#61  
Old 04-22-2010, 10:58 PM
johnrhouck johnrhouck is offline
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Originally Posted by billnchristy View Post
John-

Which design element is worse in your eyes:

The "walking trail" fairway
-or-
The "we didn't remove ANY trees" random fairway

Would you consider a course that has a scoring spread of 12-16 strokes for an average player a course with too much luck factor to be considered a good course?
I guess I'm not really sure what you mean with those two terms -- maybe you can flesh them out a little. I'm guessing that "walking trail" refers to a narrow fairway. As for not removing any trees, that can sometimes be a good thing (and a necessary thing, according to the property owners), but I don't think good designers ever strive for randomness.

As for a big scoring spread like that, obviously wooded courses will have bigger spreads than open courses, and average players will normally have bigger spreads than top players. Numbers like that can be very helpful, but they can sometimes be misleading, too. It sounds like maybe you have a particular course in mind?

I'm in no position to condemn a course based just on a scoring spread -- there are way too many other unknown factors. Maybe you can give us a little more information, or better yet a hypothetical example that can reveal a course design principle people will find helpful.

Thanks,
John
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  #62  
Old 04-22-2010, 10:59 PM
johnrhouck johnrhouck is offline
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Originally Posted by All GUNKed up View Post
tell john a bunch of my friends ( the pastor guy) were up at his place a couple of days ago and raved about how he designed the several courses that they played on .
That's great to hear. And they seemed like great guys.

Thanks,
John
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  #63  
Old 04-22-2010, 11:06 PM
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AdamCaudle AdamCaudle is offline
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I now want to be a course designer. Good reads, John!
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  #64  
Old 04-22-2010, 11:24 PM
johnrhouck johnrhouck is offline
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Originally Posted by Three Putt View Post
What is John's view of a forced water carry in a public park setting. By water I'm not talking about a creek where you can reach down and pick up the disc, I'm talking deep or fast-moving water where a disc that does not make it over will be lost.
Like pretty much everyone else, I love good holes with good water hazards. At a public park, I think players always need the option to play safe. If the carry is so long that they won't clear it every time, they need to be able to lay up or go around the water (or play from a different tee). Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't know of a situation where it's appropriate to deprive people of those options.

I also think there is some water that we need to stay clear of, no matter how tempting it is. I've designed courses next to creeks or ponds with steep banks, and it was tough to do, but I had to do the right thing and keep the course away from potentially dangerous areas. If someone can get hurt trying to retrieve a disc, we need to think twice before putting anyone in that situation.

And that doesn't just go for water. It can be any area where people can be hurt trying to retrieve a disc.

Thanks,
John
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  #65  
Old 04-22-2010, 11:29 PM
johnrhouck johnrhouck is offline
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Originally Posted by jongoff09 View Post
Great idea for a thread. I am looking forward to playing Cedar Glades in Hot Springs sometime. I wish he could do a course in or near my hometown (Cabot, AR). The city put in a small course for kids and said they would put a full course in later, but that hasn't happened. Maybe a designer like John would be able to get one put in around here.
Thanks, and I hope you enjoy Cedar Glades. I know there are people who loved it, and there are a couple people who... apparently prefer a different style of course. It's a beautiful park; I'm proud of the work I did there; and Don George from the county was wonderful to work with.

Thanks,
John
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  #66  
Old 04-22-2010, 11:36 PM
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Jukeshoe Jukeshoe is offline
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When designing a course on a piece of land that is half wooded and half open, do you make a conscious attempt to stagger the holes so that the layout doesn't have, for example, the front 9 holes all open and the back 9 all wooded?
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  #67  
Old 04-22-2010, 11:49 PM
johnrhouck johnrhouck is offline
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Originally Posted by DavidSauls View Post
How do you find fairways on heavily wooded, fairly featureless property?

I'm thinking, in this case, of the Jackson Course at IDGC, which may be the only Houck course I've played, and especially the rather level parts of it. How do you visualize an 800' hole when you can only see 80' through the woods? How do you take virtually a blank sheet and come up with a design?

I'm partly responsible for---some might say guilty of---designing one private course, where we could do it one hole at a time over several years and where there were all kinds of cool terrain features we could incorporate. Which is much, much easier. (And made easier by some of your articles I've read on course design).
Another great question. I think being able to see holes in those situations is a skill you need to develop. To be honest, I wasn't very good at it when I started 23 years ago, and I'm sure I can be better still at it.

The first thing I would say is that you're never working with a truly blank sheet. There will be trees you're allowed to cut down and trees that you won't. In any case, we almost always want to minimize the number of trees we remove. So the forest will tell you where you can create good fairways with minimal tree removal.

Being able to see what an area will look like without the small trees takes practice. The other key for me is to use lots of surveyor's tape. I run it across key areas that I think might make good fairways. And sometimes I tape individual trees that I'm hoping to keep (or to remove). That makes it a lot easier to see what's going on. I think I mentioned this technique in my last Disc Golfer article.

You're right that making 800' holes when you can't see very far is tough. That's why some courses (like mine at the IDGC) take me more than 100 hours to design. And that's why it's becoming standard operating procedure for me to come back to the site after the initial clearing, so that I can re-evaluate each hole and "fine tune" it in key spots. I'm very ambitious in this regard, and I'm somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to making great holes. I know other designers don't see it that way, but if a hole is going to have my name on it, I want to spend the time to make it as perfect as I can.

The good news is that, after doing 80+ courses, I can see fairways pretty quickly in areas where they're not so obvious.

Good luck with your course and thanks.

John
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  #68  
Old 04-23-2010, 12:01 AM
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Three Putt Three Putt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnrhouck View Post
If the carry is so long that they won't clear it every time, they need to be able to lay up or go around the water (or play from a different tee).
So how far is that?

We moved a tee at my local course behind a pond. The water carry is nothing, something like 80' maybe. For anybody with reasonable skills the water isn't even a factor. I play with my 9 and 6 year old daughters, and 80' makes the hole unplayable for them. They also can't hit the bail out spot because of the shape of the pond. I think we need another tee in front of the pond, but most of the people I've talked to think I'm crazy because it would make a pretty lousy hole. I think keeping the course playable for kids and new players trumps having a tough hole in a public park.

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out how much of a jerk to be on this one. Basically I'm just trying to gauge how crazy I am.
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  #69  
Old 04-23-2010, 12:10 AM
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Donovan Donovan is offline
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Thanks to everyone for their great questions!

John and Dee,
We will never be able to tell you how much your taking the time do this once in a while means to us.
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  #70  
Old 04-23-2010, 12:21 AM
johnrhouck johnrhouck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peterb View Post
Hi John and Dee. I have been getting into course design out here in the bay area for the past several years. Recently, I have teamed up with some experienced designers to help with the McLaren Park (SF) design. The design has created outrage from neighbors who feel that the course will be a catastrophe on many levels. My question for you is, how do you deal with angry neighbors?
Ah, angry neighbors... let's check the handbook...

First off, I think it's important to always be respectful. They have a right to their opinion, and you'll do better if you hear them out. Sometimes they're a bit misinformed, so if you can calmly educate them, you may just get through. If they educate you, you might be able to help address their concerns (by re-routing the course, putting in trash cans, etc. etc.)

Whenever you can, get them to a basket and have them make a couple putts. I've seen that simple activity turn on light bulbs above many people's heads. Get their kids to try it.

Sometimes it helps to set up some temporary holes and have people play them, so that the neighbors see that disc golf isn't evil and isn't going to ruin the neighborhood. You might even need to hold a couple events using temporary baskets before you can get approval from the naysayers.

I hope that helps a little. I know you guys in SF have had a lot of hurdles, but it sounds like you're making good progress. Please tell my old friend Ross "The Toss" Hammond that I said hi. We played disc together in Buffalo in the late '70's.

Thanks,
John
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