This question comes from Eileen Dover and Ben Fallen, who ask, ‘How do you achieve balance?’

By: Jeffrey D. Brauer


I avoid over-swinging! Now, if you're speaking of design, there are many ways to "balance a design," including length, challenge, play and visual balance. We consider these, starting with routing, by balancing:

Hole length, with:

· Par-3 holes varying from about 130, 170, 210 and 240-plus from the back tees.

· Par-4 holes varying from 300 to (yes!) 499 yards.

· Par-5 holes varying from 500 to 675 yards, with a mix of easily reachable, un-reachable (if that's possible anymore) and "tweeners," preferably with one favoring accuracy more than strength, using a "run-up ramp" between hazards, instead of a frontal hazard.

Approach-shot Variations. Consecutive pars of 3, 4 and 5 may create variety, but a short 3, short 4, and long 5 leaves three consecutive short-iron approaches.

Direction/Wind Variations among par-3, long and short par-4 and par-5 holes, with each group pointing to "each point of the compass." It's possible that a long par-4 into the wind can become a likely par-5, and a short par-5 with the wind can be a target for a 4.

Yardage Balance Between Nines. While not absolutely essential, play often begins on holes 1 and 10. A competition course ideally has a similar distance, par and wind directions at the starting and finishing holes to avoid a disadvantage to competitors.

Dogleg Balance. To provide relative balance for different shot patterns, we try to bend both fairway and green targets left and right in approximately the same number.

For play balance in feature design, we strive for:

Hazard Variation. For instance, I usually try for two par-3s and par-5s featuring water and two without. Occasionally, we allow for three water par-3s, with water being left, right and front. On par-5s, I like water at the landing area on one and the green at the other.

Difficulty Balance. We can vary those features and green contours, fairway width, etc., to purposely create some easy, medium and difficult holes.

Concept Balance, between strategic (which dominates), penal, and heroic, mixing in at least one "no brainer" and perhaps "concept holes" like Redan or Biarritz holes, just to create unusual shots golfers are not likely to encounter elsewhere. Since there are fewer "strategic-shot relationships" in concept holes, par-3s are a natural location for these in many instances.

Tee-shot Balance. Most golfers prefer to hit a full tee shot whenever possible, but we do create a few "lay-up" holes for change of pace.

During feature design, we strive for visual balance, by varying the size, shape and setting of tees, greens and fairways. We also vary hazard type, number and size on each hole. The most visual hazard is usually sand, so we bunker fairways and greens with an eye towards having a mix of hazards on each, from zero to more than a dozen bunkers, to make each visually unique.

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