Saturday, May 06, 2006

Routing to Add Difficulty - Part 1

How do you make holes easy by routing, very simple, route the holes through valleys because it contains the ball and propels the shot to the flattest area. They happen to be very attractive and very popular holes because of the natural framing. This is why a lot of architects use containment mounding; it creates artificial valleys along all holes. This is also why so many big budget architects cut all the holes into the land and create to make valleys where they don’t have them. I really hope by now this blog has established that a popular approach, like above, does not lead to greatness, it only ensures comfort to the player.

I wanted to discuss four (possibly more) different ways to make a hole more difficult by routing alone, so that you may understand the value of using the land in creating difficult situations. Once you see the techniques, you will understand more of what goes into creating a great hole in the routing stage.

The easiest shot is hitting into a bowl, the most difficult shot is hitting onto a crown. When a crown is used as a landing in a fairway, it places a premium on the ability of a player to hit a shot. This unpopular technique is one of the best to place accuracy at a premium above distance.

The 13th at Pine Valley shows us that the crown defines the landing area and the difficulty just fine without bunkers. The actual amount of fairway we have to try and hit is quite small, since anything on the edges will be propelled of into the rough. While the corridor for the hole is as bigger than most of the other holes, this is by far the toughest and tightest landing area to find on the course.

The 5th at Crystal Downs goes one step further on the idea. The player has to decide whether to try leaving it on the diagonal ridge for a clear shot, but most likely from an awkward lie; or to try and take it blindly over the ridge to a flat plateau and risk having it roll into the rough in the lower right bowl. The landform dictates every part of this hole since even the green slopes hard right away from the ridge making placement a key from the tee, and going for the green a pipe dream. All this difficulty at 335 yards.

The second method is using the natural cross slope against the player. When the land falls hard to the right, it sets up a natural fade for the golfer. If the green also falls the same way we get have the difficulty of having to hit a draw from a fade lie. Now only a simple cross slope is dictating the shot making of the player.

The first example is so simple and so effective. The 15th at Garden City slopes hard right from tee to green, with fescue on either side. The player must hit a light draw to hold the ball on the fairway and then hit a draw from a fade lie to find the green. Both require shaping shots on a hole with no bunkers in play, just the slopes of the ground dictating the play of the hole. I can’t believe we don’t see this one a lot more, its so simple and so effective.

William Flynn took this one step further when he used a more aggressive version of this technique at the 16th at Huntingdon Valley. The slope of the hole falls very hard to the right, but Flynn chose to bend the hole around the trees to the left. You end up with a hole falling to the right and doglegging to the left. You have no choice but to draw the ball into the slope to hold the fairway, and you must hit a perfect tee shot to do it. Then you face an uphill approach from a heavy fade lie into a green that requires a draw, because he angled it to only accept that shot. This is the most difficult type of hole to play, and a very unpopular hole with modern players because they must manufacture a shot under pressure. Very few architects will build this style of hole due to the difficulty it creates.

Sunday I’ll provide two more types and two examples of each again.


turfguy said...

Great blog, love your articles. Will you be talking about design strategies soon e.g. Strategic, Penal, heroic etc?

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