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Ally Mcintosh

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GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« on: May 26, 2022, 09:35:34 AM »
“Wide fairways are always better than…. less wide fairways”




Truth or Myth?

Erik J. Barzeski

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2022, 10:10:18 AM »
“Wide fairways are always better than…. less wide fairways”

Truth or Myth?
The word "always" makes it a no-brainer "no" answer.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 10:11:53 AM by Erik J. Barzeski »
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
Author, Lowest Score Wins, and Lifetime Student of the Game

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2022, 10:58:41 AM »
I've never understood why courses feel the need to be a "narrow fw course" or "wide fw course."  If variety is the goal, why not a mix of fw width from 30 to 60 yards, on appropriate (or not!) hole types?  It tends to balance the rewards for distance, accuracy and even finesse on tee shots.


Besides that, I think the Masters and almost any other tournament course has shown the wide fw give too much advantage to bombers, and any super will tell you it cost about twice as much to maintain fairways as it does roughs, so 50 acres of fw isn't practical even if desired at 90+% of USA golf courses, vs. 25 acres of FW and 25 Acres of rough.


So, no, both theoretically and practically.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

jeffwarne

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2022, 01:24:56 PM »
I've never understood why courses feel the need to be a "narrow fw course" or "wide fw course."  If variety is the goal, why not a mix of fw width from 30 to 60 yards, on appropriate (or not!) hole types?  It tends to balance the rewards for distance, accuracy and even finesse on tee shots.


Besides that, I think the Masters and almost any other tournament course has shown the wide fw give too much advantage to bombers, and any super will tell you it cost about twice as much to maintain fairways as it does roughs, so 50 acres of fw isn't practical even if desired at 90+% of USA golf courses, vs. 25 acres of FW and 25 Acres of rough.


So, no, both theoretically and practically.
+1 on the first paragraph,
but regarding paragraph two,Larry Mize, Zach Johnson,  Patrick Reed and a multitude other non bombers would like a word...
"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

PPallotta

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2022, 01:45:12 PM »
Ally, I think the value of width is based on the importance of angles. For me, the more pronounced the angle the better, as there is a greater margin for engagement and error both. But for those angles to be strategically impactful (and thrilling and fun) there has to be significant consequences for not playing them correctly, ie via hazardous features and/or challenging contours. Which is to say: I think width can indeed foster great golf, but on its own is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for it.



« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 01:48:10 PM by PPallotta »

Thomas Dai

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2022, 02:44:14 PM »
Many an aspect to this subject but one aspect within the amateur game that ought to be considered is one of Alister Mackenzies famous principles, namely:
“There should be a complete absence of the annoyance and irritation caused by the necessity of searching for lost balls.”
Golf balls are not usually lost or need to be looked for within the fairway. It’s in the rough etc where looking and losing usually takes place.
Atb
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 04:20:42 PM by Thomas Dai »

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2022, 05:07:31 PM »
Ally, I think the value of width is based on the importance of angles. For me, the more pronounced the angle the better, as there is a greater margin for engagement and error both. But for those angles to be strategically impactful (and thrilling and fun) there has to be significant consequences for not playing them correctly, ie via hazardous features and/or challenging contours. Which is to say: I think width can indeed foster great golf, but on its own is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for it.


Peter,


True, but I have sketched stuff out, and in reality, you can guard a side pin on narrower fw (in most cases) by only bending the green 5-10 degrees from the fw, and not 20-45 degrees.  Longer holes and approach shots need wider fairways to accomplish this, but then again, most architects would use wider fairways on longer holes in most cases.  There is really no design need (or it has decreasing cost and design value) to do most fairways 45-60 yards wide.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2022, 02:43:54 AM »
I should probably have taken out the word “Always”.


Generally I love width. It’s far more attractive to have larger areas of short grass (particularly when that encompasses ground movement) and in theory, it increases strategy through angles.


But on the flip side, there’s the cost…. and I always remember Niall C berating Castle Stuart for the lack of challenge in the drive. I’ve experienced that since (elsewhere): There’s a fine line with width which when crossed can reduce a little excitement from one of the most exciting elements of the game (driving).


I also know exactly where Jeff is coming from. It really doesn’t take much - in firm and fast conditions especially - to make one side of an approach preferable to another, even when the fairway is 30-35 yards wide rather than 55-60 yards. I will say though that a 30 yard wide fairway with lost ball gunk each side is no fun. The rough has to be playable…


Finally, a “for width” argument for me is the scale. We’ve taken a very small feeling 90 acre site at Strandhill and made the course feel “larger”. A lot of this is because we widened the fairways where we could, hiding transitions in the process.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2022, 02:47:22 AM by Ally Mcintosh »

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2022, 01:41:02 PM »
Ally,  I agree that statistically, fw width of only 30 yards comes pretty close to the width where even Tour players are happy to be on the fw.  I think 35 is marginal, but doable, and 40 yards wide in most cases allows a simple left or right decision, depending on design.


Still, I have asked numerous pros and top ams how they decide which side of the fw to favor, and the most typical answer is, "What's wrong with the middle?" ;)
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Kyle Harris

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2022, 02:16:09 PM »
Not all width is created equal and perhaps the first step is to stop defining it in terms of what is/are “roughs” and what is/are “fairways.”


Wide corridors are almost criminally underutilized in golf. Shared corridors, too.
http://kylewharris.com

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

Jim Sherma

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2022, 02:28:18 PM »
Agree with Kyle on this. Wide fairways are very overrated. Especially in more modern courses where they go from fairway to lost ball gunch with usually a single mower width of higher grass as the entire transition.


The architectural/maintenance key should be avoiding lost balls from wayward shots. I would much rather have wide corridors (defined here as out of play to out of play as opposed to fairway width - this could be tree line to tree line in Pennsylvania or drainage canal to ob stakes in Florida, etc.).


I believe that Pete Dye later in his career advocated for narrower fairways and wider first cuts of rough. This allowed you to grow it up for tournaments but leave more forgiving lies for higher handicaps the rest of the year.

Dan_Callahan

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2022, 03:28:31 PM »
I don't mind narrow fairways. I do mind dense forests just outside of the fairway. I look at pictures of Sahalee Country Club and I start to sweat.

Sean_A

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2022, 04:09:28 PM »
Agree with Kyle on this. Wide fairways are very overrated. Especially in more modern courses where they go from fairway to lost ball gunch with usually a single mower width of higher grass as the entire transition.


The architectural/maintenance key should be avoiding lost balls from wayward shots. I would much rather have wide corridors (defined here as out of play to out of play as opposed to fairway width - this could be tree line to tree line in Pennsylvania or drainage canal to ob stakes in Florida, etc.).


I believe that Pete Dye later in his career advocated for narrower fairways and wider first cuts of rough. This allowed you to grow it up for tournaments but leave more forgiving lies for higher handicaps the rest of the year.

It depends on the difference of cut height between fairway and rough. Not much in golf looks more daft than a narrow fairway with obvious rough near or equal to the fairway width, especially if trees separate corridors. I have no issue with much longer fairway height going all the way, or very near to the natural corridor end point. But I realize most golfers like short fairways. I would rather the concentration be placed on firm, dry turf rather than short grass.

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

Tim Martin

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2022, 04:35:20 PM »

 I would rather the concentration be placed on firm, dry turf rather than short grass.
I think Sean gets it right.






Thomas Dai

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2022, 04:28:48 AM »
Still, I have asked numerous pros and top ams how they decide which side of the fw to favor, and the most typical answer is, "What's wrong with the middle?" ;)
Kind of says a lot about modern era golf especially the decline in the need to play the angles.
Once upon a time, as Tom Simpson said, “The middle of the fairway should never be the ideal line to the hole - except maybe once a round for the sake of variety”.

And if the location is usually windy there’d best be width or there’ll be a fair bit of slow play inducing looking for errant golf balls going on the more so if the terrain is firm or slopes severe (or both combined).
atb
« Last Edit: May 28, 2022, 12:55:21 PM by Thomas Dai »

BCrosby

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2022, 08:16:13 AM »
Ally, I think the value of width is based on the importance of angles. For me, the more pronounced the angle the better, as there is a greater margin for engagement and error both. But for those angles to be strategically impactful (and thrilling and fun) there has to be significant consequences for not playing them correctly, ie via hazardous features and/or challenging contours. Which is to say: I think width can indeed foster great golf, but on its own is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for it.

/quote]


Well said. Width is not an independent variable. Its architectural value is dependent on other features (usually the green and surrounds).


Bob

Niall C

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2022, 12:39:12 PM »

Generally I love width. It’s far more attractive to have larger areas of short grass (particularly when that encompasses ground movement) and in theory, it increases strategy through angles.


But on the flip side, there’s the cost…. and I always remember Niall C berating Castle Stuart for the lack of challenge in the drive. I’ve experienced that since (elsewhere): There’s a fine line with width which when crossed can reduce a little excitement from one of the most exciting elements of the game (driving).




Finally, a “for width” argument for me is the scale. We’ve taken a very small feeling 90 acre site at Strandhill and made the course feel “larger”. A lot of this is because we widened the fairways where we could, hiding transitions in the process.


I prefer to think that I provided a "critique" of Castle Stuart rather than simply berating it but in essence you are correct regarding my thoughts on a lot of the drives. In fairness what I've also said about CS is that a modest amount of judicious placement of hazards would work wonders. I also have said on here that if Mark Parsinen built another course I'd be one of the first in line to play it. Sadly that will never now happen.


That said there are other ways of making a course appear wide while not using loads of real estate, and at the same time making it more interesting for the golfer. Some have already mentioned rough. A decent fringe of semi-rough can act as a buffer between the fairway and the gunge. You have the challenge of hitting the short stuff without the lost ball penalty if you miss. On fast running links it can be a god-send in preventing a ball going into gorse or such like, and truth be told can often provide a better lie than the fairway.


The other aspect that I was reminded of just yesterday when I had the pleasure of once again playing Silloth, is the benefit of off-set tees. You often get them on old courses with out and back routings where this isn't room to lengthen a hole by going straight back.


As a consequence the tee is often off-set from the line of the fairway. It doesn't need to be much to widen the scope of play for the golfer. The player then has to determine his carry distance to get onto the fairway and also how far the ball will run so he doesn't play through it.


Niall

Niall C

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2022, 01:03:16 PM »

True, but I have sketched stuff out, and in reality, you can guard a side pin on narrower fw (in most cases) by only bending the green 5-10 degrees from the fw, and not 20-45 degrees.  Longer holes and approach shots need wider fairways to accomplish this, but then again, most architects would use wider fairways on longer holes in most cases.  There is really no design need (or it has decreasing cost and design value) to do most fairways 45-60 yards wide.


Jeff


Very interesting. I was going to start a thread a while ago but got sidetracked, and it was on the use of angles in modern design as opposed to back in the day. My perception, without putting any numbers on it, is that in modern design angles appear to be sharper (or greater) and I put that down to golf being more of an aerial game.


For instance, if running a ball on to a green (with side hazards) from a distance then the green only needs to sit at a slight angle to provide the benefit of placing the previous shot, as you outline, whereas if it is angled at almost 90 degrees to the line of play (admittedly an extreme example) then really the airborne route is the only option.


All of which amplifies the difference between the hacker and the scratch golfer. I recall Monty saying that tour players are far more likely to err by going off line rather than hitting the distance they intend ie. an error in execution rather than calculation.


My assumption here is that the scratch player is much more consistent with their carry distances even if they aren't up to professional standards.


Niall

Tom_Doak

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2022, 09:12:19 AM »

The other aspect that I was reminded of just yesterday when I had the pleasure of once again playing Silloth, is the benefit of off-set tees. You often get them on old courses with out and back routings where this isn't room to lengthen a hole by going straight back.


As a consequence the tee is often off-set from the line of the fairway. It doesn't need to be much to widen the scope of play for the golfer. The player then has to determine his carry distance to get onto the fairway and also how far the ball will run so he doesn't play through it.


One of the things Brooks Koepka suggested for Memorial Park was having alternate tees to provide different angles of play and change the ideal shape of the tee shot (or at least the aiming point) from one day to the next.


Unfortunately that was hard to do in Houston because the park was full of trees, but I’ve been applying his idea elsewhere.

Sean_A

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2022, 11:29:38 AM »

The other aspect that I was reminded of just yesterday when I had the pleasure of once again playing Silloth, is the benefit of off-set tees. You often get them on old courses with out and back routings where this isn't room to lengthen a hole by going straight back.


As a consequence the tee is often off-set from the line of the fairway. It doesn't need to be much to widen the scope of play for the golfer. The player then has to determine his carry distance to get onto the fairway and also how far the ball will run so he doesn't play through it.


One of the things Brooks Koepka suggested for Memorial Park was having alternate tees to provide different angles of play and change the ideal shape of the tee shot (or at least the aiming point) from one day to the next.


Unfortunately that was hard to do in Houston because the park was full of trees, but I’ve been applying his idea elsewhere.


I have a lot of time for radically different tees based on width rather than length. I don't see them very often though. Variety of tee width is one of the best things about Burnham & Berrow...an often overlooked element for non members.


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

Ira Fishman

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2022, 12:10:32 PM »
I have seen some good examples of off set tees even if not done intentionally for width purposes in forward tees. The holes often are more interesting because a dog leg effect is created. On the other hand, I have seen the opposite: a dog leg from the further back tees becomes a straight hole from the forward tees.


Ira

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2022, 12:34:23 PM »
I agree with Niall that off-set tees can “widen the scope of play” (to use his words). But in other ways they reduce width, given that a ball runs through a fairway slightly easier.


Another nuance where one answer does not fit all.







Sean_A

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 6: Width
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2022, 12:58:33 PM »
I agree with Niall that off-set tees can “widen the scope of play” (to use his words). But in other ways they reduce width, given that a ball runs through a fairway slightly easier.


Another nuance where one answer does not fit all.

Yep, for longer players they may need to shape the drive or cut a corner. To me this is the point of wide out tees.

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

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