM by Mark_Fine »

Thomas Dai

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 1: Contour and Ground Game
« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2022, 06:48:13 AM »
A couple of other points -
a) Ground contour also effects a players stance and imo a bump along the ground, which can often travel a surprising distance, is usually an easier shot to play from a difficult sloping stance than a full swing high shot where loss of balance can come into the equation.
b) Conditions impact matters as well. For example, with dry conditions and short grass to a tight pin down wind a bump or even a putt into a bank shot might be a better choice than a higher flighted shot whereas a higher flighted shot might be the better option into the wind. Contour of the landing area being important too. And the next day, next hour even, the wind can be from a different direction. Then there's the effect of dew or drizzle or rain on the ground (and in the air).
c) Returning to equipment, some modern ball types want to go and go and aren't that keen on stopping. Others, when struck properly, will spin and stop.

atb

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