Thursday, January 24, 2008

What Might an Ian Andrew Course Have? – A Redan green site

My favorite design concept is the Redan. The player faces a clear choice to hit a perfect cut shot or play a running draw – both will work – and it’s completely up to the player to decide which is appropriate at that moment.

The name Redan comes from the angle of the front bunker and the diagonal it creates, but in today’s context the name Redan describes green contours that fall away from front right to back left. It is most commonly found as a par three based upon the original at North Berwick, but the green itself has also been used very effectively on par fours to create an interesting approach shot.

Strategically the hole is set up by the diagonal line presented by the front left bunker or bunkers. The player must deal with the hazard by either playing over it or around it using the contours of the approach to the green. Where the shot becomes tough is that the land beyond the approach falls sharply off so that playing away from the Redan bunker will lead to much deeper trouble. The recovery shot from the right or long is in fact the hardest on the hole.

The joy of the hole remains the dilemma from the tee or fairway, do you hit a high fade to hold the green, or a slight draw to feed the ball - either way it certainly is a fun hole to play. The key to the hole remains the contour of the green and the fact that it slopes away on the diagonal set up by the bunker. Since there is no backstop or upslope commonly used to receive the ball, judgment and precision are put at a higher premium on the approach shot.

The green itself is one of the most effective ways to reward shot-making and combat the current equipment – but more importantly the concept asks the player to think and choose which always makes for the best architecture the game has to offer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Might an Ian Andrew Course Have? – A drivable par four

Take it over the top of the bunkers and go for the green - or play it safe left?

This happens to be my favourite hole type and I will look for one in every routing.

It creates an opportunity for the average player to make a par regardless of their skills or their limited ability to hit the ball long. This is also a hole where smart play and control is often better rewarded than aggressive play and length. The average player plans for a par whereas the strong player tends to set his aim on a birdie. Often the player becomes over aggressive on these holes – producing a foolish bogie or worse through bad judgment.

The joy of the short four is its one of the few holes with multiple options from the tee. It is one of the only opportunities to consider a positional shot as an option knowing that the second shot is from a tougher angle but still with a shorter iron.

The great short fours offer the alternative to attack the hole, usually with the risk increasing as the play becomes more aggressive. The best short fours cloud the judgment of the player, make the green seem so easily attainable and encourage excessive risk taking.

The ideal short par four tempts us even though there is such obvious and smart option right before our eyes. I love a hole where the better player succumbs to their ego and thinks that they can make that shot and reaches for the driver. The key to making a great short four is to properly punish the missed shot on the aggressive line and make recovery a challenge. The hole must also reward the player who plays an exceptional shot with the ideal approach or a line right onto the green surface itself. I believe that if you choose the passive line, you should receive a more difficult approach to justify the reason to pursue the aggressive line. Anything less removes the balance of risk and reward that creates the tough decision on the tee. If you’ve built them right, the players will clearly understand the difficulty, see the safe option but be enticed to want to take the risk.