Sunday, 26 December 2010

The 9th at Laval

This hole was pretty straight forward. There was an opportunity to place a tee high up affording a great view of the entire hole. The key to the hole is the three very large trees well spaced to the mid-point of the hole. Because of the spacing they come into play for all the hitters and remove the need for bunkering. The most majestic is the massive Maple on the left, but the key for long players will be the large Willow on the right that is set just beyond the tip of the pond. The green site is a small natural plateau at the end of the fairway which features a nice backdrop of Pine and Spruce in the distance.
The trees set the challenge off the tee and so we decided that only the green should be examined for any additional work. The height of the existing plateau was ideal so the only work we considered was bunkering. We actually deferred the decision to the end and even considered the idea of not adding bunkers to this green site and surrounding it with short grass.
Since the slope in front of the green angled to the left and there is a pond on the right of the landing, the hole had a simple but effective strategy. We matched the angle of the green to the alignment of the slope to reinforce the strategy at the green and then added a bunker on the left slope to reinforce the strategy.
The hole favours an approach from the right side of the fairway which brings the main Willow and pond in play off the tee. A successful tee shot to the right side will open up the green. The remaining surrounds are all short grass allowing for fairly simple recover shots which will allow for some aggressive play.
The hole may be complicated by the combination of length and trees, but it’s intentionally intended to be more subtle and simple than many of the others. Simpler holes like this one are just as important as the spectacular ones. They create a moment to take a breath before the architect presents something more spectacular or though provoking. Great architecture often comes through the contrast in the way the holes play and the decisions that the golfer must make.

Rollercoaster Design is similar to Golf Design. The best rollercoaster has intention lulls in the action designed to bring the heart rate back down and prepare you for the next thrill. The thrill is then enhanced by the break and the anticipation of the next thrilling section. Golf design works the same way, sometimes a break before a spectacular hole adds to the excitement. Golfers experience golf courses emotionally and it’s up to the designer to understand how to play those emotions to make a better golf course.

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