Monday, February 26, 2007

10 Course I want to See and Why – Part 2

I’ve considered an awful lot of courses today and settled on my final five. While I could keep going with this list probably forever, I thought it better to stick to the initial question. It pained me not to select courses like Ballybunion or Fishers Island, which both capture my imagination and I will likely play them before any of my 10 courses on the list. I was stuck to five that offered something different or vital lessons in architecture that I still could use.

Rye Golf Links, Guy Campbell

My interest in Rye is two-fold. I want to see if the absence of a true three shot hole (the first is a par five at 485 yards) has any effect on what I think of the experience. I’m curious to see if I or my companions would realize. I doubt I will notice, and this may offer a huge impact on my feelings about an over-all par. The other side of Rye is the unbelievable variety and quality of golf holes. Rye’s holes are a text book on the variety of opportunities available to using a landform. The holes take on the dominat ridges by diagonally attacking them, playing off them, between them, over them, from top to top, or the devilish run along the very top of the ridgeline itself. All the possibilities are there!

Myopia Hunt, Herbert Leeds

I’ve always had an attraction to courses that represent a specific time in architectural evolution. This is one of the first, if not the firs, great American course. There is much to learn from the use of bunkering through to the importance of cant in a green. Severe and complicated greens can sometimes be a consistent but strong slope and there are some fine examples here. There is probably the finest collection of short holes in golf, so this for me is a must play since I could argue that this is one of the keys to greatness.

Woodhall Spa Golf Club, SV Hotchkins

If you have ever seen a set of photos that illustrate the bunkering and green sites at Woodhall Spa, then you know where I’m going with this one. The bunkering leans on the severe end of things being very tight and very deep, but this is also the element that sets this one apart. You can’t help but be impressed by the steepness and tightness of the faces right agains t the greens themselves. It begs to question how we do our bunkers and offers new insight into what is possible and to what effect it could create. The heather and gorse add texture and colour to the bunker edges to really make this course stand out. Not to mention that there happens to be a magnificent course also waiting to be enjoyed.

Winged Foot , AW Tillinghast

The only really famous course on my list, but selected for so many reasons that it became a must. There may be few better examples of how to make a course tough and demanding particularly at the greens. I have long been fascinated by the green sites and how Tillinghast created depth and demand by flaring up the sides of the greens. The bunkers flanking the greens are some of the most severe and beautiful in golf. But the most important reason because the course is spectacular despite being built over very average land.

Royal Worlington and Newmarket

Once again any course on an average site that manages to find every nuance available in the land and become a great course is of huge interest. The site is cramped, fairly mundane and yet the course has nine great holes (it is only a nine hole course). This may be one of the finest examples of assessing what features you have to use and getting the most out of each one by using on more than one hole to have a bigger impact. Finally these greens are as bold and interesting a set of green as you’ll find.

That’s my 10, no Augusta or Shinnecock Hills, but a very fine set of unique experiences that is every bit there equal.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Ian for responding to my idea regarding your top 10. Very enjoyable and great insight. I've been fortunate enought to play 7 of them. Based on that, you are in for an educational treat as you make your way through your top 10.

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- Greg

Top 100 Golfer said...

Ian - go at once to Woodhall Spa and stay for several days, world class, you will learn a lot. If you can visit Ganton, not too far away and worthy of study.

Myopia Hunt is one of the treasures of American Golf, highly recommended only.

You made the right choice on Fishers Island in my view, WAY over-rated.