Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Misguided Quest for Perfection


Mike Weir playing the lower route on the 12th before opening day


I attended and played in an event this fall at Laval-sur-le-lac. I spent time talking about various holes on the Blue Course with the players and a few of the members that were at the club that day. I found the most surprising aspect of the conversations was how popular the 12th hole was. Many members called it the club’s signature hole (not a fan of the term) and the guys playing in the event talked about how much they liked playing that particular hole.

I’ll be honest I was surprised.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, this was the hole that I personally struggled with the most during construction. I loved our concept of a short hole where you needed an aggressive drive to open up options and visibility. But the limitations of fill in the area created by the extensive rock shortened up the landing area making the upper section harder to reach off the tee when into the wind. I tinkered with this landing and green for about a month, but was never able to get exactly what I wanted.

In the end I just stopped tinkering, accepted that I would never be one hundred percent happy and internally brooded over the thought that perhaps another design might have been better.

That’s a window into what it’s like to be me.

The hole was designed with two clear options. I’ve played it a couple of times and I always take what I thought would be the ideal/upper route. My playing companions all seem to like the alternate/lower route. I know this stems from the carry from the Blue Tee being is a little too long and an additional Blue Tee will eventually solve this and make the option easier to attain. But that issue didn’t bother my playing companions because they loved the freedom to not follow any of my intended plays.

One of the great aspects of having all the bunkers inside the fairways and short grass running between the bunkers is players can go wherever they like. And they do!
I finally came to the conclusion that it was the freedom to select any route they wanted and the options to play any style of shot that they have embraced. While I see imperfection related to the fact they have trouble attaining what I thought was the ideal route, they see a completely different hole than I do.

The hole is not perfect, but it sure is still really interesting to play.

The lesson of the 12th is that the freedom to choose is far more interesting to players than a clearly defined route of play. They have found a myriad of ways to play included my intentional routes and some of their own. And that is fun … even if its not exactly what was originally “planned” or perfect.

1 comment:

  1. Ian,
    Just goes to show how different minds seem to work! As I read this I was reminded of a wee piece of writing by Peter Pallotta on GCA which I will have the temerity to quote here as I think it sums up what your wee story is about.

    "What the architect INTENDS is of vital importance, but it takes second place to what the golfer EXPERIENCES. Those experiences can't be CONTROLLED/PROSCRIBED -- and perhaps the greatest artists are the ones who don't even WANT to control that. Therein lies the MAGIC that is art -- and therein lies the secret that will gain you admittance into the artist's coven.
    The good routing (the chords/harmony) can allow for and support a myriad of different contours and hazards (the notes/melody), and the latter will produce one feeling/experience or, differently arranged, another -- but those feelings/experiences will be equally valid to the ONE who has them." Peter Pallotta

    Cheers Colin

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