Thursday, 29 January 2015

Golf at Maple Downs

The tee shot on the 12th hole
I invest a lot of thought into what I'm trying to accomplish when I design. 

How do I want them to feel? Where does this fit into the rhythm of the round? Do I want to draw them into taking risk? Do I want them to make a decision? What options should they have available? How will a higher handicap manage a tougher section? This is all carefully thought about long before I design holes.

I've been luck enough to work on two projects where I was able to share my own design philosophies. I thought it would be interesting for each membership to understand how the holes came about and make a few suggestions to help them explore the possibilities in the ground. After that, the rest is always up to them ...

I thought I would share a sample of the piece I wrote for the 18 holes Maple Downs, set to re-open next spring ...

The second shot from a "safe" right side lay-up


Hole 12 - Bottle

A great short four should confound you through its options. Each choice should spell out the obvious benefits of success, but be clouded by the potential for disaster. Ideally the decisions should be so difficult that the choice is eventually based upon the emotions of the player at that very moment. In this case the first instinct is to try and drive the green because it looks so close of the elevated tee. With experience a player will know that only a draw has a reasonable chance, but pulling it even slightly left is going to be absolutely dead. They might get a fade home in a big wind, but anything reaching the surface is through the back and landing short is sure to head dead right on the first bounce. So then where would you lay-up? Well, the left fairway short of the bunker is wide and flat, but also blind and the green runs away from play. Far right is ideal for an approach because the green offers a backstop from this angle. But the landing zone begin to narrow just as the angle improves and the fairway runs downhill directly into the fairway bunker. How about driving it long right, but anything over the bunker will run through into deep rough well below the green staring directly into one of the deepest bunkers. Worst yet, is the strong potential for a downhill lie to an elevated green fronted by that bunker. So where do you go? And that at less than 300 yards that is strength of the hole.

The green, which was moved well left for sunlight exposure, falls from front left to back right with almost every pin being down the right side. The slope is very consistent from the first quarter to the back. There is a sadistic little back left shelf that can be pinned, if you see the flag there play to the bottom right and putt up the small shelf to the pin. From anywhere else, it won’t stay on top.

High handicap’s Guide to Lower Scores:


Play as right as you dare off the tee, long enough to see the green, but short enough to avoid the bunker. From there play a low running approach shot the massive fairway cant. It will corral your running approach and turn it hard right towards the green. It will take feel to develop this shot, but it is a sure thing if you lack the trajectory to play into the backstop. Besides, it takes the front bunker out of play.


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