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Charlie Goerges

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At what point do Options become Noise?
« on: June 17, 2009, 11:50:24 PM »
I had typed out a couple of scenarios but decided I'd rather not lead the discussion in any particular direction. What say ye?
Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee of this. - Marcus Aurelius

Mike_Cirba

Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2009, 11:52:11 PM »
Isn't that the point?

Charlie Goerges

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2009, 11:54:23 PM »
Isn't that the point?

The question still stands Mike. Unless I need to clarify that I'm talking about golf courses and not blockbuster.  ;)
Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee of this. - Marcus Aurelius

Ben Sims

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2009, 12:15:53 AM »
Charlie,

I learned this past weekend that there is never a time when I want less options.  If there are 3 shots to choose from, so be it.  If there are ten shots to choose from, even better.  It was neat to play a course that allowed me to expand shotmaking into any realm I chose.  I am sure there are guys out there with many more shots in their bag (Grant Rogers at Bandon comes to mind) 

As with most things in life, there is a certain situational awareness you must possess on a course to see the field in front of you and the myriad options that come with it.  I think it only becomes noise if you let it.  And that's the player's fault, not the course.  It wouldn't surprise me if you are already pretty good at what I'm referring to.  Maybe it's why you started the thread?

Eric Smith

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 12:21:32 AM »
Charlie I'm with Ben.  Let's see many options designed into the hole, on more golf courses.

One of you guys on here posted this sketch in the last year and I saved it because it looked interesting to me.


It may have been you Charlie?!

Peter Pallotta

Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2009, 12:23:58 AM »
Ben - are you the jet pilot? If so, that answer does you proud. Situational awareness -- great concept/term..the essence, I think, of the "golfing IQ" we were discussing the other day. Mine is on the level of a fence-post: far too few rounds of golf played in my life, I think, leads to poor situational awareness. Everything seems to be happening too fast.

Charlie - My first thought (so discount it please) is that it's ALL noise. The architect's challenge is to make it an ARTFUL noise; the golfer's challenge is to find the sound of silence (the line of charm, perhaps? hmmm) within that noise.

Peter

Michael Dugger

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2009, 12:31:16 AM »
I would say at the point when one of the alternate routes becomes so dangerous in relation to the advantage it affords. 

If nobody EVER chooses to take that route, you may as well let the grass grow there.
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

Ben Sims

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2009, 12:34:39 AM »
Nailed it Peter.  I've heard Tiger speak of being "one shot ahead of the golf ball".  I think that's the crux of seeing a shot.  Because isn't the real reason we want to hit a good shot tied directly to the next shot?  Be ahead of your car, ahead of the jet, ahead of your competitors.  Golf is no different.  

Col John Boyd spoke of the OODA loop.  Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.  If your loop is fast enough to counteract what mother nature and the designer have put in front of you, that's 90% of the battle.  10% is the execution.  

The more of those decisions I get to make on a golf course, the more fun I have.  If my process is good and my execution is bad, well, I'm not a pro, so I can't get mad.  If I make a poor decisions AND a poor shot, that's when I get upset.

Ed Oden

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2009, 12:48:03 AM »
Is there any place with more options that Sheep Ranch?  Is there any place with less noise than Sheep Ranch?

Rob Rigg

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2009, 12:53:58 AM »
I agree with Michael and I think Tom Doak alluded to this in another thread in regards to the 8th at Barnbougle (if I am not mistaken). I think there is a dual fairway but one of them may not be getting a lot of play due to heavy contouring of the fairway (or something).

If the architect presents the golfer with three options and one, or two, of them have a risk/reward balance that is not compelling then those options are really just noise, a distraction to the one clear optimal line on the hole.

The picture that Eric posted is interesting, even though it may not be realistic for most sites, because all of the options may truly be in play depending on wind, flag position, etc. That picture brings Mike Nuzzo's Wolf Creek into mind - there is a lot of room on that course so the golfer has to think his way around to score well, even though it is probably tought to lose a ball on most of the holes.

In terms of the OODA loop - I agree in principal, unfortunately for a lot of golfers, the execution piece is incredibly difficult which adds further frustration on a great strategic course because there is nothing worse than figuring out the optimal line off the tee and into the green, but not being able to get step 1, or consequentially step 2, done.

BVince

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2009, 01:43:20 AM »
Eric, why would anyone choose option A?
If profanity had an influence on the flight of the ball, the game of golf would be played far better than it is. - Horace Hutchinson

Sean_A

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2009, 02:08:51 AM »
My first thought was why is noise bad so long as the noise ?  Probably what Mike C was thinking.  My bet is there are very few holes where there isn't one best choice to pursue on the day for any golfer out there.  In fact, that would be a good thread.  Are there holes which have more than one option in which any of the options are equally as good on any given day for a given player?  If there are, and there must be some out there, I am sure they are world class holes. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Charlie Goerges

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2009, 09:34:29 AM »
I'm glad I didn't post my reasoning for asking the question, because you guys took it places that such mundane details as I would have provided would have discouraged. In one sense or another I agree with what everyone has posted, even though there are multiple perspectives here. That complexity is what makes the game worth playing.

Eric, that drawing wasn't mine, I think it may have been Garland Bayley Garland's Lido entry last year.

Incidentally, it was the first Lido contest that got me thinking about this thread. I hate to derail the more freeform nature of this discussion so I won't post the details yet, suffice it to say they are more mundane that what's been written so far.
Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee of this. - Marcus Aurelius

Tom Huckaby

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2009, 09:43:50 AM »
Options are wonderful, I truly believe that.  I also don't believe they'd ever become noise for me, or most golfers.

HOWEVER... in the end it's all about execution.  Yes it is much more fun to have options to consider... but I think many here go way overboard on this, and in fact think TOO MUCH about this as they discuss it here, and/or as they play the game.  I'm not gonna name any names, but we've battled this many times before in this forum... It's all well and good to make a thoughtful strategic choice, but if you can't make the ball go where you intend, what the hell does it matter?

Then on top of this, consider the great player... what the hell do angle and options matter when one can bomb drivers 310 in the air, 350 on the ground.. and fire 220 yard 5-irons that stop on a dime?

It's all noise to a player like that.

« Last Edit: June 18, 2009, 09:45:39 AM by Tom Huckaby »

Tom_Doak

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2009, 09:57:00 AM »
With no offense to any of the people who enter it and try so hard, I've got to say, I detest the annual Lido competition.  (Well, there goes my chance to be a judge. ::) )

When Dr. MacKenzie won the original competition, he did so because nobody at that time had ever drawn a hole with 4-5 alternate routes that were all interesting for someone.  It was an ORIGINAL idea.  Now 95% of the entries are drawn that way because the whole purpose of the prize is to reinforce MacKenzie's stature ... but few of the entries actually depict a hole that a good player might attack in more than one or two ways.

I am a big fan of providing options, but a lot of the best options don't even show up in the drawing of a golf hole ... things like whether hitting to the wide part of the fairway leaves an awkward stance or a blind approach, or whether you would rather run the ball in off a bank to the left of the green instead of flying it to the hole, or considering what is the best place to miss around the green to give yourself an up-and-down par.

But when people are drawing them up, they only think options are about putting in more hazards.  Which is why most new golf courses have too many hazards.  And why lots of them are overrated.

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2009, 10:13:12 AM »
I thought I posted last night, but apparently not.  I can recall Tom Doak and I commenting on a similar thread.

My feeling is a hole can be very good with only 2 basic options.  3 options are easy enough but providing 4 or more good options gets quite difficult in normal play corridors and I question if its really necessary to go above two options on most holes.

I say that, considering TD's response on that older thread - while I consider two options to be created by a single bunker on the inside of the fw (for example) Tom posted that a single bunker could create numerous options - carry it, curve it around it, aim just wide, well wide, etc., etc. etc.

My point is that the gca can create two basic options and count on golfers to overly complicate things and fill in other options, or sub options like 1-A, B and C vs 2 A, B and C.  Those sub options of course, are based on the golfer's length,, shot pattern, confidence, match position, etc. etc. etc.

Going back to the drawing in post No. 4, is there really a difference between options A and F and is either ever an advantage over C?  I am trying to build a hole like that in Kansas now, but without the A and F options.  In the "real world" we probably couldn't afford to build A and F (unless part of some parallel fw we were building anyway) and wouldn't spend the money for an option that would probably only be used by 1% of the players, or by accident with a duck hook or wild slice.

There is also the factor that most players don't like the confusion of too many options.  At Wild Wing, Rees Jones toured our course and didn't like our 14th hole, which had 3-4 fw options with bunkers scattered throughout.  "Too confusing" was his basic comment, and most good players would agree, even if some here think lots of options and confusion is a good thing.  The fact is, most players wouldn't underastand all the Lido style options, nor would they use them. 

As Max Behr said, the line of charm is simply very compelling.  Getting someone to play well away from the basic line is just very hard to do, even if it looks great in plan.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

JMEvensky

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2009, 10:57:31 AM »

Then on top of this, consider the great player... what the hell do angle and options matter when one can bomb drivers 310 in the air, 350 on the ground.. and fire 220 yard 5-irons that stop on a dime?

It's all noise to a player like that.



I agree with this.The better the player,the "noisier" the options.

Niall C

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2009, 11:43:33 AM »
I echo Jeffs comments above regarding line of charm and getting people to play away from it. I would also suggest that the line of charm is different for different players depending on their individual game. That being so are you really providing a range of options for each player or a range of individual lines for individual players ?

Where the playing area is so open and so wide as in the sketch in post 4, the temptation for some if not most is to just give it a whack and take what you get.

Niall

Tim Pitner

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2009, 11:55:45 AM »

I am a big fan of providing options, but a lot of the best options don't even show up in the drawing of a golf hole ... things like whether hitting to the wide part of the fairway leaves an awkward stance or a blind approach, or whether you would rather run the ball in off a bank to the left of the green instead of flying it to the hole, or considering what is the best place to miss around the green to give yourself an up-and-down par.

But when people are drawing them up, they only think options are about putting in more hazards.  Which is why most new golf courses have too many hazards.  And why lots of them are overrated.

Accuse me of being a Tom Doak BB all you want, but this is one of the best posts I've read in a long time.  Among other things, it goes a long way in explaining why courses are overbunkered (and overly fancifully-bunkered) and why the hazard of short grass is underutilized.  When did GCA become all about the bunkering and how much should we blame MacKenzie?  Sorry, I'm channeling Sean Arble and Wayne Morrison (apologies to Sean and Wayne).

Adam Clayman

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2009, 04:05:48 PM »
Both Tom's touch on the elasticity of the term 'options'.

The multitude of options experienced should encompass more than just the strategic direction one chooses to attack. They should include how one chooses to play each shot. On an undulating canvas those options go exponential/

Isn't this at the crux of why one dimensional (dictated aerial assault every shot) designs suck?
"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #20 on: June 18, 2009, 04:17:53 PM »
Niall,

One reason a gently angled fw, perhaps with a cape hole type hazard is so good is that it automatically allows for all tee shot distances.  Fairways that gradually diminish in width sort of provide the same continous degrees of options from long/short perspective. Staggered bunkers down the fw achieve some different things for different players.

All can create options without building four or five fw per hole!

And, I agree that ground slope is a great hazard.  Going back to the one design posted here, it appears all the hazards are of the same type and most of the designed LZ's are of the same width and angle.  How much better would it be if one of those ridges was sand, another a clump of trees, and another LZ (perhaps the shortest route) comprised of a more rolling fw than the perimeter options?
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Ben Sims

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2009, 07:37:56 PM »
Adam,

You touch on a great point.  To the elite golfer, options are noise.  At most tour events--all tour events--the focus is on fairways and greens and putts made.  The great shots, week after week, all great look the same.  What I mean, is that for the most part (Tiger doesn't count), all tour golfers that are scoring well, are playing the same game.  That is why a one option hole like 17 at Sawgrass works so well for the tour guys.  It says to the player, "I dare you to hit me." 

For us mortals, options are what keep us playing.  This past weekend at Ballyneal, I could've played a number of holes three different ways off the tee with a reasonable chance of success for each one.  The trick for me looking at the holes was finding the best miss.  I think as an option, the "best miss" is sometimes the hardest to ascertain.  Tom does a fantastic job of showing you the hard shot.  It's the subtle and slightly easier shot that requires a deeper look. 

All of it comes back to elasticity.  The variables involved with shot options are just that, variable.  What is a good option for me isn't a good option for you. 

And then there's the crazies that hit shots not because the course allows for them, but because they want to see if they can do it.  You can't have GCA that accommodates those guys.

Either way, all of this boils down to what I said before.  Can you sort through the equation presented by the architect, or can you not.  If you don't have the ability to take in factors and you always do the same thing, from every yardage, no matter your lie, then there is no amount of "noise" that will distract you.

Yannick Pilon

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2009, 10:05:00 PM »
I don't have much time to answer this, but the title of the thread immediately made me think about a Photoshop feature I use in my golf course renderings... the Noise feature.  It essentially adds "noise" or color freakles to an otherwise plain color or image....

Somehow, this also made me think about the recent courses by David Macklay Kidd (especially Tetherow and the Castle course) where he seems to be willing to push the enveloppe so far, and offer so many options, that everything becomes "noisy". 

I rather like to beleive that "less, is more".... Especially in golf course architecture.

YP
www.yannickpilongolf.com - Golf Course Architecture, Quebec, Canada

Mike Benham

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2009, 10:47:42 PM »

 If you don't have the ability to take in factors and you always do the same thing, from every yardage, no matter your lie, then there is no amount of "noise" that will distract you.



How about the ability, to hit golf shots, of the golfer? 

Options as depicted by the hole may not, is likely not, the best option for a golfer based on their ability to swing the club. 

Any golfer with a handicap greater then a single digit probably doesn't have the skills to hit a draw or fade, high or low, a punch or runner even if the best options dictates it so ...

 
"... and I liked the guy ..."

Ben Sims

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Re: At what point do Options become Noise?
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2009, 11:14:49 PM »
I disagree Mike.

The reason is this.  If options were dependent upon the golfer wholly, then why are courses with more "options" easier for the high handicapper?  I think we are confusing options with recovery.  Just because a course is expansive enough to allow for a miss doesn't mean that the course has more or less options. 

I sort of hate to keep using it for examples, but this past weekend at BN, many tees and many approaches left me with options.  I'll use #7.  It was playing roughly 340 from where we were including a slight tailwind.  I had what I thought were three options.  1) Hit a sky high bomb of a draw onto the green with the driver. 2) Hit a high fade/cut--my normal ball flight--with a 3-wood. 3) Hit a faded hybrid.  Of course I can't hit the first one.  The second was a 60% shot for me.  The third, 75%.  But I took into affect the leave.  I had seen how the big slope left of the green feeds balls back to the hole.  That left slope can be attacked from anywhere center to right of the fairway.  I wanted to be close enough to have a bump and run 7 iron or a putter to do this with.  What did I hit?  Option 2. 

EVERY golfer should have an option at their disposal.  A 30 handicapper that has never gotten a ball airborne can still putt his way around 17 at Sawgrass.  It's an extreme example, but options are available. 

I don't buy the argument that the most obvious line is unplayable for high 'cappers like us either.  If it's the most obvious option and you can't do it, well, that's oxymoronic.  It actually shouldn't be obvious to a poor player to take the hard line.  It may tempt them, but like I said before, situational awareness dictates you you shouldn't touch gloves with Floyd Mayweather.  Why would I want to try and hit a 340 yard draw if it's a once a year shot? 

After all of that typing, I realize now that you actually made my point.  They're one in the same.  Either you can't hit the shot, so it's not an option for you.  Or you just don't "see" the shot.  I think an average golfer has to be able to tune out the noise to understand what shots he can't pull off. 

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