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Tom Doak is designing a reversible golf course, which isn't as crazy as it sounds

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

From Golf Digest:

 

http://www.golfdigest.com/blogs/the-loop/2014/08/tom-doak-is-designing-a-revers.html

 

By Ron Whitten

 

The buzz in course architecture this week has been about Tom Doak’s proposed reversible 18-hole course for Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon, Michigan. It’s being hailed as revolutionary and unique. One writer predicts it could be a "trendsetter in sustainable, affordable golf that helps grow the game."

 

Doak is a talented and imaginative golf course designer, but he’s the first to admit the idea is as old as The Old Course at St. Andrews, which to this day remains fully playable both in a counterclockwise routing and in a less conventional clockwise one.

 

The idea isn’t even new to America. In the 1920s, Walter Travis planned the South Course at Westchester Country Club in New York as a reversible 18, and he built a reversible nine-hole course at the short-lived Lincoln Memorial Golf Course in Washington, D.C. William S. Flynn planned at least two reversible nine-hole courses that played as 18, both elaborate backyard affairs. One was Pocantico Hills on John D. Rockefeller’s estate in Tarrytown, N.Y., which still exists; the other was on the Friendship Estate of Washington Post publisher Edward McLean in Washington, D.C., which doesn’t.

post #2 of 17
I read that and I'm still not quite sure what a reversible golf course is.
post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by billchao View Post

I read that and I'm still not quite sure what a reversible golf course is.

 

Forest Dunes right now is widely considered one of the best courses in Michigan. Unfortunately it is in the middle of no where so its not a destination spot.

 

To make it more of a destination they are adding another 18 holes. But these 18 holes will actually be a new 36 holes.  One day it will play going one direction as 18 holes and the next day it will play in reverse as a new 18

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by billchao View Post

I read that and I'm still not quite sure what a reversible golf course is.

They arrange the 1, 9, 10 and 18th so that the tee boxes are not too far from the clubhouse.  Most places have the 9th and 18th greens next to the clubhouse.

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by boogielicious View Post

They arrange the 1, 9, 10 and 18th so that the tee boxes are not too far from the clubhouse.  Most places have the 9th and 18th greens next to the clubhouse.
Really? That's it? So you play the exact same 18 holes but in a different order? I was envisioning tee boxes and greens on both ends of any given hole so it can literally be played in "reverse", but then I couldn't figure out the claims of "sustainable and affordable" because you'd probably need to double up on hazards. Or I guess you could just a have it play really easy in one direction and harder in the other.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest Jones View Post


Really? That's it? So you play the exact same 18 holes but in a different order? I was envisioning tee boxes and greens on both ends of any given hole so it can literally be played in "reverse", but then I couldn't figure out the claims of "sustainable and affordable" because you'd probably need to double up on hazards. Or I guess you could just a have it play really easy in one direction and harder in the other.

I have read about some 36 hole courses that mix up the combination of 9 holes to give different layouts daily.

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest Jones View Post

Really? That's it? So you play the exact same 18 holes but in a different order? I was envisioning tee boxes and greens on both ends of any given hole so it can literally be played in "reverse", but then I couldn't figure out the claims of "sustainable and affordable" because you'd probably need to double up on hazards. Or I guess you could just a have it play really easy in one direction and harder in the other.
Yea that's how's was picturing it, so I was confused. I don't see how just changing the order of the holes to be played makes it more sustainable. I guess I just don't know anything really about golf course design and maintenance.
post #8 of 17

I saw them talk about this on the morning drive saturday or sunday. Seems to me it's not adding 36 holes, the holes will all play the same you just play them in a different order... For me to think of it as 36 holes they'd have to have different tees that altered the way each hole played pretty significantly. A par 4 that changes to a 3, a dogleg that changes to straight, etc

post #9 of 17

There is a guy up in Washington State who built a 9 hole course on his ranch. Problem was he did not have enough room for 9 separate fairways/holes. Instead he built 4 greens with with 9 different tee boxes for those 4 greens. If I remember correctly it something like 3400 yards. 

post #10 of 17

You guys are not understanding the concept, it is not just a different order of the same 18 holes

 

 

It is hard to explain this:  Imagine if you will a hole with 18 greens and 36 tee boxes... One day you play from the 18 tee boxes going one direction the next day you play in the opposite direction from the 18 other tee boxes

 

So the greens are the same but the approaches, the challenges will all be different because it will be from the complete opposite direction

post #11 of 17

Maybe this will help explain it. It is not a new concept, the old course at St. Andrews use to be able to be played in reverse

 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/in-my-opinion/jeremy-glenn-the-reverse-old-course/

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlh1508 View Post
 

Maybe this will help explain it. It is not a new concept, the old course at St. Andrews use to be able to be played in reverse

 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/in-my-opinion/jeremy-glenn-the-reverse-old-course/

Thanks for posting.

post #13 of 17


I remember playing a favorite Gary Player designed course in Florida many years ago (Cutter Sound). It went belly up for a few years and was abandoned. Then, another investor took over the development and had ChiChi Rodriguez re-design the course. He reversed all the holes on the front nine, putting tees where the greens were and vice versa. What a hoot to play a familiar course "backwards". I could not decide which "direction" I liked best.

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlh1508 View Post
 

Maybe this will help explain it. It is not a new concept, the old course at St. Andrews use to be able to be played in reverse

 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/in-my-opinion/jeremy-glenn-the-reverse-old-course/

 

Interesting article, but way too complicated to read at the end of a long day.

 

The easiest way to visualize this is to look at the ancient history of the Old Course at St. Andrews.  Most accounts have the course beginning with 12 holes in the ground arranged linearly, roughly in the shape of a 2 mile long backwards question mark.  Play began next to the first hole in the ground, hitting toward the second hole in the ground.  Tees were not invented until much later, so players would elevate the ball for their first shots with a pinch of sand.  As each hole was finished, play to the next would begin immediately adjacent.  Upon reaching the 12th hole, play would reverse back to the first hole.  In total, 12 holes in the ground, 22 holes of golf played, 11 forwards and 11 reverse.

 

Three problems were soon evident as the game became popular.  One is that all the little sand tees made a mess of the rudimentary putting surfaces.  Eventually, the teeing zones were moved to a specified area about 10 or so yards to the side of the holes in the ground.  Second, the holes would wear out and regularly need to be moved and re-cut.  The third is that the going out players and the returning in players were constantly getting in each other's way.  This was solved by enlarging the rudimentary putting surfaces and putting two holes in each of them for out and back, creating what we now call double greens (except the first and 12th holes in the ground, which were only used in one direction).  Over time, the fairways also enlarged and split to better aim towards each of the two holes in the ground.  At this point, the course could be played either counterclockwise (now the standard way) or clockwise (originally done every other day, but still done one day a year for historical amusement), hence the concept of a reversible golf course.

 

As equipment and golfer skill improved, some of the shorter holes were combined and the course shrank from 22 to 18 holes, the standard worldwide ever since.

 

If you play the Old Course now, you will notice many holes still have tees immediately adjacent to the greens, usually the white or red tees, since the championship tees have been moved back and/or angled several times over the years as equipment and distances improved.

 

Some of the sand traps are not at all in play for the modern standard course, but make perfect strategic sense if you look at the reversed course.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by billchao View Post

I read that and I'm still not quite sure what a reversible golf course is.

 

Green on one side, brown on the other. Rim shot! :-P

post #16 of 17

I've played Forest Dunes several times - the most accurate statement so far is that is is in the middle of nowhere, hell it isn't even close to being near somewhere. They have a ton of land available, I think the development has changed ownership several times. They have a huge clubhouse, and have recently added on-site lodging; when I've been there the service and the food have been great.

 

One of the "unique" features on the course there now is that there are 19 holes, after playing the 18th hole there is a short par 3 19th for bet settling (at least that is what we used it for) and the 19th green has a bunker in the middle.

 

What I envision is that like the existing course the 18th hole will be built away from the clubhouse. So that one day you will play 1-18 and you will end up driving a short distance to the clubhouse, the next day you start at the clubhouse playing first to the 18th hole, and they will have a tee box not far from the 18th green that you will then play to the 17th hole. Depending on where the extra tee boxes are set up they can use the fairways with some additional bunkers on the backside of greens and play from different angles, therefore creating doglegs or bringing water into play, etc. The greens will be the same, but approached from different angles. This course will not be on a large body of water, so it isn't like there is a prevailing wind that will change day-to-day. I will likely make a stop there to see what it is all about, but I can't see this making it a destination course.

 

Forest Dunes is certainly worth playing - but you have to be on the way to somewhere else. It is fairly close to Treetops (around an hour) and probably 2.5 hours from Arcadia Bluffs

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wally Fairway View Post
 

I've played Forest Dunes several times - the most accurate statement so far is that is is in the middle of nowhere, hell it isn't even close to being near somewhere. They have a ton of land available, I think the development has changed ownership several times. They have a huge clubhouse, and have recently added on-site lodging; when I've been there the service and the food have been great.

 

One of the "unique" features on the course there now is that there are 19 holes, after playing the 18th hole there is a short par 3 19th for bet settling (at least that is what we used it for) and the 19th green has a bunker in the middle.

 

What I envision is that like the existing course the 18th hole will be built away from the clubhouse. So that one day you will play 1-18 and you will end up driving a short distance to the clubhouse, the next day you start at the clubhouse playing first to the 18th hole, and they will have a tee box not far from the 18th green that you will then play to the 17th hole. Depending on where the extra tee boxes are set up they can use the fairways with some additional bunkers on the backside of greens and play from different angles, therefore creating doglegs or bringing water into play, etc. The greens will be the same, but approached from different angles. This course will not be on a large body of water, so it isn't like there is a prevailing wind that will change day-to-day. I will likely make a stop there to see what it is all about, but I can't see this making it a destination course.

 

Forest Dunes is certainly worth playing - but you have to be on the way to somewhere else. It is fairly close to Treetops (around an hour) and probably 2.5 hours from Arcadia Bluffs


It's in the middle of nowhere but not that far from I-75 the only way to get anywhere in the Northern Lower Peninsula. You could easily play Forest Dunes and for example Black Forest in the same day.

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