Expanding the Greens
“Ball Golf” course superintendents have a morning ritual. At sunrise they dig out the cup on every hole and relocate it to another part of the green. This ritual does a couple of things: it keeps the grass around the pin from getting worn out, and it gives players a different putting experience each day. Maybe yesterday an approach that landed in the middle of the green had a short straight up-hill putt. Today the same upshot may leave you with a curving downhill tester.
For great tournaments like The Masters, course designers will typically challenge players on the final day of the tournament with torturous hole locations and crank up the “risk/reward” factor. To get that birdie a player will need to risk a carry over a water hazard onto a sloping section of the green. This makes for compelling television and insures the winner has passed a stern test of skill and nerves.
The New England Disc Golf Center has embraced this concept by buying a bunch of extra basket sleeves and mounting them in alternate locations on the Spoonwood Ridge greens.
The par four hole one is a great example. The original and still “primary” basket location is in a flat open spot “up the hill” from a landing area, a 480’ birdie run for the pros playing the white tees, and a not too difficult 399’ par for a rec player who can keep it in the fairway.
The new “alternate” location backs things up 60 or 70 feet into a smaller clearing, with the basket protected by a couple of tall yellow pines. This alternate basket location puts a greater premium on making an outstanding upshot to get that birdie opportunity. Anything less will not cleanly reach the smaller clearing, making birdie unlikely.
The alternate baskets create some interesting upshots on many of the holes. Hole 13 alt is pushed back 80’ or so and takes both power and placement to get a birdie opportunity. On the par 3 15th, the alternate location puts the basket back up on a little ridge… juice that birdie putt a little too much and risk a roll-away.
The fun part of this is the course designers can periodically mix up basket locations, making each round you play on Spoonwood Ridge a little bit different that will challenge both your physical throwing skills and your strategic decision making.
Just be sure to take note of the basket location on the tee signs BEFORE you throw.