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Jim Hoak

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Different course quality from different tees
« on: September 17, 2023, 10:07:10 AM »
I raised this question on the thread about the Spanish Bay redo, but I'd like to focus on it here specifically.
In the many times I have played Spanish Bay, I have been struck by how much the course changes in playability from the Championship back tees compared to the shorter uptees.  It almost feels like the course was designed with the back tees only in mind, and the uptees were added as a later afterthought.  From the uptees, the course feels cramped, but not from the back tees; the doglegs especially are too tight and severe from the shorter tees, but the course has more flow from the back tees. 
This may be true of many other courses, but I am especially struck with this different feel on a resort course like Spanish Bay, where short tee options are needed.  My game has gotten to where I do not do well on longer tees, but I enjoy the quality of those tees on Spanish Bay much more when I have moved back.
Am I just imagining this dichotomy?  Are there other courses where the difference in tees has a tremendous difference in the quality of the playability of the course?
« Last Edit: September 17, 2023, 12:06:51 PM by Jim Hoak »

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2023, 12:20:45 PM »
When I play with young guys that play from the back tees, we generally hit our second shots from the same place. They probably would have felt cramped if they had played from my tees.
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

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2023, 04:01:16 PM »
Jim,


I find plenty of examples of courses that play less well from the front tees when those courses have been designed more on paper with turning points, i.e. post WWII design.


More classic design depended less on 2D, more often with sweeping doglegs than holes that deliberately turn at 275 yards with hazards and pinch-points protecting.

Jim Hoak

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2023, 11:03:55 AM »
Ally, I'm sure you are right that there are many courses that feel this way; I just have not noticed it quite so much at other courses.
But don't you think this is surprising and wrong for a resort course, where players of varying abilities so regularly play?

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2023, 12:11:31 PM »
If the actual quality of the course seems to change depending on what tee you choose, my gut reaction says it's probably not a good golf course. For example, I'd bet that if I played Cypress Point from 1800 yards shorter than the shortest tee box, I'd probably still be able to tell it was a great course. But if altering the length makes a course go from good (or adequate) to bad, I'd guess that length was the only thing it ever had going for it.


That doesn't mean that selecting the appropriate tee length won't greatly improve your experience of the course, just that the greatness should be observable from any length. That's my initial impression of it anyway.
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

Mark_Fine

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2023, 01:14:10 PM »
Charlie,
It all depends on how you are judging the quality of the golf course.  Are you judging quality based on your own golfing ability?  Are you judging the quality only from the tees you are playing (in the case of this thread, from the forward most tees)?  Or are you judging it knowing there are other sets of tees behind you? 


To use you example, if you judged the quality of Cypress Point only from the forward most set of tees, you would judge it much differently if no consideration is given to the teeing options behind you. 

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2023, 01:58:29 PM »
To use you example, if you judged the quality of Cypress Point only from the forward most set of tees, you would judge it much differently if no consideration is given to the teeing options behind you.


I don't think I'd judge CPC that much differently if I was only able to play it from the most forward tees. I'd still know the further back tees exist. Plus, I have a feeling that the course would still be playable from there, seemingly unlike Spanish Bay.


I feel like if changing length feels like it's changing the quality of the course, the course is probably lacking. ANGC would probably be a bit of a slog from the Masters tees (to go the other direction), but everything else would still be great I'm sure. And it would be apparent that it was great. I'd still be experiencing the greens and surrounds in all their glory, I'd just be taking one more shot to get there 80% of the time.


I guess my point is that if the shortened length of a course is making a GCA poster think that there has been a change in kind, rather than degree, there may be a greater failing than just selecting the wrong tee box. Jim's post makes me think the problem must run deeper than they played from the wrong tees. That said, it is just a gut feeling.
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

Mark_Fine

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2023, 02:09:09 PM »
Charlie,
Isn’t the key statement you just made:


“I’d still know the further back tees exist”? 


Why would you care about those tees existing if you think the courses is outstanding in quality from the forward most set? 


I can tell you from having played CP dozens of times, the forward tees would be a totally different experience and different quality of golf if viewed from my own games perspective.  If viewed from the perspective of someone who should be playing those tees, maybe not so much.

Thomas Dai

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2023, 04:02:45 PM »
Always playing the same course from the same tee markers sounds excruciatingly boring, a yawn fest. Mix them up. Expand the interest and the challenge.
Atb

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2023, 04:10:12 PM »
Always playing the same course from the same tee markers sounds excruciatingly boring, a yawn fest. Mix them up. Expand the interest and the challenge.
Atb




I agree with that too. It's why I strongly suspect that if a course (Spanish Bay in this case) is only recognizably good from a single set of tees, it actually really isn't a good course in all likelihood.
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

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2023, 04:27:02 PM »
Charlie,
Isn’t the key statement you just made:


“I’d still know the further back tees exist”? 


Why would you care about those tees existing if you think the courses is outstanding in quality from the forward most set? 


I can tell you from having played CP dozens of times, the forward tees would be a totally different experience and different quality of golf if viewed from my own games perspective.  If viewed from the perspective of someone who should be playing those tees, maybe not so much.




Mark, I'm saying the quality (at CPC...or ANGC) wouldn't go from good to bad. Yes the courses are different challenges at different lengths, but they (and any other good course) don't go from good to bad when different tees are chosen to play from. This notion of good to bad, as I understood it, is what I think Jim was talking about at Spanish Bay.
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

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2023, 04:36:31 PM »
Are there other courses where the difference in tees has a tremendous difference in the quality of the playability of the course?


I have noticed it in one course (that I can remember). It's a somewhat shorter resort course where I grew up. The problem there was the holes with doglegs and lined by trees on both sides. Additionally there were some just poorly placed forward tee boxes. Essentially I'd have had to basically bunt a ball past the corner from a forward box. That said, I probably only tried the forward boxes on a few occasions because they weren't really for me. That said, the course had no pretensions to quality that a course like Spanish Bay probably has.
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

Mark_Fine

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2023, 06:58:06 PM »
Charlie,
How do you define quality?

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2023, 06:58:29 PM »
I think I'm a bit confused by this thread. I definitely understand Charlie's point designing multiple dynamic/strategic landing zones to handle different tees (and scaled distances they represent) is the highest tier of golf course design. At the same time, I understand Mark's point of the other tees kind of being irrelevant.

I think we conflate whether tees should be crafted to serve players of different distances or whether they should be crafted to serve players of different skill levels. I know there is quite a bit of crossover, but these aren't the same thing. If we find ourselves bunting to a dogleg, it may acting as a precision shot for a highly accurate player who can only reach the green if they are able to move the ball just enough around the corner (playing an 8 iron to get a decent 3 wood into the green, instead of the opposite). Someone choosing to play the shorter tees for variety might not understand the strategy, as they can reach the green from the whole landing area. 

Typically, I see most courses I play leave the same angles (or even reduce the challenge of the angle on the shorter tees). I've often wondered if there are designers who have strictly separated their tees to have "expert" tees from all distances, and "novice" tees from all distances. It would be much clearer for me, and I'd be more likely to play from different distances.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2023, 08:44:58 PM by Matt Schoolfield »

Joe_Tucholski

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2023, 08:25:36 PM »
I don't think this is getting to the point of the original post but I don't like it when you leave a green and then walk back to the back tees and then have to retrace your steps up the hole.  It gets pretty old.  Luckily I rarely play back tees.


I've never really played a course from various tees and felt it played worse based on anything other than walk backs to back tees.  I've played about a half dozen courses from every tee box.

Mark_Fine

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2023, 09:06:32 PM »
Common sense will tell us that a golf course that measures say 4500 yards from the forward tees and 7500 yards from the tips is going to vary dramatically in terms of the playing experience, the risk reward options, the overall interest and challenge/test of golf that it presents, etc.  We sometimes play a round where we take turns choosing which tee to start from on each hole.  Our one par five changes from a three shotter from the tips to a driver/short iron from the forward tee. Several of the par four’s become driveable and the long par threes become wedges.  It is all good fun but probably not what the architect had in mind. Put it this way, I highly doubt architects design their courses for scratch or better golfers playing from the shortest set of tees or for beginners playing from the tips.  That said, it can be fun especially for better golfers to move up and have a whole different playing experience.  If you have never done it you should try it.  If you are a beginner I wouldn’t recommend moving back  ;)



I have said on this site several times, I have advocated making 18 hole championship courses that are for example 7000 yards from the tips play as 18 hole par three courses on certain times/days of the week.  We set up tees at all different distances along with a score card to make this happen. Golfers love it as it is fun and provides a different experience.  For some golfers playing the forward tees vs the tips might feel similar.


Jim Hoak

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2023, 09:38:41 PM »
Let me ask a somewhat different question that may get at my point better.  Do architects pay enough attention in their routing, their placement of hazards, etc. to all tees?  Or are some course designs focused almost entirely on play from the back tees?  I just feel like the design of Spanish Bay almost has the uptees as an afterthought.
The back tees even for a low-double-digit handicapper have a better flow and are better designed to be played than the uptees.  This point began because some poster said that play at Spanish Bay was too cramped.  I said that was more true from the uptees than the back ones.

Mark_Fine

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2023, 09:58:30 PM »
Jim,
I have played Spanish Bay many times. It is not that different from the stand point of tees and design from most other courses.  Not sure what more to add when it comes to tees.  Tried to give some examples and perspective.  So much is the perspective and the ability of the golfer playing there.  We are adding a set of tees on one project that will take the course from 4900 yards long to about 4000.  The tees will be thoughtfully placed. 

Joe_Tucholski

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2023, 11:46:04 PM »
I have advocated making 18 hole championship courses that are for example 7000 yards from the tips play as 18 hole par three courses on certain times/days of the week.


Why and how would that make sense?  Can't see how I'd enjoy walking at least 200 yards (probably more) down a fairway on a par 5 multiple times a round to get to a tee.

Ian_L

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2023, 01:23:05 AM »
It seems this issue speaks to lack of variety of tee shots at Spanish Bay. Having to dial it back on a few holes is fine, but if you feel constantly throttled at the middle tees, that seems like a design flaw. Sounds like all the tee shots narrow around the same distance from the middle tee.

Thomas Dai

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2023, 03:35:13 AM »
Why just different tees?
Mix things up.

Hit a 9-iron or a 6-iron or something akin to them from the tee and then play the hole from there even if it means hitting a Driver or fairway metal for your next shot.
Be creative, have fun. Might even learn from the experience.
atb

Mark_Fine

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2023, 06:44:01 AM »
Joe,
Some players still walk because they want the exercise but many take a cart so the distance between tees is no issue. The idea is to play the course in a different manner and play is actually much faster (walking or riding). Not sure where you play your golf but haven’t you ever played in a tournament for example where the tees have been moved up and a hole that is normally 410 is now 265 and meant to tempt golfers to try to drive it?  Think of this as 18 holes where the tees have all been moved up.  Sometimes something different is fun!  Again this is done maybe one day a week in the afternoon, …variety is the spice of golf. 

Kalen Braley

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2023, 11:15:20 AM »
I agree with Mark here 100%

Of course if a really good player tees it from the up tees at 5000 yards its going to be wedge on the 3s, every par 4 will be drivable, and the 5s will likely be driver/short iron.  Its a completely different playing experience and journey around the course.  ( I do think it'd be a great idea for a silly season 4-club event instead of the usual stuff.)

P.S.  Its a bit like when my buddies and I would play Basketball on the 8.5 foot rims at the elementary school playground. It was alley-oops, dunks off the backboard, driving to the basket almost every time and defensive blocks above the rim....a much different game than we played on regulation 10 foot rims as none of could dunk.  ;)

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2023, 11:53:36 AM »
I agree with Mark here 100%

Of course if a really good player tees it from the up tees at 5000 yards its going to be wedge on the 3s, every par 4 will be drivable, and the 5s will likely be driver/short iron.  Its a completely different playing experience and journey around the course.  ( I do think it'd be a great idea for a silly season 4-club event instead of the usual stuff.)




I don't think anyone has contradicted the fact that a course plays different at different lengths. I feel like Jim's original question is based around can a course be so focused on a single set of tees that it goes from good (or adequate or fine or ok) to bad by moving to a different set of tees. It's a very philosophical question. I think the answer is "no". If a course is "bad" for me at the up tees, it probably wasn't very good from the appropriate tees either.
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

Jim Hoak

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Re: Different course quality from different tees
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2023, 12:34:00 PM »
I think Charlie's description of the question I am asking is pretty well stated--maybe not that different sets of tees takes the course from good to bad, but rather that the change in tees makes it significantly less good.  It's just that features of Spanish Bay after you leave the tees--especially the doglegs--seem designed specifically for the back tees and make the holes feel "cramped" or "crowded" when you play from the non-back tees.
Hopefully, I'm not being "philosophical," but rather responding to the criticism of Spanish Bay holes as feeling "cramped."  I'm saying that if you play it from the far-back tees, it feels normal, not "cramped."  But is that good?
It was said to me in a message that Google Maps show how tight the doglegs are--and that is made worse by play from the shorter tees.
In summary, play the course back (even if you are a short hitter), and Spanish Bay is a far better course.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2023, 12:46:41 PM by Jim Hoak »

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