Saturday, 1 January 2011

10 Best Green Surfaces Overview

5th at Baltray (image by Aiden Bradley)

Back in 1998 I found myself about to design the holes and greens at Ballantrae. The inspiration for the project was the #2 Course at Pinehurst, so I made a trip down to walk the course multiple times. I began by walking the course backwards. I identified each pin position and took then looked carefully at where you didn’t want to end up on your approach for each specific pin. I then charted out the ideal way to access each pin location.

From there I ventured out to the fairway to assess the ideal location for the approach, which varied depending on the pin and the wind (as I found out the next day). What this experience revealed was the value of interior contours in the greens. The experience helped me realize that the need for formal hazards was very limited in comparison to the importance of interior contouring. I have always viewed the greens at Pinehurst #2 among some of the greatest in the game.

Deal's 3rd Green
 On Golf Club Atlas, Mac Plumart had suggested in a thread about specific people posting lists on specific subjects that I should write on the 10 Best Greens. I thought about what that meant and realized greens can be surfaces only, specific green sites or even concepts. I decided when I would write this that I should concentrate on the10 Best Green “Surfaces” that I have ever seen.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to sort between the best greens as opposed to the best green sites. A good example is the 10th at Riviera where the greatness of the green plays enormous role in the hole design, but the green also requires all the other elements of the hole to make it great. One of golf’s greatest green sites belongs to ‘Foxy’, the 14th at Royal Dornoch, but once the player reaches the green surface the hard part of the hole is well behind them.

Foxy with a light covering of snow!
 I’m looking for 10 greens where the surface plays a definitive role in how you play your approach, where finding the green does not guarantee anything, and where putting requires concentration and imagination to get away from the hole unscathed. These are greens where I could just as easily spend thirty minutes putting for fun, rather than playing golf.

Tomorrow – it’s only fitting that first green will come from St. Andrew’s

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