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.