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Scott Macpherson

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Old vs New, Is it true...
« on: July 09, 2012, 12:16:14 PM »
Hi,

I was visiting an old Willie Park Jr golf course recently at a club that has 36 holes and the comment was made that in the old days, designers would defend the back of the greens, where the more difficult hole positions were cut, but on new golf courses, designers now defend the front of the greens. It caused me to pause for thought. Is this true? Certainly the new course a visited next a Rees Jones project that was exactly the case. It had deep bunkers and narrow entrances at the front of each green.

Can this be said to be the case generally, and if so why the change? Is it an evolution to protect par from the new balls and aerial game now played? Or was a just the victim of a well timed observation and caught between obliging course designs?

scott

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2012, 12:40:11 PM »
Scott I've long thought that (though I sturggle to suggest eveidence) and believe it has to do with the running ball and it being harder to stop with the old equipment.
Let's make GCA grate again!

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2012, 12:42:29 PM »
Scott,

Not sure about that, as Donald Ross was said to do fewer back bunkers (some say none, but that isn't true)

I know my mentors considered back bunkers "weaker" than front ones because of the dearth of players who actually hit long.  Maybe they only considered aerial shots and well holding greens?  Maybe the old guys figured a mis hit shot would be more likely to run through the green and hazards would catch that kind of poor shot.  (Odd, but kind of the reverse of the top shot bunker, maybe the "thinned shot" bunker?

With the trend to all bunker visibility, I would say most modern designers only use back bunkers when the up slope behind the green site allows it, or they have the dirt to use in building artificial mounds to contain them.  I do see a lot of old greens with the lower, trench sand bunkers wrapping all or most of the back of the green, and certainly that kind of design has fallen out of favor.

Just a few thoughts.  In general (as in my recent old time look thread) when I start really looking at old design trends,  I see a lot of conflicting trends, patterns, ideas.  When I study modern design trends, I really don't see anything that is totally new!
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Niall C

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2012, 01:39:25 PM »
Scott

Not sure if the change is necessarily back to front but more to do with hazards moving from the flank to edging round to the flank, possibly to combat the aerial game. In this country I think thats definitely the case and wonder if the change has much to do with the influence of predominently US courses as much as changes in equipment.

Whatever the cause, I do like those old greens where the sunday pin is up the back and defined by the contours rather than necessarily nearby hazards.

Niall

BCrosby

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2012, 01:42:37 PM »
"... the comment was made that in the old days, designers would defend the back of the greens, where the more difficult hole positions were cut, but on new golf courses, designers now defend the front of the greens."

Scott -

I don't see it. It is simply not ture that more difficult pin positions are always at the backs of greens. even in the GA. Sometimes they were, but it was not true as a general rule. I also wonder if the old guys actually built more back bunkers than are built today. My guess is that they didn't.

Perhaps others have different takes, but I see back bunkers most often when the approach is downhill and they are visible. I see them less often when the approach is uphill or level and they aren't visible from the fw. People are more willing to built back bunkers when they can be seen. I also don't think that is a GA vs. modern thing.

Bob    

Garland Bayley

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2012, 02:14:52 PM »
A. Vernon Macan principle #11

"Greens should have no bunkers placed past the middle of the green to offer inducements to the player's adventurous spirit to take chances by playing the run-up or pitch and run shot. This will also encourage the player to use one more club for the second shot."

"Just Call me Mac" - The Biography of A. Vernon Macan (Golf Architect), Michael Riste, pg 132 (Appendix Five)
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

DMoriarty

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2012, 02:22:04 PM »
George Thomas also wrote about using less bunkers behind greens to encourage aggressive play. 
Golf history can be quite interesting if you just let your favorite legends go and allow the truth to take you where it will.
--Tom MacWood (1958-2012)

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2012, 02:38:51 PM »
All the comments so far ('moi' excepted) have discussed bunkers as evidence of defense. However I do think the GA guys used front to back slopes greens far more than we see on today's courses and in my experience its not always a simple putt back.
Let's make GCA grate again!

Phil McDade

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2012, 02:50:43 PM »
Langord used severe fall-offs on the back and sides of many of his greens, presumably as a defense, while often offering open green fronts.


Tom_Doak

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2012, 03:07:53 PM »
This may be true for pre-1900 courses.  Certainly many links courses had the greenside bunkers concentrated at the sides of the greens and sometimes beyond ... because in the conditions of the day there was zero chance of carrying a bunker at the front of the green and stopping the ball anytime soon.  But I can't think of many parkland courses of any era where the greens are more vigorously defended at the rear.

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2012, 03:20:21 PM »
We have often been told that the green front bunkers in the GA were placed 10-20 yards in front to allow a carry.  Obviously, if we believe there was more run up back then, then we have to believe the gca's left most, but not all, of the green fronts open.

I hear people say that the golden age guys used reverse slope greens more, but I don't know that I have ever seen a lot of actual evidence of that in the old courses I have seen/played.  And, if balls ran more, it made sense to slope towards the golfer more.  Running away would seem almost impossible to hold, and I don't recall any writing saying a well struck ball shouldn't hold the green.

White Bear Yacht Club has one (no. 12) and Riv struck me as having many "planed" greens (no rumples, but pitched all in one direction) but not always to the front, sometimes to the sides. 

There are others, I suspect, and I recall some writing about it - not sure who wrote about the well placed knob in front of a green - hit the front and scoot back, hit the back and careem off the back of the green, but land short and roll over, and it can be well played shot.

Actually, though, I suspect that back to front sloped greens were pretty much the norm, with other slopes thrown in for variety, but would be willing to accept being wrong if someone better traveled than me actually could name a bunch of them.

Is the "front to back" green slope more a gca.com myth than reality?
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Garland Bayley

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2012, 05:42:05 PM »
... and I don't recall any writing saying a well struck ball shouldn't hold the green.

...

"A player should not be able to go to the professional shop to buy his shot. Neither should he expect the ground or its condition to assist him unduly in stopping the ball." A. Vernon Macan, "What Constitutes a Perfect Putting Green", Bulletin of the Greens Section of the USGA, January 24, 1924

He advocates greens sloping every direction but back to front. He wants the ball to run in and lie next to the pin, but yet fly in and be propelled by slope away from the pin.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Tom Yost

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2012, 06:27:56 PM »
Many suggest front hazards may have evolved as a way to combat the aerial game, but it seems to me it would more discourage the ground approach and thus promote the aerial style we see common with modern designs.




Sean_A

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2012, 07:14:26 PM »
I don't have much experience with rear bunkers, but they do exist on links.  Though the guy that stands out for doing this is Dr Mac. 

That said, there is absolutely no question in my mind that front to back running greens were used far more often on classic British courses than on modern courses.  Park Jr and Fowler were particular purveyors of such design.  I suspect Raynor (at least I want to believe) and Simpson my have snuck some of these type in their courses.  Front to backers is one of the great traits of older greens which has largely been ignored today and its a great shame. 

My gut tells me that rear bunkers weren't as necessary when strong back to front running greens became popular.  It may be Ross who really got this trend going.  Being at the back of a huge percentage of Ross greens is no picnic.  As such, I can't really see the need for rear bunkers.  Just about the best advice I could give anybody playing practically any Ross course is to keep the ball between the player and the hole.

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

Giles Payne

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2012, 05:24:41 AM »
I would echo Tony and Sean on this - I play at an early Willie Park Jn Course (Huntercombe) and there are a good number of front to back greens. We have very few bunkers on the course aand none of them are at the back of greens. We have a lot of grass bunkers and they are rarely at the back.

The most difficult pin positions on the front to backers are right at the front - these pin positions are protectected by undulations or centreline hazards.
 
On a number of front to back greens there are ridges some way behind the green which can prevent the balls running too far but do not always offer a simple recovery because you have a tight downhill lie.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 07:18:21 AM by Giles Payne »

Doug Siebert

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2012, 12:03:06 AM »
Many older courses have a pretty severe back to front slope.  That naturally makes back pin positions tougher due to the very long odds of getting up and down if you go long.  If trees have grown in behind in the meantime like at my home course, making lofted shots from behind difficult if not impossible, suddenly when you go long to a back pin position par is only a dream and you're pretty damn happy with a bogey.  Putting bunkers behind such greens would make the hole play easier for all but the hopeless hacks who are happy to just get out of a bunker in one shot.
My hovercraft is full of eels.

Bill_McBride

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2012, 09:29:57 AM »
We have often been told that the green front bunkers in the GA were placed 10-20 yards in front to allow a carry.  Obviously, if we believe there was more run up back then, then we have to believe the gca's left most, but not all, of the green fronts open.

I hear people say that the golden age guys used reverse slope greens more, but I don't know that I have ever seen a lot of actual evidence of that in the old courses I have seen/played.  And, if balls ran more, it made sense to slope towards the golfer more.  Running away would seem almost impossible to hold, and I don't recall any writing saying a well struck ball shouldn't hold the green.

White Bear Yacht Club has one (no. 12) and Riv struck me as having many "planed" greens (no rumples, but pitched all in one direction) but not always to the front, sometimes to the sides. 

There are others, I suspect, and I recall some writing about it - not sure who wrote about the well placed knob in front of a green - hit the front and scoot back, hit the back and careem off the back of the green, but land short and roll over, and it can be well played shot.

Actually, though, I suspect that back to front sloped greens were pretty much the norm, with other slopes thrown in for variety, but would be willing to accept being wrong if someone better traveled than me actually could name a bunch of them.

Is the "front to back" green slope more a gca.com myth than reality?

Not at Oakmont!

Scott Macpherson

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Re: Old vs New, Is it true...
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2012, 09:53:50 AM »
The courses I was looking at when this comment was made had no bunkers behind the greens. Primarily the greens were all raised up, maybe 2-3 feet on the sides and at the back, and certainly several of the greens did slope from front to back. There seemed to be few hazards directly in front of the green which meant playing up (by running the shot in) to the front of the green was quite easy, but the further a player tried to advance their ball down (back) a green, the more challenging it became to control the speed of the approach, or a recovery shot from either side of the green (including from a flanking bunkers) was more challenging. And a green which sat at a slight angle to the line of play looked to be quite a challenge.

scott



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