Jump to content

Optionality in a Golf Hole, what is a good example from your home or favorite course?


Recommended Posts

I think about this a good deal and how hard it can be to design "options" for a wide range of players. You have to be thoughtful about your tee placement, hazard placement, land movement, green design etc. The obvious examples are when there is water or a bunker to carry but just giving the player something to think about and examine and, when playing a golf course often, a few different routes to take. I think that is missing from a lot of the basic municipal courses I play as I am racking my brain for holes were I play a variety of shots off the tee and different strategies based on how well I am playing. But, I may be confusing optionality with risk/reward as one example that stands out to me is a very dramatic example from Tobacco Road:

image.png.1ef33b03ac94bf9e7b16869054436be5.png

Option 1: This is a par 4 where it is about 210 to cover the bunkers straight but a little bit uphill so realistically need to hit 225-240 to be safely up there. The width of that tongue of fairway is about 30 yds so just enough to have a long think about it. If you miss by a little bit you are in the bunker which isn't that bad but if you miss by a lot you could be in some of those green spots in the waste bunker where you will likely lose a ball.

Option 2: The safe play out to the right can be a 180 shot way right (which leaves 130 in) which is very safe

Option 3: Or you can take on a little risk and aim over the right edge of the bunkers and have closer to 100 in.

I am racking my brain for a hole that gives me options in our municipal system and the only one I can come up with wasn't even really designed for it, I don't think -- Two Rivers Golf Course is Nashville:

image.png.c4a0bacaabf9e99f3a8354b0d2ccc675.png

Option A (white line): You can hit a 220 yard shot straight with a 50 yd landing zone that is very obviously how the hole is designed to be played. This, however safe, will leave you with about 180-170 into the green unless you can hit a banana slice (or lefty hook) and make it 160-150.

Option B (yellow line): This line exploits gaps in the trees and that same 220 yd shot will leave 120-130 into the green but at a slightly worse angle AND there is the risk you clip a tree branch on your way there. 

Option C is between the two lines where you have to hit a 3W or Driver that gets up quickly but will leave about 140 in if you can fade it a little. 

Ultimately, it seems like when I go to an expensive course I feel like I am paying for at least two things: conditioning and thoughtful design. I just don't get a lot of "options" at my inexpensive local courses. 

 

  • Like 1

:cobra-small: SZ 10.5*" / Pinhawk 3W 16* / Pinhawk OL 4 and 5 hybrid / :cobra-small: F9 OL 7-PW / :cobra-small: F9 GW / Cleveland CBX2 54* / :ping-small: Sigma 2 Anser 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, vandyland said:

I think about this a good deal and how hard it can be to design "options" for a wide range of players. You have to be thoughtful about your tee placement, hazard placement, land movement, green design etc. The obvious examples are when there is water or a bunker to carry but just giving the player something to think about and examine and, when playing a golf course often, a few different routes to take. I think that is missing from a lot of the basic municipal courses I play as I am racking my brain for holes were I play a variety of shots off the tee and different strategies based on how well I am playing. But, I may be confusing optionality with risk/reward as one example that stands out to me is a very dramatic example from Tobacco Road:

image.png.1ef33b03ac94bf9e7b16869054436be5.png

Option 1: This is a par 4 where it is about 210 to cover the bunkers straight but a little bit uphill so realistically need to hit 225-240 to be safely up there. The width of that tongue of fairway is about 30 yds so just enough to have a long think about it. If you miss by a little bit you are in the bunker which isn't that bad but if you miss by a lot you could be in some of those green spots in the waste bunker where you will likely lose a ball.

Option 2: The safe play out to the right can be a 180 shot way right (which leaves 130 in) which is very safe

Option 3: Or you can take on a little risk and aim over the right edge of the bunkers and have closer to 100 in.

I am racking my brain for a hole that gives me options in our municipal system and the only one I can come up with wasn't even really designed for it, I don't think -- Two Rivers Golf Course is Nashville:

image.png.c4a0bacaabf9e99f3a8354b0d2ccc675.png

Option A (white line): You can hit a 220 yard shot straight with a 50 yd landing zone that is very obviously how the hole is designed to be played. This, however safe, will leave you with about 180-170 into the green unless you can hit a banana slice (or lefty hook) and make it 160-150.

Option B (yellow line): This line exploits gaps in the trees and that same 220 yd shot will leave 120-130 into the green but at a slightly worse angle AND there is the risk you clip a tree branch on your way there. 

Option C is between the two lines where you have to hit a 3W or Driver that gets up quickly but will leave about 140 in if you can fade it a little. 

Ultimately, it seems like when I go to an expensive course I feel like I am paying for at least two things: conditioning and thoughtful design. I just don't get a lot of "options" at my inexpensive local courses. 

 

First course looks like it would be soooo cool - where is it?  I think that hole might be perfect for me - I aim for the "tongue" over the sand and if I accidently push or fade it too much it'll be a little shorter and on the fairway to the right.  I need to go find the picture, but we had a really cool hole like that at a public muni course.  Unfortunately it closed recently and is now just publicly owned weeds....  I hear they are looking for a new group to run it so they are at least keeping up the infrastructure.

Edited by Clayton

i210, 10.5* M4 @ 44.5", X, TEE 18* ladies edition, two ball, Righty, North of North, Currently stuck in the 80s...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here it is.  SUPER fun hole.

Screen Shot 2021-05-13 at 5.51.26 PM.png

  • Like 1

i210, 10.5* M4 @ 44.5", X, TEE 18* ladies edition, two ball, Righty, North of North, Currently stuck in the 80s...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The first course is Tobacco Road in Sanford, NC, designed by Mike Strantz and it has some of the most interesting/outlandish hole designs I have ever seen. There is a ton of video on youtube showing that course off. It's actually pretty playable and not overly difficult IF you just take the safe route most of the time. 

:cobra-small: SZ 10.5*" / Pinhawk 3W 16* / Pinhawk OL 4 and 5 hybrid / :cobra-small: F9 OL 7-PW / :cobra-small: F9 GW / Cleveland CBX2 54* / :ping-small: Sigma 2 Anser 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hole LayoutHole 15 at World Woods Pine Barrens course in Brooksville, Florida.

Go for the green over water or play around the mounds.

A few years ago a foursome scored a 1, 2, 3 and 4 on this hole. Amazing!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, vandyland said:

I think about this a good deal and how hard it can be to design "options" for a wide range of players. You have to be thoughtful about your tee placement, hazard placement, land movement, green design etc. The obvious examples are when there is water or a bunker to carry but just giving the player something to think about and examine and, when playing a golf course often, a few different routes to take. I think that is missing from a lot of the basic municipal courses I play as I am racking my brain for holes were I play a variety of shots off the tee and different strategies based on how well I am playing. But, I may be confusing optionality with risk/reward as one example that stands out to me is a very dramatic example from Tobacco Road:

image.png.1ef33b03ac94bf9e7b16869054436be5.png

 

 

2 hours ago, Clayton said:

First course looks like it would be soooo cool - where is it?  I think that hole might be perfect for me - I aim for the "tongue" over the sand and if I accidently push or fade it too much it'll be a little shorter and on the fairway to the right.

As @vandyland says, that's a Mike Strantz design called Tobacco Road, just a bit north of Pinehurst, NC.   Its a very cool golf course, Strantz is a genius in tempting players to make risky choices.  What the sat photo doesn't show is that the sand is all at an elevation 10 feet or more below the level of the green.  That tongue of fairway is the biggest false front ever, if your ball doesn't make it to the green, it rolls back 30 yards into the sand.  How good are any of us at a 40-yard significantly uphill bunker shot to a shallow green with run-offs both front and back? Unless you are REALLY straight, going for the green is foolish.  Fun, if you make it, but foolish.  And if you play Tobacco Road, you'll get maybe a dozen chances to make this kind of choice.  

To me, the better "optionality" holes, which I do think is synonymous with risk-reward, are those hole that present the player with a "how much" choice, rather than a clear either-or choice.  When the penalty for failure is too severe, the choice is simple.  But when its a graduation of increasing reward for increasing risk, these are more interesting to me.

  • Like 1

:titelist-small: Irons Titleist AP2 714, KBS Tour S, 3 flat

:callaway-small: Rogue SubZero, GD YS-Six X

:vokey-small: 52, 56, and 60 wedges

:ping-small: B60 G5i putter

Right handed

Reston, Virginia

Link to post
Share on other sites

@DaveP043 I think I have a pretty good idea what you are talking about. We have a classic "how much" 18th hole finisher here in Nashville at The President's Reserve course at Hermitage Golf Course:

image.png.8a70e2a4413431f4b069e5c2581eebb0.png

The white line is about 200 yds which probably takes a big number out of play but also makes reaching the green impossible. The yellow line is 250 yds and riskier (especially if you are prone to the left miss) but gives you a really good chance at getting home in 2 or making a 7. Watching people play this hole is very fun, especially in match play. To be honest most everyone hits Driver here if they can play decently well except one of the best players I play with who routinely takes driving iron here and makes it a 3 shot hole just because he has some scar tissue here. 

  • Like 1

:cobra-small: SZ 10.5*" / Pinhawk 3W 16* / Pinhawk OL 4 and 5 hybrid / :cobra-small: F9 OL 7-PW / :cobra-small: F9 GW / Cleveland CBX2 54* / :ping-small: Sigma 2 Anser 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Short Par 4, about 230 carry over water, usually with wind.  Long isn't great unless you get in a bunker. left and right are both wet.

The smart play is 7-8 iron (~175yds), then a wedge in.  Pretty easy par.

Almost everyone goes for the green, with lots of doubles.  Maybe 1 in 10 hit the green.

 

262469494_ScreenShot2021-05-13at2_31_48PM.png.e5a64a7b4ce9fb756a0e1a1ce3b63787.png

8* SIM2 Custom / PX RDX Smoke Black 6.0 46.5"

15* SIM Ti / Velocore 7s

19* SIM Max Hy / GOST 39.5"

4,5 Srixon ZX5  6-P Srixon ZX7  ProjectX LZ 120 6.0

50/54/58 Cleveland Zipcore DG Tour Issue

Scotty Cameron Phantom X12, Stability Tour shaft and SuperStroke

JumboMax Ultralight Small on Driver, Golf Pride Tour Velvet (irons and MCC (woods) Mid on all others.

TP5X Pix  and -ProV1

Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought about this a lot after I decided to give the Tee It Forward program a try. At my then age of 77, I had lost a lot of distance. With my drive down from 250yd in my early 60s to 190yd now, the course the TIF program's table recommended for me was 5100yd, not the 6400yd I used to be comfortable with. Relevant to this discussion, one of the big differences was the re-emergence of options. I used to have to think about my tee shot. But trying to play the middle tees with my reduced distance meant there was no thinking involved; just grab the driver, grip it 'n' rip it! From my TIF tees at 5100yd or so, I'm back to thinking about options. The course I played yesterday (Shark River in my home county of Monmouth, NJ) is no longer a driver-only course; in fact, I only bought out the driver seven times the whole round.

I wrote an article about it. Even have a section showing how TIF brings back the options and forces you to think about it. Here's a link to the section showing selected holes and how they relate to options you have to think about with TIF. <https://tutelman.com/golf/justgolf/teeItForward.php#Case_studies>

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, vandyland said:

I think about this a good deal and how hard it can be to design "options" for a wide range of players. You have to be thoughtful about your tee placement, hazard placement, land movement, green design etc. The obvious examples are when there is water or a bunker to carry but just giving the player something to think about and examine and, when playing a golf course often, a few different routes to take. I think that is missing from a lot of the basic municipal courses I play as I am racking my brain for holes were I play a variety of shots off the tee and different strategies based on how well I am playing. But, I may be confusing optionality with risk/reward as one example that stands out to me is a very dramatic example from Tobacco Road:

image.png.1ef33b03ac94bf9e7b16869054436be5.png

Option 1: This is a par 4 where it is about 210 to cover the bunkers straight but a little bit uphill so realistically need to hit 225-240 to be safely up there. The width of that tongue of fairway is about 30 yds so just enough to have a long think about it. If you miss by a little bit you are in the bunker which isn't that bad but if you miss by a lot you could be in some of those green spots in the waste bunker where you will likely lose a ball.

Option 2: The safe play out to the right can be a 180 shot way right (which leaves 130 in) which is very safe

Option 3: Or you can take on a little risk and aim over the right edge of the bunkers and have closer to 100 in.

I am racking my brain for a hole that gives me options in our municipal system and the only one I can come up with wasn't even really designed for it, I don't think -- Two Rivers Golf Course is Nashville:

 

 

I don't see an option. I see about a 30 yard wide landing area and an architect that is trying to entice you. 

  • Love 1

:taylormade-small:             SIM 9.5* (GD XC 6X) 

:taylormade-small:             SIM 15* (GD DI 7X) 

:taylormade-small:             3 DHY (GD DI HY8X)

:srixon-small:                    ZX7 4-PW (KBS C Taper S)

:titelist-small:                     Vokey SM8 49 08 F ( KBS 610)

:titelist-small:                     Vokey SM8 55 08 M (KBS 610)

:titelist-small:                     Vokey SM8 59 04 L  (KBS 610)

:scotty-cameron-1:                Special Select SquareBack 2 33"

:titelist-small:                     ProV1

Twitter                     @THEZIPR23

 

"One thing Golf has taught me, is that my muscles have no memory."

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Clayton said:

Here it is.  SUPER fun hole.

Screen Shot 2021-05-13 at 5.51.26 PM.png

The “option” on the left is a straight line to the green. Why would anyone go left???

Driver: :cobra-small: King F9 Speedback, Xphlexxx Busa 2 Liquid, XX stiff, 45”

Fwy:  :callaway-small: Super Hybrid 17*, Aldila RIP Alpha 105 S, tipped 1”

Hybrid: :callaway-small: X2 Hot Pro, 20*, Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X

Irons: :honma:TR20 Tour P 4-10, :Nippon: Modus 130 stiff, +1”

Wedges: Vega VW-06 50*/54*/58*, Dynamic Gold S400

Putter:  :edel-golf-1: EAS 1.0

All clubs have :Arccos:  In the Winn Dri-Tac 2.0 Oversize grips

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a 320 yard hole near me that provides three options.  You can hit to the left fairway (which is lower than the right) and have a sight into the green.  You can hit towards the bunker and lay up short.  This will provide you with a blind shot at the green since the dark area just past the bunker is a hill that would block your view.  The third option is to try to drive over the bunker and the hill (carry about 230).  The ball will land on a downslope and carry toward the green.  Most of the time I have play this hole it is into the wind.

 

1306128405_millcreek18.jpg.f4d0e895f6aabc4597c355603d386e30.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, vandyland said:

@DaveP043 I think I have a pretty good idea what you are talking about. We have a classic "how much" 18th hole finisher here in Nashville at The President's Reserve course at Hermitage Golf Course:

image.png.8a70e2a4413431f4b069e5c2581eebb0.png

The white line is about 200 yds which probably takes a big number out of play but also makes reaching the green impossible. The yellow line is 250 yds and riskier (especially if you are prone to the left miss) but gives you a really good chance at getting home in 2 or making a 7. Watching people play this hole is very fun, especially in match play. To be honest most everyone hits Driver here if they can play decently well except one of the best players I play with who routinely takes driving iron here and makes it a 3 shot hole just because he has some scar tissue here. 

I’ve played that course of couple of times, LPGA used to play the Sara Lee Classic there a long time ago

  • Like 1

:cobra-small: King F7+ UST Mamiya Chrome Elements 6F4 Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 3W UST Mamiya Chrome Elements 7F4 Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 5W UST Mamiya Chrome Elements 7F4 Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 4 Hybrid Graphite Designs Tour AD-HY 95 Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 5-PW UST Mamiya Recoil 95 Shafts

:cobra-small: King PuR Wedges 50*,54*,58* UST Mamiya Recoil 95 Shafts

:odyssey-small: Metal X Milled #7 with SuperStroke 3.0 grip

Arccos Generation 1 Sensors on all clubs

Snell MTB



Twitter: @timldotson
Instagram: timldotson
Facebook: TimDotson

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TBT said:

I’ve played that course of couple of times, LPGA used to play the Sara Lee Classic there a long time ago

I did too.  

Before a scramble tournament, my wife and I along with a couple of buddies played the course to get familiar with it.  After I paid for our round, I asked the pro behind the desk:

Me (being a smart a$$):  "Where's the 1st tee and what's the course record?"
Pro:  "The tee is right over there, and the course record is 62 by Annika Sorenstam (at the Sara Lee Classic)"
Me (still being a smart a$$):  "Oh yeah, sure... from the chick tees."

My wife and buddies ran out the door laughing.  The pro stood there deadpan, not saying a word.,  I thought it was funny... I was a 16 HCP.

Loved the course; we also played The General's Retreat.

  • Like 1

We don’t stop playing the game because we get old; we get old because we stop playing the game.”

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, PMookie said:

The “option” on the left is a straight line to the green. Why would anyone go left???

Left is much wider and an easier play, IMO.  Right you have to hit a real quality shot, but you'll also have a shorter approach.  I typically would just hit it the woods for the 3rd "middle double bogey" option. 

  • Like 1

i210, 10.5* M4 @ 44.5", X, TEE 18* ladies edition, two ball, Righty, North of North, Currently stuck in the 80s...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, vandyland said:

The first course is Tobacco Road in Sanford, NC, designed by Mike Strantz and it has some of the most interesting/outlandish hole designs I have ever seen. There is a ton of video on youtube showing that course off. It's actually pretty playable and not overly difficult IF you just take the safe route most of the time. 

Looks quite interesting on google maps.

i210, 10.5* M4 @ 44.5", X, TEE 18* ladies edition, two ball, Righty, North of North, Currently stuck in the 80s...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Kenny B said:

Me (being a smart a$$):  "Where's the 1st tee and what's the course record?"
Pro:  "The tee is right over there, and the course record is 62 by Annika Sorenstam (at the Sara Lee Classic)"
Me (still being a smart a$$):  "Oh yeah, sure... from the chick tees."

I played a course in Florida some years ago when someone (you? 😁) asked the same question. All four guys behind the counter said in unison, "Turn right out the door, four hours." All very deadpan, and I think everyone in line burst out laughing. 

Moose, my cat, is Siamese

Link to post
Share on other sites

Another good "how much" hole is #3 at True Blue in Pawley's Island:

image.png.1091a71479394823abe5d214dcaee628.png

The yellow line is like a 200 yard shot straight forward into a 60 yd wide landing area which is safe but you won't have any real chance at going for it in 2 and, more importantly, your second shot is now a bit tougher. 

The white line is must carry at least 245 and the landing zone is only 40 yds between water and waste bunker/trees but would leave you with 175 into the green in 2. 

For me, this is not really a decision since I am taking the yellow line with hybrid every time. My driver dispersion is more than 40 yds. 

  • Like 1

:cobra-small: SZ 10.5*" / Pinhawk 3W 16* / Pinhawk OL 4 and 5 hybrid / :cobra-small: F9 OL 7-PW / :cobra-small: F9 GW / Cleveland CBX2 54* / :ping-small: Sigma 2 Anser 

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, vandyland said:

Another good "how much" hole is #3 at True Blue in Pawley's Island:

This is a pretty common layout on Strantz courses.  Both 4 and 11 at Tobacco Road, and #2 at Royal New Kent, follow a similar "fishhook" routing.  Even when the choices on the tee shot are (or seem to be) straightforward, the second shot choice is complicated.  These greens are generally very shallow when approached with a long second shot, but much deeper when approached after a successful lay-up.  For all but the very best players, the "daring" choice is almost always the statistically wrong choice.

  • Like 1

:titelist-small: Irons Titleist AP2 714, KBS Tour S, 3 flat

:callaway-small: Rogue SubZero, GD YS-Six X

:vokey-small: 52, 56, and 60 wedges

:ping-small: B60 G5i putter

Right handed

Reston, Virginia

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are quite a few holes that come to mind at my home course, but my favorite holes for their options are #4 and #16.

Hole #4  (https://www.braemargolf.com/championship-hole-4/) – Even though the left side is more direct and flatter, it is much riskier with water left and the ball above your feet for your second shot and there are huge bunkers and deep rough with a massive side hill if you leave your second shot out to the right.  If you take the longer route on your second shot you have to play up a big hill to the right, but there is much less risk and you can actually catch a down slope and run your ball onto the green.  I typically take the route to the right and try to play the slope, but it is always tempting to play up the left when you can see everything so directly.

995107851_Braemar4.jpg.40981765fb1e7595b4fd1fc25d166361.jpg


Hole #16 (https://www.braemargolf.com/championship-hole-16/)  – This hole is a blast to play.  To go for the green in two, you have to challenge the water on the left off of the tee and then carry the water the entire distance to the green on your second shot.  If you play more conservative to the right the fairway is massive and you have a relatively straight forward second and third shot.  The tee design is also very well done because each set of tees has progressively less (or no) carry on the first shot and is better positioned for the right route.  I don't know if I have ever played this hole without at least one person from our group hitting it in the water on their second shot.

756589006_Braemar16.jpg.329410dc3eca6ef6f519b08908e08b68.jpg

Driver:  :cleveland-small: HiBore XL Tour, Aldila VS Proto 

Fairway:   :titelist-small: 980F 15* and 19* 

Irons:  :mizuno-small: MP-32 5-PW and MX-23 3 -4, Rifle 6.0

Wedges:  :mizuno-small:  MP-T4 54*, 60*, TT Dynamic Gold Wedge Flex

Putter:  :scotty-small:  Studio Design 1.5 

Ball:   :titelist-small: ProV1x

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...