Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Trees and the Design of #3

In the last couple of years, there have been discussions regarding Hole # 3. Most of it has centered around the use of trees in the right rough between the fairway and the cart path. Their has also been discussion with Kye Goalby the designer and architect who did our bunker renovation so deftly about some minor routing changes of the hole. Allow me a moment to give some back history.

A few years ago, a large Oak tree on the right of the cart path near the top of the hill lost most of its top and fell in a thunderstorm. When it fell, it damaged an Ash that is on the fairway side of the path in a narrow area between the fairway and cart path. I left the tree in place knowing that it would need to be removed a few years later. Well, that time has come because the tree has a split in it and must be removed. Earlier in the year, we removed a severely compromised Ash that was in the narrow area between the fairway and cart path at about 185 yards from the green. Pretty far from the green but in this same narrow rough area. Some think that if there are trees in a spot, no matter how inappropriate the location in regards to design and play-ability of the hole, another tree should be placed back in the same spot.

Part of my discussions with Kye have evolved from the design of the hole and how an architect helps to route a hole to give players the proper direction the ball should travel and the best location for it to rest if struck properly.

As you can see from the picture below, once the fairway goes up the hill it falls to the left. The red arrows show the fall line from the center of the fairway to the left. The current fairway boundary on the right side moves in that direction as well. One of the things that was done years ago which Kye and myself agree was that trees were inappropriately planted along the right side between the fairway and cart path. If your ball lands in the narrow area between the fairway and cart path, you were forced to either go over or around this tree. If you were too close to the tree, it forced a play to the left which is not the direction the hole should be played because the ball will roll off the left side of the fairway due to the slope. If the hole was being designed today, the fairway shape would be more to the right. A properly routed hole leaves areas open so that if a ball is properly struck will be in decent shape for its next shot or will be on the green. All the great architects in history speak strongly against the placement of trees too close to the line of play not allowing a ball to be advanced forward. Of course, how close is too close to the line of play is in the eyes of the beholder.

The picture below shows this hole. You can already see how narrow the rough area is anyway. The green lines my interpretation of the potential changes that Kye and I have spoken about regarding changing in the fairway/intermediate. The right side of the hole toward the top is flatter and much better for a ball to land than the left side which falls off drastically into the rough and left tree line.

This gives you a little idea of the thought process that goes into tree removal and the potential to not replace what I would consider a mistake made from our past. I think not learning from our past and now trying to move past these type of issues is a mistake. It makes the course play truly unfair, reduces the opportunity to advance a ball forward, disrupts maintenance such as mowing around objects that should not be there and take time and creates problems for future. Some would say you've made it easier, it can be easier for someone who strikes the perfect stroke to a uphill green where you can only see a flag and hope that your shot does not go off line more than a few degrees or you will be in a bunker. It plays at least an extra club or maybe two depending upon your length.

A little winter season discussion regarding tree or not to tree, that's a pretty big question??

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