Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Yale's Biarritz Green Revisted

For years, it was assumed that the Biarritz green at Yale Golf Course was designed so that the shelf before and after the swale was meant to be green height, making it the only one that Seth Raynor, Charles Blair Macdonald or Charles Banks designed that way. In all the other cases, the green itself is only the shelf after the trough. Most of the Raynor Biarritz greens I've seen could not have the front portion converted to green height, anyway, owing to their steepness and severity. Some courses like Shoreacres and West Hampton have flat approach areas. Along the way, both of those layouts began mowing the front tier as green.

A few years ago, I called into question the assertion that the entire green complex at Yale's ninth had always been intended to be green after uncovering an article about the Seth Raynor layout.

In the Aug. 18, 1925 issue of the Hartford Courant, an in-depth piece on the new Yale Golf Course included a short detailing of nearly every hole. The ninth is described, in part, this way: "The green proper is behind a deep groove in the approach which is of about the same area as the green. The approach is bunkered heavily on the right and left and the fairway is the lake."

Approach and green are not synonymous, meaning only the back tier was meant to be green. Recently, the Yale courses biggest fan, Geoffrey Childs, uncovered this photo that appears to show the front portion of the complex as approach and the back only, as green.

So, now the question becomes: should Yale return it's Biarritz to the way Raynor designed it? I say, yes. Restoring a golf course -- in this case a great one -- as closely as possible to the intent of the original designer should always been at the forefront of any architectural decision.

I think, it will also add fun to the hole. Players whose shots fail to reach the back tier would have the option of chipping, putting or running their golf balls onto the back, where now putting is the only method.

I have been at the Fishers Island Biarrtiz for hundreds of shots, either as a caddy or a player, and watched successful approaches played with putters, sand wedges, 7-irons and hybrids. I've also seen golfers fail using every single one of those clubs. It's great to watch golfers engage their brains on a shot and not just mindlessly go about the task at hand. Converting the Yale Biarrtz will bring back the element of thought to the already-fantastic ninth hole.

1 comment:

  1. Anthony,

    I liked this post and information related to Yale and the Biarrtiz green. In a few weeks the PGA Tour will be at Greenbrier and I can't remember which hole 3 or 4 or whatever has a biarrtiz green designed by CB McDonald for that par 3.