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"Unfair" / "Tricked up" / "Gimmicky" / "Mickey Mouse" holes and features


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#1 Tim Gavrich

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 01:19 PM

These terms seem to come up a lot when people are describing golf courses, holes and features that they don't like. I have my own thoughts on these, but I'd be interested in people's definitions of this basket of terms, and some examples.

I will say up front that the one that bugs me the most is when someone says "That hole is unfair...I hit a good shot but it ended up in trouble."

This makes no sense at all to me. If you ended up in trouble, how is it possible to conclude that you hit a good shot? I have to think that in this case, you thought you hit a good shot but were mistaken. If you hit an absolutely pure 7 iron that landed on the edge of the green, on a side slope and bounced/rolled into the water, I'm afraid to say that you did not hit a "good shot."

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#2 raynorfan1

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM

No such thing as "tricked up" "quirky" "unfair" "Mickey Mouse" etc.

It's just golf.

I would say that holes that require you to play them in a particular way (say, a very tight hole with OB on both sides and a water hazard that starts at ~200 from the tee and requires a 300+ carry) are unfun. But not unfair.

I really enjoy the stuff where you hit a drive that you think is absolutely perfect, and then you get to it and realize that there was some unknown/unforseen problem with it. Get out the notebook, make a note about what to do better next time. I really dislike the concept that a hole should "all be laid out in front of you".

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#3 andrue

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 02:58 PM

The only one I've ever felt was truly unfair was a couple of months ago at Silverstone, UK when the hole had been cut into a ridge that ran across the corner of one green. The ridge was probably an inch above the surrounding green and not much wider than the hole itself. Any kind of miss became a bad miss - as the chap I was playing with found out. He ended up four putting, the last three of which were all within two feet of the pin.
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#4 Fade

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 04:13 PM

I play a course with 3 dogleg holes that I think are improperly designed. The course is carved out of the woods, and on 2 holes there is very little width/depth at the corners, so that a very straight shot with precise distance control is required off the tee. It is as if you need to get onto the green of a long, tough par 3 first, only then do you have an option to proceed with the rest of the hole. I will stop short of calling these holes unfair, but I think what I just described is an unreasonable requirement for a tee-shot on a par 4 or 5. On another dogleg hole there is no straight-shot to the fairway, other than going over tall trees on the inside of the corner. I have that shot, but golfers that don't are forced to place their tee-shots into a pretty much un-maintained portion of the hole.

I can think of other examples of not so great holes I play. I think in most cases the land to work with was somewhat unsuitable for the hole that was put onto it, or not enough work was put into properly finishing the holes. So you get what you pay for, which is fair enough. : )

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#5 Fade

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 04:22 PM

 raynorfan1, on 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM, said:

I really enjoy the stuff where you hit a drive that you think is absolutely perfect, and then you get to it and realize that there was some unknown/unforseen problem with it. Get out the notebook, make a note about what to do better next time. I really dislike the concept that a hole should "all be laid out in front of you".

I enjoy learning to play new-to-me holes as well, but if there are too many surprises during a first round at a course, and I get the feeling that it will take many more rounds to get familiar, I am not likely to come back to it.


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#6 TW33

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 01:02 AM

bunkers and also out of bounds

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#7 caniac6

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 04:54 AM

How about #17 at St. Andrews. Need to hit over a building.

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#8 knock it close

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 09:38 AM

Right, they're just bad holes. If you hit a good shot and ended up in trouble you either didn't actually hit a good shot, or its just bad.

Edited by knock it close, 10 September 2017 - 09:39 AM.

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#9 Greenie

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 10:14 AM

I used the word unfair once. My foursome played a course that had a poor pin placement on a highly sloped green. I was lucky and two putted but the others had 8,9,and 13 putts. The ranger told us a player in a group ahead of us had 17 putts. He also mentioned they were going to redo redesign the green.

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#10 Roadking2003

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 04:46 PM

 caniac6, on 10 September 2017 - 04:54 AM, said:

How about #17 at St. Andrews. Need to hit over a building.

Exactly.  That's as mickey mouse as it gets.  But, it's The Old Course so it's called quaint.

Same thing with the totally blind par 3 at Prestwick.

If a modern designer built those holes he would be laughed out of the business.


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#11 Roadking2003

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 04:55 PM

 raynorfan1, on 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM, said:

No such thing as "tricked up" "quirky" "unfair" "Mickey Mouse" etc.

It's just golf.


I remember watching Payne Stewart at the Olympic club putting on #18 during the 1998 US Open.  He hit what everyone thought was a very good approach shot to about 8 feet below the hole.  His first putt almost went in, then rolled back 25 feet.  I guess you could say he should have made the eight footer. But I would say that's tricked up.  

If you don't think that is unfair, then why not mow the greens to Stimp of 20 and tuck the pins six inches behind a bunker?  Scores would go through the roof, but it wouldn't be tricked up or unfair because "It's just golf".

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#12 Roadking2003

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 04:58 PM

 Tim Gavrich, on 09 September 2017 - 01:19 PM, said:

These terms seem to come up a lot when people are describing golf courses, holes and features that they don't like. I have my own thoughts on these, but I'd be interested in people's definitions of this basket of terms, and some examples.

I will say up front that the one that bugs me the most is when someone says "That hole is unfair...I hit a good shot but it ended up in trouble."

This makes no sense at all to me. If you ended up in trouble, how is it possible to conclude that you hit a good shot?

Maybe you hit a good shot but not a perfect shot.  Perfection shouldn't be required to par a hole.

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#13 Shilgy

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 05:49 PM

 Roadking2003, on 10 September 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

 raynorfan1, on 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM, said:

No such thing as "tricked up" "quirky" "unfair" "Mickey Mouse" etc.

It's just golf.


I remember watching Payne Stewart at the Olympic club putting on #18 during the 1998 US Open.  He hit what everyone thought was a very good approach shot to about 8 feet below the hole.  His first putt almost went in, then rolled back 25 feet.  I guess you could say he should have made the eight footer. But I would say that's tricked up.  

If you don't think that is unfair, then why not mow the greens to Stimp of 20 and tuck the pins six inches behind a bunker?  Scores would go through the roof, but it wouldn't be tricked up or unfair because "It's just golf".
But that has nothing to do with the hole design .  That is course setup and maintenence.
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#14 raynorfan1

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 06:31 PM

 Roadking2003, on 10 September 2017 - 04:46 PM, said:

 caniac6, on 10 September 2017 - 04:54 AM, said:

How about #17 at St. Andrews. Need to hit over a building.

Exactly.  That's as mickey mouse as it gets.  But, it's The Old Course so it's called quaint.

Same thing with the totally blind par 3 at Prestwick.

If a modern designer built those holes he would be laughed out of the business.

Disagree on both.

17 on the Old Course doesn't require you to hit over the hotel to make Par. It's a more aggressive line, but it's not required. It's actually a pretty fun shot.

Blind Par 3? Fine by me. I wouldn't want every Par 3 to be blind; but it's fun variety every so often.

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#15 raynorfan1

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 06:46 PM

 Roadking2003, on 10 September 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

 raynorfan1, on 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM, said:

No such thing as "tricked up" "quirky" "unfair" "Mickey Mouse" etc.

It's just golf.


I remember watching Payne Stewart at the Olympic club putting on #18 during the 1998 US Open.  He hit what everyone thought was a very good approach shot to about 8 feet below the hole.  His first putt almost went in, then rolled back 25 feet.  I guess you could say he should have made the eight footer. But I would say that's tricked up.  

If you don't think that is unfair, then why not mow the greens to Stimp of 20 and tuck the pins six inches behind a bunker?  Scores would go through the roof, but it wouldn't be tricked up or unfair because "It's just golf".

But everybody's playing the same pin - it's not unfair in the context of the event.

That said, there are definitely set-up issues that I think are stupid. Putting pins on hogback ridges or untenable slopes is stupid / unfair. Letting fescue or gorse get out of control can also be unreasonable.

But the question at hand is "holes" or "features" - which in my small mind are different from setup.


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#16 tiger1873

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 07:55 PM

The worst holes are ones where they slope to water on the greens for water runoff and the pin gets place on the side with the slope to the water.  The only way to play them is a 20 or 30 foot put where it flat or make a short chip and hope it stays in place with a divot.

To make matter worse they don't maintain the course so the erosion makes your ball run into the water if you try to roll it up.  I see way to many of theses type of holes in Texas.

Edited by tiger1873, 10 September 2017 - 07:58 PM.


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#17 McMoo

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 06:16 AM

Any hole with a tree in the middle of the fairway or blocking a significant portion of the green.
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#18 andrue

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 06:26 AM

 McMoo, on 11 September 2017 - 06:16 AM, said:

Any hole with a tree in the middle of the fairway or blocking a significant portion of the green.
Ahem. Satellite view.

Setting aside the scalloped fairway edges (already discussed in another thread) the choices here are:
* Sneak left of the tree (but don't go OOB either left or too long)
* Sneak right of the tree (but don't go long enough to reach the pond and of course avoid the hedge.
* Go over the tree (but not from here as the green is only a couple of yards beyond it with almost no space behind).

Dunno why I didn't think of this hole earlier as it's from the same course I mentioned earlier in the thread.

Edited by andrue, 11 September 2017 - 06:27 AM.

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#19 raynorfan1

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 06:49 AM

Despite being on record that it's all fair...

Holes that have a significant cant/tilt to the fairway, such that it's actually not possible to stop a ball on the fairway (everything rolls down the slope into the rough) are stupid. Even worse if there's water or OB at the bottom of the downslope. Again, I'd view this as flat out bad design, not a "mickey mouse" thing - because I can't believe the designer ever intended it to play that way. I'm fine with it if this "feature" only applies to a ​part of the fairway, such that you have to work around the slope. But it's unreasonable if the whole damn thing is unplayable.

The tree blocking out issue I agree with if it impacts all lines equally - a tree is flat out in the middle of the hole. But I'm fine if a tree (or tree line) blocks a particular approach to a hole. My home course has a hole that's a dogleg left; if you play your tee ball out to the right, you're very safe, but will have ~170 - 180 yards in. If you play to the left of the fairway, you cut that down to ~145 - 150 yards, but if you are in the first cut on the left, you're <140 with a bunch of overhanging branches between you and the green. I've got no problem with this.

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#20 No Catchy Nickname

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 07:42 AM

Trees in the middle of the fairway are an oddity in my book, especially if they are near or around the landing area.
I played a 300y par 4 recently. There was a tree 190~200 yards out, a marsh/pond 50 yards in front of the right side of the green, and OoB encroaching on the left (right was also OoB, but there was a bit more room). The fairway before the tree sloped down left to right, making the tree even harder to avoid. Oh, and the area in front of the green was left uncut as rough, so the fairway ended about 100 yards shy of the green, just after the tree. A sign on the tee suggested laying up about 150-180 yards. Now, if you lay up 180 yards, chances are the tree will block your second. So the course designer wanted players to hit two 150 yards shots to the green. I'm not going to use the word unfair, but I really do not know what the designer was thinking.

I hit a dead straight drive that cleared the tree and somehow managed to avoid the water hazard, to end up just in front of the green. It was the first time I had played the hole, and when I walked along it, I realized how lucky I had been to get away with it. Had I known what the hole was like, I probably would not have attempted that shot. Ignorance is bliss. I bet I could try that same shot 10 times and either end up hitting the tree, OoB left, or, more likely, in the water.

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#21 Roadking2003

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 07:52 AM

 Shilgy, on 10 September 2017 - 05:49 PM, said:

 Roadking2003, on 10 September 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

 raynorfan1, on 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM, said:

No such thing as "tricked up" "quirky" "unfair" "Mickey Mouse" etc.

It's just golf.


I remember watching Payne Stewart at the Olympic club putting on #18 during the 1998 US Open.  He hit what everyone thought was a very good approach shot to about 8 feet below the hole.  His first putt almost went in, then rolled back 25 feet.  I guess you could say he should have made the eight footer. But I would say that's tricked up.  

If you don't think that is unfair, then why not mow the greens to Stimp of 20 and tuck the pins six inches behind a bunker?  Scores would go through the roof, but it wouldn't be tricked up or unfair because "It's just golf".
But that has nothing to do with the hole design .  That is course setup and maintenence.

Sorry.  I didn't realize we were restricted to course design.

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#22 raynorfan1

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 07:56 AM

 Roadking2003, on 11 September 2017 - 07:52 AM, said:

 Shilgy, on 10 September 2017 - 05:49 PM, said:

 Roadking2003, on 10 September 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

 raynorfan1, on 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM, said:

No such thing as "tricked up" "quirky" "unfair" "Mickey Mouse" etc.

It's just golf.


I remember watching Payne Stewart at the Olympic club putting on #18 during the 1998 US Open.  He hit what everyone thought was a very good approach shot to about 8 feet below the hole.  His first putt almost went in, then rolled back 25 feet.  I guess you could say he should have made the eight footer. But I would say that's tricked up.  

If you don't think that is unfair, then why not mow the greens to Stimp of 20 and tuck the pins six inches behind a bunker?  Scores would go through the roof, but it wouldn't be tricked up or unfair because "It's just golf".
But that has nothing to do with the hole design .  That is course setup and maintenence.

Sorry.  I didn't realize we were restricted to course design.

This is the Internet; I don't think we're ever restricted to anything...

But I read it as design - there are a bunch of set-up things that are annoying/unfair/Mickey Mouse. I'll add to the list tee markers that don't give you 2 club lengths to the back of the tee box, and then have thick rough off the back so that you have to take an unnaturally steep downswing to avoid the rough before you get to your ball.

That's not bad design, it's incompetent set-up.

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#23 bazinky

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 08:16 AM

While I have seen a LOT of bad golf holes, I think I've only played one that I felt was truly "unfair".

A course had redesigned their first hole which resulted in the you having to hit an approach from a downhill lie to a green that sloped front to back, with significant drop offs on the sides and back of the hole. To make things worse, the green had a grass bunker directly in front of the green, so it was impossible to play short or run the ball on the green.

The above features were bad design (especially for pace of play). What made the hole unfair, was that they had built an entirely new green which hadn't had time to settle, so it was impossible to hold the green even if you were a lob wedge.

To be honest, even after the green had seasoned, I think that design is a bit unfair for the average golfer.
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#24 MrJones

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 08:20 AM

We have one hole at our course that I think meets the criteria.

It's a short par 4 that starts perfectly fine with a maybe 160 yard carry over a pond to an uphill sloping fairway. The hole is made more difficult by the second half being narrowly lined on both sides of the fairway with tall pines. You'll have about a 95% chance anywhere in the fairway of having a fairly uphill lie. The problem is that because it's so steep, they have a hard time keeping natural erosion from really thinning the grass down to the dirt.

The green slopes heavily from back to front as well and any well struck shot that comes up short with spin will roll well off the green. Behind the green drops off and is mostly dirt and roots. Chipping from here is a nightmare as it's almost impossible to stop a ball on the green with any kind of speed. There are two spots on the green where they cannot place the flag because on most days, you won't be able to stop a putt near the hole coming from any direction.

But let's get to the really Mickey Mouse part: there's a green side bunker where the slope from the green down to the bunker is probably about 10 feet. At the bottom of this slope the course designers thought it would be a good idea to build a little nearly foot high mound to keep water from flowing into the bunker. You effectively have an 8 foot long "V" that your ball will roll down into. Zero way to come into the back of the ball. You're 10 feet from the green and more than likely will have to hit out left or right by 90* or slam your club into the ground behind the ball hoping for a favorable pop.

Edited by MrJones, 11 September 2017 - 08:22 AM.

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#25 No Catchy Nickname

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 08:41 AM

 MrJones, on 11 September 2017 - 08:20 AM, said:

But let's get to the really Mickey Mouse part: there's a green side bunker where the slope from the green down to the bunker is probably about 10 feet. At the bottom of this slope the course designers thought it would be a good idea to build a little nearly foot high mound to keep water from flowing into the bunker. You effectively have an 8 foot long "V" that your ball will roll down into. Zero way to come into the back of the ball. You're 10 feet from the green and more than likely will have to hit out left or right by 90* or slam your club into the ground behind the ball hoping for a favorable pop.

I don't think I've seen a feature like that. That is....odd. Surely they must have realized it would actually prevent balls from rolling into the bunker, or was that also the intention?

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#26 warfelg

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 09:14 AM

When I think "tricked up" I think of setup.  Greens too fast, rough too thick, shaved grass all the way to water.  In a tricked up course I think you can 100% play the right shot and get penalized.  

Now gimmicky and mickey mouse holes are another thing.  Those are 100% design.  Like leaving a tree so you have to drive a ball into the rough for a shot at the green.  Like to me this:
https://www.google.c...m/data=!3m1!1e3
Is tricked up.  That tee shot needs to be hit into the left rough (which is a steep slope BTW) to even look at the middle of the green.  Then you have to perfectly flight a wedge shot between two trees to only hit the middle of a green that's a good 50 feet above you.  So you can hit a good tee shot to the middle of the fairway, have no shot at the green.  You can hit a perfect wedge shot and have it knocked down by a tree.

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#27 Shilgy

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 09:39 AM

 Roadking2003, on 11 September 2017 - 07:52 AM, said:

 Shilgy, on 10 September 2017 - 05:49 PM, said:

 Roadking2003, on 10 September 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

 raynorfan1, on 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM, said:

No such thing as "tricked up" "quirky" "unfair" "Mickey Mouse" etc.

It's just golf.


I remember watching Payne Stewart at the Olympic club putting on #18 during the 1998 US Open.  He hit what everyone thought was a very good approach shot to about 8 feet below the hole.  His first putt almost went in, then rolled back 25 feet.  I guess you could say he should have made the eight footer. But I would say that's tricked up.  

If you don't think that is unfair, then why not mow the greens to Stimp of 20 and tuck the pins six inches behind a bunker?  Scores would go through the roof, but it wouldn't be tricked up or unfair because "It's just golf".
But that has nothing to do with the hole design .  That is course setup and maintenence.

Sorry.  I didn't realize we were restricted to course design.
Mickey Mouse design would have to be separate from setup. Who would call #9 at Augusta Mickey Mouse? Never-unless as has occasionally happened at courses we have all played they put the pin smack in the middle of the severe false front of the green there. That would be poor setup-not poor design.
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#28 warfelg

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 09:50 AM

 Shilgy, on 11 September 2017 - 09:39 AM, said:

 Roadking2003, on 11 September 2017 - 07:52 AM, said:

 Shilgy, on 10 September 2017 - 05:49 PM, said:

 Roadking2003, on 10 September 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

 raynorfan1, on 09 September 2017 - 01:33 PM, said:

No such thing as "tricked up" "quirky" "unfair" "Mickey Mouse" etc.

It's just golf.


I remember watching Payne Stewart at the Olympic club putting on #18 during the 1998 US Open.  He hit what everyone thought was a very good approach shot to about 8 feet below the hole.  His first putt almost went in, then rolled back 25 feet.  I guess you could say he should have made the eight footer. But I would say that's tricked up.  

If you don't think that is unfair, then why not mow the greens to Stimp of 20 and tuck the pins six inches behind a bunker?  Scores would go through the roof, but it wouldn't be tricked up or unfair because "It's just golf".
But that has nothing to do with the hole design .  That is course setup and maintenence.

Sorry.  I didn't realize we were restricted to course design.
Mickey Mouse design would have to be separate from setup. Who would call #9 at Augusta Mickey Mouse? Never-unless as has occasionally happened at courses we have all played they put the pin smack in the middle of the severe false front of the green there. That would be poor setup-not poor design.

IMO sometimes the can play into the same thing.  A bad or micky mouse design can lead to a gimmicky setup because it's the only way to make a hole tough or the only way to create a visible pin.  I know of a course with a 85 yard par 3 with rock wall short, creek long, pot bunkers all around.  Micky mouse design.  But then the issue is exasterbated by gimmicky pin positions such as the knob short, the huge spine, or the "False side" where any shot ends up in the pot bunker or water.

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#29 az2au

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 10:11 AM

I've never seen an unfair hole.  To me that would mean that two shots with exactly the same characteristics resulted in drastically different outcomes.  I think some identify ridiculously hard holes as unfair.  That's fine and it just varies from my definition.

Poor design I've seen a lot but I can name two courses in the area with ridiculous design features that people love because they are pretty (Quintero and Gold Canyon-Dinosaur).

Bad setup I see less commonly in my day to day life but based on what is written here it must happen a lot out in the world.

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#30 mukster

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 10:30 AM

There certainly are courses with strangely designed holes, that I feel are a poor design. Whether one wants to call it tricked up or gimmicky is up to the beholder I guess. I played some golf in the interior here a few months ago, a lot of mountain golf.  On one par 5, I absolutely drilled my drive and was 200 yards out. Problem is, there was no way to see the green from there, as it was to the left and lower than the fairway. Driving the cart up to it revealed that a large part of the green had drop off into cabbage, surrounding about 60% of it, and it was sloped. Almost impossible to go for, I had to lay up, as the regular that played with me advised me that only short irons usually stick. Hit wedge, wedge onto the green, making a good drive basically worthless.
The rest of the course is great.

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