Friday, 28 January 2011

10 Best Greens - 14th at Baltray

Drawing by Tom Mackenzie from Paul Daley's book 

There were lots of choices for great internal contours from Perry Maxwell through to Walter Travis, but there is something special about Tom Simpson’s greens at County Louth (Baltray). The 14th was my very favourite green on my trip through Ireland.

The 14th is the very best of them because each pin position contains a completely different task and often requires a distinct spot on the fairway for the approach. The green has no bunkers and one conniving little dune tufted with fescue short left. There is short grass all the way around the entire green.

From left - Photo by Aiden Bradley

The dune or hillock makes depth perception tough, but what’s far cleverer is the small roll in the green directly behind and in the front of the green designed to ensure that anything short will not stay on the green. It will either bound backwards down the false front or left into the hollow every time.

The front left pin falls strongly to the left and into the hollow making the approach delicate. The front right pin has a false front and falls very subtly to the right and down into the right hollow. Behind these locations is the dominant tier which is made far nastier by a very prominent roll right in the middle of the green (and tier). Anything finding this feature will be directed away from the green. A central roll is a simple way to create extreme difficulty for a short approach.

From back - Photo by Aiden Bradley
Behind the tier sits the largest area for pins since the pins can be spread from left edge to right edge. The tough part of this shot is distance control. The left side once again has a roll off and approaches can easily get away. The centre crowns and rolls over meaning anything long will head down into the hollows behind. The right may be the one flattish area, but the margin for error with hollows, rolls and fall aways means this is no picnic either.
From TJ rule - another good image of the green
If it all sounds too much, consider the hole is almost drivable and then you realize Simpson has taken a very benign hole by length and setting and made it one of the greatest short fours in golf simply through a particularly clever and exacting green.

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