I’ve said on more than one occasion that the 10th hole at
is the best “designed” holes in golf. The original site was essentially featureless and what makes the hole special was essentially all created by George Thomas and Billy Bell. This makes this a very obvious post Macdonald hole to choose as a new template. Riviera
What we need to do then is breakdown the critical elements are and understand how we can reapply them into a new design.
The essential first point for me is the shot is, or at least appears, makeable from the tee. What reinforces this is the bunkering which essentially frames and therefore “recommends” the wrong line to the green. The player finds themselves compelled to go at the green.
Anyone who has seen the hole knows that green makes the hole special. It begins with a strong diagonal which remains in play unless the lay-up is almost picture prefect back and to the left or very close to the green. The diagonal essentially makes the target area smaller because it removes the “corners” of the green since the green begins to get too small in these locations to receive any ‘planned” shot. Since the green is long and narrow the margin for error is small. When you take into account the area of the green that runs away from play, the margin for error is almost nil and that is why it’s a great short hole.
The green is receptive, but in small tight areas surrounded by trouble. What complicates the approach is the fact the green is deceptively slopped away from play in a couple of crucial points. The most important of these is the front left where the seemingly safe pin is set on a slight knoll since all grades run away to the sides. The safe play is to this area, but the approach is delicate and so is the recovery shot since its all uphill to the pin and downhill once on top. Once again the margin for error is quite high once the green speeds are up.
The fascinating aspect of the hole is that it goes against your logic centre. We all know that the longest way to the hole, and least obvious route, is clearly the most effective way to play the hole. But George Thomas has overloaded the senses with information to clearly showcase all the other routes. And we all simply “can’t help ourselves” and chase the more aggressive path.
So how do I use this template?
It is an obvious short four that literally could be quite literally replicated. But as an architect you would like to think you have more creativity than that. One new twist that is available is this template does not have to be part of a short four. This could easily be used as the second half of a par five too. There are other possible twists that could involve natural features for the bunkers and even a twist and turn on the diagonal lines to create something slightly different. Even some ground contour would add a unique and interesting spin on the original too.