If there is one feature at RSPGL I wish I could change, I think it would be the water hazards. When we are kids and draw golf holes, just about all our favorite creations have a heroic carry over the menacing water. I agree, it is fun to design that, and even more fun to pull it off in real life. But there’s a huge problem when that is applied to actual golf, it’s hard.
Water hazards weren’t put on RSPGL to make it challenging, actually they had nothing to do with golf at all. First off, when you have a relatively flatter site, you need it to drain. By creating lakes, you ensure that surface drainage, makes it’s way to these fabricated low spots. This dries the homesites and playing surfaces. Connecting each of these lakes is either a creek or an underground Weir structure. These structures move water from one lake to the next, that’s why many of them never over flow.
Second reason to make lakes, was to provide a buffer . If houses are to border a golf course, and water is in between the fairway and the homes, it’s reasonable to believe, that balls flying at patios will be reduced. You not only lose your Titleist, your score will inflate. That’s a deterrent.
Third reason is beauty. You can’t deny the view. Whether you are golfer, or a homeowner, people are drawn to the sea. The next closest thing might be a clay lined drainage pond, but it still works. Great wildlife live in and around these lakes, and the property presents better, when you have water.
So now we get back to the golf. Had we not had to do the first three points, this course would not have so many water hazards. Here is my essential problem with water. In our case, you really don’t hit over it much, you essentially play along side of it. Not a problem for good players, but let’s face it, average players don’t always play down the fairway, for some reason they prefer to play along side it. Water is disproportionately harder for the average player.
A Wand For Water Hazards
If I could wave a magic wand, the lakes should have been placed down the middle of the hole corridors. Average players would never have to worry, because they are never in the middle anyway. Good players would have to choose whether to go down the right or the left. They are stimulated enough by the thought, and they have the ability to execute a preferred side. Everyone is happy.
Had we done that, the course would have been out of business in one year, even though it makes perfect sense. The reality is, we are all programmed to see golf a certain way. Anything that deviates from that programming is seen as a problem. Sometimes those deviations would be the best thing for us, but as a herd, we simply cannot accept it.
Take Water In Stride
If I could remove the amount of water hazards I would. Sadly the water actually grows. Erosion takes more and more of the golf course, but I combat that with offering and expanding the widest playing areas in golf, which I told you all about weeks ago. I will paraphrase what Tom Doak said in his Little Red Book, “the purpose of golf is happiness, for those who think it’s about posting a score, I feel sad for them”.
Sure that water takes a few of your golf balls, sure it inflates your score, but there is something about seeing it, playing along side of it, or playing heroically over it that brings happiness. Even as a kid, you knew that’s what it’s all about.