I can’t think of anything more predictably than having the final hole dogleg around a large pond or having a pond up tight against the final green. When you start to go through all the new courses that you know – check out how many times the architect has turned to this technique. Throw in the fact that most of them are either back breaking long par four to provide a “championship” finish or a shorter par five “so that a tournament can be decided by one heroic shot” zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
It’s time that golf got more thought in the finishing hole. Look at the 18th at Olympic, a short uphill par four with a decidedly tricky approach shot. That was still a great finish despite the fact that it had no water or no length. Winged Foot’s 18th, while long, is protected by a very aggressive shoulder of the green with no bunkers – let alone water. Southern Hills was a wonderful uphill approach to a very tough green – yet so many of our courses revolve around a man made water feature to bring in the “drama” of water at the close.
What ever happened to the notion of a hole that we could attack at the end of the round? I love Troon’s 18th where a birdie is definitely in the cards but the hole is still full of danger if you become too aggressive. Think about all the links courses and the finishing holes. Very few have water except the occasional burn – streams don’t bother me as much as ponds do. Almost all the finishers outside of “Car-nasty” are quite playable with many being downright easy.
So coming back to North America – why the hell has the long par four or short par five become the defacto finisher. I get TPC – because of the tournament – but 99.9% of all other courses built won’t even see a significant amateur event let along the pros. Look at Weston’s finisher that requires a bounce in approach, look at Toronto Golf’s that is largely misunderstood but a great little hole. St. Georges, Hamilton, Westmount, Jasper, Banff (the real one), Capilano, Highlands. It’s time to break this silly notion and design better finishing holes.
Before you point out Pebble Beach is the best closer in golf – which I agree – that one is all natural. I’m talking about a created situation that I’ve seen way too many times.