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#1 Matt J

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 01:32 PM

In my rather superficial interest in course architecture, never having read any of the classic tomes, I have lately been grinding an axe.

Originally, the central points came to mind in part due to being left-handed and seeing holes as either setting up for a righty or lefty.  It's mostly a dislike for architecture that assumes we all play from the same side of the ball.  My example being that if all the longer dog legs play as a draw tee shot for a right-handed player.

That idea evolved into noticing the difference between how a clockwise vs. anti or counter-clockwise routing would effect the draw vs. fade player differently from each side of the ball.

I've often recounted that when I played Pebble Beach it seemed almost cruel that a course that attracts so many beginner players is counterclockwise and often cart path only with the ocean to the right side of the seaside holes.  Watching a guy trudge 150 yards east to drive his cart a 150 yards south to then walk 150 yards west is pure drudgery.

My home course for all of last year was made less interesting in my opinion when many years ago they chose to add nine into the middle of the front nine to make an "outside" 18 hole routing and an "inside" 9 hole course.  The original layout seems to have a nice assortment of tee shots than the "new" course which is often lined with OB down the right.  The draw off the tee is a prized shot at that club.

Recently reading reviews of many of the great links courses it appears I'm not the only one thinking about routing and how each hole sits as compared to the others, the prevailing wind, and the cardinal directions.  Certainly we've all noticed that some courses play into the morning or evening sun.  I say that tongue in cheek as even the most amateur of course architecture enthusiasts have read many an architect say that the piece of dirt comes first, then the routing, as far as importance to the finished product.

I pulled up some aerial photography and schematics for many of my favorite golf courses as well as some well-regarded links courses and am beginning to notice some trends.  Courses are often designed as two interlaid "clam shells" for lack of a better description.  In essence each 9 hole side would be exposed to 180 degrees or more of the landscape and that direction reversed on the way back.  The Old Course with the shared fairways is pretty linear, but has a hook at the turn.  The hook plays clockwise on the way out and counter on the way back.  Old MacDonald at Bandon is an interesting dare I say complex routing.  I had to draw it from the map and then simplify it to really get a gist of what was going on.  But, it starts to the north, reverses to the south and then plays to sea with the turn tucked into a spiral and the finish clockwise.  The front plays favoring a left to right shot, around the turn is seemingly more right to left, and then it finishes left to right again.

Clearly the architect can favor a shot shape that is against the general trend in the routing especially on the one shot holes, but it seems like an overriding factor up against the course boundaries.  Without an enormous piece of land are quality architects inherently taking the perimeter of the course as a "known commodity" and then intentionally adding variety on the inside holes?  Don't think I can give a TL:DR synopsis.  I guess I'll know that's the case by the sound of the crickets :)

Edited by Matt J, 31 January 2019 - 01:33 PM.


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#2 jvincent

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 06:50 PM

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

My idea of a great golf course is one that isn't repetitive, i.e. all the holes look / feel the same and you have to hit the same shots off the tee and/or into the green.

The available land will dictate a lot of what you can do but a good architect will be able to take nearly any piece of land and create some variety.

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#3 duffer987

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 08:54 PM

Phew... I've given this a couple reads now and I have to say I am stumped on the thesis :)
Certainly a course like TOC is renowned for giving those with a R-L teeball an advantage in staying away from OB and being able to rope hook one onto a parallel fairway.
But other courses which have a figure 8 pattern will be able to swap that during the course of a round, such as North Berwick, where the boundary is up against your right for 3 holes, then largely against your left, then against your right for the final 3.

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#4 jvincent

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 09:12 PM

View Postduffer987, on 31 January 2019 - 08:54 PM, said:


Certainly a course like TOC is renowned for giving those with a R-L teeball an advantage in staying away from OB and being able to rope hook one onto a parallel fairway.

All a L-R player has to do on the Old Course is aim at the other fairway and there is plenty of room.

When we were there we watched some guys play fades into a L-R crosswind on 18. Instead of starting their balls at the middle of the first fairway they aimed down 18. Yep, they hit the buildings to the right of the OB.

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#5 Matt J

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 09:20 PM

Give me a break, duffs... I'm admittedly a little out of the box.  But you guys got the gist.

The thesis is do the boundaries of the piece of property determine certain holes?

Less of a thesis, more of a question.

Maybe more WRX able... do you prefer a layout that favors your predominant miss?


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#6 jvincent

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 09:26 PM

View PostMatt J, on 31 January 2019 - 09:20 PM, said:

Give me a break, duffs... I'm admittedly a little out of the box.  But you guys got the gist.

The thesis is do the boundaries of the piece of property determine certain holes?

Less of a thesis, more of a question.

Maybe more WRX able... do you prefer a layout that favors your predominant miss?

Absolutely the boundaries of the course contribute to the design of certain holes. Do they do it well is the question.

To my earlier point, I prefer a course that doesn't overtly favour one over the other. For example, if every hole was a dogleg left (or right) I'd pretty quickly get tired of it.

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#7 duffer987

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 09:36 PM

For sure boundaries do, such as this hole at St. Enodoc I referred to a few years back, it's such a cool short 4 in part because of boundaries:

View Postduffer987, on 16 October 2015 - 10:06 AM, said:

This was one of the cool short 4's I played last month. You could hit a 175yd iron and then have a tricky uphill wedge to a narrow green, cut a hybrid or fwy in the meaty bit of the fairway and have 75yds in at a better angle, or hit a driver and draw it over the first bit of farmer's fence and have it keep drawing to avoid having it bounce over the upper farmer's fence. Overcook it and be left with a tough uphill short pitch out of the rough or bunker, or if you cut your driver having to hit one of your best of the day. Admittedly a good piece of land goes a loooooooong way to making this happen, but I playing this hole was great fun. I would have liked to sit there on the tee trying all the different options, but that would have been rude :)

Posted Image

Ugh, link pic is small, bigger one: http://i30.photobuck...gq.jpg~original
Arrows point out tee, boundary to clear, and green.

You can see that small mound to the left of the green, the other side of that is where the bunkers are so there is a difference as the crow flies.

Posted Image

Of course everyone likes variety, but if it's a treelined course that requires fade after fade, as a drawer of and left-misser of the golfball, I might play it less than others. There's one here in the Bay Area that is so over the top with L to R shots through the trees I really didn't get on with it and only played it once.

Edited by duffer987, 31 January 2019 - 09:38 PM.


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#8 Matt J

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 09:37 PM

View Postjvincent, on 31 January 2019 - 09:26 PM, said:

View PostMatt J, on 31 January 2019 - 09:20 PM, said:

Give me a break, duffs... I'm admittedly a little out of the box.  But you guys got the gist.

The thesis is do the boundaries of the piece of property determine certain holes?

Less of a thesis, more of a question.

Maybe more WRX able... do you prefer a layout that favors your predominant miss?

Absolutely the boundaries of the course contribute to the design of certain holes. Do they do it well is the question.

To my earlier point, I prefer a course that doesn't overtly favour one over the other. For example, if every hole was a dogleg left (or right) I'd pretty quickly get tired of it.

I'm with you.

I got the stink eye from an older group of players over the weekend when on the 10th tee they asked me what I thought of the combo tees....

I refrained from commenting, rare for me, on the 1st tee, as it was a big group and there's money in play and everyone is playing the same tee box.  But, when pushed about it on the 10th tee I gave my honest thoughts about it.  One guy in the group who was a "player" as Richard likes to say, when he was younger, INSISTS on the combos and he can be a bit of a bully.

So, when I say I hate the combos.  I'll play up or I'll play back (the club is short even from the tips) but why dumb out the design and play the long par 4's short and the short par 4's long, which is the combos... not to mention the defense of this course is long par 3's and they're all up, why not just move up?  There's too much pride for the baby boomers, they can't brag about their 73's from the up tees, but some how the combos make it better?

I just wish I was Bubba long and I could attack the righty hook holes with a power fade.

So, have any of you noticed what I speak of... if the course is generally a clockwise or counter clockwise layout it's going to favor a shot shape?

Real estate is finite and golf is dying so courses are going to be pushed into smaller parcels.

Duffs I caught your comment on the figure 8 and am looking forward to North Berwick.  It's ingenious to make an 8 so you get a transition, but it's also confusing if you come back to the same spot too often i.e. Bandon Crossings.  I've been asked about that course multiple times this week and don't have much to say other than it's confusing and bumpy.

Edited to add: we were posting at the same time, but I like that hole.  It looks to have a bunch of elevation, is wind at play?  323 from the tips it's borderline driveable for the big boys.  I'd guess most guys just play driver up the right?  Where is it btw, if you don't mind that I ask?

Edited by Matt J, 31 January 2019 - 09:41 PM.


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#9 duffer987

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Posted 01 February 2019 - 11:59 AM

Could have got lost in the text there, but it's St. Enodoc GC, a links course in the Southwest of England.
Playing from the regular markers I get to go over the OB stone fence twice. That last pic is where my teeball ended up, which left me a short pitch in. It's the second of a four hole stretch that is quite something.

At North Berwick it really is a 6 hole counter-clockwise loop out and back from the clubhouse and then an 10 hole clockwise loop, two par 3s (including Redan on the way back in) bridge the loops together and that's where you have a big shared teeing ground between the two.

Edited by duffer987, 01 February 2019 - 12:00 PM.


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#10 cardoustie

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Posted 01 February 2019 - 12:09 PM

OP

I get what you are saying

Many courses are ruined by too many holes that curve in one direction.  My home club has a lot of R-L holes .. I draw it off the tee so it helps

Ironically, all 4 of the par 3's favour a L-R shot  .. strange

It's a great piece land in a big valley where all the holes are isolated

i think a course like Firestone is awful, straight back and forth all day long

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#11 BNGL

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Posted 01 February 2019 - 01:15 PM

View Postcardoustie, on 01 February 2019 - 12:09 PM, said:

OP

I get what you are saying

Many courses are ruined by too many holes that curve in one direction.  My home club has a lot of R-L holes .. I draw it off the tee so it helps

Ironically, all 4 of the par 3's favour a L-R shot  .. strange

It's a great piece land in a big valley where all the holes are isolatedi think a course like Firestone is awful, straight back and forth all day long

Lol play it then judge it.

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#12 duffer987

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Posted 01 February 2019 - 01:24 PM

View PostBNGL, on 01 February 2019 - 01:15 PM, said:

View Postcardoustie, on 01 February 2019 - 12:09 PM, said:

OP

I get what you are saying

Many courses are ruined by too many holes that curve in one direction.  My home club has a lot of R-L holes .. I draw it off the tee so it helps

Ironically, all 4 of the par 3's favour a L-R shot  .. strange

It's a great piece land in a big valley where all the holes are isolatedi think a course like Firestone is awful, straight back and forth all day long

Lol play it then judge it.
He didn't say specifically that course, he said LIKE that course as an example, which we can relate to.
I'd think most golfers would prefer not to play a course that is a collection of parallel holes going back and forth. I've not played Firestone, but I concur that style doesn't hold any interest.

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#13 BNGL

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Posted 01 February 2019 - 02:56 PM

View Postduffer987, on 01 February 2019 - 01:24 PM, said:

View PostBNGL, on 01 February 2019 - 01:15 PM, said:

View Postcardoustie, on 01 February 2019 - 12:09 PM, said:

OP

I get what you are saying

Many courses are ruined by too many holes that curve in one direction.  My home club has a lot of R-L holes .. I draw it off the tee so it helps

Ironically, all 4 of the par 3's favour a L-R shot  .. strange

It's a great piece land in a big valley where all the holes are isolatedi think a course like Firestone is awful, straight back and forth all day long

Lol play it then judge it.
He didn't say specifically that course, he said LIKE that course as an example, which we can relate to.
I'd think most golfers would prefer not to play a course that is a collection of parallel holes going back and forth. I've not played Firestone, but I concur that style doesn't hold any interest.

Firestone South is the most honest assessment and challenge of your game. It doesn’t dictate the shots like a TPC Sawgrass, or Augusta National. It allows you to score well hitting your shot whether it’s a fade or draw high or low, anyone can play there but you better hit a quality shot all day. Is it a box of sausages from the air?Sure. Is it a quality golf course that tests every facet of your game? Absolutely it does.

I find far more interest in Firestone than Seminole and Seminole turns every which way.


Edited by BNGL, 01 February 2019 - 03:06 PM.


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#14 BNGL

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Posted 01 February 2019 - 03:08 PM

They routed MJ’s new club, The Grove XXIII in a figure 8 pattern built with pace of play and the walker in mind with tees and greens basically right on top of each other.

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#15 Pwood28

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Posted 01 February 2019 - 06:55 PM

On the variety issue, the best tests of golf will certainly ask you to move the ball both ways, but if a course favors one direction over the other, I don't think its a disqualifies.  Augusta National is good example, a lefty who knows how to fade the ball there is going to put themselves in the best position to attack the greens (look at Phil and Bubba).

With course boundaries affecting the course layout...they absolutely effect the layout.  The question the becomes how well does the architect use the natural hazards in cooperation with the greater strategy of the hole.  The Road Hole is the classic good example.  The Fried Egg had an interesting article on a bad example of this using the 4th hole at Torrey Pines South.  You have the perfect natural hazard in the cliffs falling into the ocean, but Rees Jones (or someone on his staff) set up the preferred approach angle on the other side of the fairway, taking the ocean out of the strategy (unless you have a snap hook like me, there's no strategy to defend against that!).  Pretty interesting read if you have a minute.

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#16 Matt J

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Posted 01 February 2019 - 08:32 PM

PWood28, thanks for the suggestion!  I'll look into it.

Perhaps the way the game has changed into predominantly an arms race of huge towering shots it becomes less of an issue.  But, for normal humans I love taking advantage of working the ball both ways.  Although, I'm clearly no master, setting up for a shot where the risk reward is simply to have a shorter approach, it's a ton of fun to make the "shot."  As a nobody kid from Georgia I cut my teeth on public course by RTJ Sr. - really I think it still effects how I look at architecture.  I love the simplicity of the right type of parkland dog leg hole.  I like the "short line" higher and flatter with a true feeling of it being the "A" position, perhaps truly penal if you get a little too A.  I was a bit perplexed when I 'came back' to golf a few years ago and the driveable par 4 was a 'thing' - like one one on each side of every golf course, but there is no curve or risk reward in many other than simply getting too close, short sided, or hitting a greenside bunker.

BNGL, me and MJ we have this thing in common, it's our INITIALS!  Actually, super glad you posted that because I heard about that project in its infancy and never knew that he went through with it.  I'll have to dig around and take a look at the layout.

One course I played a good bit as a kid, and it's still around, that's what I remember about it... parallel holes with trees in the middle.  I didn't like it at the time.  A short knocking kid and guys would pound one so far from the fairway, but if it got through or over the trees they had a look.  Drove me crazy.  Also, I just don't like "sister" holes.  I feel like I'm on an escalator if I see a "mirror hole" that rewards the same tee shot and approach shot with the same risk/reward.  I'd imagine it's a monumental task to design an interesting layout with parallel holes.  Not to say it isn't true at Firestone.

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#17 BNGL

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 10:26 AM

View PostMatt J, on 01 February 2019 - 08:32 PM, said:

PWood28, thanks for the suggestion!  I'll look into it.

Perhaps the way the game has changed into predominantly an arms race of huge towering shots it becomes less of an issue.  But, for normal humans I love taking advantage of working the ball both ways.  Although, I'm clearly no master, setting up for a shot where the risk reward is simply to have a shorter approach, it's a ton of fun to make the "shot."  As a nobody kid from Georgia I cut my teeth on public course by RTJ Sr. - really I think it still effects how I look at architecture.  I love the simplicity of the right type of parkland dog leg hole.  I like the "short line" higher and flatter with a true feeling of it being the "A" position, perhaps truly penal if you get a little too A.  I was a bit perplexed when I 'came back' to golf a few years ago and the driveable par 4 was a 'thing' - like one one on each side of every golf course, but there is no curve or risk reward in many other than simply getting too close, short sided, or hitting a greenside bunker.

BNGL, me and MJ we have this thing in common, it's our INITIALS!  Actually, super glad you posted that because I heard about that project in its infancy and never knew that he went through with it.  I'll have to dig around and take a look at the layout.

One course I played a good bit as a kid, and it's still around, that's what I remember about it... parallel holes with trees in the middle.  I didn't like it at the time.  A short knocking kid and guys would pound one so far from the fairway, but if it got through or over the trees they had a look.  Drove me crazy.  Also, I just don't like "sister" holes.  I feel like I'm on an escalator if I see a "mirror hole" that rewards the same tee shot and approach shot with the same risk/reward.  I'd imagine it's a monumental task to design an interesting layout with parallel holes.  Not to say it isn't true at Firestone.

He went through with it although they hit a rough patch with permitting and then a potentially huge problem of polluting the local water ways. But it was all taken care of. His place is “open” they’re mowing it all regularly and got it in great shape. His property is maybe 10 miles from mine, and the designers and crew came to visit because we have the same type of turf as they put in.

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#18 Matt J

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 12:35 PM

I can see some advantages to the "figure 8" pattern.  For example if to started with the clubhouse at the top of the 8, build a snack shack / comfort station / bathrooms in the middle of the 8, and bathrooms out at the turn at the bottom of the 8, then you would never be but a couple holes from a bathroom.

I'm not crazy about courses that back track over their own routings in general.  It just seems to introduce a bit of confusion, slow pace, and take away from the general "walk in the park" ambience.  But, an exclusive private like MJ's club won't get more than 50 or 60 rounds a day, so I wouldn't imagine it will be a problem.

We have a local track that's a RTJ Jr. layout that is a figure 8 with the Clubhouse in the center of the bowtie, but the direction general goes in the same direction with reversing course being the predominant way he added variety.  That and using the elevation which is much more prominent on the back than the front.  Ironically one huge hill side probably created the biggest headaches as the most abundant complaints can all be traced back to that hill.  He sandwiched a "drivable" par 4 into it, but it's probably the least favored hole in the course, and then he had to make a big green to tee walk back up the hill when you come back to it between 15 and 16.

He did generally follow the idea of just throw a bath house in the middle of each side, and generally guys really like that.  Feels civilized.  Another course has portajohns out on the course and guys universally complain.  I don't really care that much if it's not in the middle of the city and you don't feel like you can just duck behind a tree.

Making the juncture back at the clubhouse actually makes it less distracting and allows guys to run into the bar and bathroom.  It's a pretty long walk past the practice area to get from 9 to 10 though.

Edited by Matt J, 02 February 2019 - 12:36 PM.


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#19 Tim Gavrich

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 03:44 PM

Routing is interesting to me. I've spent countless hours looking at golf courses on Google Maps/Google Earth.

One very effective general sort of routing can be observed at Sonoma Golf Club. There, on a rectangular piece of ground, the front nine is routed clockwise around the perimeter of the property, while the back nine is routed counterclockwise around the interior. There are a couple kinks and reversals, but this is the general layout. It works because it has the golfer confront different wind directions regularly, as there are only two times when the golfer plays two consecutive holes in the same direction. The four par threes play in three different directions (a flaw of the routing is that both par 3s on the back play in the same direction, but they're different lengths, which is good).

Of course, for lefties like us, this means that the property line is on the cut-side, but it's just a function of statistics: most golfers are righties, and most golfers miss on the cut-/slice-side, so they get the non-OB misses in a lot of cases.

For the most part, the advent and popularity of golf carts killed routing as a key skill in putting a golf course together. It's a real shame, because walking a golf course is life-extending good exercise, and compact courses are quicker to play than clumsily spread-out ones.
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#20 Matt J

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 05:57 PM

View PostTim Gavrich, on 07 February 2019 - 03:44 PM, said:

Routing is interesting to me. I've spent countless hours looking at golf courses on Google Maps/Google Earth.

One very effective general sort of routing can be observed at Sonoma Golf Club. There, on a rectangular piece of ground, the front nine is routed clockwise around the perimeter of the property, while the back nine is routed counterclockwise around the interior. There are a couple kinks and reversals, but this is the general layout. It works because it has the golfer confront different wind directions regularly, as there are only two times when the golfer plays two consecutive holes in the same direction. The four par threes play in three different directions (a flaw of the routing is that both par 3s on the back play in the same direction, but they're different lengths, which is good).

Of course, for lefties like us, this means that the property line is on the cut-side, but it's just a function of statistics: most golfers are righties, and most golfers miss on the cut-/slice-side, so they get the non-OB misses in a lot of cases.

For the most part, the advent and popularity of golf carts killed routing as a key skill in putting a golf course together. It's a real shame, because walking a golf course is life-extending good exercise, and compact courses are quicker to play than clumsily spread-out ones.

Good post, thanks.

Couldn't agree more when it comes to motorized golf carts.  I can make a long-winded argument that the golf cart is responsible for many of our game's problems.  From increased liability, weird two man social dynamics, making it accessible to too many people at the "height" was obviously going to create a "fall" in popularity, we lose the emphasis on straight ball flight when we can zoom up and look for our wayward shot, the added expense in impermeable surface in the form of cart paths, added compaction in landings and around greens.... on and on.  Not to mention we lost our caddie programs where young men and women learned to love the game.


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#21 duffer987

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 06:58 PM

Now now Matt :offtopic: ;)

I do think housing estate courses did lead to the creation of a "singles" mentality for routing golf holes, rather than the "album" concept you get with a traditional contiguous golfing property.
At a high level you may be in the same genre (Florida waterpark, Texas hill country, California canyons, etc...) with independent holes on a single course, the same way you might be doing pop, country, or hip-hop singles, but there is nothing bringing it all together.

Edited by duffer987, 07 February 2019 - 06:59 PM.


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#22 Matt J

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 07:09 PM

View Postduffer987, on 07 February 2019 - 06:58 PM, said:

Now now Matt :offtopic: ;)

I do think housing estate courses did lead to the creation of a "singles" mentality for routing golf holes, rather than the "album" concept you get with a traditional contiguous golfing property.
At a high level you may be in the same genre (Florida waterpark, Texas hill country, California canyons, etc...) with independent holes on a single course, the same way you might be doing pop, country, or hip-hop singles, but there is nothing bringing it all together.

I like the analogy.

I'm more of an album guy.  Still have a turntable and listen to vinyl every now and again.

Carts actually bother me less on the real estate courses with big green to tee expanses because they are part and parcel to the experience.  A very walkable layout with the occasional cart for those that really cannot walk is of no bother either.  The default to riding in a cart thing is where I take issue.  Why a group of healthy adults would chose to bump around inside a little buggy rather than ambulate is nonsensical to me, but I admit I am biased.  Carry on :)

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#23 tokeyb

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 09:17 PM

Loving this thread, even though I do not currently have a strong opinion on the matter. When healthy enough, I walk and enjoy it. When I ride, I enjoy it. And a good layout is always appreciated.
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