On almost every property you find yourself having to incorporate a piece of property into the routing that has no features. Most of the great architects tended to use their long fours and fives in these areas since length would offer enough challenge and it was far more prudent to save the better land for shorter holes.
When we are faced with a very tough piece of property, we often have to rely on the use of shorter holes to unlock a section of the property that we could not otherwise use. Usually these areas have some undulating land to make an interesting three. When we are very unlucky they are featureless and we now have to create a hole.
On this project we found ourselves needing to use a short hole to make a particularly tough section of property yield enough holes. What was unfortunate was the land was flat, but that doesn’t mean we will be building any sub-standard par threes since the Redan, Biarritz and Short all show us that excellent holes can be generated out of ordinary land. Our initial reaction was to create a Tillinghast style “Short,” but when we looked at where to get the earth for the green, it brought on a much bolder idea. Rather than cut enough out front for the green, why not cut two or three times as much to create an artificial valley and make a more exciting setting.
While I have stated our philosophy of moving as little earth as possible, and there is very little grading on this project, we are not opposed to looking at altering the landscape to make something even better. The previous par three illustrates that sometimes a feature needs to be made a bit bolder to really deliver home a strong concept. The simple key is if you’re going to make a bold brush stroke it had better tie into the broader landscape. That is also part of the “minimalist” philosophy.
The new concept became a tee shot over a valley to a green sitting up proud on the other side. All the grades naturally fell off on all sides. There was short drop off on the left that grew into a large drop on the right. Missing right is a disaster. The fact that the entire green was going to be surrounded by short grass meant the higher the bank, the further away the ball was going to be carried. This short hole was shaping up to be an interesting little hole.
When Mike and I discussed the changing concept we had for the hole, we ended up having a philosophical conversation about what made a great short par three. We came to the conclusion it had a lot to do with the delicate line between opportunity and disaster. We decided that since our short three was going to be under 150 yards that would make the line between a birdie and a bogie as small as possible. Our final touch was to add a fall off on the back of the green. Now players not only need to carry the trouble or slopes in front, but also stop the ball before it rolled over the back and down the hill, which was a far worse fate. We had a diabolical little par three.
The hole from the tee.