Port Royal has some breathtaking views. *File photo by Kageaki Smith
Port Royal has some breathtaking views. *File photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, JAN. 13: We continue this week with an in-depth look at common hole designs such as Redan holes, Cape holes, the Biarritz, and the Punchbowl.

Redan

While the word itself was coined to describe the 15th at North Berwick, Redan has come to mean a specific manner of green complex.

Macdonald described it best: “Take a narrow tableland, tilt it a little from right to left, dig a deep bunker on the front side, approach it diagonally and you have a Redan.”

Raynor and Macdonald generally outfitted their Redans with an exaggerated “kick-back” slope in the approach and front section of the green.

Part of the fun of a Redan is watching the ball kick onto the green and roll.

You can try to fly a ball onto a Redan green, but they are usually quite shallow, framed by penal bunkers front and back.

And because they can have a front-to-rear slope of up to five feet, best of luck playing dart-board golf on a Redan.

The 4th at the National Golf Links of America and the 17th at Mid are wonderful examples of the Redan.

It’s important to remember a couple of things about this MacDonald standard

First, Classic Redans play right to left — but they can also be oriented left to right.

In those cases Tucker’s Points 11th is an example of a reverse Redan adaptations.

 Second, vintage Redans were in the range of 190 yards (a strong par 3 in the early days of golf) and work best as long holes where the greens receive lengthy approaches.

The lower trajectory of such shots means the ball rolls more readily when it hits the ground and therefore responds to the Redan’s kick-back grading that is a key element to these golf holes.

Cape

Often modelled on Macdonald’s 5th Hole at Mid Ocean, the Cape hole is all about risk and reward.

Generally playing around a large lateral hazard of some sort, players bite off what they dare.

The more successful the bite, the bigger the reward.

A variety of Cape types exist: The Big Daddy of Capes — the par-4 5th at Mid Ocean — allows for one of the great bite-off drives in all of golf.

Biarritz

Adapted from the “chasm” hole at the original Willie Dunn course in Biarritz, France, this par 3 was an eye-popper from the start. Raynor wasn’t deterred from repeating this standard despite the fact that, early on, it was referred to as “Macdonald’s Folly.”

Why the nickname? Architects of the day were a tad sceptical of a putting surface fully 80 yards long and bisected by a chasm some five feet deep.

Mid Ocean 13th Hole is a wonderful example of this albeit the green is only 50 yards long from its original design.

As with the Redan, the real fun of a Biarritz is watching the ball as it lands on the front portion, starts to roll and disappears into the swale, then reappears (one often hopes) on the back portion.

Biarritz adaptations come in several varieties: The swale and front portion of the green have been grown in as fairway; at Yale and St. Louis, the approach and swale areas are appropriately maintained as putting surface. In most cases, bunkers flank either side of the lengthy green..

Punchbowl

No mystery here: a putting surface shaped like a huge punchbowl — a not uncommon 19th-century design scheme whereby greens were positioned in existing depressions to capture and conserve as much moisture as possible.

Bank’s variations on this theme hinge on the amount of approach or fairway area that’s incorporated into the punchbowl.

The Tucker’s Point variety on No.3 feature punchbowls that are basically green-only, while the National’s punchbowl 16th encompasses a good amount of fairway and approach.

 Be forewarned: The Punchbowl giveth and it taketh away. Hitting one is easy; putting on one can be decidedly difficult. Which is certainly the case at Tucker’s Point.

Eden

Macdonald’s original inspiration for this standard was the 11th at St Andrews: a shallow green with severe back-to-front pitch, fronted by fearsome pot bunkers and framed to the rear by the Eden River.

Tucker’s Point example of the 5th Hole.

Because Banks and Raynor’s work exists today mainly at exclusive, low-profile clubs, it’s not easy to experience the standards and truly appreciate their exquisite variations.

But, for those fortunate enough to familiarize themselves with the classic hole concepts of Macdonald, the rewards are numerous.

Their hearts quicken as they arrive at a course they haven’t played before.

Likely they will wonder, what’s the Redan like here? Or, which is the Punchbowl? And certainly, do you think the Biarritz is all green?

In Bermuda we are very lucky to actually have two wonderful examples of this type of course in Mid Ocean and Tucker’s Point. (Castle Harbour as it was in those days, is Charles Banks last course he built in 1932!)

Repetition, in the right hands, can be a beautiful thing.