mardi 24 janvier 2012

Just by mowing the course differently

How much can a golf course be changed just by changing its mowing lines, by widening fairways or by stopping the mowing on some areas ?

My answer is a lot. (obviously it's easier to do when the grass is the same mix across the course).

It reminds me an experiment that Kyle Franz and I did one saturday while renovating the Duke's course. Kyle is always ready to try stuff and since there wasn't a lot of play during the winter on the course, he thought it was the right time to try something cool. With Ken "the Man" from the Duke's crew on the fairway mower, we started playing around.

The plan: mowing as much of the holes as fairway to give a new look to the course along with its new bunkering.

And here's what happened:
1) By widening the fairways, we got rid of the 6-7 yards of light rough between the fairway and bunkers, leaving only 1 or 2 yards depending on the contours. The bunker were better integrated to the course and more part of the play.
2) New and better strategic positions could be found to approach the greens.
3) New challenges were brought in play. As 7 to sometimes 12 yards of fairways was added around some greens, some contours were more in play and offered more options of recovery.
4) The greens contours, (not really artistic ones from the original design) looked better. Instead of being a highly visible as a pale-colored area (the green) among a large dark-colored area (light rough), the contours of greens now matched better with surrounding contours as they were not all in the pale-colored fairway cut or green cut.

Before (simulation) and after pictures of the 10th green at the Duke's Course in St.Andrews

The new mowing setup imagined that saturday didn't last. It was a little extreme but some areas, like the one above, have been kept as short grass for the better, they are remnants of the experimentation.

The most interesting part was the comments: some people though the course would be too easy with this much short grass. More fun definitely, easier... I doubt it.

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