Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Undulating Tees - Don't Make Sense




from Ron Whitten's photos in his Golf Digest article




I wasn’t going to post today but after shoveling a foot of snow, I wanted a break before starting on some work. So I ended up at Geoff Shackelford’s site http://www.geoffshackelford.com/ which I go to every single day to see what’s new.

On today’s list of articles is a link to Ron Whitten’s review of Chambers Bay.
The link to the article: http://www.golfdigest.com/golfworld/columnists/2008/02/gw20080215whitten?currentPage=2

There was one particular part of that article that got me laughing - it was a pitch down the middle of the plate that I could not resist.

There is hardly a flat spot on the premises, and that includes the tee boxes. In what may be the first truly original design idea of the 21st century, Charlton convinced his colleagues to abandon traditional tee pads in favor of long, skinny, free-flowing ribbons of teeing space. Many are not much wider than walking paths; many are recessed rather than elevated; most are gently contoured with a variety of flats spots just the size of throw rugs. The idea is to pick the lie that might best help shape a shot off the tee: sidehill lies if you wish to fade or draw the ball, a slightly uphill lie if you need help getting airborne, a downhill lie if you want to keep it under the wind, or a flat lie. It's too early to know whether USGA officials will accept those unorthodox teeing areas for the U.S. Open. Jones hopes they will.”

"We'll probably address that after the [2010] U.S. Amateur," he says. "But it's not like there are no flat spots out there. We have dozens of 'batter's boxes' within the undulations. I would hope they'd position the markers far apart and let golfers chose their particular lies. Our goal was to get into the players' minds, even on the tee, and to put some integrity back into tee shots. Don't let them just stick a peg in the ground and bomb it."


from Ron Whitten's photos in his Golf Digest article






For what it’s worth Chambers Bay looks like a great Modern course and is perhaps the rival to Whistling Straights for the Best Modern Style course ever built.

Now what made me laugh was the idea for the tees - which is the worst idea I’ve heard in a long time. Ask any player where they want to tee their ball and they will ALL say on a flat lie. The reason is because that lie is predictable and that is what we practice on – a flat lie. If you need to “work” the ball, like they suggest you might want to, you will make an adjustment to your swing. There’s no way any player will CHOOSE an uneven lie to work the ball since it’s unpredictable – and they never actively practice this.

Here’s the secondary problem of this idea. Let’s say that 50% of the tees are flat and 50% has undulation. Given the choice, as I said before, all players will choose a flat lie. What we end up with is all the wear on the flat sections. If you think putting the tees only on the roll will solve this – go play a public course and watch what happens to the tee markers on a poor section of tee. I digress, essentially assuming the 50-50 ratio we have cut the useable area by not half but by in reality by 60% when you take in account of the lost area around those flat spots. So golfers will choose to go to 40% of the available tee every time. So what we have is a poorly conceived idea that will lead to concentrated wear. If the Jones team thinks golfers will accept this notion of uneven tees they’re kidding themselves. This is not “old school” as suggested but a completely foreign idea that will never be accepted.

I ask you to ask all your friends to see if anyone of them in competition would intentionally tee the ball up on an uneven section of a tee.

To Part 2

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the rules of golf say you have to tee it up within 2 club lengths and behind the tee markers. How can you have flat, uphill, downhill, and sidehill (left and right) in such a confined space? $100 says before too long, those "batter's boxes" will be expanded into individual 'flat' tees with rough in between.

Anonymous said...

Ian, I agree with you 100%, this idea makes no sense at all.

Anonymous said...

I played Chambers Bay last summer. The tees are mildly uneven. Not even noticeable in many cases. Certainly not enough slope to help you work the ball. Most of the pitch and roll is where the tees flow into the fairways - not useable in any event. This seems to be a tempest in a "teepot".

Anonymous said...

Ian, went over to JS's blog on your suggestion hoping to see a clever quip from you on the subject. If "tempest in a teepot" is correct, wouldn't it just appear more like crappy construction rather than than what they intended?

Anonymous said...

What about the tee on the 10th at San Francisco Golf Club? The tee undulates quite a bit (at least it appears to in photos I've seen).

Ian Andrew said...

More to come tomorrow - this has become a hot topic all of a sudden.

Vic Ferrari said...

Most stupid idea I've heard of since the "aquatic driving range"

Anonymous said...

You can't call yourself a "minimalist" designer and then poo-poo tees that aren't artificially flattened.

If the tees were artificially mounded, that would be one thing, but it's not clear that that's the case here.

Your own website says you believe great golf holes appear as if they were "simply 'found,' rather than created." I guess that doesn't include the tee boxes.

Philip said...

Andrew, I was kinda hoping you'd say something about this.

"If the tees were artificially mounded, that would be one thing, but it's not clear that that's the case here."

From Daniel Wexler: Chambers Bay, a brand-new Tacoma, Washington municipal course attractively spawned from a reclaimed Puget Sound gravel quarry.

So it is a construct, albeit a very attractive one. But it's hardly minimalist...

Kelly Blake Moran said...

Ian,

I most definately look for a favorable tilt on a tee if I want to shape a tee shot. I have always done that and have felt at the very least it settles my mind to know that the ground is in my favor. However, that does not mean I want my tees sloing in different directions purposely.

Ian Andrew said...

"You can't call yourself a "minimalist" designer and then poo-poo tees that aren't artificially flattened."

If that is the standard now - I'm not a minimalist.


Kelly,

My eyes have been opened to players shaping shots of of certain lies - but like you I'm not going to create this intentionally.

Kelly Blake Moran said...

Ian,

I agree, the ability to shape a shot from the tee should be based more upon the player's creativity and skill in adjusting grip, stance, swing plane, etc in order to shape the shot, rather than prowling the tee looking for that one spot in the tee where the architect deemed he/she can use to shape their shot. It is another case of dumbing down design in my view.

MikeE said...

Having played Chambers Bay twice, I didn't even notice the supposed unevenness of the tees. They certainly are free flowing with plenty of slope in the transitions, but they're pretty flat (at least where the staff positioned the tee markers).

Anonymous said...

so, does the golfer assume that the lies of the tee are sloped side to side to the direction of the tee, what about front to back?

If the tee is sloped I do like the "help" it provides. Providing the shot calls for that help from the slope. Lord help me when I have to L to R when the slope is R to L.

cwlozier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cwlozier said...

Mr. Andrew,

To proclaim that NO player would EVER choose a non-flat lie to help achieve a desired ball flight (especially in windy conditions) is ridiculous and irresponsible. Having worked as a caddie at Bandon Dunes and as a single digit handicap, I have used similar features on Crenshaw/Coore's Trails intentionally, thereby making your statement false. Whether or not these two genius designers/artists intended their tee box "designs" for this purpose is certainly debatable. Nonetheless, there is at least one player who finds this opportunity worthwhile. It does make some sense and could even be construed as a truly original idea or even as "old school".

Having played many great courses around the world - Banff & Highland Links, Sunningdale, Woking, Swinley Forest, The Addington, Ganton, Alwoodley, Rye, Royal St. George's, & Deal, Ballybunion, Lahinch, Portmarnock, & Royal County Down, and Cypress Point & all three Bandon tracks - I would even go out on a limb and say that this idea might have been considered before (even subconsciously) by the masters of the Golden Age given what I have seen at these special places where tees are rarely completely level. This possibility might even make Jones' idea a throwback design feature.

Still, I wouldn't dare claim to know what ALL golfers consider useful or useless design attributes. In fact, I would argue that the best design features are those where opinions vary the most.

Just out of curiosity, what is your playing background?

Cheers

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