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shihtappens

Venting: too many courses that are difficult, slow, expensive and contrived.

34 posts in this topic

Courses that host championship golf events should be difficult. Not every course should aspire to this. Most courses should be made for most golfers. Pick a difficulty - steep uphill; three-tiered green; hard to miss fairway bunker or unusual length - and make that the signature for the hole. Don't just pile all of the above, plus much more, into every hole! Make terrain, weather and lay-out the key obstacles to par -- not a bunch of gee-gaws and design tricks added in and slapped on like the nitro patches worn by the senior members.

I am sick of "pristine" coiffed courses, with miles of paved + curbed cart paths and looong traverses from green to tee that take 4.5 hours (minimum) to play and are more closely related to miniature, not major, caliber. Give me a challenging, honest track with rumpled fairways and a sensible price, where you walk 18 holes in 3 hours and can then buy a pitcher of beer for ten bucks and a hot dog for $2.

I really could not care less if the sand trap on 18 is shaped like the pope's hat; if Vivaldi strings inspire my pre-round constitutional or if the $5 bottled water is from a Greenland iceberg. I do care to play a golf course that is fair, fun and fast.

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IMHO golf course design has definitely improved from some ridiculous course layouts of the 1980's and early 90's.  There seemed to be a phase when architects were engaged in an undeclared war of one-upmanship as to who could make the most ridiculously hard course.  The downside being, of course, that after the curiousity seekers and scalp hunters had played there once no one wanted to pay big bucks to go through that level of pain and agony.  I think the current curse (but also a necessity in many cases) is the course that wends its way through the housing development created concurrent with the course.  Even there the designers have improved the concept by leaving more buffer zone between the course and the housing.  My beef is that these designs almost always require carts and I prefer to walk.  Belonged to a course in Arkansas where the distance from fairway to the houses lining the course was waaaayyyyy to small.  Almost every week someone would bounce a drive off of a roof.  A golf ball hitting a shake roof is surprisingly noisy.

But I'm with you - the course I belong to is a 1929 design (Herbert Strong), perfectly walkable and plenty difficult at 6400 yards.  I'm fortunate that I can belong there but would definitely seek out that type of course if I played elsewhere.  I'm also a big fan of Donald Ross courses for that reason as well.

Harry S. Colt had a great quote about this “it may be well to bear in mind that golf is primarily a pastime and not a penance, and that the player should have the chance of extracting from the game the maximum amount of pleasure with the minimum amount of discomfort, as punishment for his evil ways. He will not obtain this pleasure unless you provide plenty of difficulties, but surely there is no need for vindictiveness.”

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I played Chambers Bay last week.  Its seems to relish in being exotic and sometimes almost absurd.  Its far from "pristine" but being called a links course allows you scalped fairways and not being able to tell when the fairway ends and the green begins.  Courses should not have a fairway pot bunker in the middle of the fairway that has stairs down into it.  The sand was AT LEAST ten feet from the top on line to the green.  For most people it would truly be called an unplayable lie.  I certainly cannot hit a sand shot straight up.  Anything off the fairway was in a sandy waste area.  I was told that in the past the rough was left twelve inches tall.  Fortunately for me, that was cut down.  So it was either fairway or sand.

If you miss one of the par threes, your are in sand.  If you hit the edge of the green on a par three, you might easily roll off into the sand.   My partner missed a par three green high but wide.  It rolled fifty yards back down the fairway into a sandy waste area.  He was left with a seventy yard sand shot.  The first shot was short of the green and rolled back into the waste area.  Every green has at least one steep ridge and multiple slopes.  The greens were pretty hard didn't hold shots well at all.

All that being said, I managed to play well, avoided most of the trouble and would go back tomorrow if green fees weren't four to five times higher there than other courses I play.  The setting is stunning.  It will be a kick to watch the 2015 Open.

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Originally Posted by Filbert

I played Chambers Bay last week.  Its seems to relish in being exotic and sometimes almost absurd.  Its far from "pristine" but being called a links course allows you scalped fairways and not being able to tell when the fairway ends and the green begins.  Courses should not have a fairway pot bunker in the middle of the fairway that has stairs down into it.  The sand was AT LEAST ten feet from the top on line to the green.

None of that seems terribly ridiculous to me. And it sounds a lot like golf in Scotland, which I loved when I was there. :)

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Another problem that seems to be everywhere is designers going for length and producing 600+ yard par 5's etc.

Im sure this is why Jack Nicklous and his design company got over looked for the Olympic course because they went for a challenge instead of straight out length the eventual winner went for?

But anyway, surely Merian showed them that you dont have to be nearly 8000 yards to challenge the PGA pro's? Will anyone take notice though?

Regards

Mailman

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Originally Posted by shihtappens

Courses that host championship golf events should be difficult. Not every course should aspire to this. Most courses should be made for most golfers. Pick a difficulty - steep uphill; three-tiered green; hard to miss fairway bunker or unusual length - and make that the signature for the hole. Don't just pile all of the above, plus much more, into every hole! Make terrain, weather and lay-out the key obstacles to par -- not a bunch of gee-gaws and design tricks added in and slapped on like the nitro patches worn by the senior members.

I am sick of "pristine" coiffed courses, with miles of paved + curbed cart paths and looong traverses from green to tee that take 4.5 hours (minimum) to play and are more closely related to miniature, not major, caliber. Give me a challenging, honest track with rumpled fairways and a sensible price, where you walk 18 holes in 3 hours and can then buy a pitcher of beer for ten bucks and a hot dog for $2.

I really could not care less if the sand trap on 18 is shaped like the pope's hat; if Vivaldi strings inspire my pre-round constitutional or if the $5 bottled water is from a Greenland iceberg. I do care to play a golf course that is fair, fun and fast.

I'm there with you.  And I'm not a trophy bagger.  I don't enjoy paying a premium price to play a "known" course just to get my brains beat in.  I like to play golf , and I prefer to play a course which allows that.  I don't like courses where every errant shot is punished with a lost ball.  I love trying recovery shots, and courses which don't allow them are very low on my list of places I like to play.

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Finger pointing could be directed in many directions in this general topic.  Course designs should have appropriate tee boxes for those that do not want 600 yard par 5s and 500 yard par 4s -- most do, but the golfers in many cases select the wrong tees for their length and skill level.

Murfield is in the British Open rota and I just read where members there consider it dishonorable to take longer than 2 hours and 45 minutes to play 18 holes.  That may be over-stated and extreme, but I do wish no round of golf ever took more than 4 hours and if a group was holding up play for whatever reason, they should be moved ahead or pulled to the side.  I think a foursome can play a championship course in 3 hours 45 minutes and not feel rushed, but I am dreaming thinking this will ever happen -- just go watch a high school golf tournament.  They are slower than glaciers.

I enjoyed reading about Lee Trevino's approach to learn to play better.  He played faster, and turned that into an advantage.  I have yet to see a really good golfer take an extra minute or two over-reading a putt and concluded they putted any better than a more normal amount of time.

Slow play is my biggest grip, not course design.  Course design can be handled by not playing unreasonable (for the golfer) courses or moving up a tee box (or two.)  It is much harder to fix a golfer who has programmed themselves to waste time, be unprepared to play when it is their turn, or who takes far too long to analyze and prepare for a shot.... just my opinion.

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The OP has hit on something that while true in some aspects, also addresses some tendencies I've found in my three year journey to be the nature of golf and golfers.  The game is hard enough, but many golfers seem attracted to the courses that feature that hard to reach island green, that 600 yard par 5, and maybe even a 280 yard par 3.

I've found golf to be unique in this sense, maybe because we play by the same rules (in spirit) and on some of the same courses we want the full pro experience even if our games aren't ready for it.  Why else would 36+ 'cappers want to play from the tips, using blades on a 7500 yard course.  Most weekend warriors wouldn't want to experience a pro pitcher throwing a 85 mph curve that starts out at their head, take a hit from a speeding 225 lb safety in football or play tennis with a pro that serves at 100mph + but we're masochists when it comes to golf.

Course designers have their own ideas on how courses should be designed, but ultimately they design courses based on their observations and feedback on what golfers want.  I hear / read all the time golfers discuss not playing certain courses because they are "too short", or not challenging but carry a handicap closer to 20 than scratch.   Guys don't typically brag about the easy Par 5 they birdied, the best golf stories are about the near impossible Par 5 they were happy to bogey.

It's hard to put the blame on course designers when we're the ones (golfers in general) asking them to make it hurt so good.

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The only thing that bothers me is the craze with making par 3s ridiculously long!  Played a course the other day where the shortest par 3 was 177 yards.  One of my favorite courses is in the boat it is in with me because it has short par 3s.  One plays at 135 yards with a huge bunker guarding the front of the green and if you go long you will be lost in the woods.  That's what makes the par 3s fun, not taking a vicious whack and trying to roll one up the green. I can handle 550+ par 5s because I still have a chance to reach the green in regulation.  But when you have 200+ yard par 3s I lose interest in the course.

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Originally Posted by newtogolf

The OP has hit on something that while true in some aspects, also addresses some tendencies I've found in my three year journey to be the nature of golf and golfers.  The game is hard enough, but many golfers seem attracted to the courses that feature that hard to reach island green, that 600 yard par 5, and maybe even a 280 yard par 3.

I've found golf to be unique in this sense, maybe because we play by the same rules (in spirit) and on some of the same courses we want the full pro experience even if our games aren't ready for it.  Why else would 36+ 'cappers want to play from the tips, using blades on a 7500 yard course.  Most weekend warriors wouldn't want to experience a pro pitcher throwing a 85 mph curve that starts out at their head, take a hit from a speeding 225 lb safety in football or play tennis with a pro that serves at 100mph + but we're masochists when it comes to golf.

Course designers have their own ideas on how courses should be designed, but ultimately they design courses based on their observations and feedback on what golfers want.  I hear / read all the time golfers discuss not playing certain courses because they are "too short", or not challenging but carry a handicap closer to 20 than scratch.   Guys don't typically brag about the easy Par 5 they birdied, the best golf stories are about the near impossible Par 5 they were happy to bogey.

It's hard to put the blame on course designers when we're the ones (golfers in general) asking them to make it hurt so good.


I think it's because it's safer for you to try to play the same distances as a pro with same name equipment. I wouldn't want to be hit by a 225 pound safety, but I have been hit with a tennis ball served at 100mph (it hurts, the ego too!).

So, in the case of golf only the ball is at risk )

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Originally Posted by trackster

The only thing that bothers me is the craze with making par 3s ridiculously long!  Played a course the other day where the shortest par 3 was 177 yards.  One of my favorite courses is in the boat it is in with me because it has short par 3s.  One plays at 135 yards with a huge bunker guarding the front of the green and if you go long you will be lost in the woods.  That's what makes the par 3s fun, not taking a vicious whack and trying to roll one up the green. I can handle 550+ par 5s because I still have a chance to reach the green in regulation.  But when you have 200+ yard par 3s I lose interest in the course.

I agree, I hate long par 3's.  My home course has one Par 3 that is 185 from the whites (tees I play) and 220 - 235 from blacks.  It's not a large green and left of and behind green is lined with bunkers so hitting short is safest play.

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Originally Posted by trackster

The only thing that bothers me is the craze with making par 3s ridiculously long!  Played a course the other day where the shortest par 3 was 177 yards.  One of my favorite courses is in the boat it is in with me because it has short par 3s.  One plays at 135 yards with a huge bunker guarding the front of the green and if you go long you will be lost in the woods.  That's what makes the par 3s fun, not taking a vicious whack and trying to roll one up the green. I can handle 550+ par 5s because I still have a chance to reach the green in regulation.  But when you have 200+ yard par 3s I lose interest in the course.

I like being able to hit every club in my bag, including on par 3s. Since few par 4s require me to hit anything over a short iron approach, I'd rather they have a long iron off the tee for a par 3 than forcing me to hit one into a monster par 4. Play from the shorter tees if it makes you feel so much better to hit a couple clubs less.

If the trouble's so bad you need to make a miracle up and down to save par that's another matter, like at Merion, but those greens were pretty big too. It seemed like it was pretty possible to make a bogey from missing the green, but it would require one's full attention.

I can understand that most of us can't elevate those clubs enough to hit over bunkers, but I like the challenge and feel it makes the course harder only for poor ballstrikers. That and too many people feel a sense of entitlement in hitting their long clubs that they should only need to do so into par 5s for an eagle chance or to find the fairway on a tight par 4. Hitting 7-9 irons gets boring, especially on the same course every time.

The other thing you should realize is that while a 200 yard tee shot might require a wood for many, it's a controlled mid iron for the long hitters. Being able to carry the ball to the hole is a skill to be rewarded, especially on these types of holes where most players are getting a stroke from their handicap anyway. It's not like most players will hit any decent amount of greens in regulation anyway, so why fret not getting the hardest one on the course? Could we call it a par 4 and suddenly it'd be considered an easy hole without changing the scoring average?

And in response to the pot bunkers being unfair: Who said you deserve to have a shot at the green from the bunker? Don't hit it in the bunker! Take your sand wedge, not your 6 iron, and hit OUT, not necessarily in the direction of the green. IIRC Adam Scott hit the face of a fairway bunker last year in the Open with his first sand shot before wisely hacking out sideways. Cost him the title, along with his putting. If you can't hit some insane shot to clear the lip you don't deserve to escape unscathed.

I like those types of hazards better in match play though. When I'm sticking to my gameplan in stroke play I don't like to hit land mines on the fairways, but it's entertaining in a match because it can shake things up.

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Originally Posted by LuciusWooding

I like being able to hit every club in my bag, including on par 3s. Since few par 4s require me to hit anything over a short iron approach, I'd rather they have a long iron off the tee for a par 3 than forcing me to hit one into a monster par 4. Play from the shorter tees if it makes you feel so much better to hit a couple clubs less.

If the trouble's so bad you need to make a miracle up and down to save par that's another matter, like at Merion, but those greens were pretty big too. It seemed like it was pretty possible to make a bogey from missing the green, but it would require one's full attention.

I can understand that most of us can't elevate those clubs enough to hit over bunkers, but I like the challenge and feel it makes the course harder only for poor ballstrikers. That and too many people feel a sense of entitlement in hitting their long clubs that they should only need to do so into par 5s for an eagle chance or to find the fairway on a tight par 4. Hitting 7-9 irons gets boring, especially on the same course every time.

The other thing you should realize is that while a 200 yard tee shot might require a wood for many, it's a controlled mid iron for the long hitters. Being able to carry the ball to the hole is a skill to be rewarded, especially on these types of holes where most players are getting a stroke from their handicap anyway. It's not like most players will hit any decent amount of greens in regulation anyway, so why fret not getting the hardest one on the course? Could we call it a par 4 and suddenly it'd be considered an easy hole without changing the scoring average?

And in response to the pot bunkers being unfair: Who said you deserve to have a shot at the green from the bunker? Don't hit it in the bunker! Take your sand wedge, not your 6 iron, and hit OUT, not necessarily in the direction of the green. IIRC Adam Scott hit the face of a fairway bunker last year in the Open with his first sand shot before wisely hacking out sideways. Cost him the title, along with his putting. If you can't hit some insane shot to clear the lip you don't deserve to escape unscathed.

I like those types of hazards better in match play though. When I'm sticking to my gameplan in stroke play I don't like to hit land mines on the fairways, but it's entertaining in a match because it can shake things up.

I have no problem hitting the distance required to play long par 3s I just don't like them and think that they are a "stupid" way to make a hole hard.  The course I had mentioned earlier has 4 par 3s that each have there own feel to it.  The first requires you to land it on the green because if you land short you are in the bunker and if you go long you are in the woods.  The 2nd is surrounded by knee high native grass.  The 3rd requires a carry all over water.  The last one is probably the most boring and the longest.  I would rather have these 135-150 yard holes then the 203 yard par 3 with no hazards at my home course where you can roll one up to the green along the fairway.  Most people won't get a GIR mainly because of the length of the hole.

In the U.S. open one of the par 3s was playing 265 yards or so.  Pros were hitting driver, that is not a par 3.  If hitting scoring clubs into greens is boring for you than I advise you move back a tee box or hit iron off the tee to leave yourself a longer 2nd.  To me there is nothing better than hitting a PW that bounces 2 inches past its pitch mark and sits right by the hole.

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I find that most difficult courses are fair and play well if played from tees in line with the golfers skill. I can think of just one course that is unnecessarily difficult, length is a factor as well as the insane amount of ESA on the course. But it's really just a bad design. Blind tee shots into tight fairways that are lined by homes. I've hit what I thought was a perfect drive only to discover I can't find my ball. Downhill tee shots that roll very far, through the layup area and end up in ESA that splits the fairway on a very long par 5 where the longest club you can hit from the tee is a mid-long iron. Potato chip greens with pin placements on ridges that make it impossible to land even the best approach shot close. At best you hope it doesn't roll too far off the green into a collection area 12 feet below the green.

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Originally Posted by Filbert

Courses should not have a fairway pot bunker in the middle of the fairway that has stairs down into it.  The sand was AT LEAST ten feet from the top on line to the green.  For most people it would truly be called an unplayable lie.

Originally Posted by iacas

None of that seems terribly ridiculous to me. And it sounds a lot like golf in Scotland, which I loved when I was there. :)

I have enjoyed Scottish golf also, but you might feel differently if you were a 30 capper who hit his most solid drive of the day right down the middle of a fairway into the unplayable pot bunker.  He is now faced with walking back to the tee or trying to extricate himself at the risk of being stuck in the bunker for the rest of the day.

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It's the psychology of golf. Play enough and you'll eagle the 487-yard "par five" at your rinky dink course, with plenty of birdies to boot.

But hole a 50-footer for birdie after three great shots on a 620-yard monster with ponds and bunkers, and you can tell that story for ages.

Golfers are oddly very, very good about remembering good shots and forgetting the bad ones (that's why many golfers take on too much risk far too frequently). The tougher the shot, the less chance you have of pulling it off, but the sweeter it will be if you DO manage to nail it.

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I agree and IMO a bigger problem than quirky course design is golfers playing to their weaknesses rather than strengths.

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Originally Posted by LuciusWooding

And in response to the pot bunkers being unfair: Who said you deserve to have a shot at the green from the bunker? Don't hit it in the bunker! Take your sand wedge, not your 6 iron, and hit OUT, not necessarily in the direction of the green…. If you can't hit some insane shot to clear the lip you don't deserve to escape unscathed.

I am just an average golfer.  I think that bunkers SHOULD cost you for hitting into them.  They usually do for me.  But I like to have half a chance and not have to hit an "insane" shot to merely get back to the fairway.  This trap I mentioned had frickin' STAIRS into it and the shallowest line out was backwards over a six foot lip.  And being a pot bunker, the chance of not having a clear swing was likely as the walls were nearly vertical.  A failed attempt would leave you against the other wall.  A challenge?  Absolutely!  Reasonably likely the average guy could get out in one shot?  Hmmmm…...I think I'd still be in there if I had to cleanly hit it out.  I guess I will just take the advice to simply not hit it in there.

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