A Torture Chamber
Should a golf course be a fun challenge or a torture chamber? Years ago, someone quite proudly told Alister Mackenzie – the golf course architect of Augusta National – that no one had ever been able to break par on his hometown golf course. “Good heavens!” exclaimed Mackenzie. “What on earth is wrong with it?”
I agree … what are they thinking? Shouldn’t good play be rewarded? Why not reward good shots and penalize bad shots? Good golf course design appropriately deals with the quality of golf shots. A moderately poor shot should be moderately punished. A moderately good shot should be moderately rewarded. Doesn’t seem like rocket science.
Also, shouldn’t what you see be what you get? I understand that the architect has to make the best of the land he has to work with … and it’s probably impossible to have 18 good holes. But, who likes optical illusions? Or blind shots? Or holes with no landing zones? Or holes that don’t have alternate ways to play the hole?
I don’t think those courses are fun or funny. They may be ridiculous – but not amusing.
Also, shouldn’t the course fit in naturally with the terrain? The less moving of dirt the better. The best courses look like Mother Nature designed them.
A few years ago a course in the Metro area was redesigned. I liked the original design and most holes went North/South … which went naturally with the terrain. The new design went mostly East/West and the holes looked like something out a surrealistic painting … you felt like you’d been drugged … none of the holes make any aesthetic sense.
To quote from the Masters Tournament spectator booklet written by Bobby Jones in 1949: “The course is not intended so much to punish severely the wayward shot as to reward adequately the stroke played with skill – and judgement.”
That philosophy has worked pretty well for the Masters – I think it makes sense for most golf courses.
GM and Head Golf Professional