Figuring Out the Layout
In part one of this blog series we walked through a little bit about how the project started and where we were at for the course design in the early months of the pandemic. Everything was going relatively well, but it quickly became apparent that we needed to spend some more time thinking about the course layout before we got too much further with clearing brush for new holes. The whole back third of the property was relatively wild and we needed to think more about exactly where baskets should be placed to best make use of the space that we had. The easiest way to get a good feel for what we were working with was to get on google maps and get an aerial view of the property to help Visualize.
Hole 1 - Par 3 - 270 ft.
The above image displays the back two thirds of the property to give a sense of what we were working with. This is not the entirety of the course, but rather a piece of it to give you an idea of the things we needed to consider and think through. The pink rectangles represent our teeing areas, the red stars represent where baskets are placed, and the blue line shows one of the intended lines for one of our 18 holes. At this point we knew that we had a total of 7 baskets to work with, and 6 different teeing areas (all are not pictured above). The challenge now became figuring out how we make an 18 layout that starts and ends where we want it to while also ensuring that the layout flows well so that there isn't unnecessary walking from one hole to another. This was one of THE hardest things to figure out when it came to making the home course happen.
We knew exactly where we wanted the course to start, and knew that we wanted the last hole to finish somewhere near the clubhouse so that you didn't have a quarter mile walk to get back to your car. The challenge that we had with the home course (which most course designers probably don't have to deal with as much) is the fact that each basket had either 3 or 2 shots going to each of them. This was both a good and bad thing as we had many different options in terms of how the layout would flow, but it also meant we had to try to figure out which of those options made the most sense and didn't leave us in awkward spot once we got towards the end of the course. The whole course finally started to come together once we realized that we could add in a par 4 or a par 5 into the layout to help things flow better. We will walk through the par 5 below.
Hole 15 - Par 5 - 650 ft.
The above picture shows the soft par 5 that we added to the course that made a huge difference to the overall flow. After numerous iterations of trying to figure out a layout that flowed well, and failing numerous times...I realized that I kept running into the same problem. I kept running into a situation where I either ran out of ways to get to the far back of the property, or I ran out of ways to get ourselves out of the far back of the property. The lightbulb moment then happened...I realized that a couple of longer holes was the answer! The above image shows how we got around this issue by adding a 650 foot technical par 5 to the course.
For the par 5, you start by teeing off on the same tee-pad that is used for hole 1, but you want to end up in a landing zone about 300-350 feet away (represented by the blue lines above). By accomplishing this you put yourself in the ideal position for your second shot. This landing zone can be found by either throwing a clean backhand flip up shot, or a tight forehand through some medium size trees. A good first shot sets you up in an "open" mouth (see picture below) that leads to the back part of the property. If and only if you are able to find this mouth by getting your initial drive out to over 300 feet will you even have an opportunity to think about potentially get an eagle 3. The eagle 3 has happened a couple of times now, but it is a rare occurrence!
Pictured left is the ideal landing zone after a fantastic first shot. The second shot is a forehand mash that needs to make up the remainder of the 300+ feet while moving right the entire time. Overshoot your second shot and you will find yourself in a creek. As you can see the "open" mouth mentioned above isn't so open. This technical aspect of this hole is what made us decide to make this hole a par 5. It is tough enough as it is to get a 4 on this hole, and a 3 feels absolutely amazing as it requires two perfectly executed shots. This hole probably averages around 4.5 strokes so again, it is a soft par 5, but there is definitely some danger and it is an awesome addition to the course. Besides, who doesn't want an opportunity to get an eagle, am I right?
In the beginning of this project we never even considered that we would be able to have a full 18 hole layout on a backyard course. With lots of hard work and brainstorming, we made it happen. The final 18 hole layout was created in early 2021 which means we were able to make this happen in almost a year's time! We still have lots of room for improvement and would like to make an 18 hole B layout as a next step. There are also many improvements that we need to make including relaying our initial tee-pads (more to come on that), continuing to maintain the property, and finding a way to deal with the overgrowth in the wild back third of the course.
The pandemic was an unfortunate situation for everyone in 2020, but this course is one of my favorite things that happened as a result of Covid-19. In the posts to follow we will continue to go through other pieces of the course, do hole breakdowns, talk more about the challenges we faced along the way, and much more. If there are any specific pieces of the process that you would like us to go more in depth on please leave a comment and let us know!