Sunday, 27 February 2011

Template Series - #4 Road

The approach shot into the green

The strength of the entire hole revolves about a single perfectly placed bunker and the brilliant green complex built to emphasize the position and importance of that bunker.

While I love the diagonal off the tee, because it plays off the opposite diagonal back into the green, I don’t think the tee shot is great. An artificially blind carry that has to skirt a hotel played over an out of bounds is not my ideal of a design feature I need to reproduce in my own work. But the real crime to me is the grassing lines that narrow the area where players can play safe. The greatest attribute of the tee shot is the ability to take enormous risk to gain a tremendous advantage. That and the opposing diagonal are all that I need to borrow.

Stay right and short for safety
The approach is one of the finest in the game. No matter how much you try and concentrate on any other aspect, everything comes back to the single bunker and how close you are willing to flirt with it on the approach. You have the option to play short and right of the green, but most feel compelled to shave off some of the distance in between that line and the bunker to provide a better result if played well. We all know the smartest thing to do is take that bunker completely out of play, but because the green is fairly open on either side of the bunker we are drawn into the possibility that we can be more aggressive.

What makes that shot great is the diagonal of the green combined with the road behind. Add this all into the equation and the approach is a nightmare unless played right and short, something we all seem unprepared to accept. So even if we carry the bunker, most approaches end up long and over the Road and against the wall. Once again we have been drawn in by all the opportunity and fail to weigh that against the enormous potential for disaster.

Notice the slopes lead into bunker
So how do I use this template?

It’s important to use the contrasting diagonals to reward aggressive play from the tee. After that the critical feature is the green site. The diagonal and supporting green contours in the front right are key elements, the drop off the back has options, but the single most important element is the depth and difficulty of the front bunker. This feature trumps all others since even the tee shot is made with the intent of avoiding that bunker.

17th Green from Above
I don’t like the template as a three since I like the double use of diagonals a great deal. The hole was once a par five and most templates involve a five and I’m fine with the idea, but I particularly like the combination of that hole, that length and a par four designed to bring intense pressure late in the round. It would be my preference to use the idea in a similar nature, but it could also make a fascinating short five too.


17th at The Old Course
8th at Fishers Island
10th at Shoreacres

The List:

#1 Riviera
#2 Redan
#3 Azalea
#4 Road


  1. The ball on the green was my approach shot and what I had left for birdie.

  2. Great thread. Wouldn't a short five remove an important part of the risk? While I understand par, in most respects, is an artificial mental concept I do believe that it still impacts strategy for most golfers.

  3. PC,

    I believe very strongly in the concept of a tough dominant four per side. This is one of the single greatest dominant fours in the game. I prefer what the hole has evolved into (par 4), than what it was originally(par 5). Much of that is the context of what comes before and after and how a long four fits the ebb and flow of the round.

    I would likely lean on a long four because I prefer the half par in that direction in this case - unless this was surrounded by long holes and the player needed a break - and it just naturally fit.

  4. Thanks for the comment. I agree with you 100%. You know infinitely more than I on this issue. I would think a typical player would be much more inclined to lay up short right if the hole were a par 5 as opposed to a par 4 (even if the hole were the same length) and thus removing more thought about the risk/reward of going at the pin. As strange as it may seem, I believe players approach a 4.5 type hole differently if it is declared a par 4 on a scorecard rather than a par 5 on a scorecard.

    This thread is great. The pictures with the commentary are extremely insightful. Thank you.

  5. PC,

    "I believe players approach a 4.5 type hole differently if it is declared a par 4 on a scorecard rather than a par 5 on a scorecard."

    Funny how much that matters.

    I once tried to explain to a group of players how to play a really difficult three on their course. I told them to always lay-up and benefit from the position, which simplifies the green. Some just couldn't get the concept.