Sunday, 2 January 2011

10th at Friar’s Head

The green is set behind the big left dune

Sometimes something unconventional will bring the finest result.

The routing at Friar’s Head is one of the best that I have seen in modern time. The key is how Bill Coore weaved the holes through the tree covered dunes without destroying the nature of the site. One of the keys to the project was the brilliant transition from the dune area into the old potato farm, and the two par fives playing from on top down into the fields were the key. Getting to the 11th tee required what a short hole from the clubhouse to the top of the dune – rather than a connector - it turned out to be the most memorable hole on the course.

The story of the hole is quite interesting, Bill took all the staff over to look at the hole for their opinion about the huge dune that fronted the natural green site and kept putting off the decision on what to do with it. Originally Coore wanted to incorporate the feature in the design, but once cleared it, he kept thinking it was too much. Finally it was Ben Crenshaw who said he should leave the feature exactly how it is, and this decision made the hole. The mound is reminiscent of the features found at famous short holes in Scotland and Ireland where playing over them creates a sense of adventure.

What did I learn? There is no question in my mind that leaving natural features makes the most memorable holes. While half the green is blind, Coore made sure the other half is not, and this makes the hole enjoyable rather than intimidating. You have a feel to where the green is and how far you need to be. While the dune makes some of the pin positions blind, the green is enormous so it becomes an accessible target once you’ve carried the dune. The key to the hole was the choice to keep the quirky, but interesting, feature dune.

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