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Grant Saunders

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Slaying the Sacred Cow
« on: December 28, 2022, 01:11:18 AM »
Many clubs have a feature or hole that often is assigned the tagged "Iconic"


This feature can become interwoven in the fabric of a club or course and gain a life of its own.


Our club had such a feature: The 18th hole is a par 3 of approximately 145m in length. Played to an uphill green, the fronting portion of the hole has always been guarded by a large bunker. Set at an offset to the player, the penalty for missing the green by 3 feet of 30 feet was the same. The base of the bunker sat 3.5 to 4 metres below the putting surface. To the right of and long of the green, 4 more bunkers surrounded the surface.





As part of a redevelopment of all the course bunkers, this hole was afforded a lot of consideration. While certainly entrenched as a longstanding part of the course, consideration had to be given to the fact many golfers were simply unable to complete their round of golf if they hit into the front bunker


A bold decision was made to heavily reconfigure the front bunker with 2 smaller ones replacing it with the bases staggered at different levels. The lower one stayed at the original depth but now is further from the surface and requires a shot further offline to find it. The second one, closer to the green surface is no less than half the original depth and thus much more manageable for the player only slightly missing the surface. Also, the right hand quarter was filled completely to afford a run up option to access the short and right area of the hole for players.





The new configuration is yet to be fully played so time will tell on the true impact. Initial feedback is positive from many players yet there is understandably a group who feel it should have been retained in its previous form. Incidentally, these tend to be lower handicappers.


What are some examples of "Slaying the Sacred Cow"?

Brad Tufts

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2022, 08:48:49 AM »
We recently went through this at my home club, as our 15th green was severely-sloped (back to front) to the point of little to no pin location options.  We had a handful of longtime members that wanted to keep it, despite having to maintain it differently than the other 17 greens when it came to tournament time, as the green could no longer handle 10+ greenspeeds.


We had been talking about this issue for 30-40 years, and we finally got it done, on the heels of a $1.2M bunker reno/resto with Ron Forse.  There is something to be said about increased green speeds causing these issues, but the bottom line was that the green was just not that interesting having one hard slope from back to front, and dropoffs and bunkers on three sides make recoveries to a difficult green that much more impossible to manage.


The low handicappers were probably most in favor, which fits the stereotype of this group wanting changes in the name of fairness, but if the green was near unplayable for those of us hitting a wedge approach, the hole is infinitely harder for those hitting long irons or woods into the green (this is a 380-yard slightly uphill par four).
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

Tim Martin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2022, 09:24:34 AM »
We recently went through this at my home club, as our 15th green was severely-sloped (back to front) to the point of little to no pin location options.  We had a handful of longtime members that wanted to keep it, despite having to maintain it differently than the other 17 greens when it came to tournament time, as the green could no longer handle 10+ greenspeeds.


We had been talking about this issue for 30-40 years, and we finally got it done, on the heels of a $1.2M bunker reno/resto with Ron Forse.  There is something to be said about increased green speeds causing these issues, but the bottom line was that the green was just not that interesting having one hard slope from back to front, and dropoffs and bunkers on three sides make recoveries to a difficult green that much more impossible to manage.


The low handicappers were probably most in favor, which fits the stereotype of this group wanting changes in the name of fairness, but if the green was near unplayable for those of us hitting a wedge approach, the hole is infinitely harder for those hitting long irons or woods into the green (this is a 380-yard slightly uphill par four).


I got a chance to play Tedesco this past Fall and really enjoyed the golf course. I was able to play prior to the work to 15 green and agree with Brad that it needed to be redone. We hit a bunch of putts from different spots and it was tough to keep many on the green without rolling down the slope and off. Finally you don’t hear enough about this terrific golf course because of the heavyweights(Salem, Essex County and Myopia) on the North Shore.

Tim Gavrich

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2022, 09:30:48 AM »
Many clubs have a feature or hole that often is assigned the tagged "Iconic"


This feature can become interwoven in the fabric of a club or course and gain a life of its own.


Our club had such a feature: The 18th hole is a par 3 of approximately 145m in length. Played to an uphill green, the fronting portion of the hole has always been guarded by a large bunker. Set at an offset to the player, the penalty for missing the green by 3 feet of 30 feet was the same. The base of the bunker sat 3.5 to 4 metres below the putting surface. To the right of and long of the green, 4 more bunkers surrounded the surface.





As part of a redevelopment of all the course bunkers, this hole was afforded a lot of consideration. While certainly entrenched as a longstanding part of the course, consideration had to be given to the fact many golfers were simply unable to complete their round of golf if they hit into the front bunker


A bold decision was made to heavily reconfigure the front bunker with 2 smaller ones replacing it with the bases staggered at different levels. The lower one stayed at the original depth but now is further from the surface and requires a shot further offline to find it. The second one, closer to the green surface is no less than half the original depth and thus much more manageable for the player only slightly missing the surface. Also, the right hand quarter was filled completely to afford a run up option to access the short and right area of the hole for players.





The new configuration is yet to be fully played so time will tell on the true impact. Initial feedback is positive from many players yet there is understandably a group who feel it should have been retained in its previous form. Incidentally, these tend to be lower handicappers.


What are some examples of "Slaying the Sacred Cow"?


IMO, the scale seems a little out-of-whack with the new configuration. The bunker in the original photo may not have been in the current favored style of lacy edges, but it seemed like a fitting hazard to try to conquer on one's last full swing of the day (especially from a tee box). The bunker on the right especially looks like it's just sort of floating on top of the hill. Maybe a third or fourth smaller bunker in the vicinity would have given it more of a sense of harmony. Hopefully it fits better when seen in person.
Senior Writer, GolfPass

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2022, 09:57:51 AM »
The importance of options and the sometimes heard “How would my Grannie play it?” comment comes to mind.
atb

Tommy Williamsen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2022, 09:58:08 AM »
Many clubs have a feature or hole that often is assigned the tagged "Iconic"


This feature can become interwoven in the fabric of a club or course and gain a life of its own.


Our club had such a feature: The 18th hole is a par 3 of approximately 145m in length. Played to an uphill green, the fronting portion of the hole has always been guarded by a large bunker. Set at an offset to the player, the penalty for missing the green by 3 feet of 30 feet was the same. The base of the bunker sat 3.5 to 4 metres below the putting surface. To the right of and long of the green, 4 more bunkers surrounded the surface.





As part of a redevelopment of all the course bunkers, this hole was afforded a lot of consideration. While certainly entrenched as a longstanding part of the course, consideration had to be given to the fact many golfers were simply unable to complete their round of golf if they hit into the front bunker


A bold decision was made to heavily reconfigure the front bunker with 2 smaller ones replacing it with the bases staggered at different levels. The lower one stayed at the original depth but now is further from the surface and requires a shot further offline to find it. The second one, closer to the green surface is no less than half the original depth and thus much more manageable for the player only slightly missing the surface. Also, the right hand quarter was filled completely to afford a run up option to access the short and right area of the hole for players.





The new configuration is yet to be fully played so time will tell on the true impact. Initial feedback is positive from many players yet there is understandably a group who feel it should have been retained in its previous form. Incidentally, these tend to be lower handicappers.


What are some examples of "Slaying the Sacred Cow"?


IMO, the scale seems a little out-of-whack with the new configuration. The bunker in the original photo may not have been in the current favored style of lacy edges, but it seemed like a fitting hazard to try to conquer on one's last full swing of the day (especially from a tee box). The bunker on the right especially looks like it's just sort of floating on top of the hill. Maybe a third or fourth smaller bunker in the vicinity would have given it more of a sense of harmony. Hopefully it fits better when seen in person.


I like the new hole better. The old bunker was too large and lacked any aesthetic style. It appears that much of the green was not visible from the tee. I don't mind blind shots, but on the last hole, when a match is on the line, I'd like to see how far from the pin my opponent is. I can see how folks would like the changes made.
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

Matt MacIver

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2022, 10:09:36 AM »
We have a similar bunker on our par 3, #2 hole. The back left portion of the bunker is the furthest from the green, some 25 yards, and is a really tough shot. Of course the low HC-ers think its cool but they’re never that far off-line so only the high HC face the shot and mostly pick up after a few swings.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2022, 10:52:36 AM »
In my years of consulting work the Sacred Cow tended to be either a pond, or a tree.


I did that work for more than 20 years before I was allowed to take a pond away from a course . . . now I've got one at Garden City and two at Bel Air under my belt.  The complaint is always that we will be making the course easier, and that may be so, but the pond was inappropriate to the design and never should have been introduced.


With trees, it's even more emotional, and it's harder to determine the point at which the tree affects the play of the hole too much, because it just keeps getting worse slowly over the years.  Maybe the worst one I've encountered was a smallish cherry tree that was on the hillside to the right of the 17th fairway at Crystal Downs . . . it made the hole crazy narrow, but many members believed it had always been there and should stay.

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2022, 10:58:09 AM »
Based solely on the photos/description here, it doesn't look like an improvement to me. That said, the context of the rest of the course would impact whether it is an improvement or not. If there are a lot of holes with large fronting bunkers like that throughout the round, then maybe smaller, easier bunkers on the 18th is an improvement. But there's nothing inherently wrong with having a difficult 18th hole with a large, deep bunker.
Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee of this. - Marcus Aurelius

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2022, 11:11:22 AM »
I don't have strong feelings either way because there are positives and negatives.

1. I much prefer the large old front bunker. The two new ones look weird hanging halfway up the slope....definitely looks wrong to my eye. Somehow, the bottom of the bunkers needs to be more at level ground. The bunker and ground level have to be connected. Right now the one bunker looks like a mistake.

2. I like the removal of the two far left rear bunkers. Was the green enlarged? Its usually a good idea to provide a bit more space for forced carries. Either way, there is more bail area is to the rear of the green. Hopefully it is a nasty downhill chip back to the green.

At the end of the day, if the members want change and like it, who cares what others think?
 
Ciao
« Last Edit: January 06, 2023, 05:01:12 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood & Ladybank

Kalen Braley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2022, 11:54:47 AM »
My question is, does the 18th now look incongruent with the bunkering on the rest of the course, or did they change them all?

P.S.  There's a local course here in Utah that re-did its 9th hole several year ago, and its beyond hideous stylistically as it looks like something from Florida, not the Intermountain West like the rest of the course.

Jason Thurman

  • Karma: +1/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2022, 12:52:58 PM »
My former club, Clovernook, lost its "signature tree" a few years ago. Known as the Tay Baker Tree, it guarded the second shot on the par 5 17th hole, further reinforcing the risk in a shot that already needed to clear a pond. I don't think you could ever have sold the membership on its removal, although as I look at it now nearly a decade after I last navigated it, it's surely one of the worst anti-strategic features I've ever seen.


As our superintendent used to note - it was an oak growing right up against a pond, and wasn't gonna live forever. The problem eventually solved itself. Below shows the old view of the second shot - the hole doglegged left as it crossed the pond, so shorter drives were more impacted by the tree than longer drives. The big hitters could take the tree totally out of play and have a 210ish yard approach for their second shot, while a weaker player had no option to generate a clear look at the fairway across the pond. They generally would face the option of laying up to that same 210ish yard position or trying to play the "trees are 90% air" game.


"There will always be haters. That’s just the way it is. Hating dudes marry hating women and have hating ass kids." - Evan Turner

Some of y'all have never been called out in bold green font and it really shows.

Wade Whitehead

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2022, 02:37:43 PM »
A bad storm cost several trees at Bandon this week.

Sadly, the Ghost Tree is leaning pretty significantly and will, I'm guessing, have to come down.  Mr. Keiser has said previously that he won't plan to replace it when he loses it.  It's leaning towards the walking path over the dune, so I can't imagine the liability of leaving it until it falls would be smart decision.

It's "slaying" will affect strategy on the third hole at Old Mac, but it's the most iconic tree at the resort even without that.

WW

(I can never get photos to post properly so I'll just paste a link): https://ibb.co/hYyrdK1
« Last Edit: December 28, 2022, 02:39:18 PM by Wade Whitehead »

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2022, 02:45:50 PM »
I would bring my own drum and bang it in shirtless ecstasy to watch that tree burn.

Sven Nilsen

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2022, 03:13:24 PM »
A bad storm cost several trees at Bandon this week.

Sadly, the Ghost Tree is leaning pretty significantly and will, I'm guessing, have to come down.  Mr. Keiser has said previously that he won't plan to replace it when he loses it.  It's leaning towards the walking path over the dune, so I can't imagine the liability of leaving it until it falls would be smart decision.

It's "slaying" will affect strategy on the third hole at Old Mac, but it's the most iconic tree at the resort even without that.

WW

(I can never get photos to post properly so I'll just paste a link): https://ibb.co/hYyrdK1


The Ghost Tree started leaning away from the hill in a noticeable fashion about a year ago.  The resort has known it was going over since then. The storm two nights ago was pretty fierce, but this has been in the offing for a while now.


Unlike JK, I'll be sad to see it go.  It had iconic status, much like the original DA bunker on 15 at BD. 


Sven
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2022, 03:22:30 PM »
I think losing the ghost tree is tragic. It deserves an epic passing.


I don’t understand why a combination of a poured porous concrete foundation and guy-wires couldn’t save it. Bring in a structural dendrologist from Italy.

Sven Nilsen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2022, 03:25:52 PM »
I think losing the ghost tree is tragic. It deserves an epic passing.


I don’t understand why a combination of a poured porous concrete foundation and guy-wires couldn’t save it. Bring in a structural dendrologist from Italy.


Something they should have looked into a year ago when they knew it was going.  It's not like they thought we wouldn't get any wind between now and then.
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

Tim_Weiman

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2022, 04:14:23 PM »
I prefer the new. Something seems not quite right with the original, as if the architect was trying too hard.
Tim Weiman

Erik J. Barzeski

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2022, 04:39:48 PM »
consideration had to be given to the fact many golfers were simply unable to complete their round of golf if they hit into the front bunker
I bumped on that part. Why? Because they couldn't make a par? Because they could literally never escape the bunker? What if they played out backward, or sideways, or knowing they can't get out, took greater pains to avoid hitting it in the bunker to begin with? And what difference (if any) does it make if this is the 18th hole versus the 12th, or the 7th?
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
Author, Lowest Score Wins, and Lifetime Student of the Game

Grant Saunders

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2022, 07:00:05 PM »
consideration had to be given to the fact many golfers were simply unable to complete their round of golf if they hit into the front bunker
I bumped on that part. Why? Because they couldn't make a par? Because they could literally never escape the bunker? What if they played out backward, or sideways, or knowing they can't get out, took greater pains to avoid hitting it in the bunker to begin with? And what difference (if any) does it make if this is the 18th hole versus the 12th, or the 7th?


Playing out backwards meant the golfer would then have to pitch over the bunker again. The fear of going back in usually resulted in hitting it fat, and in the bunker, or over the green into another bunker.


Being the 18th, people were leaving the course without being able to complete their round. Many of the women who went in it would take 2 goes at getting out and simply pick up. For a large number of players,there was no alternative route and for all intents and purposes, the green may as well have been surrounded by a lake.


I have no issue with an 18th hole being difficult but to have a configuration that had the potential to reduce a persons round to17 holes wasnt a positive scenario for a club members course


The hole would probably have been best served by having no bunkers at the front but that was considered too radical for members to approve at this time

Erik J. Barzeski

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2022, 08:42:29 PM »
Playing out backwards meant the golfer would then have to pitch over the bunker again. The fear of going back in usually resulted in hitting it fat, and in the bunker, or over the green into another bunker.
So that's just bad golf. It's a hazard. Avoid it, play from it… play better. Something.

Being the 18th, people were leaving the course without being able to complete their round.
How is that different than if it was the 7th? If you're saying they can't "complete their round" because they can't finish the hole, then wouldn't it be worse if they could only play six holes and then get to this "unfinishable hole" as the 7th? Or what if they go off the tenth… can they "complete their round" then? Or do they just play eight holes, pick up on their ninth, and go in for tea?

I have no issue with an 18th hole being difficult but to have a configuration that had the potential to reduce a persons round to17 holes wasnt a positive scenario for a club members course.
Again, if it was the 7th, did people only pick up because it was the last hole? And they can take a net double bogey and pick up, and still have "completed their round." No?

The hole would probably have been best served by having no bunkers at the front but that was considered too radical for members to approve at this time
I am among those who like the original better, with the same understanding that we've seen none of the other holes. The new bunkers look out of place, or awkward.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2022, 09:02:35 PM by Erik J. Barzeski »
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
Author, Lowest Score Wins, and Lifetime Student of the Game

Mike Schott

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Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2022, 09:24:40 PM »
consideration had to be given to the fact many golfers were simply unable to complete their round of golf if they hit into the front bunker
I bumped on that part. Why? Because they couldn't make a par? Because they could literally never escape the bunker? What if they played out backward, or sideways, or knowing they can't get out, took greater pains to avoid hitting it in the bunker to begin with? And what difference (if any) does it make if this is the 18th hole versus the 12th, or the 7th?


The original bunker to me looks like a bad hazard. Players are tired at the end of a round and it's a huge hazard with no bail out option. For higher handicap players it makes for a very hard hole. An uphill par 3 with that bunker. I suppose you could lay up but that's a bad option and leaves a pressure filled second shot.

Erik J. Barzeski

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2022, 10:04:31 PM »
The original bunker to me looks like a bad hazard. Players are tired at the end of a round and it's a huge hazard with no bail out option. For higher handicap players it makes for a very hard hole. An uphill par 3 with that bunker. I suppose you could lay up but that's a bad option and leaves a pressure filled second shot.
The hole is 145 meters in length (under 160 yards). That may even be the back tee yardage? It looks like you can bail slightly right or long left. It's not like it's an island green here.
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
Author, Lowest Score Wins, and Lifetime Student of the Game

Kevin Pallier

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2022, 11:18:18 PM »
Grant


I prefer the new look though I think the bunker on the left is way too low. Are not sure why they didn't keep them both in line with the old height?  It looks like there could be some tricky recovery shots?

Matthew Rose

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Slaying the Sacred Cow
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2022, 04:33:00 AM »
Would there have been room to put a forward tee to the right, on a different angle?
American-Australian. Trackman Course Guy. Fatalistic sports fan. Drummer. Bass player. Father. Cat lover.

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