Thursday, April 20, 2006

Part II – The Impossible Decision

The 9th tee, notice the cedars on the left protect the 8th hole and on the right protecting the 18th hole

So finally we come to my dilemma. At Peterborough Golf and Country Club the 17th green, 18th tee, 9th tee and 8th green lie all within about 100 yards. The 8th and 17th greens are original Thompson greens with restored bunkering around them and represent some of the best remaining examples of his work at Peterborough. There is definitely no where to go left of the 17th green since the 15th hole is already too tight on that side. Fortunately the planting of large spruce helps to mitigate this proximity from being a bigger problem. To separate the holes for more safety, the only possible direction is to shift all the holes after 17 green to the right. The 11th green would also have to be relocated and is another of the (few) original Thompson greens left and a real beauty. Spreading the holes out towards the right and shift the 11th green right of its existing location will reduce the risk but it will not get eliminate the problem. If this change is made, all three Thompson greens would be gone (something I wanted to avoid if I could) and all the existing trees between the 18th, 9th, 8th and 11th would be removed with the readjustment of holes. There would have to be replanting of this area for safety and separation.

Looking down the 11th hole with the 8th green on the left, note the close relashionship.

The next option I looked at was to move the tees forward which would pull them out of the bottleneck, but badly weaken the holes by removing the length on these strong par fours. This would definitely lessen the chance of these tee shots finding the adjacent 8th and 17th fairways, but would increase the possibility of the approaches from the 8th and 17th (both par fives) hitting the players on the shorter tees. I think this is simply an exchange of one problem for another. As an architect I would become liable for creating the new problem.

The 17th hole with a line of cedars on the right seperating it from the 18th hole

The last option is what to do about the planting of cedars and maples between the holes. To deal with many issues I have removed all the trees between holes to make the safety issue clearly visible. This allows the player to be clearly forewarned about the risk they are about to enter into, and also makes it easier for an adjacent player to yell a warning from the tee. This works to solve a lot of issues, but in this particular case it comes with a risk. For the full tee shot or ball that has a proper flight this would be the answer. Where this increases the risk at Peterborough is with the quick hook where the ball will take off at body height. The cedars do an effective job of knocking almost all these types of shots down and making the holes safer against this particular type of miss. Also, on the approach shots to both par fives, the cedars do a nice job of knocking down the drifting approach from getting into the adjacent fairway. The tightness of the cedars on the 17th in particular encourage players to play a lay-up rather than risk losing a shot in the cedars if they have a difficult approach of a tough lie. If the area was opened up, many more players would be attack the green from out of ideal positions and would pose a greater risk for the players on the tee on holes 9 and 18.

So as you can see as an architect, I literally have a question without a correct answer, and yet I will be liable for whatever I write. This is not such a simple job as you think is it?


Dick Kirkpatarick said...

This sounds like a gourmet lunch or smorgasbord for a lawyer.
Perhaps you should call yours?

Ian Andrew said...


Right now it sucks to be an architect, the ball is out of control, and so are the lawyers.


Evan said...

I agree, there are way too many lawyers. I went to school in the States and was on my way to becoming a High School Physics teacher, but decided against it based on a story from my friend that was student teaching. An 8 year old child hit another child and my friend grabbed the kid and told them not to do that and the kid said "You can't touch me, I'll sue you!" An eight year old threatening legal action! What has our society come to when nobody is willing to take responsibility for their actions. I haven't played Islington, but was dismayed when I heard that they had to change, from what I've been told, one of their strongest holes in order to accomodate a brand new home on the course. Credit Valley is in the process of making a change to their 3rd hole because of people complaining about golf balls in their backyard. I just want to scream at them "You bought a house on a golf course! What did you expect!!!!" Morons, all of them. Summit also has a change in the works (completed?) because balls were flying onto the roadway. I can understand this a but better, but couldn't a large net be used to coral the errant shots instead of changing a historical golf course? What about the net at the driving range at Augusta National. If it's good enough for them, it should be good enough for everyone else. I've played quite a bit of golf in Ireland and am going back in a month, and there are all kinds of times that you could get hit by a golf ball, but nobody seems to complain over there. The Old Course looks like people should be hit 20 times a day, and you never hear about them making a change to the course. It's a risk you take when you step onto the first tee and play the course. Can hockey players sue when they get a puck in the face because it deflected off someone else's stick? I just don't understand what is wrong with people these days. Sorry for the long message, but I guess this struck a chord with me.

Anonymous said...

I was playing yesterday when my partner hooked his drive into a condo-building window off the 18th tee. does anyone know the actual legal response? my friend in law school thinks that building on a golf course comes with an 'assumed risk' and therefore the homeowners' insurance should pay for the window, rather than the golfer. but he's not sure. any lawyers out there?

Ian Andrew said...


I desperately want it to be the way it was, but that woiuld take the lawyers and the insurance companies to NOT settle out of court to save costs.


No clue, each time I think I know the rules, I don't.