7. GREEN CONTOURS
Greens are the key to golf design since awe-inspiring green contours alone can produce a great hole. Green contours and pin positions have more influence on which side of a fairway an approach must be played than the placement and arrangement of hazards. With very intricate greens you may need to play to opposite sides of the fairway on back to back days just to access particular pin locations.
In a day and age where many of the modern designers continue to push courses back looking to defend par only through excessive length, they seem to have completely overlooked that green contour is the greatest equalizer in the game. A more complicated green surface requires a player be more careful about position off the tee in order to access key pin positions.
If you have more contour, not only do golfer have to avoid certain positions or risk a three putt, but a miss around the green can be further complicated by getting on the wrong side of a feature like a prominent roll or a strong slope. When you add short grass around these greens it places further emphasis on the importance of the interior contours of the green.
“Take #10 at Riviera, one of the world’s most famous short par-4s. If you attempt to drive that green and miss it right, there is just enough subtlety sloping away the player that they aren’t likely to be able to hold it even with a little pitch shot. However, if you take on the left side, you’ll have a pitch that can use the slope. It is all about the strategy of choosing the appropriate shot and matching it with the demands of the green.
It is tricky to make those details part of a course, but it is those elements, those nuances, that I love about the game and I want to make them part of my designs.”
– Mike Weir
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