Just the Yolk: What Makes a Great Green?

Evaluating greens and enjoying the 3rd hole at Eagle Springs


Today’s question is from Steve Kap:

There are a number of different ways to develop an opinion on a green. You can focus on the contouring and consider how engaging various putts are. You can step back and contemplate the shaping and hazards around the green, seeing how they tie into the putting surface and test a player’s short game. You can identify the different possible pin positions and ask how much variety they might provide day to day. Or you can look at the green’s overall orientation and think through the strategic questions it poses back to the tee.

But there is a simpler method of evaluating a green that I find myself using the most. After playing a hole, I look back and ask myself, “Would this green be fun to play from any distance?” Say I drop a ball and make it a 30-yard par 3: is it fun? In contrast, would it be fun as the conclusion to a 600-yard par 5? If you ask the same question from a wide range of yardages and the answer continues to be yes, it’s likely a terrific green complex.

A perfect example is the 1st at Eagle Springs Golf Resort in Eagle, Wisconsin. At this family-owned course—the oldest nine-hole course in Wisconsin—the first green is an absolute gem. With a left plateau and a right punchbowl, it has plenty of variety. Although the hole is a blind 300-yard par 4 (and it works exceptionally well as one), the green would be fun to approach from 30 yards to either of the main pinnable areas. Pins in the bowl are gettable, and pins on the plateau are exacting.

It’s a great green on a great little nine-hole course, and any golfers driving by should stop and see Eagle Springs for themselves.

In our Just the Yolk series, we give pithy answers to reader questions. Got a question? Follow us on Twitter at @the_fried_egg or send us an email at contact@thefriedegg.com.