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Visual Deception in courses

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I recently just played a course designed by Robert Trent Jones and was amazed at how much visual deception there was. There were greens that looked like they were 10 yards deep and when you got up to them they were actually 30, bunkers that looked short enough to carry and were actually 300 yards, areas that looked completely dead from the tee but were actually fairway, so many different "illusions" almost, I just thought it was very interesting. Luckily I had my laser or I would've been screwed. Anybody played similar courses or find this type of thing interesting as well?

post #2 of 10

Yea, architects can really mess with your eyes. Pete Dye does that a lot to. 

post #3 of 10

I play Tamarack Country Club in Shiloh, IL. It's an early Pete Dye design. Not really long, Par 71, about 6,300 yards from the blues.


Not treacherous, but you have to play it a few times to "see what you're looking at." On some of the par 4s, you're hitting into a funnel. If you're not on the correct side of the fairway, overhanging trees can block your shot into the green.


No. 13, a longer par 4, has a mound on the right in front of the green, which creates an optical illlusion. People often land the ball just barely on the green, which is about 35 yards deep; this can lead to a 3-putt if the pin is back.


No. 9, a 330-yard par 4, has an arched landing area. Pull a driver shot, and you're OB. Leave a hybrid short right, and you have a punch-shot approach to a green that breaks from front to back.


No. 15 is a 300-yd. par 4 off a hill that tempts you to "go for it." Miss left, and you can reach the parallel hazard lake. Miss right, and you're punching downhill out of the trees with a lake as backstop. Lay-up and 3/4 wedge works best, unless your driver is really on target that day.

post #4 of 10
A true hallmark of design is that "deception" factor. The subtleties of trap placement and green design is something not everyone appreciates. As an example- a 'slight' uphill hole with a green that seems open. But- the designer placed a trap 30-40 yds short of the green. From the fairway, the trap appears to be hard against the front edge of the green giving the illusion of the green being closer and better protected. Many golfers will play away from the trap to be assured they don't come up short in the trap. Only to find that the trap is nowhere NEAR the green and the pin was quite inviting if the proper club choice is made. Even with the modern tech like GPS and Rangefinders available, you will still SEE that trap in your line and it will affect your mind if not your shot.
post #5 of 10

Donald Ross was a master at this

post #6 of 10
Well donald wasnt decieving on the drive, but the approach shots is were he got you. Most of his greens were elivated for drainage with alot of false fronts. He used high lip bunkers which make things look closer than they are. I love his courses, they just flow with the land, always looked like they belonge there, nothing looks forced.
post #7 of 10

I spent the first 20 years of my working life a ross gem

post #8 of 10
Originally Posted by wils5150 View Post

I spent the first 20 years of my working life a ross gem

You were a golf course?

post #9 of 10

at a ross gem

post #10 of 10

Course designer Alister MacKenzie was a military camouflage expert.


He began as a surgeon who served in the British Army during the Boer War (fought against the Dutch-descended South Africans in the late 1890s).


The Boers impressed him with their ability to use camouflage to deceive the Brits. He began to see common themes between building golf greens and camouflaging military earthworks. In 1914, amateur golfer MacKenzie won a golf course design competition. World War I intervened, and he returned to the Army not as a doctor but as a camouflage expert.


After the war, he retired from medicine and began designing golf courses. See Wikipedia link for details:


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