I’m a big fan of the older style of golf courses – and my ten favourites (see list on page 4) definitely reflect that. Pebble Beach, Royal Birkdale and Portmarnock in Ireland all sit very high on that list, and are all classic designs that can still to this day can test the very best players in the world.
Today’s game – particularly on tour – is dominated by power, and as a result many designers have become infatuated with length. I wouldn’t have gone with that strategy myself. Simply making courses longer as a way of combating the advances of modern equipment takes away creativity. In a roundabout way, designers are now playing into the hands of the most powerful players by doing so.
In my experience, it’s the shortest holes that drive just as much fear into the top players. The tenth at Riviera Country Club and the twelfth at Augusta - a sub-300 yard par four and a 155 yard par three – are great examples of that. Remember Phil Mickelson making a charge on the final day at the Masters last year only to make a double at the twelfth? The seventh at Pebble is another great par three, one that’s only 107 yards long. Giving players a variety of options on how to play a particular hole rather than forcing one strategy upon them is very important; it might sound strange, but the more options a player has, the more testing the hole becomes.
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