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Design Thy Course for Good Amateurs, Equally Rewarding Different Skills
A few clients want tournament venues, some want fast play – i.e. "Golf Factories." Most designs target talented amateurs playing in friendly or formal competition. In this group, there are many routes to success, shamelessly stereotyped as:
• Long/Strong players who are wild and finesse-challenged*, but overpowering in length, and hazard-recovery strength.
• Finesse players who possess moderate length and accuracy, who shape full shots and create recovery shots.
• Consistent/Accurate players who avoid trouble and are without and don't need much length or finesse!
Some players possess all attributes, and there are more blends than at a trendy coffeehouse.* I strive to reward each trait, slightly favoring finesse – because it's fun to watch** – and accuracy, while de-emphasizing length, because it creates its own rewards.
I have intuitively estimated how different design features help or hinder the relative ability of each type of player to attack aggressively, avoid problems, and/or recover when finding trouble.
To achieve our basic goals, we simply include as many features as possible (given site conditions) that favor finesse and/or accuracy more often than those favoring length. As a result, a good design includes:
• Length Variety, somewhat limiting truly long holes.
• Strategic Emphasis, but including some heroic and precision holes.
• Varying Shot Requirements, using:
— Fairways varying in width, angle and contour.
— Hazards guarding most target areas in a variety of ways and sides.
— Predominantly flanking and pinching hazards, with fewer carry hazards.
— Moderate and recoverable hazards, emphasizing creativity (like fairway-height chipping areas) and some non-recoverable hazards.
— Greens with varying size, favoring small- and medium-size greens.
— Greens with frontal openings.
— Greens with moderate to prominent contouring.
*To my 2050 readers, I presume that coffee will be as necessary to daily life as you read this – and perhaps BECAUSE you are reading this, but that paying $5.00 for cafe mocha instead of just adding hot chocolate for a fraction of the price has died mercifully. To clarify further, assuming 2% inflation, your trendy coffee would cost about $10.
** If I can't inject my own preferences, why be a golf course architect? For the record, my profession prevents me from playing enough golf to be a finesse player, so no one can claim I design for my own game!