Golf Course Architecture - Issue 54: October 2018

36   Golf Course Architecture a bit of information but is still hard to play because the crown in the centre of the fairway spills balls left and right – it is super wide but punishing if you hit it wayward and roll into the long rough. The ninth at Cape Wickham on King Island in Australia has another open look but blindness if you don’t get your drive in the right spot. The safe drive to the right requires a layup to the visible left or a blind shot over a massive dune. Options galore but still scary depending on your game that day and the conditions. But I also love the old blind holes, such as the bathtub green on the fourteenth at Cruden Bay! It’s so cool to think you can just hit to this big gathering hole but hope you don’t run up a side and get caught with an awkward lie. Simple, yet effective!” Jay Blasi also cites two modern examples, both of which are partially, not totally, blind and thus use visibility to create strategy. “The places where I feel blindness is best is when the player is given the option to avoid it,” he says. “Two examples that come to mind are the sixteenth at Chambers Bay in Washington and the fourteenth at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin. Both holes set up in a similar fashion: short par fours with trouble on the right of the tee. As such, the player can choose to play away from the trouble, but if they do, then the approach to the green will be blind/semi-blind. And given the short nature of the approach shot, having a good sense for what is going on at the green and where you want to land your ball is important.” GCA Blindness The ninth hole at Cape Wickham on King Island, Australia, features a blind shot over a dune The short par-four fourteenth at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin Photos: Kohler Co. Photo: Larry Lambrecht IN FOCUS The hole mentioned by more architects than any other as being defined as great by its blindness was the ninth at Royal County Down. RCD has on occasion been named as the best course in the world; what is certain is that no true world-elite course has so much blindness. Jeff Danner, senior design associate with Greg Norman Golf Course Design, says: “It presents options and dilemmas for the player not simply by having a blind tee shot, but the combination of features in background and foreground and their degree of blindness can be used to make the best decision to suit different strategies. “This hole is excellent because you ponder the tee shot while trying not to be distracted by a fantastic view of the fog-laden mountains and Slieve Donard hotel. Beware of using the hotel to aim at, because it might be a plausible detractor from a golfer’s strategy. For the aggressive player looking to achieve the best angle of approach to the green, the tee shot must be executed with high accuracy between the left of the hotel tower and a large dune that hugs the left side of the fairway. This opens up a better angle to the green. If unsuccessful, players might find themselves behind the large dune facing a challenging recovery. Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert said: “The caddie will point out the line of the drive and then the golfer has to obey the instruction. The feeling of being on top of the world comes when the golfer reaches the crest of the dune and looks down on the rest of the hole, the Slieve Donard Hotel, the town of Newcastle, the sea and the Mountains of Mourne. A special place in the world of golf.” The best of the blind Photo: David Scaletti Photography Among the architects we spoke to, Royal County Down’s ninth was cited more than any other hole as an example of blindness at its best The ninth hole at Royal County Down