Sunday, June 04, 2006

18 holes/18 days - Day 1 - 10th at Riviera

I'm going to talk about the 18 holes that most influenced my thinking. I will touch on each hole and what I think makes them great and what I learnt from each one. I will stick to 18 holes from 18 courses by 18 architects.

Day 1 - 10th at Riviera

the smart line in red, the usual line in yellow

My favorite “designed” hole is undoubtedly the short par four 10th at Riviera. I love most short par fours since everybody has a chance on a short par four. For the average player, here lies the opportunity to make a par; and for the better player, a chance to make birdie.

The 10th hole at Riviera may be the most deceiving hole in all of golf, after all a 311 yard par four should be a push-over right? The hole is easily reachable from the tee which naturally entices a bold player to play for the green. One of the joys of the Nissan is watching how many players try to hit the green, and make five. Even though they know missing right is certain peril and most strokes are lost from missing right, they continue to look directly at the green. The true genius of the design lies in the green itself, it slopes sharply away unless you come in from well left. This is a very special hole, after all how many holes do you know where the longest way to the hole is the most efficient to make a score?

the green falls away to the right

But is doesn’t stop with just the green. When you see the hole, you are surprised to find out it is built over a huge flat wide-open expanse. Thomas and Bell have added a series of bunkers that further add to the feeling of width. The other thing the bunkers do is perfectly frame the line directly to the green. The funny part is the left edge of the fairway, where the smart lay-up is played, looks like the worst option from the tee. How many holes do you know where the smart play is the least obvious and the riskiest play is the most understandable?

notice how the bunkers tell you to go at the green, and look at all the width

The player is left on the tee just brimming with confidence that they can knock it on, and the architect has gone well out of his way to encourage this. You may get lucky with your silly choice and make a birdie or a par through an excellent tee shot (as I did). But as my host, a regular member said, you won’t pull that off two days in a row. Once you make six from the right, you take the route to the left all but a few times a year – if you want to score.The hole has many options, needs a great deal of learning to play it well, and allows all level of players a good chance at a score. This is a perfect hole at only 311 yards. So please explain to me why we need 7500 yard courses?

So what did I learn from the 10th? I learnt that the tilt of the green can dictate position on the fairway. That deception still works in this day and age of yardage. That enticement done well, will usually win out of rationale thought because we just can help ourselves “from having a go” That 300 yards is still enough despite technology.

Next Hole:


Anonymous said...

I am curious, has you ever seen a par 5 influenced by this hole? Where the second/third shot options resembled this layout closely. Seems to me to be an ideal risk/reward scenario that would tempt good players from about 220 to 270.

Ian Andrew said...

Good question, and I'm trying to think this one out. From a green end I'm drawing a blank, but I bet there are some great examples of the bnkering technique. Doak's work has a lot of subtle strategy that is not very clear at first, particularly at Pacific Dunes. I bet there's lots once you start to look. The green is another story.

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