Round Out Thy Foursome with a Player of Little Strength and Skill, and Make Their Day Enjoyable

By: Jeffrey D. Brauer

I add a supremely unskilled player to my mythical design foursome, designing so they can all enjoy themselves, even when playing together. We select design features for their flexibility to poor players, hoping they stick with the game long enough to become good ones.

Multiple Tees

We provide four tees (occasionally five on longer courses), accommodating drives of 280, 240, 200 and 160 yards, by combining the eight "typical" golfers into four groups, using the longer in each group and allowing shorter players to land just short of fairway hazards. (What golfer doesn't believe the hazards should begin just beyond their reach?)

We sometimes hide the back tees on early holes behind vegetation or mounds, hoping egotistical golfers inadvertently start and continue play farther forward but closer to where they should than they otherwise might.

Strategic Design

Strategic design shines at challenging good players while being fun and allowing survival for others. We use penal and heroic holes sparingly to provide change of pace. Even poor golfers enjoy some hard holes, finding courses with none to be condescending.

Minimize Forced Carry Shots

Carry hazards are difficult for average players, so we allow a safe route that avoids carry hazards to help their enjoyment. Ideally, you should be able to play the course with a putter, but that is difficult to do with current environmental regulations.

Moderate Hazards

Hazards are like the in-laws: You don't want to stay near either too long! Golfers seemingly accept sideways shots from natural hazards, like trees, or even backwards shots (the stroke and distance penalty) from water, but in sand bunkers, they like a chance of escape, preferably towards the hole.

Sand bunkers rarely trouble good players, but often torment poor ones. The reverse is true of grass hazards, suggesting more use of the latter, especially in areas frequented by average shots. Slightly elevated sand bunkers are more practical because they require shots to "fly" in (typical of better players) and stop shots from rolling into them (typical of poor shots).

Maximum Play Area

Turf is golfer-friendly, punishing "dubbed" tee shots merely by demanding longer second shots, so the more turf the better. However, the trend is actually toward reducing turf in the name of water conservation. Turf limits began in desert climates, where they are practical because enhanced desert areas allow finding and playing balls. Elsewhere, native prairies or woodlands produce too many lost golf balls for enjoyable play.

Future courses will likely have highly maintained primary areas, with outer turf maintained to lesser but still playable levels, and accepting periodic browning.

Minimum Rough

We encourage low turf for fairways and rough. Even short rough reduces backspin and control an adequate penalty without punishing harshly or causing lost balls. For special events, roughs can grow higher in just a few weeks.

A golf course with these features will be popular with a wide variety of players.