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Royal Melbourne v Kingston Heath


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#46 St_Andrews

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 09:37 PM

Andy A
Agree with your synopsis of #1 holes - each has their own strategy and uniqueness. And therein lies the subtle difference for the rest of the round. RMW generally has wider fairways in true Mackenzie style yet the bunkering is done so that the best lines into the greens are close to the fairway bunkers. KH on the other hand has generally smaller fairways with more linear lines of play probably more to do with the fact that the designer was inhibited with the area of land within which to work on ?

Also agree with your response to tithers - as I could offer the same argument as I did at the begining of this thread - why is RMW generally regarded as the pre-eminent course in the country ? when KH has it's own pre-eminent qualities.

Growler
There is certainly nothing wrong with a blind drive or a blind second shot
as most historic UK courses retain these virtues in the origins of the game. Royal County Down has I think about seven of them and it is a regular Top10 course in the World. You are certainly entitled to your opinion about 17 but I think it is a wonderfull hole which highlights the great degree of design variety contained at KH.

There is such a degree of balance at KH - with it's 'World Class' holes truly offset with a large number of strong holes. The only holes that were 'less impressive' for mine were 4 and 13 with a high degree of similarity about them though saying that I tend to approach them differently: #4 I play with driver and #13 I play with a long iron off the tee.

That's the great thing about both courses - they can be tackled differently which is trait that the truly 'World's Best Courses' have.



#47 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 12:08 AM

Fairway design is is a very interesting part of golf course architecture. I don't think it has the interest or intracacy of green design, but as a weapon against the modern day player it has increased and increasing importance.

So tithers doesn't think I'm picking on RMW again, I'll only discuss KH and leave RMW as a topic for the reader.

A good starting point is #13. For years subsequent committees fiddled with the right side of this hole. It was scalped. It was grassed. The left side was ignored. Nobody seemed to notice that the best way to play the hole was down the left hand side, even into the trees.

Nowadays we have the traps down the left hand side of the hole. I'm not convinced they are in quite the right place, and equally I'm not convinced the execution is perfect, but it messes with the players mind enough that they must make a decision what club to hit off the tee. Even better the current green makes the approach shot increasingly difficult once you get inside about 80m

As an aside, there were suggestions to put a water hazard down the right hand side of #4 once upon a time. The 60s and 70s really were the dark ages of golf course design. I will be ever grateful that I am living in today's renaissance (pun intended).

Now turn our attention to #11. As usual I'll oversimplify to make my point. The green is narrower at the front and runs slightly front right to back left. The only interest on this green is whether you can get on the green with your second, or recover if you miss. It doesn't matter very much whether you approach it from the right side of the fairway or the left. The severity of the green surrounds mean that the length of the approach shot is at the front of the player's mind.

Beyond #11, let's consider other holes where you really just want to get on the green and two putt. (hint hint -- short par 5s).

What should the fairway be like? There should definitely be one or more spots from which the green is unreachable (bunkers, bracken, whatever). I think this is what the designers of the centre bunker on 11 had in mind. Even better if there are some of the seemingly irrelevant bunkers which only come into play if you've stuffed up your tee shot. Better still if these are visually attractive as the cross bunkers 50m short of the green are at #11.

The fairway must create a preferred line off the tee (because the green doesn't). In this sense #11 would be dreadful if it had a 50m wide fairway with only a hint of trouble somewhere out there.

So we have a clash. Wide sweeping fairways are a winner, except when there really isn't a preferred side to approach the green from.

The solution requires quite some courage. An excellent resolution is seen on KH#18. Those old enough will remember when the only fairway bunker was perhaps 60m closer to the tee and this hole effectively had no fairway bunkers. The green was basically round and flat as were the surrounds. It typified the view that KH had no teeth.

Now we have the same distance from tree line to tree line (the key "splendour" factor), but all of a sudden we have a hole with defences against the modern player.

When people throw terms like toothless or redundant at a wonderful golf course, what has been done on #13 and #18 (#2, #6, #12, #13 & #18) at KH is a beacon for others to follow.

I'll leave it to others to consider the implications of this masterful work for courses located a little closer to the beach than KH. Is constant updating sacreligious or essential? Are these courses pristine or stagnant?



#48 the_unreal_jeffrey

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 12:14 AM

rsheedy,

Why is the tee shot at KH 16 better than the tee shot at RMW18?



#49 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 12:31 AM

Just when I was on a roll Jeffrey, you put me back in my box.

There are distinct similarities aren't there.

Probably because you can lay back as much as you want on KH#16, whereas RMW#16 requires the mandatory carry. In today's game I also like the fact that you can't completely kill KH#16 even with the bravest drive, whereas RMW#16 loses its value in the face of a Bubba Watson bomb.

It's a closer call than this might suggest, and I wish more people would ask questions like this!



#50 AndyA

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 12:40 AM

So Steven Bowditch's tee shot during International Final Qualifying, which finished on the fairway 30m short of the green, can't be considered completely killing the hole?



#51 ttitheridge

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 03:46 AM

This is becoming an incredibly good thread. Excellent posts all.

Please all, understand I went anti-comparison because despite the topic, the early posts pro-KH relied on anti-RMW talk to make their case. A big difference from merely discussing one versus the other. And again, much of the comparisons have accidentally fallen into the type of *** for tat that has ignored the individual routings and flow of each course, a point I am not the only one to make on here. If we compare, use wholes and not cut and pasted pieces or holes, as it simply doesn't work. There should be a more macro view taken towards some of the comparative discussion, of which I think some people on here are at least equal or better qualified than I to undertake.

Ross, not disagreeing with your comments regarding the Swilkurn Burn versus RMW#1, but I definitely saw in the Parry/O'Hern playoff last summer how much bearing the position in the fairway and the complexity of the second shot both had in front of them in accessing that front left hole location either with their second shot or first putt. The hole on that day was brilliantly guarded and exacting of two fine competitors.

And again not dissenting, but I feel and have seen very often that KH#16 is a lot more killable and lies down a lot more benignly in calm conditions now than it did in the 80s, in a way that I would be foolish to judge against it harshly, so long as the same courtesy is afforded parts of RMW.



#52 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 07:39 AM

AndyA,
Bowditch did what? Ouch!!

Was he in the running or cheesed off and giving it full throttle?

I would have thought that even if capable of the distance, that line would be like playing russian roulette with 5 out of 6 chambers loaded.

Ok. Now I've got my breath back, knowing how dead that ball would be 5 attempts out of 6, how dead would the corresponding shot be at RMW#18 and what are the chances of pulling it off?

Tony,
without doubt the macro view strongly favours RM because it is just such a wonderful place. That of course is why I took a different tack and looked at it shot by shot. It doesn't matter in any case because so much enjoyment has been had in the discussion and hopefully even the ruffled feathers are smoother now.

The Parry/O'Hern playoff was interesting, but playoffs almost always produce something interesting. Playoffs at Huntingdale make an interesting comparison. I think even the dullest holes become more interesting when everything is on the line.

A point I find interesting is that a few years ago some work was done to the bunkering to the right of KH#14. One of the better known members was horrified. "How dare these people think they know better than Mackenzie" he was heard to say. This fellow is pretty well connected and could, for example, get a game at Augusta any time he wanted.

The facts were that the bunkering had changed significantly due to maintenance practices, so in fact it was restoration work. I don't know what he thought of the end result.

Over the years the KH membership has become far more knowledgeable about these things and I understand that Clayton Design's plans for reworking the acclaimed 15th were very well received.

Treating the place as some kind of shrine would, in my view, have taken KH to obscurity over the years. I believe the long term "untouchable" status of the RM courses has created the problems now appearing on the East course, and will in time cause similar problems on the West.

So restating an earlier question, would you be in favour of a modernisation program at RMW, or should the course be exactly as it is for the next 100 years?

The supplementary question is how much and in what ways is RMW a different course than it was fifty years ago (ignoring club and ball technology)? I don't know the answer by the way.

The double supplementary trivia question is what did they find at RM when preparing for the World Cup in the seventies? I do know the answer to this one!



#53 Moe

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:07 AM

give cashmore a few more years to play around and this will no longer be worthy of discussion.



#54 AndyA

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:15 AM

Ross, Bowditch ended up missing by two, so he was definitely in the running. Its obviously a stupid shot to play (as you say 5/6 shots are dead), but the option is there for the smashers. I imagine that Bubba Watson, who is longer than Bowditch, could get it into the greenside bunker!

A similar shot at RMW might not get as close to the green, but theres a little more room for error there. Maybe 4/6 shots would be dead!



#55 growler

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:53 AM

My comments regarding KH have nothing to do with any score on the day.

True golf is about enjoyment of the challenge and not the scoring outcome. I just found that this course has some holes which are quite bland and some of the changes have made the course less pleasant than when I last played the course.

12 was a more pleasant hole when the t-tree was down the left when I last played there and 2 was also much more pleasant with the t-tree down the left. So much of the course had been opened up with a significant number of trees being removed

Blind holes are an obvious safety factor where one continually needs to check for clearance ahead and then hope for following groups wait long enough for one to clear. Safety is a major issue on a golf course and the degree of blindness on the drive at 8 & 16 and into the 17th green is ridiculous. In this day and age of earthmoving equuipment it would be quite easy to provide a glimpse down the fairway. This would have been much more difficult when KH was built.

It will only take an injury or two on any blind hole resulting from a golf ball and insurance companies will demand golf clubs address safety issues. If KH had Saturday playing fields of say 240 players I'm guessing that the blind holes would create concerns, including speed of play issues.

Reading the threads, there is some commentary regarding future changes - my view is that all golf clubs should concentrate on providing premium playing conditions and spending less money on course changes. I am yet to run into many golfers 40 years of age and older who are seeking more length and a toughening of golf courses. Sure some changes will from time to time become necessary and they should then be addressed. To me, it seems that many of the course changes are questionable at best and often result in a less enjoyable environment. So many course changes are sold on a future major tournamnet being held at the course. It is hardly likely that Australia will be flooded with demand for golf tournaments in the next 100 years.

Why make any changes at RM for instance, just ask is Huntingdale, Commonwealth or Kingswood better today for the numerous changes over the last few years. A change had a potential to be better but it also has the potential for a costly disaster.

Enjoy playing your great courses in Melbourne and spend the money on superintentents instead of construction changes.



#56 ttitheridge

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:59 PM

Ross,

When you say the macro view favours RM, it almost gives up the fight. We can always choose terms on which to compare courses to get a different potential result, but the macro view has it perhaps. "Special places" is just what great courses are all about and what separates a top 10 course from a top 40-50 course, and nothing anyone on here says can change that. So some of that greatness may simply be lying in the site prior to the course's existence, and gives it an unfair advantage. Unfair or not, it is there. You see, with shot values and good design alone, there are nearly 100 courses that could fit in the world's top 10-15. Macro factors end up making the difference, and when you look at a number of these courses and the awesome potential experience of playing them, that is a wonderful world we live in, not one to rue simply because of what it might deny other great courses.

That is not to denigrate KH's greatness, but remember that if we are looking at a world top 10 track, then there is a certain amount of macro advantage RMW is going to rightfully have, like it or not. Because after the shots and holes are fought over, the final summation will always have to come back to the presence each place has.

I value that RMW hasn't been tinkered with, and don't agree it is causing problems. I'm not talking East here. Nobody has ever been able to show me what any problems are with West. I think the potential for attempted evolutionary changes is a far greater threat than leaving it as a "shrine", and that the fact it is more intact is a lot of the reason it is such a special place. If I come back in 50 years and play West, I hope any changes were wisely undertaken and the team chosen to assist them well selected. Otherwise, it becomes a lottery where if you lose, you lose BIG.

KH on the other hand got it right to both initiate an attempted return to past character and improve the course (#11 bunker or not, it can be removed one day if required). It made an already great course on this planet even greater. But that doesn't make their actions a direct relation to what should happen elsewhere.

As you've said, this thread has been fantastic. The protagonists here have stirred some of the best architectural chatter on here in ages, and I am lucky to have been able to read it. So the win is not in the result, but in the discussion.



#57 mac

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 05:46 PM

growler.

Which holes are quite bland? Surely you are not suggesting 12 is bland?
When did you last play there? it must have been a long time ago if there was tea-tree on 12.
That was removed years ago - probably 15 - and restoring the lost bunkers has been a highlight of the restoration.
It is a much better hole now.
Nor am I sure they took any tea-tree from the corner of the 2nd.

It would also be far from simple to give players a view at 8,16 and 17.
The club would never contemplate it fortunately but it would take a massive amount of earthwork to tie everything in and make it look natural.
It is not a safety issue and never has been.

Ross.

At the point Bowditch hit that drive on 16 he had just bogeyed 15 and needed 3 pars to make it.It was an unbelievable drive.



#58 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 07:04 PM

Ok. So Bowditch's shot was a case of desperate times calling for desperate measures. I was about to put my clubs up for sale on eBay.

As Mac says safety has never been an issue at 8, 16 or 17.

The procedures are as follows:
Behind the tee on 8 is a "box" you climb onto to ensure that the fairway is clear. On 16 you do not proceed to the tee until the fairway is clear. On 17 you wait till the flag is back in the hole. It doesn't impact playing times at all. Those are the glimpses you seek!

This works extremely well with the current members and their guests. Growler raises an important issue here. Were the course to become a pay for play, golf cart infested, corporate day boofhead sort of place, you'd have huge problems on a number of holes. God forbid if the course had shared fairways and double greens on most holes. They'd have to close it.

The day the holes at KH is modified due to safety concerns is the day we can all give the game away.

Growler, when did you last play the course? Were the Mahogany gums still there on #2? Were the fairway bunkers at the dogleg there? Were the trees small enough that the big hitters could bomb it almost straight at the green. Was there ti-tree growing in the left greenside bunker on #7? Was the tree in the middle of the back of the 10th green still there?

The course is constantly changing. When you look at the photos in the clubhouse, it is amazing to see what the course has been like at various times in its history. I don't think it has ever been a better test of golf.

Tithers,
you are right. Please don't take this as sneid, but for this discussion's point of view I am giving the game away. There is no point battling a line of argument which goes "you can't compare RMW hole by hole with any other course. It's not fair to take the holes out of context". Even "you can't even mention RMW until you've fully convinced me that the other course is a worthy adversary". It smacks of "never mind the quality, feel the width", or moving the goalposts, or running the gauntlet. Personally I don't think RMW needs this form of defence. It stands up very well shot by shot, hole by hole, or any other kind of comparison.

Understanding the nitty gritty playing characteristics is much, much more difficult than looking at the broad strokes (where RMW wins easily). At the opposite end of the scale there's the famous story about Sam Snead's (?) first assessment of St Andrews from his railway carriage "oh look there's an old abandoned golf course". If you are discussing the merits of RMW v St Andrews, do you start with the same arguments?

I don't resile from my original proposition at all. Shot for shot, hole for hole, Kingston Heath is a better golf course.



#59 the_unreal_jeffrey

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:56 PM

Guys,

What does everyone think of the Morcom style of bunkers at RM compared to the Graeme Grant style of bunkers at Kingston Heath?



#60 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 09:05 PM

I think that they both reflect their times.

To think that Morcom's bunkers were constructed by manual labour is astonishing. This feat will never be repeated.

Grant's work at KH for the most part blends so well with the original that it would take a well trained eye to separate them.






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