Architect's Notes

Two out of three (pin placements) ain’t bad

By November 13, 2017 No Comments

Pete Dye has an interesting way of setting up the approach shot to any green. A third of every green is visually inaccessible to the normal human. The good news is, 2/3 of every green can accept almost any type of shot, including one running along the ground. The design theory is that most of your golfers are going to be very hard pressed to access your hidden pin placements behind hazard but you can’t have your best players playing nonchallenging pin placement seven days a week.

An extreme example of this theory is found on the 12th hole at Whistling Straits. A short par three with a good sized green, there is a small portion of green, a tiny peninsula in the back right, that is damn near out in the middle of Lake Michigan. I don’t care if you aim for the middle of the green and four putt to that back pin position, you are better off than aiming at that peninsula. It’s like trying to hit your ball down your neighbor’s laundry chute from your back porch, 160 yards away.

By the time you get to the 12th hole you have had the 11 hole beating of a lifetime, or for a very lucky few, you have finally found a birdie chance to take a great round into the no man’s land of all time rounds you have ever played. The beautiful scenery and relatively benign look of the hole is not consistent with the out right terror that is involved with the back peninsula and the trouble working all around it. Throw in a very strong chance of the wind blowing at least 15 to 20 miles an hour on any given day and you have a recipe for disaster. There’s nothing better than making six on a par three, especially when your playing partners remind you that twelve is the easiest hole on the course.

Making critical decisions before every shot makes golf interesting. Living with your choices after your round and rethinking them over and over, that’s what makes golf maddening.