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Royal Melbourne v Kingston Heath


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#61 ttitheridge

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 09:21 PM

QUOTE: rsheehy @ Jan 2 2006, 09:04 AM

Tithers,
you are right.

Nope, I am not!

This thread's excellence has been in a number of trains of thought over many dimensions, not in a basic right versus wrong narrow mindedness.

I have hopefully contributed something to the thread, something you have done awesomely, and to a greater extent than myself. Many thanks.

I understand your belief of "shot for shot, hole for hole" in favour of KH in your own opinion, whilst you've also accepted understanding of RMW's total journey, and hopefully of its total value. They are different criteria, and thus allow you to arrive at different results. I don't think the TOC comparison validates RMW's aura more, as I have come to believe that a great many players who dismiss TOC find its aura much later after more playings. Then, it has what RMW might have, and perhaps something that KH does not. I never felt that the presence has to be immediately recognised by every player from day one.


Jeffrey,

In the main, I find Kingston Heath's bunkering in recent years is at least a better modern take on traditional sandbelt bunkering than a few other examples. There is only one contemporary Australian architect I would perhaps hold much higher regard for in terms of entrusting them with a sandbelt restoration/evolution within the best of the classic style.



#62 St_Andrews

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 09:56 PM

Tithers
You keep on refering to RMW as a "world Top10 track"...I would certainly appreciate it if you could please refer to the 'Composite' course as such. I have never seen a renowned ranking list that refers to RMW as a stand-alone course in this light ? granted RMW for mine is indeed a Top25 track and Golf Magazine recently viewed KH as such in it's 2005 publication. What I am trying to say here that is both RMW and KH are indeed courses that are truly great as as far as I am concerned any course that can be viewed in the World's Top 50 is an absolutely exceptional course in it's own right.

I believe that any suggestion not to change a course over time is showing a certain degree of ignorance. Even the oldest course of all - St Andrews - has undergone recent changes as has Augusta to try and meet the demands of modern technology. Whilst they certainly lose some of their original design features (hopefully not too much character) the changes are born out of necessity.

Do you think Jones / Mackenzie envisaged Tiger Woods hitting short clubs such as wedges into the P5's at Augusta ? Some classic designs such as Sunningdale (Old) are no longer men's professional tour venues as it wasn't changed to meet the demands of the modern game (though I did see them building new tee boxes when I was at Sunningdale last year).

I give full credit to the team at KH for making changes without denigrating the original design features of the Soutar / Mackenzie layout. Agree Growler that some changes on certain courses have made them poorer but that's why the team at KH deserve such high praise - with the exception of the bunker on 11 - there is nothing that I have seen that isn't out of character. Even the 'new' 19th looks as though it has been there for ages.

RMW must makes changes eg: either extentending the 2nd tee or converting it to a P4 would be a place to start. Whilst I'm certainly no Ernie Els - to score 60 around RM certainly suggests that some changes need to be made - even if it is only for Tournament golf.

RMW has some greater highs than KH - but I certainly feel it has more lows in it's current form and as such I am still with rsheehy in suggesting that shot for shot, hole for hole, KH is a better course than RMW.



#63 MatthewM

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 10:30 PM

I’m really enjoying this thread.

Growler, there’s a lot you’ve got wrong about KH. 8 and 17 are parallel but run in opposite directions, likewise 1 and 6. The issue of blindness on 8,16 and 17 isn’t a safety risk, and what’s more, is central to the design and challenge of the course. As Ross says, the wooden steps at the back of 8 allow full visibility of the fairway ahead, and you check out the 16th f/way when walking off 15 green. You see the 17th flag from the fairway, and can therefore tell when the pin has been returned, and the green cleared.

I do suspect you’re right in that the left side of 2 has been thinned out, and the proposition of taking on the corner has therefore become more tempting, in the last few years. Seeing it last month (for the first time in 6mo), I distinctly thought that it had come in for a haircut. Half a dozen views of that hole in the previous year or two had me thinking the inside of that dogleg was overgrown.

Ross & St. A,

The aim of the Royal Melbourne Golf Club is to maintain the characteristics and challenges of the course proposed by Dr Alister MacKenzie when he designed the course in 1926. It has not stood still, and not been frozen in time, as you might suspect.

RM has changed significantly through the years. Since 1931, many holes have been shortened on the West course, and more have been lengthened. 6W has changed totally. It was originally bunkered on the outside of the dogleg, catching balls hit too long and left, bound for the 2nd East. (Paul Daley’s book Fav Holes be Design outlines this beautifully).

So too, changes have occurred on 12W. The original green was set right and fwd of the current green. It was a 4 and is now labeled 5. Small valleys in the ground at what is now a 2nd lay-up point for that hole may have been bunkers in times past. Bunkering a short way out from the 17W tee, on the right, may have also come into play on 12W in the 40’s and 50’s, when the land was almost bereft of trees. For a view of what this was like, check pp 182-3 of Joseph Johnson’s Centenary History of RM.

It may surprise you to know that 7W is a totally new hole, designed by Ivo Whitton. Trees have been planted to promote greater safety of neighboring properties and roads, especially south of 11W, changing the drive line. RMW hasn't stood still.

Ross, you mentioned something about play-off golf before. I expect that RM, with more lines of play from the tee would be more fascinating than a play-off at KH. Imagine the arc of potential tee shots on 18E, 17W, 18W, 3W, 6W etc. Even I have been down in the 'way downtown' left trap on 18W, from the tee.

Bowditch's shot wasn't that long on 16KH. I smashed the tee shot there last time, leaving myself a solid 8I in ! ohmy.gif

MM

P.S. Ross, what was unearthed in the 1970's ?



#64 St_Andrews

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 10:53 PM

MM

Appreciate you joining the thread - I was begining to wonder where you have been ?

Am certainly not suggesting that RMW has been frozen in time - all I am suggesting is that possibly some further changes could be considered to the layout to make it even better. KH has made changes that other courses should take note of without losing any appeal including redoing all it's greens a few years back and they putt and feel as though they have been there for years.

I was aware of #7 being an Ivo Whitton hole as far as I am concerned the changes you have higlighted to holes #6 and #12 I would have thought made them better holes. And therein lies my point - if they can continue to make quality changes such as these over time wouldn't it make it a better layout ?




#65 MatthewM

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:02 PM

Besides calling 2,4,12 and 15 par 4's, what would you change ?

MM



#66 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:16 PM

The first thing I'd say to the people who want RMW to stay the same forever, is not to worry. With today's technology mistakes can be undone. That is not to say that even the slightest change should be made lightly.

Secondly, there are thankfully a very select few people around who have understanding and sensitivity when working with masterpieces. Now is the time to make one or two small experimental changes to get people's heads around the idea of change.

Thirdly, I don't believe Ernie's 60 should be the prime motivation. I'll put money on somebody shooting 58 at KH in the next decade if Ernie and friends get to play tournaments with ever improving equipment if the course is presented as unthinkingly as RM was on that occasion.

I don't especially care what anybody shoots. What motivates me more is that when Ernie bombs his 350m drive, he should have something to think about. Like Bowditch did on #17 at KH. If the technology changes RMW#10 to a mid-iron par 3 then so be it. When sense prevails and we finally get a slower ball then its current values can be instantly restored.

In the meantime courses are being examined in a very harsh light.

Let's start with RMW#2. I don't believe it matters whether Ernie can comfortably hit the green with a drive and a wedge. The question is, what happens if he miscues his tee shot? What decisions and trade-offs were in his mind on the tee?

I'd say the hole needs something at Els driving range to put pressure on the drive.

One response would be to replace the fairway from the 240m mark to the 350m mark with rough and bunkers. Force the player to play short off the tee. Ok, so the guys hit 4I off all the tees, but the thrill of the big drive goes out of the game.

This is the kind of strangulation that the custodians of Augusta have attempted, although they have done it by choking the fairways with trees and building new tees ever longer each year. Pretty dull stuff and totally incompatable with RM.

So let's consider the task from a restoration point of view. What was it like to play RMW#2 when it was a gentle three shot hole or a really strong two shot hole? What is it like to play now?

Firstly I believe that the rough today is far friendlier than it was even when I first played the course. I'm sure I can recall the bracken intruding more into the rough, and that the rough was clumpier and patchier than it is now and even had some sandy bare patches. At some stage the fairways extended sideways, albeit with slightly longer grass.

Secondly the fairway contouring has gradually changed from having places where the rough pinched in, to a much more uniform width.

The result is that players can blaze away with absolute impugnity off the tee and the fairway is largely featureless at the modern driving range.

Although some don't like it the tee shot at KH#2 achieves the result. Who in their right mind hits driver? But you can, if you are prepared to take on the risk, and it results in a much simpler second.

KH#18 is a much less subtle solution with its huge bunkers down the left hand side. Less appreciated is that a long drive past the bunkers runs a risk of going through the fairway into unplayable rough.

So, at RMW#2 we have a choice. Leave it as it is (and acknowledge that like most holes it HAS changed over the years), or restore the value. If we choose to restore value, how do we do it?



#67 the_unreal_jeffrey

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:26 PM

QUOTE: rsheehy @ Jan 2 2006, 12:16 PM

So, at RMW#2 we have a choice. Leave it as it is (and acknowledge that like most holes it HAS changed over the years), or restore the value. If we choose to restore value, how do we do it?

The only thing you can do to restore the value is to make the hole longer or make a ball that flys shorter. Nothing else works. THat is why so many courses have stuffed themselves up. Adding excessive bunkers, rough trees etc can not improve a hole without changing the character and creating a new set of values.

THe best thing that can be done at RM is making sure the greens are maintained so that they are very firm, accentuating to the greatest degree the need to approach from a certain part of the fairway.



#68 MatthewM

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:31 PM

Ross, the drive area on 2W for a very long drive (>280m) is much more narrow than you think. The consequences of a missed fairway range from a hack out of the rough, to a lost ball. Trying to get home in two and occasionally failing, due to a lost ball from the tee leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

The challenges and characteristcs MacKenzie proposed at RM and elsewhere were along the lines of rewarding the long accurate driver. You propose a number of alterations to the hole, all of which seem contrary to this.

Your changes revolve around the pro game, in my opinion. Have you seen a single figure marker routinely play the hole, into a prevailing one to two club south west wind?

If you want to change the hole in any way, try changing its par. I can tell you, hitting the green with driver and then fairway wood into the wind, holing the second putt for par, leaves you with the feeling that you've successfully finished climbing a steep wall! It's no pushover. Same with 3wood into a north wind on 12W.

I really think you and St. Andrews are lulled into believing that many of the shots on RMW are far easier than they really are. If you want to shoot low there, the regions of the fairway to which you must drive are small, even with today's sticks and balls. The shots into greens must be accurate, and spin control must be good. The number of greens that repel an average stike is quite numerous. As Jeff says, preservation of green firmness and speed accentuates this.

MM



#69 ttitheridge

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:36 PM

St Andrews,

I've never advocate RMW stay frozen as is. The comment was made clearly in the context of comparing change with that at KH, as I was replying to a post that did just that. I'd rather positive change than none (like at KH), but aren't sure of the current RMW archie heads credentials to do so. If it is anything like RME, then I say stay away for now.

RMW has changed heaps in the time I've known it, which is only over the past 25 years or so. Before that for its greater history, it evolved even further. I DO THINK very strongly that a good lack of messing with it over the years has lessened the need for more recent work, and don't think it is currently as broken as some here might. If the reasons for change were to assist mainly in the staging of an Aus Open or Euro tour event every three or four years, then I'm not automatically on board. Ernis shot 60. Fine. Everyone who says that forgets that from going -12, he shot not that over the following three days. Over the past ten years, the course has thrown up worthy winners. I care more for the winner's name and the drama he went through to get it rather than whether he shot 270 or 275. If it needs altering, it can happen anytime. Wait until the right team comes along, instead of just picking the potential time for change. Clayton did a sensitive Victoria makeover that didn't suffer for being 20-25 years after it could have been. RMW's future needs don't have to be instigated today.

It is sometimes easier for changes to drop a course's standing than it is to maintain it with a lack of action, so I advocate the action quite happily, as long as it is not rushed, and only made by the generations who understand it best. If that means some generations sit on their hands, cool by me. Each generation are custodians, and don't have to all do the same amount of work as each other to get it right in the long term. Some generations' purpose is to guard the treasure until the next highly qualified evolutionists come along. KH's history has these same positives over time as well.


Ross,

The point you made about the playoff at RM has niggled at me. No, it was a well guarded front left hole location that was very tricky, and made for a great hole. It was not the mere fact that it was in a playoff that enhanced it one ounce. The hole enhanced the playoff, not the other way around. That said, it is not a point I'm making to compare RMW#1 to KH#1 (a hole I do simply adore). Just a firm belief that you've sold short RMW#1, its ideals and its purpose. THAT despite the intention of the thread is where intelligent men sometimes end up with messy assertions by default, no matter how much one may want to play the comparison game. If I'm therfore giving most of RMW's kudos to it based on a lack of nitty gritty hole by hole hand to hand combat, so be it smile.gif



#70 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:40 PM

Matty,
To answer the question first. They uncovered a number of bunkers that time had forgotten, all hidden by ti-tree.

I never cease to be amazed by your knowledge. In a strange way the changes you mention (and which I was unaware) strengthen and refine my sentiments.

Ok, the question then arises when the last deliberate course changes were made. I'll stick my neck on the chopping block and say that the changes to RM#12W must have been close to the last time anything deliberate was done to the course. BTW I always thought that green didn't quite belong.

I do assert that the custodians have been asleep at the wheel for a long time, induced by an extremely conservative interpretation of the club charter you mention.

In this time the ti-tree has grown, the modern maintenance equipment has had its impact and the playing value has not been maintained.

A more progressive interpretation would be what would Mackenzie do now?

An example would be RMW#10. Would he say "I got it right the first time so leave it alone"? Might he tinker with the green surface when it is next relaid by raising one section or another by a few inches?



#71 MatthewM

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:49 PM

I'd put a lot of money on the fact that what MacKenzie would say would contain a lot of expletives and that it would revolve around leaving the course alone. He'd be amazed that his thoughts on ball regulation, written prior to the construction of RMW, have not been respected. He'd also throw in the occasional blast for the pro players!

MM



#72 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 12:06 AM

Boy this discussion has legs!

As my fraud has been at least partially revealed, I'll come clean on one matter. My views are based on playing experience in the 70s and almost entirely on television broadcasts since then. Sorry if that disappoints anybody.

I'd rather positive change than none (like at KH), but aren't sure of the current RMW archie heads credentials to do so. If it is anything like RME, then I say stay away for now.

Here, here! But in the words of Yoda "there is another".

Tithers,
what do you know of the story that RMW#1 was left unfinished?



#73 ttitheridge

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 12:06 AM

QUOTE: rsheehy @ Jan 2 2006, 01:40 PM

A more progressive interpretation would be what would Mackenzie do now?

I would say that the original archie team of a great course is the best possible evolutionist of it in the future, and that those trying to get inside his head have to do so and make changes, but therefore may not be able to or even be entitled to try and do so at the pace the original archie may have done. it will take them a lot longer for even good ones to understand it properly enough. Fine, if Sexy Lexy was still alive and mobile, he might undertake all manner of things pronto. We can all only guess his moves and their motivation, and what context they have within the discussions or principles he shared with Mackenzie. So the last thing I want is for them to try and guess him at the same or similar speed.

Like you say, change can be undone. For the same reasons, change doesn't have to happen oh so rapidly. The canvas is still there. I still say you want things fixed that I cannot possible believe are significantly broken. Enough so that your asleep at the wheel analogy is something I'm very grateful for. I wish more club committees whilst unknowingly awaiting the next great minds at their club hit the chloroform. Thousands more courses throughout the world have been changed to their detriment than those that have evolved as close as possible to the original intentions sensitively.

TOC has utilised new tees as much as anything else in its changes, changes which largely don't exist outside of Open week. They have the luxury of neighbouring courses they can close during Open week to use these tees, whereas RM is locked in to fairly minimal lengthening due to its block of land, in much the same way Vic would have loved a new #18 tee if it weren't for residential property back there and to the right. So perhaps it is unfair to use TOC as a model given the space they can use for expansion during tournaments.



#74 ttitheridge

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 12:15 AM

Ross, I'd have to be corrected by Jeffrey, but his comments about restoring the values of RMW#2 were regarding RMW#2, and cannot intelligently be applied to KH#15.

Incidentally, what is wrong with RMW#2? I say nothing. It is a fine and challenging half par hole of the highest order, which may in time have to be carded as a par 4 for pro events to keep some people happy. Whatever par it is, it is a fine hole right now.

Again, another mention of Ernie's 60 without completing the week. Just a reminder to all that the event in question was played over 72 holes, with day one by far the easiest.

I am completely ignorant on RMW#1's early history smile.gif



#75 ThanksForAllTheFish

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 12:23 AM

It took me a while to decipher the acronym TOC.

I was referring more to a hypothetical discussion (as if we're not being hypothetical enough here) about whether RMW or TOC is the world's best.

Would you still start with all the broad brush features which would favour RMW, because (and now I'm REALLY out of my depth), TOC is based on an (gulp) ordinary site by comparison (runs away and ducks for cover)?

I agree with your comments on custodianship to a point. Where I would differ, for example, is that each time a green is relaid it should not just be replaced as near as possible to what is there. The process should be far more thoughtful than that.

Let's say we are relaying RMW#6. How does the playing value compare to its intention given that green maintenance and fashion dictates faster greens in the modern era? Has the green subsided in any places over the years? Should an area be raised or lowered a few cm? How do the bunkers look? Has the sand gradually moved to change the shape of the bottom?

It may well be that the green speeds and a little subsidence over the years have caused RMW#6 to be a vastly different proposition than its designer intended. Did its designer, for example, intend that you had to putt sideways when above the hole, and then cross your fingers that it didn't run off the green?






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