Proper Golf

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Duffers Headache

While at Quaker Ridge early this morning I was explaining one of the most important concepts in understanding A.W. Tillinghast design theory and style. Perhaps its worth repeating here...

The Duffers Headache is a term coined by Albert Warren Tillinghast referring to the bunkers and cross hazards often placed in the 100-150 yard range from the tee to collect and punish poor drives and other topped balls (remember it was even harder to get golf balls air born in these days). In the early 1900's this super penal style of architecture was fairly common on many of the early courses built in the US. Tillinghast himself even admits to building a few of them himself early in his career.

As part of his work for the PGA and his enormous list of renovations/consulting visits, most of which occurred on a cross country drive pre-interstate highways, these duffers headaches or "DH's" were a significant target at many of his stops, including on some of his own courses. He wrote plenty on the subject in Golf Illustrated, where he often wrote articles.

Bunkers like this and the over use of cross hazards in general can really take the fun and pleasure out of the game for beginning, less skilled and older golfers. While they offer virtually nothing to a good golfer who wont need to pay attention to it, a golfer who struggles to keep the ball in the air for long distances will be less prone to keep playing the game if he/she is continually beaten up. Duffers headaches are mostly features of the past, but in these days where renovations and historical restorations are in vogue, it is important to make sure this form of hazard stays out for good.

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