Frustrating Course Features
By bkuehn1952 on 9/29/10
We asked for readers to send in blog posts- and Brian Kuehn didn't disappoint. He has now contributed 4 articles to oobgolf! You can read the other 3 here, here, and here.

While playing a recent round I started to think about irritating golf course characteristics; you know - certain course elements that are irritating or seem overly punitive. The following is a list of architectural features that occasionally present themselves to golfers during a round and which I find obnoxious. While everyone has likes and dislikes depending on their game, my suspicion is that many of the following may be on other Oober’s lists.

Long Lay-Up Holes – So what do I mean by this? An example best illustrates my problem. A local course has a 430 yard par 4. A pond sits 230 yards off the tee. If one flies a straight tee ball in excess of 300 yards, it is possible to hit driver on this hole. Most of us are forced to hit a shot somewhere around 200 to 220 yards. Anything over 225 is likely to roll down the slope to the pond. Left and right is either forest or OB so one can’t go around the hazard. A hole that is 430 yards is going to take 2 pretty good shots from most of us. Placing an obstacle to force one to hit a drive less than their best overly penalizes a distance-challenged player such as me.

Trees in the Middle of the Fairway – Hey, I like trees as much as the next guy. Just don’t leave one smack dab in the center of the fairway 230 yards out. Sure, big hitters will just blow their tee ball over the tree. However many of us are going to find a tee ball down the middle results in a sideways punch-out.

Obstructed Fairways – I hate it when I manage to squeeze my tee ball into a fairway only to discover I have no second shot. I am not talking about failing to clear a dogleg; my problem is hitting the left (or right) side of the fairway only to discover an over-hanging tree has me completely stymied. Make the fairway narrower or trim the tree, just don’t penalize me when I do manage to hit the fairway.

No Bailout Area – Who hasn’t faced one of these holes? Typically it is a par-3 or the approach to a long par-4. Fronting and to the right is a steep banked pond, left or long is dense woods. So where exactly am I supposed to hit my hybrid if I can’t feather it on to the green from 185 yards? Give me an option if I do not hit the shot perfectly – long, short, left or right. Perfect or a penalty is too severe.

Blind Shots – Older courses often have blind tee and/or approach shots. That is acceptable on a limited basis. Overall, however, blind shots slow play and often unduly penalize a player. First one must go forward to make sure the hole is clear. Once clear, everyone needs to walk forward to line up their shot. Once the shots have been made, everyone most now locate their ball unless the blind shot was perfectly played on to the fairway or green. This all takes a lot of time, not to mention the difficulty of hitting a shot without a target.

Poorly Marked Hazards – Many lateral water hazards have steep banks running down to the water. Unless the course marks the hazard at the top of the bank, the point of relief (2 club lengths) often is on a 60 degree slope. Okay, I hit the ball into the water and I deserve a 1 stroke penalty. Is it really necessary for me to hit my next shot with the ball 3 feet above my feet? Isn’t that kind of like giving me a two stroke penalty?

Immovable Yardage Posts – I do not own a GPS so yardage markers are desirable. However, don’t plant some 5 foot long 4 x 4 in concrete at the 200, 150 and 100 yard position. One is allowed relief from these posts for swing and stance but not line-of-flight. There are enough trees and bushes obstructing my next shot, I do not need a 4 x 4 post six feet in front of me.

Every course is going to have its quirks. Variety is the spice of life as the saying goes. A blind tee shot or the occasional tree in the fairway is not going to ruin my round. However, throw enough of these elements at me and the course is not going to get a lot of my money in the future.

So what course features frustrate you the most?


This was written by Brian Kuehn, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

photo source


[ comments ]
Kurt the Knife says:
What frustrates me the most?

the size of the holes.
The distances from the tee.
All the crap they put in the way.

Yep, 'bout sums it up.
9/29/10
 
mjaber says:
There is one course I play on occasion that annoys me. It's a par 72, so there are 4 par5's. 3 of them are right-angle dogleg/blind tee shots. The dogleg on all 3 is less than 200 yards from the tee. Any attempt to clear the trees and cut the corner results in a lost ball in the woods, unless you hit a perfect high-hook (not a draw, a hook). The one caveat is that if you can hit a perfect, straight tee ball, and can determine the correct line to the green, one of them is actually drivable, though you'll never know it until you get there.

The other thing that frustrates me... 200+ yard par3. I get that there are players who can hit from that distance on a par3 and have a good chance of hitting the green. I'm an average weekend player. I play from the white tees. I rarely hit a par5 in 2. I don't have a 200 yard club in my bag, except my driver.
9/29/10
 
MartinCooke says:
@majber ditto. i'm annoyed by 200+ par 3's. i also play from the whites and usually look forward to picking up some strokes on a par 3. but when i have to lay up cause i can't be confident my driver will actually go straight, i usually end up losing a stroke instead.
9/29/10
 
homermania says:
Fossil Trace in Golden Colorado has huge rock formations, some twenty feet tall, smack dab in the middle of some fairways. Cool looking feature, but you can easily be penalized for great drives. Now that was annoying.
9/29/10
 
jev says:
So, you want a straight, preferably concrete course that doesn't test your skills? Nah, golf should challenge you to think, not only hit long and straight.
9/29/10
 
Jattruia says:
For some reason, I really hate par 3 finishing holes.
9/29/10
 
Banker85 says:
i am mostly with jev on this one. makes it more interesting.
9/29/10
 
Banker85 says:
oh ya... you called it mustache ride. I HATE PAR 3 finishing holes so boring blah.
9/29/10
 
rmumph1 says:
Would it be far to say the slope and rating system accounts for these little features that make a course harder than another? I agree that it can be frustrating to hit under a tree while still in a fairway, but I guess we should have hit it away from the tree. Long Par 3's do make me mad though.
9/29/10
 
carv712 says:
I'm on board! Blind shots suck. A local course (Butter Valley) has a 270 yard downhill par 4 the problem is that the first 50 yards are a bit uphill so the tee shot is blind. The back and sides of the green drop off 30 ft into waste areas. So long is dead, left is dead, right is dead, and the course is built on shale so in the summer unless your waaaaaay short, then short is usually dead or completely unpredictable (ie I hit a 5 iron it caught the steep angle of the downhill fairway and the ball ended up over the green.)
9/29/10
 
Kickntrue says:
for me- it's not so much a "Feature" as much it is bad management of the course- but i hate pins in impossible positions, especially for regular play. there is a course i play in MD where the green slopes from right to left- down a hill- and they would put the pin on the slope. it was like mini golf... you either make it- or the ball rolls the whole way back down.
9/29/10
 
wrhall02 says:
I agree with @mjaber, leave the 200+ yard par 3's for the experts and/or pros.

But Brian's list is that applicable to me. It's actually pretty hard for me to get annoyed at any course feature. Players will annoy me at times...but not the course features.
9/29/10
 
GolfSmith7 says:
I dislike ending on a par 3's, 200+ yard par 3's and over hanging trees after hitting the ball on the fairway, other than that I love a challenge. The course I currently play doesn't have flat fairways its all wavy so that's a cool challenge even after hitting a great drive.
9/29/10
 
TravisMiller says:
The only time some of these features annoy me is when I fail to recognize them because I don't know the course. The other day I played a course where it was a dogleg left and I hit 220 yards to the center of the fairway and come to find out if I would have hit 180 I would have a clear shot across the dogleg through a clearing to the green or if I would have hit 250 I would have a clear shot on the leg to the green; however, my 220 left me with trees in direct line between me and the green so on this par 4 I had to lay up short and to the right on my second shot.
9/29/10
 
TravisMiller says:
But once I play a course I enjoy the challenges and take the course as it because I enjoy the game.
9/29/10
 
MeatheadNC says:
I happened to be playing a course where wood posts mark the 200/150/100 markers, and I hit a smoking hot drive that caught the 150 post dead center, which shot my ball back toward me at least 75 yards... now that was annoying. I do appreciate that I could easily find the distances though, I hate when the course doesn't use yardage markers throughout the fairway. I really like it when all of the sprinkler heads are marked.
9/29/10
 
homermania says:
I second Andrew's comment about impossible pin locations. Especially when you a ball rolls up to the hole, stops, then runs 10, 20 away. That makes me so mad!
9/29/10
 
askarzy says:
I agree with kickntrue, poor management of the course is what bothers me the most.
9/29/10
 
Shane1 says:
From your criticisms, you're better off hitting balls on the range.....
9/29/10
 
Bryan K says:
I hate long holes in general. Long lay up holes are not so bad because I like holes I have to manage. But one of the courses I play semi-regularly has a 460 yard par 4 with no room for error off the tee. And that's from the forward tees.

I love trees in the middle of the fairway as long as I know that I have to worry about them off the tee. It's when they put patches of rough in the middle of the fairway...or worse yet, sand traps right where the ball is going to land on a perfect tee shot. That drives me crazy.

And I hate long forced carries.
9/29/10
 
Bryan K says:
I just thought I'd reiterate my thoughts on long layup holes. If I get to a 420+ yard par 4, I'm not going to hit the green in regulation very often. In fact, if I'm 200+ out, I have to lay up my second shot anyway unless there is absolutely no trouble around the green. So I'd rather have the course dictate to me where and when to take my layup shot than having to make a tough decision that might not be the right decision.

What I hate is when I hit a layup shot and put it in the hazard anyway.
9/29/10
 
cph2133 says:
No issue with 200+ par 3s. That makes it fun.

I hate ending on par 3s though. It almost seems as if the designers were like "oh shoot, we are almost out of space and need 2 more holes."
9/29/10
 
elhacker says:
When you play the course a second time it should no longer be blind. Keep a notebook handy and jot down yardages and aiming points. Takes the blind right out of it. Now if I only practice what I preach. Nahhh I'd still suck.
9/29/10
 
GolfSmith7 says:
I feel bad when players can no longer reach greens in regulation even from the forward tee's. It reminds me that one day I will be, either that much older or unable either b/c of injuries to do so. Where I play there is this couple who takes about 8-10 shots to get to the green on par 4's. What's amazing is that they hit everything straight and the swing looks decent just age has robbed them of being able to play. I Thank God that I can reach distance wise most greens that are under 500 yards in two must of the time accuracy is a different subject.
9/29/10
 
falcon50driver says:
I've never heard of a par 3 finishing hole. Can someone give an example of one I'd be interested in seeing that.
9/29/10
 
GolfSmith7 says:
@Merlin2driver The texas a&m course finishes on a 200+ par 3 you can check it out on the course finder.
9/29/10
 
JuKu says:
The Tour Championship ended on a rather dramatic, 200+ par 3. :-)

I hate when there is a feature not visible on the tee that affects the play plan. For example, a local course has a par5 which has a severe left to right slope about 80 to 140 yards from the green, with a bunker on the right. Now, it is ok and interesting for the architect to make it so, that if I lay up to ideal distance, I should do it with a draw, otherwise it rolls to an unoptimal angle to the green or maybe even in a bunker. But when playing it the first time, it was frustrating to hit right into a spot I wanted, only to come over the hill, see the slope and find the ball in the bunker. Kind of na-na-na, got you!
9/30/10
 
TravisMiller says:
Trees in the fairway I have not seen but I don't think they would bother me as much because I play a lot from the rough!
9/30/10
 
Jattruia says:
Finishing par 3 example would be Manchester CC in Manchester CT. Great course, except for back-to-back par 5s on both the front and back, and that finishing par-3. It's a really tough hole too, long, downhill with water long and left, the parking lot right and a tiered green. I hate it.
9/30/10
 
cjgiant says:
@kickentrue - not sure if you're talking 3rd at worthington, but that whole green is one big slope!

My home cours has one hole that us a combination of 3-4. The tee shot seems open, but overhanging trees make th fairway more narrow than it really is. Then the green is a 10-yard deep peninsula. There is small bailout right, but trees block that also.

I guess I'm in the minority that I don't mind ending par 3s. But I agree with most that I'd prefer a course where I am made aware of hole features. Either a free yardage book or a sign that says 230 to hazard on the tee are nice items to have.

The "feature" I hate most probably falls into management a little. It's inconsistent sand. And hey, I get I am in a hazard, but in most cases the inconsistency is not a design choice. It's frustrating because it is such a different swing if you know there is no sand versus knowing there is an adequate amount for a blast shot (and we all know we're not allowed to test the condition).
9/30/10
 
Bryan K says:
The Dakota Winds Casino course near Hankinson, ND is an example of a long par three finishing hole. The saving grace, though, is the fact that there are three par 3's and three par 5's on the back nine. I love that setup.
9/30/10
 
Banker85 says:
i like that setup too bryan: a course i play and won two scarmble tournaments on has a setup like that. front nine is par 4, par 4 then it goes, 5,3,5,3,5,3,5 for a par 37. love it.
9/30/10
 
windowsurfer says:
One-trick ponies: courses that take one noticeable difficulty feature -- holes with trees in the fairway, severe tiered greens, blind tee shots -- and repeat it to death. Seems like an avoidable design flaw, not a "signature".

Caveat: hi-end tracks with GPS in the cart (or caddies) can pull off sh*t that lesser courses dare not. At least, that's what I've heard ;-)
9/30/10
 
TimmyBede says:
Greens that are shaped like upsidedown bowls. So frustrating trying to hold the green from anywhere. I played a course like that in PA and I will never go back.
9/30/10
 
dpoimboeuf says:
All things in Moderation I say. The occasional blind shot adds variety to the round. I played The Tribute in TX recently, and one of the holes featured at tee shot that played over the crest of a hill. The yardage book gave insight to your target line, so when you pulled it off and came over the hill to see your ball in perfect position, it made for a memorable shot. The key to the blind shot in my opinion is a generous landing area, and/or a target to focus on. The road hole at St. Andrews is a great example of this. I played the Tribute's version of it, and it was a lot of fun. A tree in the fairway is the same thing. In my opinion, it adds strategy to the hole. If your approach is blocked by the tree, then obviously, you didn't hit your tee ball to the appropriate spot. The "middle" of the fairway isn't always desirable. Now with that said, I wouldn't want trees in every fairway. The 200 yard par-3 can be done correctly. Ideally it would be down hill, with a large green with an open front.
9/30/10
 
dpoimboeuf says:
I would agree with shorter par-3's in general though. Bobby Jones said they should be a test of accuracy, not power.

My pet peeves are courses with no reachable Par-5's, and courses where Out of Bounds and potential lost balls off the tee are common. There is nothing that slows down the game more and makes it more frustrating and less enjoyable than searching for lost balls. A great golf hole in my opinion is one where you can make one mistake, and still make par if you pull off a great recovery. Unless it's a drivable Par-4, or a reachable Par-5, it's almost impossible to do that hitting 3 from the tee box.
9/30/10
 
Shane1 says:
What about other items that you think a course should have but doesn't? For example, paying $80-120 in green fees only to have a cart that doesn't include GPS. Seriously? I get some stimulis money and upgrade the fleet...claim it's for environmental protection of wildlife or some other BS....
9/30/10
 
Swingem says:
@Kickntrue - agreed about pin placements, but sometimes the greens-crew starts drinking early, What are ya gonna do? We have a tournament at my home course every year where the settup is intentionally brutal. Tee's as far back as they can get, pins placed on the slope between teirs etc.. Scratch players are lucky to break 100. It's a hell of a lot of fun. What I hate are poorly designed holes. At another course close by, the 18th is a 3-wood off the tee (driver goes through the fairway into creek or woods), no second shot to the green is possible. A good second across the creek still leaves 180-200 back across the creek to the green. It's just a stupid hole.
9/30/10
 
Duke of Hazards says:
I also agree w/ the 'mini-golf' pin placements where it's on a steep slope and rolls back down if you don't hole it. That sucks hard.
9/30/10
 
cjgiant says:
@Shane - I think all courses (in my area at least) should have rain guards on back of carts. Hopefully you don't need them but they are so handy when it does rain, even if they are not perfect.
9/30/10
 
LongTimeAway says:
Growing up, I played a pitch and putt type muni course with some really odd features that I remember to this day. The second hole was a blind uphill par 5 with at least a 40 foot drop behind the green. That hole was best played by banging the ball off the maintenance shed to the right front of the green. Strange, but true. The fourth hole was a downhill par 4. Everything in the fairway funneled to the fairway bunker in the middle of the fairway. I am not sure that I ever missed that bunker. (It did get me over any fear of long bunker shots.) The sixth hole was a short par 4 with a creek in the front, sharp downhill lie left and sharp uphill lies with out bounds to the right and back. And of course it had a ridge where some sick groundskeeper loved putting the hole. It was next to impossible to miss and keep the ball within 3 feet of the hole on that ridge. Funny thing is that the course overall was an incredibly easy pushover. I just had a few odd features.
9/30/10
 
falcon50driver says:
Thanks for pointing out the courses with the finishing par 3s, It was interesting to look at them. I've never played one. One of the hardest holes in our area is 18 at Belle Oaks. It's a par 4, only 361 yards from the white tees, but because of overhanging trees in the landing area, and a pond in front of the green, you must place your drive in an area 220 to 240 yards downrange on a fairway only 50 yards wide to have a chance at the green. Double bogie is very common there. Can't resist, I've got to brag a little. I made Eagle there once with a 115 yard second shot.
9/30/10
 
Sparker1969 says:
even though it's been thirty years since I played a course with it: Bermuda grass

forced carries of 150 yards of water, sand, shark infested brambles etc.

long distances from the greens to tees

no walking allowed

tilty tees

for my level of play, no tee between 6000-6500 yards
10/1/10
 
Bryan K says:
lol...tilty tees. I assume you mean tee boxes that aren't level. That happens to be a peeve of mine as well especially when I'm hitting my driver.
10/2/10
 
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