How do you assess a golf course? - What makes a good / bad course/ hole?

need_my_wedge

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Just curious how you decide what makes a good golf course, or what makes a good hole, or bad hole etc.

Often read comments like "oh the 6th is a great golf hole" or "the 10th is a poor hole" etc. Just wondering how you decide?

I'm not even sure I personally ever think like that. I don't give much thought to a hole design or strategy, bunker placement etc. For me it's often the aesthetics of the course in general, the surrounding scenery and views.
 

Imurg

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A good golf hole should reward a good shot and punish a poor one.
Any hazards need to be relevant and in play for the majority
Greens need to be true - even slow greens can be good .
No matter how well you've hit your drive you should have to think about your 2nd shot.
I like a well defined hole with a couple of different ways to play it.

Good courses have a good variety of holes, a variety of lengths and a variety of challenge too.
Too many courses have 7 or 8 340-380 yards par 4s.
Too many courses have 4 or 5 170-190 yard par 3s.
And all the par 5s are 550
Mix it up.
Every course should have a short par 3 and a short par 4
Good courses should flow, keeping long walks to a minimum
 

Dando

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I think water hazards make a massive difference to a hole/course.

The 5th on the old course at sunningdale has a water hazard that completely changes the hole. Without it it’s a pretty straight forward hole
 

Bdill93

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What makes a good golf course stand out from a poorer one in my opinion is the turf (alongside a lot of what Imurg said)

At my club there are dry muddy patches/ thin grass areas/ imperfect fringes/ poor tee boxes etc..

When I've played at "top clubs" its like walking on carpet most of the time. Hell, the tee boxes at Hayling looked good enough to putt on and its not even in the top UK 100!

A good hole - something interesting to look at that's unique. And I do love a white sand bunker (to look at, not play from)
 

Albo

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Great topic!

For me a good hole can be something visually stunning, strategic from either tee, approach or both, something that looks like it’s been found rather than created, or just plain fun.

Using probably not well known examples,
The 6th at my course Swanston, for me is a visually beautiful par 3 tees off from up high into a valley with the green at the end of the valley, it’s the sort of gold hole that looks like it’s been ‘found’ in amongst the gorse on the Pentland hills at 200+ from the tee often into the wind it’s a hard golf hole but visually appealing.
The 3rd hole on the East at Dalmahoy I always found was a great hole, long at 400+, it’s a dogleg right, with bunkers on the inside of the dogleg at driving distance, and a big old tree slightly short and right of them, the hole favours a fade from the tee but you bring all of the above into play, play further out left it’s daft but your approach gets even longer, standing on that tee I always take a moment to enjoy the look of how the land moves ahead of me.
Lastly the 3rd and 4th as a combo at Shiskine, the 3rd only 125ish but up a mountain to a green you can’t even see, you can’t even see the flag, it’s just a fun hole on a fun course, the when you climb the stairs to the green you’re left with a stunning view across the course and out to sea, the 4th tee is on the same flat top as the 3rd green, then you tee off back down towards the sea with one of the most beautiful backdrops imaginable
 

Lord Tyrion

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Shape of the hole (not just straight up and down)
Visuals of the hole & course, I like it to look nice (eye of the beholder of course)
The need to think about each shot
Something happening on each hole
The tees to be an appropriate length from the hole for the person likely to be playing that hole
The course to be maintained in a satisfactory manner (not tour standard, just good)

I'm sure other people will describe other items that I would wish I'd included, they will also probably describe it more eloquently. Hey ho.

If anyone has been lucky enough to play the King's course at Gleneagles then that would pretty much be my perfect course to play. All of the above is captured on that course.
 

Orikoru

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If I make a par or better it's a good hole. ;)

I like a course that has a few holes that make you think on the tee, i.e. where you can't just hit driver down there and you may have to hit something else to get in the right position. I prefer it when the par 3s are differing lengths as well, say from 110 to 180 yards or something. Again, it's just nice to have variety and hitting different clubs off the tees. As I'm not a long hitter there's plenty of courses where I could go and hit driver 13 or 14 times.
 

Banchory Buddha

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For me unquantifiable really. It's the aesthetics more than anything I think, a flat 350 yards straightaway is really not going to be a good hole. Wee bit of undulation, maybe a slight kink in the fairway, some trees or heather to the side, a great view of hills/mountains, would all come into making a hole stand out
 

Voyager EMH

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Just curious how you decide what makes a good golf course.

All the ones that are so expensive that I will never play on them - they are all good golf courses, I imagine, but can't be certain, obviously.

Of the rest - if they are good value for money, in my opinion, then that is a good golf course.
If I feel it was not worth the money, then that is not a good golf course.
That is how I decide.
 

srixon 1

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Holes with too much slope. There is one at Woodlake Park that slopes severely from right to left. In the golfing season, when the ball is running, it is almost impossible to keep the ball on the fairway. Everything seems to go left into the rough.
 

Banchory Buddha

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For me unquantifiable really. It's the aesthetics more than anything I think, a flat 350 yards straightaway is really not going to be a good hole. Wee bit of undulation, maybe a slight kink in the fairway, some trees or heather to the side, a great view of hills/mountains, would all come into making a hole stand out
Got to add to this, James Braid every single time. Whatever it was he saw, he always made the best out of the land, and his courses are always easy to know he built them, so how he built courses is how courses should be built.
 

Liverpoolphil

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Interesting question

A good hole/course will prob be broken into a number of sections and also be dependent on the eye of the person looking at it

It will also depend on what type of course you are playing , a good hole on a links course May not suit on a parkland course etc

So for me

Links- the soil underneath , the playability of the hole from all the tees , pot bunkers at the right distances at the side of the fairways , greens sat down at the same level of the fairway , par 3’s surrounded by pot bunkers , the hole direction having the wind being taken into consideration, the views of the surrounding coastline , the hollows in the fairway to ensure you don’t get many flat lies

Parkland - soft lush fairways , bunkers that are long and narrow , raised greens , holes framed by big tall trees , multi tiers on greens , water hazards placed at distances that make you think.

Heathland/Moorland - a bit more wide open than a parkland but lush heather , gorse , again bunkers and hazards at those dodgy distances

The course should flow , some doglegs , some straight , short par 3 in there , a risk and reward hole , a par 5 that might be reachable with two good hits , holes that will punish a bad shot
 

Banchory Buddha

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Interesting question

A good hole/course will prob be broken into a number of sections and also be dependent on the eye of the person looking at it

It will also depend on what type of course you are playing , a good hole on a links course May not suit on a parkland course etc

So for me

Links- the soil underneath , the playability of the hole from all the tees , pot bunkers at the right distances at the side of the fairways , greens sat down at the same level of the fairway , par 3’s surrounded by pot bunkers , the hole direction having the wind being taken into consideration, the views of the surrounding coastline , the hollows in the fairway to ensure you don’t get many flat lies

Parkland - soft lush fairways , bunkers that are long and narrow , raised greens , holes framed by big tall trees , multi tiers on greens , water hazards placed at distances that make you think.

Heathland/Moorland - a bit more wide open than a parkland but lush heather , gorse , again bunkers and hazards at those dodgy distances

The course should flow , some doglegs , some straight , short par 3 in there , a risk and reward hole , a par 5 that might be reachable with two good hits , holes that will punish a bad shot
And birch trees. Gotta have at least a few holes birch lined for the best of heathland
 
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