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Rick Sides

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What should all great courses have ?
« on: March 28, 2023, 08:05:42 PM »
Sunday I got to play my 200th course and I know thatís not a lot compared to others on the site but it got me thinking . Then I read about Mike Trout building a course and thought what are a few basic design features I think most really good courses should have .
1. A short par 3 ( 120 yards)
2. A long par 3 ( over 200 yards )
3. A drivable par 4
4. A very long par 4
5. A short par 5
6. A long par 5
7. A hole with alternate fairway
8. At least 1 green that makes you scratch your head
Any other ideas ??

Sean_A

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2023, 02:38:20 AM »
Sunday I got to play my 200th course and I know thatís not a lot compared to others on the site but it got me thinking . Then I read about Mike Trout building a course and thought what are a few basic design features I think most really good courses should have .
1. A short par 3 ( 120 yards)
2. A long par 3 ( over 200 yards )
3. A drivable par 4
4. A very long par 4
5. A short par 5
6. A long par 5
7. A hole with alternate fairway
8. At least 1 green that makes you scratch your head
Any other ideas ??

I couldn't really say the length of holes determines if a course is really good. For me there are  broader principles at play. I can say length of holes usually makes a big difference to me in terms of really liking a course.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Niall C

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2023, 03:58:20 AM »
Rick


I've got lots of ideas about what I like and what I don't like but the thing about your thread heading that I don't like is the word "should". If I recall MacKenzie later wished he'd not published his 13 principles because people tended to think they were essential. Having absolutes also leads to fairly generic design and I prefer a bit of variety.


That "minor" gripe aside, I also like both short and long par 3's but only if they are good !


Niall

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2023, 04:29:22 AM »
Sunday I got to play my 200th course and I know thatís not a lot compared to others on the site but it got me thinking . Then I read about Mike Trout building a course and thought what are a few basic design features I think most really good courses should have .
1. A short par 3 ( 120 yards)
2. A long par 3 ( over 200 yards )
3. A drivable par 4
4. A very long par 4
5. A short par 5
6. A long par 5
7. A hole with alternate fairway
8. At least 1 green that makes you scratch your head
Any other ideas ??
Can't agree with these are musts.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Tim Leahy

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2023, 06:31:53 AM »
Burgerdogs like the Olympic Club in SF. 8)
I love golf, the fightin irish, and beautiful women depending on the season and availability.

John Mayhugh

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2023, 08:06:10 AM »
Rick,
I think the checklist approach is more likely to predict mediocre design.



Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2023, 08:26:44 AM »
Rick,
I think the checklist approach is more likely to predict mediocre design.


Thatís why I shudder at the Raynor templates being lionized.

Tim Martin

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2023, 08:43:44 AM »
Rick,
I think the checklist approach is more likely to predict mediocre design.


Thatís why I shudder at the Raynor templates being lionized.


Tom-We have had this discussion many times but I wonder how courses like Yale and Fishers Island get such high marks in the Confidential Guide while eschewing the concept?

mike_malone

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2023, 11:05:41 AM »
Variety of challenges
Fun
Sense of unique place
No bad holes
Great greens
Good walk





AKA Mayday

Jeff_Brauer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2023, 11:22:09 AM »
Sunday I got to play my 200th course and I know thatís not a lot compared to others on the site but it got me thinking . Then I read about Mike Trout building a course and thought what are a few basic design features I think most really good courses should have .
1. A short par 3 ( 120 yards)
2. A long par 3 ( over 200 yards )
3. A drivable par 4
4. A very long par 4
5. A short par 5
6. A long par 5
7. A hole with alternate fairway
8. At least 1 green that makes you scratch your head
Any other ideas ??


Not a terrible list.  Not far from my "ideal" collection of holes, with the caveat "when the site allows it."  I would add a tiny green and a big green, because I believe a design can and maybe should be eclectic.


Architects from CBM on down have mused (them on long train trips, modern guy on long plane trips" about what their best designs sould include, if given the right site for them. There is nothing wrong with that.  I mean pilots use checklists to make sure they don't forget anything important before take off, and they shouldn't be so "cryt down upon" in golf design.


Besides, the "lets go by feel" method of design also ignores the human tendency to fall into habits, some bad, which the checklist might help.  The habits are best expressed in the old lines about how you prepare in the mornings, and most of us get into an unrelenting pattern of "sh*t, shower, shave" (or just the reverse, but you get the idea.  In golf design, I always found myself and my associates of repeating favorite ideas, like a target bunker in the outside of a DL for mostly looks.  Yes, looks great, but if you want variety, you have to have some idea of how to replace it, and pre-thinking in those terms doesn't hurt.


Many here can't see that a creative personality can work its way out of something (pre-defined goals) just as easily as working their way out of supposed "nothing."  Raynor and others have taken pre-disposed ideas, and it is really a matter of finding the right places (in any individual design) while some here seem to think that an architect will get so stuck on an idea they will force it, rather than fit it to an appropriate piece of land.


In fact, the essence of creativity is to keep running through options in your head, rather than take a straight line approach


I will say that any list will change with experience.  For example, I once just missed a GD "Best New" award because my public course had all par 3 holes in the 130-170 yards, and the raters thought there would ideally be more variety.  For several years, I targeted par 3 lengths (when the land allowed, par 3's are always the easiest connector holes) of splits like between 130 to 260.  Then it dawned on me that the average players who play the course prefer easier and reachable par 3 holes (I always knew average golfers hated 210+ par 3 holes).  If I was still working, I think I would go back to all mid length holes.  So, who do I follow?  The golfers who actually pay the bills, or America's golf raters/nerds/fans who think a bit differently than joe six pack?


So, maybe the biggest flaw in the proposed checklist is that it ought to start with what that course is trying to do, i.e., goals, etc.  Once those are established (i.e., fun to play every day for most courses, to draw $$$) then the design checklist might be considered.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2023, 11:36:55 AM »

Tom-We have had this discussion many times but I wonder how courses like Yale and Fishers Island get such high marks in the Confidential Guide while eschewing the concept?


Both of those are great pieces of property and great settings, and I believe they would have been great courses if Ross or Tillinghast or Flynn built them, too.


Chicago Golf Club is the one course that makes it hard to argue against the templates, because that is not a special piece of ground.  But, you could say the same for Oakmont or Winged Foot, and itís not like all of Raynorís courses turned out that well - I presume thatís because he put a lot more time and effort into the details at Chicago.

Charlie Goerges

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2023, 11:38:07 AM »
So, maybe the biggest flaw in the proposed checklist is that it ought to start with what that course is trying to do, i.e., goals, etc.  Once those are established (i.e., fun to play every day for most courses, to draw $$$) then the design checklist might be considered.




From a design point of view I wonder about the utility of a checklist because isn't the client going to be providing you with a checklist (real or implied) as well? Then you're stacking your checklist on top of theirs and you might be having some contradictory or incompatible items. I totally get checklists for non-design tasks, but I just wonder.
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

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2023, 11:43:59 AM »

Tom-We have had this discussion many times but I wonder how courses like Yale and Fishers Island get such high marks in the Confidential Guide while eschewing the concept?


Both of those are great pieces of property and great settings, and I believe they would have been great courses if Ross or Tillinghast or Flynn built them, too.


Chicago Golf Club is the one course that makes it hard to argue against the templates, because that is not a special piece of ground.  But, you could say the same for Oakmont or Winged Foot, and itís not like all of Raynorís courses turned out that well - I presume thatís because he put a lot more time and effort into the details at Chicago.


Fishers almost routed itself, given the site Raynor had. With all the holes along the water, it would have been a crime not to have built such a good course.
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

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2023, 12:51:44 PM »
Iím not that fussed with the specific make-up of 18-holes, that can surely be allowed to vary, maybe even vary quite significantly, but drainage, natural site drainage would be where my eyes would be focussing.
Atb

John Kavanaugh

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2023, 12:55:24 PM »
Seven sets of tees allows everyone to play the course they desire.

Kalen Braley

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2023, 01:17:00 PM »
Just to play devils advocate..

I did a quick assessment of the top 10 courses I've played, all of which have been talked about in length on this board and I currently rate as DS 8s, 9s, and 1-10, and they checked all of the boxes except #7 - Alternate Fairway, (which a handful did).

Perhaps it shouldn't be a checklist, but it seems to correlate pretty well.

P.S. For that matter it holds pretty well with my next 5 as DS 7s...

Charlie Goerges

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2023, 01:33:18 PM »
Just to play devils advocate..

I did a quick assessment of the top 10 courses I've played, all of which have been talked about in length on this board and I currently rate as DS 8s, 9s, and 1-10, and they checked all of the boxes except #7 - Alternate Fairway, (which a handful did).

Perhaps it shouldn't be a checklist, but it seems to correlate pretty well.

P.S. For that matter it holds pretty well with my next 5 as DS 7s...




I get that, but correlation is not causation. I can think of some bad and decidedly bog average courses that also meet all/most of the criteria.
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

Tyler Kearns

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2023, 02:00:45 PM »
Rick,


Are there any great courses that don't have exceptional greens?


Tyler

Jeff_Brauer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2023, 02:19:22 PM »
So, maybe the biggest flaw in the proposed checklist is that it ought to start with what that course is trying to do, i.e., goals, etc.  Once those are established (i.e., fun to play every day for most courses, to draw $$$) then the design checklist might be considered.




From a design point of view I wonder about the utility of a checklist because isn't the client going to be providing you with a checklist (real or implied) as well? Then you're stacking your checklist on top of theirs and you might be having some contradictory or incompatible items. I totally get checklists for non-design tasks, but I just wonder.


Charlie,


The best owner/designer relationships come when the owner gives broad general direction, is confident the architect can deliver, and leaves the gca to handle the design details.  Obviously, we present prelim concepts to the owner, which they may use to change direction or have specific input (i.e., "I want an island green") which will generate discussion.  Some architects will take the owner's advice (generally wise to give them what they want, unless it's to lay sod green side down) but others won't.  In reality, it is always a sliding scale between the people and the ideas they share.


And, if I am charged (as I usually was) with the vague "design the best course possible" then my checklist would surface internally as I started design.  As I said, contrary to the belief of some here, I never had a problem when I realized that "favorite green type X" wasn't really a fit anywhere in the project.  As it happens, over 40+ years, I actually came up with over 18 good ideas for putting greens, and didn't always have to repeat myself like Raynor who didn't seem to want to think about it too deep.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

John Mayhugh

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2023, 02:51:29 PM »
As it happens, over 40+ years, I actually came up with over 18 good ideas for putting greens, and didn't always have to repeat myself like Raynor who didn't seem to want to think about it too deep.
Which Brauer-designed course (or courses) would you recommend I visit? I would like to see how much better your "deep" thought greens are than those Raynor designed.

Tim Martin

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2023, 03:31:44 PM »

Tom-We have had this discussion many times but I wonder how courses like Yale and Fishers Island get such high marks in the Confidential Guide while eschewing the concept?


Both of those are great pieces of property and great settings, and I believe they would have been great courses if Ross or Tillinghast or Flynn built them, too.


Chicago Golf Club is the one course that makes it hard to argue against the templates, because that is not a special piece of ground.  But, you could say the same for Oakmont or Winged Foot, and itís not like all of Raynorís courses turned out that well - I presume thatís because he put a lot more time and effort into the details at Chicago.




If Golf Magazine is the gold standard then Raynor has a pretty good record even if he gets no credit for any of Macdonaldís earliest work. Fishers, Carmargo, Shoreacres, Chicago, Yeamans Hall and Creek are all in the Top 100 U.S. not to mention Yale which didnít find its way onto the list. If you use the logic that any of the golden age stars could have built great courses at Yale and Fishers because of the property/setting then I guess you would have to say the same about Cypress Point or Eastward Ho as two examples. I would have loved to have seen Raynorís finished work at Cypress.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2023, 07:24:17 PM by Tim Martin »

Rick Sides

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2023, 03:56:49 PM »
Tyler , good question.  I meant a specific green that may be a bit wild and fun with pin placements. Obviously the list includes some fun features I enjoy in a routing but ultimately the land  has to dictate the course and the client adds input . I just jotted down a few fun features

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2023, 05:22:13 PM »
As it happens, over 40+ years, I actually came up with over 18 good ideas for putting greens, and didn't always have to repeat myself like Raynor who didn't seem to want to think about it too deep.
Which Brauer-designed course (or courses) would you recommend I visit? I would like to see how much better your "deep" thought greens are than those Raynor designed.


You can catch 4 in Northern Minnesota all within a few hours of each other, which I think you will enjoy.  I also have 3 in Kansas that are pretty highly ranked public courses (I didn't do much private work) not all that far west of KC.  Sand Creek Station is not far from Prairie Dunes, so you can make a day of it.  Colbert Hills and Firekeeper are also there.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2023, 08:03:55 PM »

If Golf Magazine is the gold standard then Raynor has a pretty good record even if he gets no credit for any of Macdonaldís earliest work. Fishers, Carmargo, Shoreacres, Chicago, Yeamans Hall and Creek are all in the Top 100 U.S. not to mention Yale which didnít find its way onto the list. If you use the logic that any of the golden age stars could have built great courses at Yale and Fishers because of the property/setting then I guess you would have to say the same about Cypress Point or Eastward Ho as two examples. I would have loved to have seen Raynorís finished work at Cypress.


Iím pretty sure Cypress Point would be a great course if Raynor built it, too.  Or maybe even if Robert Hunter did it himself!  But personally Iím glad  MacKenzie brought something to it besides templates, so we can talk about the 9th at Cypress, to name just one hole, instead of trying to wrestle it into being a template.


Trying to get back to the original topic here.  A great Course has great holes and great features, and the very best have things that make them special.  Raynor managed that, too, in his best work - for example, the 6th at The Creek was the perfect location for his Ounchbowl template.  But in other locations it was sometimes just a box that had to be checked.




Thomas Dai

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Re: What should all great courses have ?
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2023, 04:28:58 AM »
Rick,
Are there any great courses that don't have exceptional greens?
Tyler
Royal County Down?
atb

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