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Matt Schoolfield

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Luck as part of hole design
« on: August 15, 2023, 03:03:39 PM »
I recently finished an essay about the game design aspects of luck, but applied to golf. I think I'd bring it up here, and see if actual course designers think about luck and skill in the same way that video/tabletop game designers do.

The main contention is that luck and skill are two different elements of design, they are not actually in opposition to each other. Luck is effectively takes the form of different types of randomness. At the end of the day, skill should/will be the determining factor in winning, but luck can act to reduce the amount of one-to-one correlation between skill and winning. Why? Because when skill is perfectly tied to winning the game becomes more of a measurement, e.g., nobody wants to play "who's taller" because it seems pointless.

To illustrate this concept, we can graph games like this:


Generally we can have high-luck, low-skill games (like bingo), or high-skill low-luck games (like chess). The concept here should be pretty straight forward.

Now, applying these concepts to course design, we can see where different types of golf holes might fall:

Low Luck & Low Skill: #8, Hollins, Sharp Park -- Almost nobody will know this hole, for good reason. It's just a 90 yard shot, with trees blocking the wind, gentle back to front green, with minimal contours. It now exists as a relaxation hole, after three of the hardest holes on the course in a row. Originally it was played from different angles and had severe bunkering and ocean winds, but that has been lost.

Low Luck & High Skill: #5 Bethpage Black -- Most people here will be familiar with this hole. There isn't really a way to play this hole without being a highly skilled player, and there are strategic tradeoffs on the hole, but players can generally expect to get what they deserve here. Poorly skill players will be severely punished, and highly skilled players will be rewarded.

High Luck & High Skill: #17, Road, St Andrews -- Everyone knows the road hole, so it should be pretty clear how luck does play a factor on the hole. Firstly, the tee shot is blind. It plays to an area where out-of-bounds is a few yards from the fairway. There are high winds. Many of these elements also come into play on the approach, where a gust of wind can be the difference between holding the green and ending up in the road hole bunker or even up against the wall.

High Luck & Low Skill: #8, The Postage Stamp, Royal Troon -- This one will be the most controversial, but I contend that a 135 yard, downhill par 3 is actually a fairly low skill shot. However, in the wind the ball cannot really be placed exactly where we want it to, and the consequences are obviously severe here. To support it's position here, I suspect this is the only hole where a mid-handicapper could not too infrequently beat a professional, whereas I feel that would be all but impossible on each of the other holes.

I actually thought about using Little Eye as an the high-luck, low-skill, as it was recently/infamously meant to play this roll at the Open. I really think that professional players (and many of their fans) genuinely dislike high-luck holes, for fairly obvious reasons, but I've always enjoyed them. I see them like the NCAA win-or-go-home excitement vs the NBA seven games of proof-of-skill. I can understand how placing a high-luck hole near the end of a tournament can be exciting, but frustrating for fans, so I think if we want to add drama at the end of a tournament, we are better off with a high-luck hole that requires high skill. That way the drama will be there, but it doesn't seem arbitrary.

Anyway, that's the general thesis, really just pointing out that the two parts of design are not in opposition to each other.
I do also go into types of randomness. Input-randomness, which is randomness that players can strategically react to (tee location, hole location, general wind speeds, etc), which is very different from output randomness. Output randomness is randomness that happens after a player action, i.e. golf shot, and can be fun or frustrating depending on the result. The most hated types of output randomness are ending up in divot in the middle of the fairway, or deep in a footprint in a bunker. However, there are many times when people love output randomness, like when the ball bounces off a tree back into the fairway, or when you hit a sprinkler head cover and get an extra 20 yards on your drive.
Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about for the last month or so. I'm curious as to whether course designer think about luck/randomness in these terms.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2023, 05:17:14 PM by Matt Schoolfield »
Building an encyclopedia of golf courses that anyone can edit: Golf Course Wiki
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I really think golf culture should be more like beer culture than wine culture

mike_malone

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2023, 04:27:33 PM »
When I argue for removing some trees or bunkers I say that I think that random penalties for all are better than certain penalties for few.


 I agree with #5 at BPB as a skill example. I think #5 at Merion East could be skill and luck in equal measure.
AKA Mayday

jeffwarne

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2023, 05:35:40 PM »
17 at St. Andrews has little luck involved, and skill in spades.
Mental toughness, strategy,course knowledge(navigating blindness) and understanding angles,are all skills.


My idea of a low luck hole would be one where a drive randomly caroms off line no matter where in the fairway ones hits it.
Haven't seen such a hole yet.
Most times when a "perfect" drive is lost or ends up not good, it wasn't so "perfect" and course knowledge or lack of ability to shape it was the issue.


While I agree that a high handicapper won't beat a pro very often on most holes, and that perhaps he will on the Postage Stamp, I'd say sample size is the issue, not luck.
If that high handicapper played the pro on the Postage Stamp in a high wind 50 times, he'd get smoked by a LOT on the cumulative total, even if he occasionally won two or three times(something he probably couldn't do on a brutal Par 4 or 5 in a tough wind)
"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

Thomas Dai

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2023, 06:06:59 PM »
Maybe other aspects to consider, perhaps historically more so in some ways. Maybe not though?
Luck vrs skill in the choice of site for a course? Luck vrs skill in the selection of the person to layout the course? Luck vrs skill in how the money to pay for the course was acquired? Luck vrs skill in timing (weather, logistics, local politics etc).
Atb

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2023, 06:25:10 PM »
While I agree that a high handicapper won't beat a pro very often on most holes, and that perhaps he will on the Postage Stamp, I'd say sample size is the issue, not luck.

So, the source material I used for these ideas is Garfield & Elias on Luck & Skill in Games and the whole essay is simply and application of these ideas. They posit that luck is effectively the indeterminacy that causes a difference between the higher skill player and a perfect win record. This really gets into the philosophical realm of what we mean by luck and skill, but I don't know how else we could measure the amount of luck in a game where we have such high amounts of indeterminacy, such as a general dispersion pattern being a common concept. It makes sense to me to think of the result of a golf shot, within a general dispersion pattern, as a form of luck. Higher skilled players may have a tighter dispersion patterns, but results within those patterns can still be view as the result of a kind of random distribution, and therefore a form of luck. Thus, golf holes that increase, stretch, or otherwise affect that dispersion pattern (e.g. wind), or holes that increase the risk profile within that dispersion pattern (as certain aspects of penal/heroic architecture can) are holes that effectively increase the amount of luck in their outcome.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2023, 07:01:50 PM by Matt Schoolfield »
Building an encyclopedia of golf courses that anyone can edit: Golf Course Wiki
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I really think golf culture should be more like beer culture than wine culture

Niall C

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2023, 08:07:43 AM »
Matt


Presumably your High Skill & High Luck for the Road Hole is based on playing it with the intent of getting on in 2 ? A more conservative approach of playing it as a 3 shotter would reduce the chance of getting a 4 but would enable the player to greatly reduce the risk of ending up in the hotel grounds with the drive or going on to the road with the approach. Not sure where luck would come into it apart from maybe getting either a poor or better than expected lie.


Re Postage Stamp - you are correct about the consequences of a miss and that is where perhaps luck comes into it most in that a miss could leave you with alternatively a very difficult up and down or an "impossible" one ! However can't agree about the skill factor. Controlling the ball in the wind isn't just pot luck as you seem to suggest. Where there might be an element of parity between the pro and the club golfer is the length. With the Road Hole, many club golfers simply wouldn't have the length to get there in 3 never mind 2 whereas with the Postage Stamp it is doable for the vast majority.


What your graph also doesn't seem to take into account is the intimidation factor and the ability for the player to hold their nerve. Hitting a narrow target with a short iron is one thing when it is flanked by shallow bunkers with nice fluffy lies but quite another when the bunkers are tight and/or extremely deep.


Niall

Mark_Fine

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2023, 08:16:54 AM »
Matt,
Interesting overview.  I would say this about luck and skill when it comes to golf - Luck is and always will be an inherent part of the game.  However, the more interesting and thought provoking the golf hole, the more both luck and skill play a role.  On a flat featureless straight-away hole for example, we both can hit 300 yard drives and there might be very little luck involved in that shot, only skill.  If you add one strategically placed bunker, your 300 yard drive could be one yard from mine but mine finds the bunker and yours is safe to the side or just over it. That is where luck comes in over skill and it is a result of that hazard. 


Bottomline, luck will always be part of the game of golf and sometimes it will supersede skill. 


Best,
Mark

Kyle Harris

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2023, 08:33:45 AM »
I have yet to post a one hole score.

I also have yet to see a high skill-level shot dispersion pattern where luck was not a significant part of result. Skill is the management of the variance within that dispersion.


Luck is how it applies that day.

The guy winning any Tour event that week is incredibly lucky - the hole just got in the way more frequently sooner.
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.

Ben Sims

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2023, 09:36:55 AM »
I have yet to post a one hole score.

I also have yet to see a high skill-level shot dispersion pattern where luck was not a significant part of result. Skill is the management of the variance within that dispersion.


Luck is how it applies that day.

The guy winning any Tour event that week is incredibly lucky - the hole just got in the way more frequently sooner.


This is gold Kyle.


The more I grind trying to get better, the more Iíve think that golf is analogous to landing an airplane. Bear with me. What I mean is the highest levels of golf and aviation. Catastrophe is unacceptable. Blow up holes or collapsing the gear due to lack of experience or skill isnít an acceptable outcome. But a firm landing is okay, just not desirable. A bogey or par (in some situations) is okay, just not desirable. When I grease one, a lot of that was just executing what I know to do and the jet settled down in a lucky way. When I hit a cut 8-iron to 5 feet, trust me, all I was doing was trying my best and letting luck/dispersion do the rest.


To the OP, Iím not sure how you would design for that. I donít think you can. I just think you present strategic golf holes to the player and let them do the rest. Im not sure if the best architects really design with individual results (score) in mind.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2023, 09:38:41 AM by Ben Sims »

Kalen Braley

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2023, 12:28:53 PM »
Matt,
Interesting overview.  I would say this about luck and skill when it comes to golf - Luck is and always will be an inherent part of the game.  However, the more interesting and thought provoking the golf hole, the more both luck and skill play a role.  On a flat featureless straight-away hole for example, we both can hit 300 yard drives and there might be very little luck involved in that shot, only skill.  If you add one strategically placed bunker, your 300 yard drive could be one yard from mine but mine finds the bunker and yours is safe to the side or just over it. That is where luck comes in over skill and it is a result of that hazard. 

Bottom line, luck will always be part of the game of golf and sometimes it will supersede skill. 

Best,
Mark


Mark,

I would very much agree with this and the hole that comes to mind is ANGC #13.  Considered by many as one of the finest par 5s on the planet it would seem to rate high in both the luck and skill component.

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2023, 12:33:35 PM »
I think Jack Nicklaus really moved the needle towards the course design, in his words, "never hurting the player."  He (and most of the rest of us) tried to minimize luck, so skill prevailed, but as Mark Fine says, no matter how hard we try, it will never go away or be eliminated completely.  Along with perfect maintenance, it is one of those things that will never be achieved no matter how much money is spent.


In his mind, and mine, design features such as undersized for real dispersion patterns target areas, domed landing zones rather than concave, random green contours where a knob between the start of the putt and the hole (rather than a constant slope that can be read considering speed and break), ridiculous carries or deep bunkers are specific design features to avoid since they decrease skill and increase possible luck (i.e., a well struck shot may not be rewarded.)  It is also sometimes tied to "proportional punishment" which is also very difficult to achieve, and any golfer can point out vastly different outcomes for similar shots, i.e., Mark's example of just missing a bunker.


Short version, I doubt many gca's purposely design to where luck is a bigger factor than skill, as golfers of all levels just hate it, for the most part.  I always tried to design it out, but again, there is a limit and a place to just stop trying. 
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2023, 12:39:37 PM »
I like holes that allow for luck, even allowing bad shots to prosper sometimes.


Matt, I don't know how this fits into your idea, but imagine a redan-like hole. Something like 190Ī yards. The strong player hits a perfect 7 iron and it ends up near the hole. The weaker player hits a 5-iron as well as they can and it ends up on the green. Great, seems as it should.


Same hole, different round, strong player slightly mishits 7, hits a bit short and rolls back a few yards from the front edge. The weaker player thins the 5-iron, but that thing just runs out and onto the green.


I like that. I think it's good. It's not a guarantee, but I like that it's a possibility. I like it so much better than "a bad shot should be irrevocably lost" or "It's not fair" or any other such thing.


What I'm curious about is the extent to which architects think about or attempt to design in such "luck". To me luck in golf isn't something to be measured in the aggregate, so the fact that the weaker player's thin shot could have bounded into the redan bunker or simply run out of steam is also fine, but the possibility is there.
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

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2023, 01:54:46 PM »
Niall, thanks for this response. I really think it's interesting.

Presumably your High Skill & High Luck for the Road Hole is based on playing it with the intent of getting on in 2 ? A more conservative approach of playing it as a 3 shotter would reduce the chance of getting a 4 but would enable the player to greatly reduce the risk of ending up in the hotel grounds with the drive or going on to the road with the approach. Not sure where luck would come into it apart from maybe getting either a poor or better than expected lie.

I think exactly the type of response we would expect from an intelligent player when looking at a high-luck hole. The mirror image of luck here is risk. Reducing risk (the effects of variables outside of our control) by laying up means we're strategically removing the areas where luck may influence the outcome, but at some sacrifice in score. Whether this trade off is worth it obviously depends on the player, their risk tolerance, and the score they need. Still, Tommy Nakajima was on the green in two in 1978, and so I think there are high-output randomness variable involved in the hole that laying up can't account for.

Re Postage Stamp - you are correct about the consequences of a miss and that is where perhaps luck comes into it most in that a miss could leave you with alternatively a very difficult up and down or an "impossible" one ! However can't agree about the skill factor. Controlling the ball in the wind isn't just pot luck as you seem to suggest.

So, in the essay I get more into input-randomness and output-randomness. Input-randomness (hole location, tee location, etc.) is great, because it allows players to respond to the randomness strategically. General wind speeds, here, are a form of input-randomness, where players can respond buy playing a knock-down. However, a very specific gust of wind, that happens after the ball is struck, that is a form of uncontrollable output-randomness. I completely agree that there is skill to playing in high winds, my only point is that irregular coastal gusts should create enough output-randomness here to allow the mid-handicapper a few good chances to best the professional, which is more than enough to suggest it's high-luck. That said, while I suggest the hole is low-skill, I very much don't mean it's no-skill. It's still a tricky shot.

What your graph also doesn't seem to take into account is the intimidation factor and the ability for the player to hold their nerve. Hitting a narrow target with a short iron is one thing when it is flanked by shallow bunkers with nice fluffy lies but quite another when the bunkers are tight and/or extremely deep.

I agree. I can't think of an analytic way of measuring this, though I think it's a definite factor in the game.
Building an encyclopedia of golf courses that anyone can edit: Golf Course Wiki
Some strong opinions on golf: Wigs on the Green
I really think golf culture should be more like beer culture than wine culture

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2023, 02:19:00 PM »
Same hole, different round, strong player slightly mishits 7, hits a bit short and rolls back a few yards from the front edge. The weaker player thins the 5-iron, but that thing just runs out and onto the green.


I like that. I think it's good. It's not a guarantee, but I like that it's a possibility. I like it so much better than "a bad shot should be irrevocably lost" or "It's not fair" or any other such thing.

An interesting question. Hmm... I mean, I completely agree with you here, and I think the Redan template is renowned for a reason. I'm specifically trying to identify aspects of golf holes that affect expected dispersion patterns (increasing them, decreasing them, stretching them, bifurcating them, etc.), or aspect of golf holes that radically change the risk profiles within those dispersion patterns.

I think what you've done here is identify a template that does not significantly shrink the dispersion pattern of shots as the loft of the club increases (or one that at least balances the smaller dispersion pattern with an increase in risk profile so that they are balanced). We would expect a player with a 7 iron to have a dramatically smaller dispersion pattern than one with a 5 iron, but as you point out, since the hole accepts a running shot a bit more generously than a lofted shot the advantage of the smaller dispersion pattern is limited.
Building an encyclopedia of golf courses that anyone can edit: Golf Course Wiki
Some strong opinions on golf: Wigs on the Green
I really think golf culture should be more like beer culture than wine culture

MCirba

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2023, 01:27:31 PM »
Firm and fast maintenance practices and course conditioning ultimately expand the dispersion patterns and increase the variable results possible.


It's why the senses are heightened and the mind so engaged when playing those type of challenges, IMO.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Tom_Doak

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2023, 04:43:43 PM »
Didnít have time to get to this topic today and I would love to do it justice, but I will be on my phone until Friday, so that will have to wait.


I do understand that good golfers hate a lucky bounce - a good one or a bad one! - and thatís why I like to incorporate such things as hazards.  And one advantage of bad bounces is that you can put them much closer to the hole than bunkers or water. ;-)


An example you saw recently on TV is the short 11th hole (tournament 14th) at The Renaissance Club.  There is a bit of apron running downhill onto the green, with a little knobby contour that can produce a wild bounce.  The players and the Tour would prefer we put a bunker there, but thatís totally impractical due to drainage considerations and tie-ins.


What I donít understand is why most players canít just treat the bump as a hazard.  Take enough club to carry it, or play closer to the bump at the risk of a bad bounce.  (The bad bounce might at worst leave you with a 60-foot putt - itís not going to wind up o.b. or anything.)


But these great players call this ďunfairĒ and ďluckyĒ and would prefer the certainty of being in a bunker for their bad shot, instead of being deflected away from the hole. And, note that most amateur golfers would far prefer the bad bounce that leaves them a long birdie putt.

Thomas Dai

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2023, 03:15:06 AM »
What I donít understand is why most players canít just treat the bump as a hazard.  Take enough club to carry it, or play closer to the bump at the risk of a bad bounce.  (The bad bounce might at worst leave you with a 60-foot putt - itís not going to wind up o.b. or anything.)
But these great players call this ďunfairĒ and ďluckyĒ and would prefer the certainty of being in a bunker for their bad shot, instead of being deflected away from the hole. And, note that most amateur golfers would far prefer the bad bounce that leaves them a long birdie putt.
"Bump as a hazard". Great description. Can be a friend as well if a bit of cunning is applied.
ab

Wayne_Kozun

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2023, 11:11:03 AM »
What I donít understand is why most players canít just treat the bump as a hazard.  Take enough club to carry it, or play closer to the bump at the risk of a bad bounce.  (The bad bounce might at worst leave you with a 60-foot putt - itís not going to wind up o.b. or anything.)
But these great players call this ďunfairĒ and ďluckyĒ and would prefer the certainty of being in a bunker for their bad shot, instead of being deflected away from the hole. And, note that most amateur golfers would far prefer the bad bounce that leaves them a long birdie putt.
"Bump as a hazard". Great description. Can be a friend as well if a bit of cunning is applied.
ab
Agreed.  Why isn't this used more?

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2023, 12:28:35 PM »
Why isn't this used more?




I and others have a tendency to blame good to elite players for this. They do have the reputation of liking hard lines and sure outcomes (good or bad). I wonder how true or fair of a description it really is though? I mean there is at least some truth to it, but can we blame the most skilled players for the plague of fairness? I'm not sure.
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

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2023, 01:06:53 PM »
So if there is going to be continued discussion, I may as well link to the full essay for further depth: https://golfcoursewiki.substack.com/p/luck-in-golf


I and others have a tendency to blame good to elite players for this... can we blame the most skilled players for the plague of fairness? I'm not sure.
So, Richard Garfield talks about 4 player types, that I think may be relevant to Wayne and Charlie's question here:

Active Players:
  • Innovators: these are probably the folks here that are all about GCA. Players who like to try new things. Explore different strategies, etc. I fall into this category the most, which is why I think optionality in golf is the best attribute that a course can have.
  • Honers: these are the "good to elite" players. They're grinding it out at the range for an hour every day. They have their preferred strategy, and get enjoyment from executing it perfectly. Generally they hate luck, and think it ruins the game, these are the folks calling for narrow fairways and longer rough because "fairness".
Passive Players:
  • Watchers: These are folks that just want to see the exciting stuff happen. Typically fans of the Tour, they want to, and want to see others, try to reach the green in two. Carry the near impossible carry. They are the ones celebrating when Bubba cuts the corner an Azalea, or when Bryson clears the water on 6 at Bay Hill. These are the folks that need to be won over in the honers vs innovators arguments for-and-against any rollback.
  • Flow-seekers: These are the folks who just play to play. They aren't too concerned about score or course, but they just want to get in a groove and pass the time. They probably don't care much if they're at Muirfield or a Muni. They just like the feel of the club in their hand. I aspire to be one of these folks, but I'm too in my own head about strategy.
I tend to think that honers are "better" so their concerns tend to be front-and-center (you see this in the discussion of TF2 in one of the lectures). In golf, professional golf at least, I feel that watchers are probably the source of most capital, but I'm not sure the level to which that influences design, however, given the ho-hum reaction to the US Open this summer, perhaps they tend toward low-luck heroic architecture like 6 at Bay Hill. At the end of the day, I feel like there are plenty of courses designed for innovators (I can think of the quirky Chardonnay course in Napa off the top of my head), I just don't think they will get much attention, as they aren't going to show up in tournaments because honers/watchers don't prefer that style. Just a thought, and I'm happy to be wrong about this, but it would seem to explain the phenomena.

Again, this is all from a series of lectures and a book, and so if you want to get into the nitty gritty about these player type, the essay has all the citations you could every want and more. I'm really glad this topic seems to be getting a second look.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2023, 05:40:56 PM by Matt Schoolfield »
Building an encyclopedia of golf courses that anyone can edit: Golf Course Wiki
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I really think golf culture should be more like beer culture than wine culture

Tom_Doak

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2023, 09:39:16 PM »
Matt:


I am not too much into categorizing players, as I think that everyone has their own reasons to be out on the golf course, and the goal is to build a course that most people will find enjoyable at their own level.


I am a big believer in introducing the lucky and unlucky bounce as a feature of my golf holes.  For the better player, the bad bounce becomes something to avoid or to overcome.  For the worse player, the bounce is no more random than their own general play, so it doesn't rankle them nearly so much.


The other piece of the puzzle is that when you put a contour and a potential bad bounce close to the hole, it is only likely to be hit on the fly by a relatively good player, who in most cases could have given it enough room to avoid that bad outcome.  He took the risk to try and get close to the hole, and paid a price.


There are many contours on The Old Course at St. Andrews that the good player must tread carefully around, but the running 4-wood of an old codger will roll smoothly over.  The codger just has to make sure not to wind up on the wrong side of that contour for his NEXT shot.  And that right there is the definition of strategic golf.

Sean_A

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2023, 03:12:43 AM »
My first thought when it comes to bounces is luck plays virtually no role at all. Almost all bounces are predictable with experience. The issue is more about the skill of the golfer and being realistic about the odds of success when hitting into areas which can have multiple outcomes due to the terrain. The vast majority of "bad bounces" are due to poor shots...which can be very different from the quality of the strike. The good quality strike is what all golfers want to see rewarded.

Of course there exceptions. Kington is loaded with micro undulations which are too numerous and small to accurately predict the outcome. But that style of design is in my experience very rare.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2023, 01:57:01 PM »
There are many contours on The Old Course at St. Andrews that the good player must tread carefully around, but the running 4-wood of an old codger will roll smoothly over.  The codger just has to make sure not to wind up on the wrong side of that contour for his NEXT shot.  And that right there is the definition of strategic golf.

Gotta love those 80+ folks shooting their age. We're not playing an identical game, but they're still often much better than I am. It's one of the many reasons I love the game.
Building an encyclopedia of golf courses that anyone can edit: Golf Course Wiki
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I really think golf culture should be more like beer culture than wine culture

Tom_Doak

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Re: Luck as part of hole design
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2023, 02:17:15 PM »
For the same reasons, I think a creek is better than a lake, and a narrow or small bunker is better than a big one.


In either case, the former option means that a bad shot MAY be punished severely -- so the good player has to aim away from it -- but only a portion of the bad shots actually get tangled up in the creek, and most of the others are left with a recovery shot over the narrow bunker instead of a long bunker shot from within.

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