Thursday, February 13, 2014

An Homage to Riviera's #10...Sagebrush #13

#13 at Sagebrush

Riviera is once again hosting golf's best and it causes me and many others to think about the Tenth hole. The Tenth hole, has come to embody the drivable Par 4. My partner Richard Zokol loves this hole with all of his heart and soul. Professional golfers, Golf Design aficionados, and virtually anyone that would ever even think about discussing the drivable Par 4 will automatically default to talk of the Tenth at Riviera, the prototypical drivable Par 4. It is "the" drivable Par 4 and everybody knows it.

So, when we, Whitman, Zokol, Suny, were designing Sagebrush and there was an opportunity for a fairly short downhill Par 4,  Zokol wanted to embrace the embodiment of Riviera's Tenth. We didn't want to, nor did the topography allow for a copy of the hole, but the spirit of the Tenth could be captured in a very different aesthetic and topographical environment.

Whitman threw up his arms and told Zokol to figure it out. There was really nothing there for a green site; it all had to be created. Even though the 13th green looks as if it belongs to the property and was always there, it is by far the most manufactured green and surrounds on the course. 

The hole plays downhill at 320, 292, 188, 178 yards and Zokol wanted the layup shot to require a very difficult approach shot to offer significant encouragement to the golfer to drive the green and that the further to the right that the shot was missed the more difficult the recovery shot.

#13 From the Tee

As we talked about the hole and it really all came down to a green and the surrounds which had to be created, I wasn't sure that I was "getting" the vision. And that caused me to get out some modeling clay (plasticine) and sculpt what I thought Zokol was looking for. He loved the model and we gave it to the shaper to build after having hauled a lot of fill into the area. What happened to the model...well, rumor has it that Whitman placed it gently into the irrigation pond.

Take a look at the hole and you'll see that the bunker gets deeper and deeper as you go further right and back. And then the short grass continues to slope away drastically the further to the right and back. All of that with a green the slopes rather smartly from the right to the left with OB to the left of the green.

The scale of this picture that Zokol took of me after he and I finished the bunker with Italian Grape Hoes shows just how much more difficult things get the further right and back you end up.

Did the hole work? Did it capture the essence of Riviera's Tenth? All I can tell you is that a high percentage of golfers attempt to drive the green. In fact, there was a hole-in-one on the 13th by Chuck Kobasew, a right winger for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. We took that as a sign of success.