Posted by
The Johnny Lawrence
Member since Sep 2016
1465 posts

Elevation Changes v Good Layouts
I'm realizing more and more that courses with any elevation change automatically go to the top of my "great layout" list

The Bluffs is a prime example. If you lived in an area that had elevation changes at every golf course, would it be an architecturally good layout. I think so, but it's tough to say.

I played the 9 holer in Ferriday a month or two ago and liked it and I'm not 100% it isn't because one of the holes goes slightly downhill off the tee.

How do y'all square whether a course is a good layout, ignoring the elevation changes? Is this how some people think Pebble isn't that great, it's just on the water. i.e. The Bluffs isn't that good, it just has a hill?

Baton Rouge
Member since Aug 2006
23900 posts

re: Elevation Changes v Good Layouts
Better layouts take advantage of natural features and of course the more natural features the better the aesthetics and the better the experience. Of course the course conditions are important as is the individual hole distances, etc.

Look around BR. Back in the day with the equipment available, holes 4-9 at City Par were cool holes.
4 you hit across the RR tracks down into bottom land. Then the second shot was up to a green built into the hill side.
5 was all in the bottoms, and you played over and along a natural bayou/creek. Old oak trees into play too.
6 was in the bottom too. Big oak trees too snd you played up to a green that sat on a ridge. It was a cool set up,
7 was a tee shot from that same ridge and you went back down along the hills. Again you had big oak trees to contend with.
8 was a big rise to a green 210+ yards away all up hill, if was a blind shot. There were no hybrids snd it took a wood or a good 2-3 iron shot to get there. A swale in front of the green didn’t help things.
9 was a big dogleg right. You teed off on the plateau back down the hills into a valley. The green was on a rise in the side of the hill.

These holes were all different and all fun. I always felt that the tight golf architect with proper funding and the ability to get the property there and around the course could have made a truly great layout way back in the day. The terrain is great for golf. You have hills, natural bayou, RR tracks, big lakes, and all the elements.
In 1928 if they would have thought big, built an 18 hole layout using property to the west of the current park too; BR could have had something really special.

I always thought Webb had some interesting holes too, but the Terrion though sloping is not near what City Park has. 1, 2, 4, 7 and 9 took advantage of the terrain. So did 11, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18. The creeks were pretty cool before they lined them with concrete. 15 was better too before they widened the streets and put up the screen. It’s not great but the land wasn’t completely flat and the trees lined each fairway. It’s not like that now though.

Central, LA
Member since Jan 2013
19905 posts

re: Elevation Changes v Good Layouts
I thoroughly enjoyed Vicksburg country club because of the elevation changes

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Righteous Dude
Member since Oct 2017
702 posts

re: Elevation Changes v Good Layouts
Have you ever played Black Bear in Delhi?

For as flat as NE LA is it has more elevation change than you would probably expect. Nothing major, but enough rolling hills that you notice.

On several of the holes you can't see the landing area from the tee box, and one of the par threes (No. 6) has about a 15 foot drop from the tee box to the green.

If you are not used to hitting off side-hill lies it is pretty challenging.
This post was edited on 11/20 at 11:30 am

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South Louisiana
Member since Apr 2011
6616 posts

re: Elevation Changes v Good Layouts
Ive had the good fortune to play all over the country including a lot of courses with severe elevation changes. Some have been great, some have been really goofy. Once you’ve done it enough, you start to realize elevation change doesn’t make for a good course necessarily. I personally think the Bluffs, conditioning aside, is wildly overrated. The “signature hole” par 3 is just ridiculous.

I think relatively flat courses can be just as good or even better without downhill tee shots. It’s all about the strategy and shot value to me. If it’s a great design and it has elevation change, well then that’s great too.

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