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Old 09-22-2018, 07:01 AM
curmudgeonDwindle curmudgeonDwindle is offline
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Default Design Standards

Being a fairly studious type, I often do 'homework' related to golf's history. Here are some quotes from the USA's best regarded and most prolific course designer, a key player in the 'Golden Age of Golf', Donald Ross (while I hesitate to make the direct comparison, John Houck would probably be regarded as a rough, though lagging, equivalent in disc golf, which is not an indictment of Houck, a man whose work I greatly admire. Rather it is an acknowledgement of a man with a far greater reputation and body of work).

More about Donald Ross: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Ross_(golfer)
This wiki doesn't really do him justice, but will serve as a portal for additional information.

Here are some Ross quotes:

My Design Standards
These are my standards for laying out a golf course:
Make each hole present a different problem.
So arrange it that every stroke must be made with a full concentration and attention necessary to good golf.
Build each hole in such a manner that it wastes none of the ground at my disposal, and takes advantage of every possibility I can see.

Greenkeeping versus Club Professionals
Greenkeeping is destined to be a very important and lucrative profession, of really far greater importance to a golf club than the services of a club professional.
We haven't realized sufficiently here yet, but already some of the universities in the east have started special courses of greenkeeping and course maintenance.

For those interested, I urge that before adopting a critical posture toward these quotes, consider what might have made Ross think this way? The second quote is also a nod to those nameless, faceless 'I am thems' who pull the weight for the rest of our indulgences. It also supports my belief that disc golfers should be conditioned to always pay greens fees and expect nothing 'free'.
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Old 09-22-2018, 07:41 AM
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Very nice. Thanks for posting.

For the design standards:
* I love the first point, because it has always been our goal at Stoney Hill. Though the more holes we build, the tougher it gets to find something new.
* The second point is echoed by Houck's "NAGS", which I've found to be one of the most useful of his coined terms and acronyms. Our difficulty with it is the ease of putting---either the almost-sure-thing close range putts, or the layups from beyond putting range.
* Golf designers' advantages on the third point are their resources, and (usually) greater freedom in altering the landscape. Though it's still instructive, to the degree that we can use it.

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Old 09-23-2018, 12:38 AM
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One thing that will probably fundamentally contrast the two forever is that whereas ball golf design has a massive impact on the environment, disc golf design has a drastically smaller impact. A "natural" golf course is a poorly maintained course made out of a cow pasture. The most manicured and man-made disc golf courses are still more natural than most ball golf courses and that's a big part DG's appeal. Never underestimate the ol' Appalachian beauty.

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Old 09-23-2018, 09:20 AM
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Just as in rules, the key is to look at golf, see what aspects we can adopt to make disc golf better, and recognize where we're better off for our differences.

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Old 09-23-2018, 01:16 PM
puttlikeablowfly puttlikeablowfly is offline
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One of the topics on which I have collected a number of books over the years is golf, primarily golf courses and architects / architecture. I believe I have approximately 30 of those, plus some others about players and other golf celebrities. While many of the atlas-type books about courses may include some discussions of architecture, the following books primarily focus on the architects, their designs, and philosophies. Some are about or written by a sole designer, while others offer an overview of many architects.

Golf Course Architecture: Design, Construction and Restoration, by Dr. Michael Hurzdan
Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design, by Geoff Shackleford
Golf by Design: How to Lower Your Scores by Reading the Features of a Course, by Robert Trent Jones, Jr
Golf, As It Was Meant to be Played: A Celebration of Donald Ross's Vision of the Game, by Michael J. Fay
The Course Beautiful: A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design, by A.W. Tillinghast
Bury Me In a Pot Bunker, by Pete Dye with Mark Shaw
Golf Course Designs, by Tom Fazio with Cal Brown
The Spirit of St. Andrews, by Alister MacKenzie
Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design, by Geoff Shackleford (essays by MacKenzie, Dye, Doak, McDonald, Tillinghast, Crenshaw, etc)
The Anatomy of a Golf Course, by Tom Doak
Golf Architecture, by Alister MacKenzie
Nicklaus by Design: Golf Course Strategy and Architecture, by Jack Nicklaus with Chris Millard

Golf Travel by Design: How You Can Play the World's Best Courses by the Sport's Top Architects, by the editors of The Golf Insider

That last one is primarily about courses themselves and how to get to play them, but they are grouped by designer, and each section starts with a couple of pages about the designer. A really nice feature of those intros is a bulleted list that may include things you typically find (or don't find) at this architect's courses, their philosophies, etc. For example, Donald Ross liked to make the first hole easier as a warm-up and use hazards that a golfer can recover from with a good shot; Tom Fazio doesn't like blind shots; Pete (and Alice) Dye make sure there is a short set of tees that takes most forced carry hazards out of play; Tom Doak believes greens should be the focus of the course and dictate how shots are played; Robert Trent Jones Sr loved water hazards; and Stanley Thompson loved to highlight the scenery and natural beauty of his courses, whether by using elevated tees or putting the most prominent natural features right behind the green in the golfer's line-of-sight.

Even if some design aspects of ball golf transfer better to disc golf than others, it's still fascinating to read about the varying philosophies and see how course architecture has evolved over time. If anyone has suggestions for more good books, please share them!

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Old 09-23-2018, 04:42 PM
curmudgeonDwindle curmudgeonDwindle is offline
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@puttlikeablowfly: i'm a big believer in study of the formal aspects, whatever topic suits one's fancy. many of the volumes you mention largely feature heavily technical or agronomic aspects of golf which, as other posters mention, hardly figure in disc golf, if at all. for example, if one even just thumbs through hurzdan's book you can really get an appreciation why they are called 'golf course architects' and not course designers...

one of the best volumes i've ever seen about gc architecture emphasizing the effect on players is a book by desmond muirhead about st. andrews. it's titled simply 'st. andrews'. muirhead is one of my favorites. as he matured in that profession, he took what some might call 'contrivance' to a new level but he was attempting to make the metaphorical nature of golf more overt for the golfer and as one who believes that metaphorical truth often trumps literal truth, his direction is right up my alley. it nothing else considering golf in this context deepens its interest and value for me.

@davidsauls: this posture seems open-minded to me. all to often people see a 'tool' they have no immediate use for, and automatically discard it as if it had absolutely no value. i think they cheat themselves, but we all have our blind-spots. i don't know what 'NAGS' means - point the way...i agree with the 'easy-ness' of dg putting, just think of an 'average' pro golfer who could nail 90+% of his putts from 30' - he'd be almost unbeatable - people wouldn't want to play with him and he'd probably get more hard scrutiny than donald trump...

@brotherdave: there's no argument from me here, but it's important to note your statement didn't come with a 'moral' qualification. for example, the 'massive impact' you speak of can be positive, when frequently others assume it must be negative. there are many examples of golf courses being situated in a watershed, where monitoring later proves the golf course, and how it is being managed, improves water quality...conversely, i'm frequently dismayed at the lack of fore-sight by some dgc designers in either causing or exacerbating erosion problems. at one point, my family had a home and some property in valle cruces, where i'd visit each summer - for me mountains > beach, but i come from tennessee hillbilly stock, so i guess that's a natural...if you've got a couple of million lying around i believe there's an 18-hole golf course for sale in lenoir right now - has a giant clubhouse and everything...maybe a powerball ticket's in order...
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Old 09-23-2018, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curmudgeonDwindle View Post
@davidsauls: this posture seems open-minded to me. all to often people see a 'tool' they have no immediate use for, and automatically discard it as if it had absolutely no value. i think they cheat themselves, but we all have our blind-spots. i don't know what 'NAGS' means - point the way...i agree with the 'easy-ness' of dg putting, just think of an 'average' pro golfer who could nail 90+% of his putts from 30' - he'd be almost unbeatable - people wouldn't want to play with him and he'd probably get more hard scrutiny than donald trump...
.
NAGS = "Not a Golf shot"

Such as when you land, say, 100' from the basket in an open area. You're not really putting at it, and the layup is no challenge.

Or anywhere else where there is little challenge, little skill required, for the shot you're facing.

It's something to avoid in design. We've done it by trial & error. Houck, by experience.
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidSauls View Post
Golf designers' advantages on the third point are their resources, and (usually) greater freedom in altering the landscape. Though it's still instructive, to the degree that we can use it.
^ This. Not to say it hasn't been done, but DG courses simply don't generate the same $$$$ as golf courses, and course designers seldom have the kind of resources that allow much in the way of transforming the property to create features and design elements that aren't already present.

But like Dave said, philosophically, we can still adopt these principles to the degree possible/applicable. Sometimes there are relatively low cost solutions.

Years ago, I realized you don't necessarily have to accept that just because the land is flat, doesn't mean you can't elevate a tee or basket.

It doesn't take much to create a small frame using railroad ties, fill with dirt and gravel and cement in a pin... 2-3 ft of elevation can make a big difference on putts and approaches, especially out in the open if wind is present.

The same principle can be applied (albeit on a somewhat larger scale) for tees. 3 - 4 of
additional elevation can really change a tee shot.

Enhancements like that can really help flat courses from feeling repetitive, and add a nice aesthetic touch to the course when properly done.

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Old 09-23-2018, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by curmudgeonDwindle View Post
@brotherdave: there's no argument from me here, but it's important to note your statement didn't come with a 'moral' qualification. for example, the 'massive impact' you speak of can be positive, when frequently others assume it must be negative. there are many examples of golf courses being situated in a watershed, where monitoring later proves the golf course, and how it is being managed, improves water quality...conversely, i'm frequently dismayed at the lack of fore-sight by some dgc designers in either causing or exacerbating erosion problems. at one point, my family had a home and some property in valle cruces, where i'd visit each summer - for me mountains > beach, but i come from tennessee hillbilly stock, so i guess that's a natural...if you've got a couple of million lying around i believe there's an 18-hole golf course for sale in lenoir right now - has a giant clubhouse and everything...maybe a powerball ticket's in order...
Yeah I intentionally left that out b/c it wasn't relevant to my point, which is ball golf will always have a much bigger man-made impact on the nature than disc golf. With a disc golf course, the green is usually as simple as finding a decently cleared off spot and digging a hole and throwing in a basket. Ball golf, which is way more green-centric, almost always involves major earth moving, different layers of fill brought in, irrigation, etc to create their greens. How that's viewed depends on the person (some think a golf green is pretty, others think a DG green in a natural meadow is pretty, it's subjective) but the human-footprint impact is a fundamental difference between the two. It's actually a big part of many of our common arguments on here, like major DG tourneys on ball golf course layouts.

There's a big difference between these courses and opinions on them and at the heart of it is what I'm talking about, the "natural factor."

This is the San Francisco Open which takes place on a ball golf course. It does a good job of looking/feeling like disc golf b/c there are lots of natural looking terrain used for the DG course:



In contrast here's the Utah Open, also on a ball golf course. It's painfully more obvious this is a ball golf course b/c it basically looks like disc golfers jumped a country club fence and started throwing discs around the golf course. This isn't generally well-received as a good representative of disc golf because it has practically zero "natural factor." Green lawns in the middle of a desert are quintessentially not disc golf. A disc golf course in the desert would like a desert with baskets and tees.



Now this is Tampere Disc Golf Center in Finland. It looks like one of the most ball golf level impact courses that's specifically a disc golf course. Major earth moved for greens, water hazards created, etc. This is probably the most ball golf design influenced disc golf course I've ever seen, it's about as close to looking like a ball golf course without actually being any bolf around. But a lot of the holes retain that "natural factor" by being more traditionally disc golf designed with fairways cut through forests.


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