Thursday, December 07, 2006

Redan’s, Biarritz and other clever holes

One of my favorite long par threes is the 4th at Riviera. The hole was conceived as a redan with players facing the option of flying the ball over the massive front bunker or hitting a draw to use the natural contour of the fairway right of the bunker and green to feed the ball down onto the putting surface. Thomas created a daunting carry with the placement of the front bunker, but gave such an open and inviting alternative by adding fairway right of the bunker for the player to use the natural slopes to funnel the ball around the bunker. The only unfortunate thing about Riviera is the infestation of the Kikuya grass really has ruined the viability of this clever approach. What makes the redan so good is that the concept is not land driven, although that makes them easier to build, but driven by the green and approach which can be manufactured in flat land.

I have seen personally seen redan’s by Colt, Thomas, MacDonald, Raynor, Tillinghast and Flynn. Some are not set in great pieces of land, but still play just as well. Flynn in particular used the concept almost exclusively on longer threes since it made most players come into the green along the ground. He felt players would always take to the air unless they had no choice, and only length made the alternative to bounce the ball in a better option.

The 4th at Riviera

To better understand the Redan concept , please click on this link to the previous blog on the origins of the Redan:

The next concept that also is adaptable is the Biarritz. The Biarritz is a concept where the green site and bunkering can be done on any property. The bunker is simple flanking in nature, the green is raised up as a plateau above native grade, and the green contours are the key. Great ones like Yale also have great settings, but others like Fox Chapel (Raynor) are set on plain land. The green itself features a high front plateau, a deep pinnable swale, and high back shelf. The hole is all about accuracy and creativity to find each separate elevation. The interesting thing about the Raynor and MacDonald version of this hole is that they are long just like the original. This once again suggests the option to bounce the ball into the wide open front to access certain pin positions. It also provides options for both the average player and the scratch player.

The Biarritz green at St. Louis CC

To fully understand this idea you may need to read the pervious blog on the origins:
This is just two, there are other concepts that can be drawn in. So as you can see, many of the great concepts of golf can be adapted for a longer, and potentially running approach, so that a long hole is more than just……well…… long.

My final long hole is the long downhill par three:


Anonymous said...

Would the first green at Cutten be considered a biarritz?

Ian Andrew said...

No. That green is, believe it or not, Cutten's idea for a checkerboard. Two low corners and two high corners equal a four square cheackerboard. It is closer to MacDonald's "Double Plateau" green - which is a similar concept.

Cutten had lots of fun ideas.

Guy said...

I believe there's a biarritz on the back nine at Roseland, in Windsor.

ed said...

The 9th at Yale is one my all time favorite holes. I played on the golf team there and got to play it under every type of conditions and the hole never plays the same twice. I think that this is a trait of many great holes.

I was project manager of a course renovation project at a 9 hole course in the Bronx where The First Tee of Metropolitan New York and where I work. I convinced Stephen Kay, our architect, to design a Biarritz hole for our course. It is a bit uphill unlike most holes of this type so the surface of the green is blind. However, I think that this adds to the mystery and challenge of the hole. It is also the 9th hole on our course so a gallery surrounding the green will let players on the tee know how the shot turned out. The green is much less severe that allows pinnable locations in the middle, which I think makes sense at public course. In all the times I played Yale, I have never seen the pin in the middle. It is so severe that it would almost be mini-golf. I wish I could post pictures of this hole and #9 at Yale with its improved condition under Superintendent Scott Ramsey.

Is your next par three a certain West Coast hole numbered 11?

jeff mingay said...

Guy: the Biarritz green on the back nine at Roseland! Hilarious.

It's at #11. A mid-length par 4.

I've been perplexed by that green for years. An authentic, mid-1920s design by Donald Ross (I have his hand-drawn sketches for all 18 greens at Roseland) that, in effect, is indeed a Biarritz-type green!

Good call!

It's a really neat green, too. The front shelf is actually higher than the rear shelf, which creates a strange - yet architecturally interesting - visual, with the swale between the front and rear shelves.

I don't think I've seen a Ross-designed green elsewhere quite like it.

Anonymous said...


The 16th hole at the Pine Ridge Golf Club (Ross) in Winnipeg features a Biarritz green. The holes plays about 180 yards, the back tier is higher than the front and the centre swale is certainly pinnable. Bunkers flank both side of the green.


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Antony said...

Your post is great. Congratulations !

فيس بوك said...

yes Ian Cutten had lots of fun ideas.

generic cialis said...

This suggests the option to bounce the ball into the wide open front to access certain pin positions. It also provides options for both the average player and the scratch player and you can also choose a favorable postition for the wind and take some advantage of that.