Golf Course Architecture - Issue 70, October 2022

hole in the history of strategic golf course design.” Up the road at Swinley Forest, architect Colt designed the home hole to favour an approach from the left side, close to the course boundary and, over it, the house built for himself by club founder Alexander Davey – the alignment of the bunkers protecting the green shows clearly that Colt intended the best line of approach to be close to the fence. Sadly, Swinley has, to protect the course from balls going off its property, had to remove Colt’s strategic choice by building a bunker and growing rough up the left side. Which illustrates the problem, in today’s age, with the strategic use of out of bounds. Even if golfers are prepared to risk the penalty for tangling with the OB (which they mostly are not), golf clubs cannot afford to ask them to do so, because the risk of balls f lying over the boundary line and hitting some neighbour or passer-by, with the consequent likelihood of expensive legal action, is just too risky to countenance. “A course has to have edges, but OB is mostly a question of safety these days,” says Australian architect Neil Crafter. “What is on the other side of the OB stakes? Roads? Houses? Farmland or scrub? These days there’s no luxury in using OB as a strategic hazard. Sadly it’s a thing of the past. It can have severe strategic impacts like the last few holes on the Old course.” “OB is better to be avoided where possible in my opinion,” says Frenchbased English architect Stuart Hallett. “However, I think a straight line, fence, rail track, or other is better, clear and fair whatever distance you hit it. There’s nothing worse than a jagged line, leaving doubts about, in or out. If it’s strategic then it needs to be crystal clear and menacing.” American architect Jay Blasi is not generally a fan either. “I hate the idea of OB – I feel if you can find your ball anywhere you should be able to play it,” he says. “That isn’t always practical but many courses define OB inside of their actual property boundary, which I think sucks.” That said, Blasi is prepared to consider the strategic use of OB on a boundary line. “If you have a property boundary and can safely use it as a strategic element then I’m all for it,” he ref lects. “Put the golf right against it. Probably is best for half par holes like short par fours of fives. And, because of the lack of recovery options, it is probably best to use it in the middle “ The fourth at Woking has long been considered the birth of strategic golf design” A railway line defines the right side of Woking’s famously strategic fourth Photo: Jason Livy Photography OUT OF BOUNDS 49