News:

This discussion group is best enjoyed using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.


Don_Mahaffey

Visuals
« on: November 10, 2011, 12:41:13 PM »
It seems like one of the keys to designing/building an excellent and well thought of modern golf course is in the visuals the designer gives to the golfer. The golf has to work too, and the greatest modern architects walk a great balance between good golf and a beautiful setting.

Iíve had a few folks out to tour Wolf Point and one comment Iíve heard, including a somewhat harsh criticism from an architect whose work I have great respect for, is you canít see enough of what lies ahead of you. The bunkering is good, but it should be more visible, that green complex is excellent, but from this edge over here, you play peek a boo through a tree branch ÖetcÖ
Now, we knew it when we built the course, but we also knew our client was going to play the course almost every day, and we didnít want him to get bored right off the bat. So we tried to leave a little suspense, you can see part of the bunker, but unsure how large the gathering area really is, you can see the entire flag on the par threes, but the surfaces blend into the background and hide some serious contourÖ(one player was highly critical of this feature).

Why donít we hide some of the golf course a little more? Why not add a little more suspense, uncertainty, doubt, to our designs. Is it really so bad to get a little nervous when your ball runs out of sight over a hill (hidden water Iím not a fan of) and possible into a trouble spot? Seems like our greatest modern architects are very good at building beautiful golf courses that play well but Iíd like to see some of that  beauty become a little harder to find. And that doesn't mean its all about blind shots, but more about the need to prop everything up so it can be easily viewed.

In nature, I donít think its all out there in your face. Sometimes you need to look harder, peel away a few layers, sometimes the path is not laid out right before you. Everyone is always asking whatís next, if its always going to be back to the future, letís go a little farther back.

Eric Smith

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2011, 12:49:32 PM »
Don,

When I played Porthcawl last year, I found my mishits into the greens almost always found their way into the hidden pots surrounding them. At the time, I thought this aspect of the design to be quite clever. I still do, and your post reaffirms this for me. The mystery is half the charm.

JESII

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2011, 12:55:50 PM »
Don,

I like your thoughts on this. I'd think it's a more difficult feat to accomplish on land with large elevation changes than a generally level overall topography. That being said, one of the things I've alwasy loved about a local great course here in Philadelphia, Merion, is that so many of the target areas are just a bit obscured from your view when you're trying to approach them. Whether it's determining just where the right edge (ideal position) of the 4th fairway is on the tee shot, or the depth of the pin on the 6th green I always feel just a bit off balance.

I think what makes it important, and therefore bothersome to certain golfers, is the difficulty that arises from missing a great shot by a little bit. It could be a physical error (pushing the tee shot on 4 at Merion 10 yards and being in rough that might not allow you to advance the ball over the cross bunker) or a mental miscalculation (like thinking the pin on 6 is past center and hitting a good shot that results in a 30 footer straight down a ski slope) but the result is very hard work.

If mistakes had fewer consequences alot of golfers would be much happier...and in my opinion the game wouldn't be as appealing.

Jeff_Brauer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2011, 12:56:22 PM »
Don,

Interesting points.  When I am working in wooded areas, I have used some of those principles - L shaped lakes that disappear around a corner to make them look larger and make golfers want to look around the corner.  I have left paths from greens to tees in deep woods to create a sense of "bursting into the space" upon arrival at the next tee.

However, I have always thought that most of the golf course features should be visible (except cart paths!)  Specifically, I hate seeing just "slivers" of sand.  To me, those bunkers are a wasted opportunity to make something more attractive.  Even Art Hills, famous for those flat bunkers, has learned how to cant them up 5% to make them visible.

Golf courses are also one of the very few landscape design elements where we get to control the view points consistently.  If I am designing a public square, people come into it and view it from all angles.  In golf, we really have the opportunity to design for the visuals from several controlled points all golfers will pass in a certain order.  It just seems stronger design to take advantage of that, no?

In essence, creating beauty and hiding it seems a little counterproductive, for the few who will be distracted enough from the main path to find it.  It is, after all, a golf course, not a nature park.  It's nature light.  No sense NOT highlighting the nature just to be sure more people experience.

I understand your contention, and offer this more as a debater taking the other position, although I think most of it is basically true, even if there is no doubt there are some great exceptions.  Its not black and white, maybe its grey.  Maybe it's a matter of how much beauty there is on site to start with?  If not enough (most courses) the tendency is to highlight every ounce of it!

Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Peter Pallotta

Re: Visuals
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2011, 12:58:30 PM »
Excellent post, Don, thanks.  One thing that struck me was the dffering notions of a 'beautiful setting' implied in your opening sentence (and in what that visiting architect had to say).  Not surprisingly, even when you go on to talk about the nuances of setting, you closely tie those 'aesthetic' choices with the golf itself, i.e. with playability and fun and choices/uncertainities.  The linking of those two is the first and most important quality of good golf courses, and the goal of the men/women who design and maintain them. After that, and for my tastes, you are spot on about how a more subtle/unfolding beauty seems also a more natural (nature-like) beauty -- a kind of 'layering' of elements and of experience wth many parts (eventually, progressively) adding to the whole. That this nuanced layering also -- almost be definition -- enhance the playing of the game is not accidental....again, as your post makes clear.

Peter

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Visuals
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2011, 01:08:13 PM »
Don:

Did you really TRY to leave a little suspense, or just not fight the flatness of the terrain to try and make everything visible?

On flattish ground, it's inevitable that some features will be harder to see, but on rolling ground, it comes down to the routing and trying not to leave any blind shots.

I also think a lot of this boils down to bunker styling.  When you flash the bunkers, one of the objectives is to see them, so you work harder to make them seen; and then they want to be visually in scale with the rest of the property, so they keep growing.  [At Sebonack, Jim Lipe repeatedly asked us to hollow out in front of the bunkers so that you could see even more of them.]  Whereas if you are going with links-style bunkers, then they are not expected to be so visible, and it's okay if you can't see a portion of them.  But, I haven't had a client in a while who was comfortable with the less-visible, lower-profile approach.

JMEvensky

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2011, 01:12:37 PM »

If mistakes had fewer consequences alot of golfers would be much happier...and in my opinion the game wouldn't be as appealing.


A really good way of saying that most would prefer the architecture to be dumbed down.

It seems like those things which appeal to some of us--subtlety,misdirection,randomness--are anathema to most.Maybe it all boils down to the fact that fewer and fewer people now enjoy the challenge.They play golf for different reasons than I do.

JESII

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2011, 01:17:27 PM »
Jeff,

I think you're right...and I think that's the primary struggle of the growth of the game, not the next 5% distance increase for the guys on Tour. The game should present itself as a great challenge with all the ancillary benefits we all know so well.




Tom,

When you speak of "hollowing out in front of bunkers" to increase their visibility, does the resulting increased blindness when playing a shot from short of them weigh in on that decision at all?

Don_Mahaffey

Re: Visuals
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2011, 01:28:45 PM »
Don:

Did you really TRY to leave a little suspense, or just not fight the flatness of the terrain to try and make everything visible?

On flattish ground, it's inevitable that some features will be harder to see, but on rolling ground, it comes down to the routing and trying not to leave any blind shots.

I also think a lot of this boils down to bunker styling.  When you flash the bunkers, one of the objectives is to see them, so you work harder to make them seen; and then they want to be visually in scale with the rest of the property, so they keep growing.  [At Sebonack, Jim Lipe repeatedly asked us to hollow out in front of the bunkers so that you could see even more of them.]  Whereas if you are going with links-style bunkers, then they are not expected to be so visible, and it's okay if you can't see a portion of them.  But, I haven't had a client in a while who was comfortable with the less-visible, lower-profile approach.

Certainly, the flat ground made it easier to hide/harder to see what is out in front of you. However, it was most definitely a conscious decision not to elevate teeing grounds in an effort to get a better look. So yes, the suspense angle was there from the beginning and seemed to work with this piece of ground. That, and like I said above, we knew the client was going to play almost all his golf for the rest of his life here. And heís the type of guy that does Mensa crossword puzzles in his spare time.

So, I guess my next argument is, why do we need great sites to have good golf, that is if one considers a course like Wolf Point to be good.  Great golf, maybe you need a great site. But really good golf might not need as good a site as sometimes argued here. Especially if the architect/client is willing to go against the grain a little bit and not aim for beautiful vista and stunning features when good ground hugging golf can be had for a fraction of the cost.

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2011, 01:38:22 PM »
I think I tend to go with Don's approach as opposed to Jeff's. The great thing about semi-blind shots, where all the ground isn't perhaps visible, is that it engages the imagination. For instance if the green is located of the back of a mound but slightly to one side, you can anticpate the slope down to the green and play accordingly. You don't need it all propped up infull view, just a hint can be enough.

My only proviso's to that is completely hidden hazards where there are no clues as to their presence. The other one is clever architects who intentionally set out to fool the player on yardage by use of hidden ground. What's the point of that ?

Niall 

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Visuals
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2011, 01:48:47 PM »

So, I guess my next argument is, why do we need great sites to have good golf, that is if one considers a course like Wolf Point to be good.  Great golf, maybe you need a great site. But really good golf might not need as good a site as sometimes argued here. Especially if the architect/client is willing to go against the grain a little bit and not aim for beautiful vista and stunning features when good ground hugging golf can be had for a fraction of the cost.


I would agree with this.  I've always thought one can build a very good golf course on almost any site, as long as you can make it drain and it's not too steep.  But as long as people keep calling me about great sites, I prefer to work on those.  ;)

Peter Pallotta

Re: Visuals
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2011, 01:53:32 PM »
"Great golf, maybe you need a great site. But really good golf might not need as good a site as sometimes argued here"

Yes sir.  From what I can tell, England is chock full of wonderful inland golf courses that have been around and serving golfers and providing fun and challenge and exercise and being maintained simply and inexpensively for 100 years.   

And if that's not the goal -- and a goal well worth striving for and committing one's best professional efforts to -- well, I have no idea what is.

Peter

Carl Rogers

Re: Visuals
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2011, 02:07:23 PM »
Option 1: see it all leaving nothing to the imagination
Option 2: see nothing, out of sight out of mind or hit and hope
Option 3: see a little, more from some angles, less from other angles .... clearly the best option

Ian Andrew

Re: Visuals
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2011, 06:09:01 PM »
Don,

Two thoughts on visuals:

1. It's the nature of this generation. People don't want to have to figure things out, they want everything laid out for them as clearly as possible. Why read a book when you can see a movie and save the extra time...

2. Golf Architecture is judged largely on the visuals and bunkers and very little on the playing surface. Therefore visuals play a dominant role in the current trends in design.

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2011, 07:06:06 PM »
Would this depend on the nature of the course?

Private course where most people would play it many times over.

Public course with multiple plays, but the need for quick rounds.

Resort course with most people playing it once or, at most, a handful of times.

But in general Don I think you may have touched on a few items that seperate good from great.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Mike Nuzzo

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2011, 07:36:19 PM »
I don't think we spent much time on the visuals of the bunkers at Wolf Point
The biggest bunker complex was intended to not show itself until you were much closer, when it was too late.

The greens were the biggest difference when compared to the traditional built up sloping back to front modern green
At Wolf Point they are all built at or near grade - the 5th and 11th are elevated (naturally and less so)
Every green has a different cant - or a different ideal approach angle(s)

#1 is better to come in from 7 o'clock with a left pin and 4 o'clock from a right pin
#2 the further left the better with a left pin and the further right with a right pin
#3 the green mostly slopes away to the left, best to be a little long on the short 5
#4 slopes hard left to right - great opportunity to bank a shot to the back right pin
#6 first par 3 is safest when rolling in from the right
#7 the best entrance is on the opposite side of the dogleg - cutting the corner doesn't help the angle, only shortens the distance
#12 slops left to right and front to back - hard
#14 !?!
#16 strongly favors a left side approach - which is also the creek side

The greens are great
Someone once walked off saying they could easily remember every green
On most modern greens I remember the shots or the bunkers not the greens - the greens usually bore me

Before the course was grassed I bet 19 out of 20 treehouse members couldn't identify where the fairways/surrounds ended and the greens began
« Last Edit: November 10, 2011, 07:38:49 PM by Mike Nuzzo »
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil & Tiger.

Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Visuals
« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2011, 08:15:36 PM »
I think a large part of the architect's job is deceiving the golfer, or at least obscuring things to enhance the challenges.   Not being to see the green surface from a poorly positioned tee shot, or not comprehending the danger of a bunker, is what separates good design from ho-hum design. 

Wolf Point is loaded with those deceptions, which keeps it interesting for the owner.   As I generally flattish site, it exceeds the poster child for good design on such a site, Talking Stick North.   

Tags:
Tags:

An Error Has Occurred!

Call to undefined function theme_linktree()
Back