Merion West has a great example
For a change I find myself writing first thing in the morning.
Often architects have found natural plateau sites in their routings, and occasionally some are even high enough to be classified as skyline greens. For some courses the banks were still left at fairway height like the fantastic green site called “Foxy” at Dornoch, but at many others like the Merion West the slope was left as rough. A slope of long grass used to be a very common technique used to handle this situation, but this has become a rare in today’s golf courses.
Why is it disappearing?
Most architects have a tendency to turn to bunkers to front every green site because of the dramatic effect that they offer and the contrast that they present. The dark green and light green contrast pales in comparison to the flash of white against the sea of green. I think many see the bank of grass as too old fashioned a look and something that doesn’t fit into the playability model of the modern architect. I do think the major change in philosophy came through increased grading, most of these are turned into a maintainable slope that becomes a fairway approach. The theory is the weaker player could run it up while the strong player must head the potential of coming up shot and rolling the ball back. Considering modern architecture props almost all greens in the air for “definition” I’m surprised it isn’t used more just for variety.
Why is this still a good technique?
The grass bank makes a nice change of pace to always bunkering the slopes. It offers players a fairly easy recovery since most of these shots are up hill and from a comfortable lie. It is much less cost to maintain than a bunker and helps weaker players with speed of play. This can be a handy choice for public or resort courses. The hazard is unique since it does not capture or repel the ball and holds the shots in place making the course a bit easier than short grass would. It is also a wonderful way to create shadows and the bluegrass offers a great contrast between the fairway and the green. Finally it is a wonderful was to show the elevation change between the fairway and the green.
Would I use this technique a lot? No, it has to have it’s place, but Pete Dye proved it still can be used as a wonderful simple contrast to front a green. It’s never wise to throw out any idea because they all have their place.
Thursday and Friday: an arguement building in the field/an arguement for working drawings