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Rob Rigg

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Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« on: September 23, 2009, 02:25:15 AM »
Newbie to the site David Mihm has just launched a website called Epic Golf.com

He has posted an interesting article about Pacing v Routing

Some in the treehouse may find it to be a thought provoking read . . .

http://www.epicgolf.com/architecture/pacing-vs-routing

Welcome to the site David - get your flak jacket ready :)

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2009, 05:53:01 AM »
An interesting artcicle... David is clearly a thinker about the game and can obviously write well...

But I fundamentally disagree with him that "most" architects consider great individual holes over pacing and fluid routing.... Whilst it is always important to locate those fantastic singular holes, any architect who considers it more important than the overall quality of the course and the experience should perhaps consider a career change... There are maybe a few out there (and others who bend to their Client's wishes to provide spectacular "signature" holes) but they are far outweighed by those who consider the quality of the overall course to be the final judgement...

I think David has made some great points and given some good examples (and some fairly bizarre ones as well - MacKenzie bad at pacing his course and responsible for the back nine but not the front at Lahinch?!) but I think he is too swayed by his personal opinion on various courses and how they play... Firstly, it does not necessarily stand up that his opinion matches that of the majority... Secondly, he fails to recognise that almost all routing decisions come with an element of compromise... It is the architect's job to provide the best course and decisions made in one part of the site will automatically effect decisions made on another part of the site...

Other than that, I look forward to reading more by David... The website looks like a great addition...

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2009, 08:08:13 AM »
It is an interesting read and makes some good points, especially in contrast to recent posts by my pal Jim Engh about creating the best 18 holes.

Looking at the big picture, I agree most gca's today, with all being more concerned about the visual, tend to create better holes with less regard for pacing the round.  Of course, when you deal with housing, etc., there are often just too many things to consider and pace (along with wind variations) seems to have suffered a bit in favor of other design factors.

I have often speculated on how the TV generation has increased need for visuals.  Now I wonder if the "time pressed" generation, i.e., nearly everything seems to move faster these days, has a reduced need for pace, a la a "breather" hole than our preceding generations whose schedule (at least those in the "liesure class" who typically played more golf back then) had some more "pace" to it?

Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2009, 08:47:06 AM »
That's interesting Jeff... It's not the answer I would have expected but maybe there's confusion around the word "pace"...

Can I ask a question of you?... How do you generally route your courses?... Do you identify good green and tee sites and then try and route the best course incorporating as many of them as possible?... Or do you identify one or two "must have" holes (which you try to hold on to for as long as possible) and then fit the rest of the routing around them (I realise it is not as black and white as that).

Knowing that you are a believer in many of the unwritten rules (such as balanced and returning nines, par-72 (10-4-4), no par-3's in first couple of holes), I would have thought that was an indication that you place a high priority on how the round unfolds from 1st tee to 18th green...

Thanks,
Ally

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2009, 09:10:18 AM »
Ally,

I actually do consider the pace. I was also going to write that EpicGolf and David would be a big fan of the Stanley Thompson approach distance variation charts.  I was also going to write that most here would say that such "pace" would be a result of some "formula routing."  Yeah, I have those formulas, and I also have a slew of variety charts like Thompson's that I use to evaluate a routing in terms of wind, shot length, up and down hill shots, etc.  But, when I route, I generally look for the holes first, knowing that in many cases, I can make minor tweaks to a general routing pattern to change length of individual holes if I need to. BTW, I don't think you can say that you "find the green sites first" and generally route the course and find holes as you play them - from tee to green. 

Of course, if I was designing Cypress Point, I think I would have ID'd the 16th green pretty early on, but most sites, most "natural green sites" comprises of a gentle uphill slope, with only a few real "natural features sites" like creeks, speciman trees, punch bowl feature, etc., that must be approached from exactly one point.

I do have course out there with back to back par 5 holes, par 3's in odd places, etc.  I propose them far more than clients let me build them that way.

I really only have one set rule for routing a golf course - If a routing works out well after just one try, it probably has 17 or 19 holes, which are always easier than that pesky requirement for 18! 
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Philippe Binette

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2009, 09:34:57 AM »
I like the article but there's a weak point in its argument:
he start talking about the walk through a landscape to explain the pacing concept and then never talks about it again and talks about golf shots to say what doesn't work on golf courses.

I'm not ready to say that Mackenzie was terrible at ''pacing''... just go walk Crystal Downs... it cannot be more a walk through the landscape.

Another problem with criticizing the old courses with that concept is that the landscape, either on or around a given course has evolved so much over the last 60 to 80 years that some of the pacing interest might be lost.



David Mihm

Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2009, 09:38:41 AM »
Hey Rob, thanks for letting everyone in the forum know about the article. As you know I've been busy this summer trying to put the site together but hope to get involved in plenty of discussions on GCA going forward.

I know that my comments about Mackenzie, and especially Cypress, are going to be controversial. Cypress will be the subject of a full article where I can flesh out more thoughts at some point in the future.  I have the outline ready but didn't have the energy to launch alongside at the same time.  Just so people don't think I'm totally insane, I actually LOVE Cypress. What makes me half-insane is that I think the front nine is more interesting than the back.

I've only played Lahinch once but it felt like two completely different courses -- an Old Tom front nine and a Mackenzie-esque back nine...I'm sure I am uninformed about the extent of Mackenzie's efforts on the front, despite reading as many "classics" on architecture over the last 9 mos. as I could....  But, I would have hoped even forgetting about changes to the existing back nine holes, that his re-routing would have perhaps ended with current the 9th, 6th, 4th, and 2nd or something along those lines, which would have made the pacing of the course more successful, IMHO.

Thanks for all the feedback, guys.

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2009, 09:43:15 AM »
Thanks Jeff,

I wasn't suggesting that you find the green sites first and join the dots of the routing. I was merely asking if you identified possible green sites early on and then attempted to incorporate as many of them as possible. I guess that you don't really identify green sites without visualising the hole you want so in many ways it is the same approach as identifying the good holes first.... Answering my own question here...

I just find it surprising that someone can put all their eggs in one basket so to speak... Would you rather have 4 great holes in a course that feels bland, unbalanced and weak in comparison?... Or would you rather have a strong whole?... I guess the marketing men prefer the former and David (and I) prefer the latter... I was disagreeing with him that most architects also prefer the former... Although I now question that...

I am not sure I agree with you that most here would think that "pace" would be to do with "formula routing"... Quite the opposite in fact... However, I do believe that if you stick to those unwritten rules, you are already subconsciously considering the 'pace' and chronological sequence of the holes on the course... Not that I am big believer in them...


Jim Colton

Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2009, 11:10:38 AM »
Glad to have David on the site and as an addition to the golf blogosphere.  One thing is clear...he's a lot smarter than I am.  I have a hard time distinguishing between routing and pacing, as I view them as closely related.  I'm sure that most architects think about pacing and routing and the trade-offs between the two.  But if it came down to one or the other, routing would probably win out for most architects, and I can't really disagree with that approach.

He talks about Bandon vs. Pacific, namely the 13th at Pacific vs. the 16th at Bandon.  The 13th green is about as far away from the clubhouse as possible, it would be difficult for it to come any later in the round to yield a better Climax in David's terms.  Even if you feel Bandon has better pacing than Pac, is that enough of a factor to make it a stronger course?

David Mihm

Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2009, 11:18:34 AM »
Hey Jim,

I do not hold myself out as smarter than anyone on this site...clearly there are a ton of people in the golf blogosphere who have been thinking about architecture a lot longer than I have and probably in far more depth!

Architecturally, Pacific is the far more interesting course.  In terms of my overall experience playing the two, I probably enjoy my typical round at Bandon more.  I realize it iis a subjective personal opinion but I would say that I would enjoy a course with a superior pacing even if its routing or individual holes weren't as strong.

Given Doak's statement that clubhouses should be placed last, I am surprised that perhaps the clubhouse isn't located perhaps closer to the 8th tee, which would make 13 the front nine climax and 3 and 4 the back nine climax.  Perhaps there were logistical or environmental concerns that precluded it?

Kalen Braley

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2009, 11:27:30 AM »

Given Doak's statement that clubhouses should be placed last, I am surprised that perhaps the clubhouse isn't located perhaps closer to the 8th tee, which would make 13 the front nine climax and 3 and 4 the back nine climax.  Perhaps there were logistical or environmental concerns that precluded it?

David,

It sounds like you are suggesting PD would have been better suited to start on hole 8 and finish on 7? 

While those are two excellent holes, many have expressed thier preferrence for the back 9 at PD with its unconventional routing and interesting holes coming in. (4 par 3s, 2 par 4s, 3 par 5s) 

Additionally, hole 4 wasn't originally supposed to be along the cliff edge. It was going to be where the current 12th hole is, until they decided they wanted to get the golfer out to the shoreline as a bit of preview/tease.

Jim Colton

Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2009, 11:32:32 AM »
Hey Jim,

I do not hold myself out as smarter than anyone on this site...clearly there are a ton of people in the golf blogosphere who have been thinking about architecture a lot longer than I have and probably in far more depth!

Architecturally, Pacific is the far more interesting course.  In terms of my overall experience playing the two, I probably enjoy my typical round at Bandon more.  I realize it iis a subjective personal opinion but I would say that I would enjoy a course with a superior pacing even if its routing or individual holes weren't as strong.

Given Doak's statement that clubhouses should be placed last, I am surprised that perhaps the clubhouse isn't located perhaps closer to the 8th tee, which would make 13 the front nine climax and 3 and 4 the back nine climax.  Perhaps there were logistical or environmental concerns that precluded it?

It's too bad Mr. Doak is backpacking in Nepal (or something like that) right now, otherwise we'd probably get a quick answer.  From the looks of the site, since it's essentially a big triangle it probably makes sense to access it from the far SE point of that triangle.  That said, hypothetically if you could put the 'house on the other side of the 1st tee, you could go with 8-16 as your front nine and 17-18-1-7 as your back nine.  Does that make a better paced course?  #4-#7 would be #15-#18, that would be a strong finish.  Would 9-11 work early in the round?

Changing the sequence on Pac...adding cart paths to Pine Valley.  It's Blaspheme Wednesday on GCA!
« Last Edit: September 23, 2009, 11:34:28 AM by Jim Colton »

Rob Rigg

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2009, 11:46:28 AM »
Does this routing work better for PD from a pacing perspective? - although there would be a bit of a hike from #18 (#9) to current #8 (#10).

Front Nine -

1 - par 4 -370
2 - par 4 - 368
3 - par 4 - 469 - This 3 hole stretch is a fantastic opening
13 - Par 4 - 444 - Dramatic intro to the ocean (like 4 is now)
14 - par 3 - 145
15 - par 5 - 539
16 - par 4 - 338
17 - par 3 - 208
18 - par 5 - 591 - Knock off an interesting run that has driver as an option on the par 4s and 5s

Back Nine

8 - par 4 - 400
9 - par 4 - 406
10 - par 3 - 206
11 - par 3 - 148 - The middle of the round is essentially intact
12 - par 5 - 529
4 - par 4 - 463 - the climax by the ocean is on 15 vs 13
5 - par 3 - 199
6 - par 4 - 316 - tricky par 4 that can lead to a myriad of scores - great point in the round for a match
7 par 4 - 464 - A tough par 4 finisher

David Mihm

Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2009, 11:52:56 AM »
Hey Kalen,

I LOVE that Doak gives you a shot along the Ocean so early in the round...reminiscent of what Neville did at Pebble with two different climaxes.  The 4th is one of my favorite driving holes in the world, despite only hitting the fairway once in four tries!

I am not necessarily opposed to the idea of nine holes with unconventional par #'s, but as I said, I think in its current form there are too many "fiddly" approaches in the same five-hole stretch.

Jim, I am just an armchair guy--Doak is truly a pro--but I thought about both of the scenarios you described as I was writing the article. I do agree that 3-4-5-6-7 as 14-15-16-17-18 would be pretty remarkable.  I might re-work the existing 5th to call for a bit longer club (in downwind conditions, anyway) with less undulation, a la Oakmont 16 or Carnoustie 16.

I also want to make sure people know I am not ripping willy-nilly on PacDunes -- it's still a great track without ANY changes of course.

David Mihm

Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2009, 11:56:43 AM »
Rob, I like that idea quite a bit.  Although as you know I think e-3 is a far cooler hole than e-12 I'd probably rather see it come at a crucial stage of the back nine...?  But that solves Jim's concern that e-10 and e-11 would come too early in the round if you started on e-8.

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2009, 11:57:53 AM »
Re- the difference between "pacing" and "routing"... Jim, I don't see there as a trade-off between "pacing" and "routing" with most architects favouring "routing"...

To me, "pacing" as defined by David is a subset of "routing" which is the whole... Another subset of "routing" is "naturally occuring standout holes"... I believe the possible trade-off is between pacing and standout holes as you may have to shoehorn the latter in at the expense of the former...

David mentions that architects spend more time on their intricate green complexes and bunkers. In many ways, I think he is arguing that architects spend more time on detailed design at the expense of routing. I don't think it is possible to argue that good pacing and good routing do not go hand in hand...

Maybe I'm missing the point of the article... I'd be interested to hear others' opinions of my opinion to be truthful...

Kalen Braley

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2009, 12:05:11 PM »
David,

Yeah i get your just speculating, thats cool, thats what we do best on GCA.com!!   ;D

Here are more reasons why I think the current back 9 works besides the very unorthodox routing as I already mentioned.

1)  All the best par 3s are on the back, 11, 14, and 17.
2)  Two of the best par 4s are on the back 13 and 16, but there are so many fine par 4s on this course as you know.
3)  The best par 5, 18 is also on the back 9.
4)  The best view, IMO is had on the back which is the tee box on #14 where you can see most of the entire course and much of the new ODM course will be visible from there as well.
5)  The sequence of holes is neat too (assuming summer wind), long par 3, shortish par 3, medium par 5, long par 4, short par 3, short par 5, short par 4, long par 3, medium par 5.  It really makes for some excellent scoring opportunities.

So while true #3-7 would be no slouch for a finishing stretch... I would take #13-18 over those holes any day of the week.

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2009, 12:13:13 PM »
Doesn't the idea of locating the clubhouse last say that Doak doesn't think much about pace? I mean, is there a pace difference between the first hole being a tough par 4 versus if it was any other hole?  It's a good question, but thinking about it all morning among other things, I kinda sorta think that in the end, the best golf course would be the one with the largest collection of good holes.  Do that first, and where there are routing options, then consider the variation of holes within routings that have great holes.

BTW,  I always kinda sorta disagreed with Doak on the Clubhouse gets placed last theory. Its more sound bite than sound practice in most cases.  There is a lot that goes into siting a clubhouse to make the course work well because it is important, not unlike Jim Engh considering the cart circulation - golfers underestimate how important circulation is to a functioning golf course.  It must have room for parking, cart storage and staging, and practice areas.  We must also consider access, road proximity, course identity, govt jurisdiction, such as utility extensions, liquor licence, sun orientation for golf holes (from 12 noon to 5 is best, not hard to accomplish when your site is on the Pacific Ocean in OR) etc.  I once had to move a clubhouse because long term plans called for a school near the site and local law prhobited alcohol sales within 1000 feet of a school.

At Firekeeper, logical clubhouse location was across the road from the casino, right on the highway to reduce costs.  But, using the center ridge near the crotch of the L provided for a centralized clubhouse that allowed returning nines and avoided opening and closing holes to play into a low sun.  I had to move the range from the sales plan, because it crossed a creek.  I found that placing the range on that main ridge, which didnít look promising on plan, actually looked great on the ground, and it didnít require any creek impacts or tree removal.
  
Eventually, we used that upper portion of that ridge for tee and green sites, moving the clubhouse halfway back down the hill to a tree lined meadow to create its own internal views.  The clubhouse is far enough off the road for serenity, but is close enough to reduce entry road and utility connection costs.  It could have better visual control of opening and closing holes.  

We ended up moving the entire entrance road, too.  We did it to save bridge cost.  Sure, crossing a creek on the entry is nice, but we found a way to parallel it, reducing our emphasis on the close connection to the hotel from people driving in - hotel guests now will get in a cart shuttle at the front door.  That road can also serve some future villas that are nestled in among some trees.

In the last week, we had to move the clubhouse again - because I used the ridges for golf holes, there were no visuals for view or control without moving it again and removing some trees.  And, we found that two different electrical companies provided power and where it was located (or if it had been on the ridge) we would have had to use the second company, and brought a line several miles and at great cost.  I think I would rather spend my money on the golf course than power lines......

So, in a way, I located the clubhouse both first and last!  And many times in between.....

Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Rob Rigg

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2009, 12:13:38 PM »
There are several weaknesses to the routing I suggested for sure - Par being the most obvious - just a thought that was not totally complete before I put it down.

I love where the current 17th comes in the round - so playing it so early is kind of a drawback although 10 and 11 would both come later and they are great holes.

I love current 3 and it would be nice if it fell later in the round but I also like 12 vs 15 because you can rip driver and you play to the tucked green with a ton of wind ripping around - and I also enjoy that the "weird rob routing" would present the ocean to the golfer to a much later stage in the round. Even e-6/17th - gives you a great view from the green out to the ocean before teeing it up on the difficult e-7/18th to finish off the round.

Kalen Braley

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2009, 12:27:04 PM »
David,

I had a couple of comments regarding your analysis of Pasatiempo.  While I agree #16 is a thrilling hole, I didn't much agree with anything esle.

#15 isn't a wedge unless you are John Daly.  For 99.99% of golfers they are hitting anywhere from 6 to 9 iron into that green.
#16 is also a driver play for many who play the game.  Remember the "average" golfer still only hits it 220-230, guys who can bomb it 270+ are still a small minority.
#17 is also a driver play for most golfers because it is up-hill.  And since the original green has been restored, its become a very interesting approach shot again with massive fear/risk reward when the pin is anywhere right or on the rear of the green.
#18 is hands down the most thrilling par 3 finisher I've ever played.

Overall, I think the philiopshy of a good course should be taking what the land gives you and fitting the best holes in where they work the best.  Sure it'd be nice in a perfect world to have everything come together in terms of routing and pacing, but IMO, trying to fit round pegs into square holes just because the pacing might be a little better is much less desireable than playing thrilling/interesting/fun holes.

Sean_A

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Re: Pacing v Routing - an interesting read
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2009, 12:59:56 PM »
I think I am in agreement with Ally.  I am not sure how pacing and routing are separated out.  Its sort of like saying routing and green sites are two different concepts.  To me the pace of course is in the terrain, wind, detail and features, both natural and man-made.

OK, the archie can play around a bit with holes yardages to create interesting juxtapositions such as a long par 4 into the wind which is often not reachable followed by a short par 5 down wind which is reachable.  The same sort of pacing could be the case of short par 4 downwind followed by a long par 3 into the wind.  I am thinking specifically of Portrush Valley's 4 and 5 here. 

I spose you can even have pacing within a hole and Enniscrone's 1st is one such example with a flat expanse for a drive then the hole turns and heads into the dunes for a dramatic approach. 

I guess I am just throwing thoughts out there. 

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

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