7/4/17

The Templates: The Redans of Macdonald, Raynor, and Banks

A history and analysis of the Redan template holes built by C. B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, and Charles Banks

by

History

The original Redan hole is the 15th hole at North Berwick Golf Club in Scotland, designed by Ben Sayers. Many consider the Redan to be the best par-3 design in golf. It’s a phenomenal design because of the options it gives golfers of different skill levels. Birdies, pars and big numbers can be had by great players and average players alike.

Characteristics

Redan holes typically range from 180-215 yards and feature a 45 degree right-to-left angled green that is protected by a deep bunker that runs along the left side of the green. Redan and Reverse Redan greens (same concept with the opposite angle) carry a great deal of slope that typically runs toward the bunker and from the front of the green to the back. An easy way to spot a Redan is by their defining shoulder or hump on the right side of the green, which will help funnel balls towards the middle. Traditional Redans also typically feature a short bunker and a bunker behind the sloping shoulder to penalize wayward shots. Finding the back bunker means that a par save is highly unlikely. The obvious bailout position is short and right of the green, but that will leave a challenging pitch that is heavily influenced by slope. The best place to bail is long and left which will leave an uphill chip back to the pin.

The Original Gangster, the 15th at North Berwick, is where Macdonald and so many other architects drew their inspiration. North Berwick’s Redan, which was based on a military fortification, set the tone for all of the other versions to come. The green slopes heavily from right to left and front to back and is guarded by extremely deep bunkers on the left side as well as long and right. An ideal miss is long as it leaves an uphill chip shot back to the pitched green.

Country Club of Charleston – 11th – 177 yards

Home to perhaps the most intimidating version of the redan hole is the Country Club of Charleston. Host of the annual elite Azalea Amateur field and the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open, the 11th strikes fear in the game’s most talented players. The tee box is built on an old Revolutionary War outpost and sits slightly above the green. The reverse redan’s slope is one of the most severe in all of golf and leads to some players attempting to escape with a bogey. The wisest play is long right to give a chip up the slope to the hole. A miss long left almost guarantees bogey, or worse.

Chicago Golf Club – 7th – 207 yards

The 7th at Macdonald and Raynor’s Chicago Golf Club stretches to 207 yards and calls for a precise long iron shot that moves from right to left.  A shot that lands on the right shoulder will funnel back to the middle of the green. This is one of the most pronounced and severe Redan holes to be found. Some consider it the best rendition of the hole in the world.

National Golf Links of America – 4th – 195 yards

Those who don’t think that Chicago Golf’s is the best typically consider NGLA’s the the greatest Redan hole in golf. Macdonald found a breathtaking spot for this rendition, and build many bold features into the 4th at NGLA, including a large right to left slope and an extremely deep bunker. Beyond the magnificence of the hole’s architectural features, it has a stunning setting.

Shoreacres – 14th – 185 yards

Designed by Seth Raynor, the 14th is a dramatic Redan hole as evidenced by the deep bunker guarding the green and the large shoulder along the right side. This version is unique because of the ravine that Raynor was able to use as an added penalty for a left shot. A shot played short and to the right leaves a player with an awkward chip that will be heavily influenced by the shoulder on the right. A poor shot runs the risk of rolling into the  greenside bunker.

Fox Chapel Golf Club – 6th – 192 yards

At Fox Chapel Golf Club outside of Pittsburgh, Raynor employs a reverse redan for the 6th hole. The hole mirrors the 14th at Shoreacres except the green angles from left-to-right rather than right-to-left.

The tee shot into the Reverse Redan 6th at Fox Chapel

Camargo Club – 15th – 192 yards

Seth Raynor’s Cincinnati classic has one of the best Redan holes in golf, the 15th which stretches to 192 yards. Notice how well Raynor is able to use Camargo’s rolling terrain to his advantage, blending the 15th hole perfectly into the natural terrain.

The tee shot into Raynor's elegantly set Redan at Camargo

St. Louis Country Club – 16th – 185 yards

At C.B. Macdonald’s Saint Louis Country Club, another Reverse Redan can be found on the 16th. While Macdonald always preferred a right-to-left Redan, here the natural terrain called for a left-to-right sloping green. This hole’s slope isn’t quite as pronounced as some of his others but is a splendid design that requires a player to execute a left-to-right shot to get the ball close.

Sleepy Hollow Country Club – 7th – 217 yards

The 7th at Sleepy Hollow is a beautiful downhill Reverse Redan that plays a stiff 217 yards. While this Redan’s shoulder isn’t as pronounced as others, it it can play tougher in the modern era as the back left bunker is much more in play. A shot from there is very challenging to get up and down.

The downhill tee shot to Sleepy Hollow's 7th - Photo Credit: The Bausch Collection at MyPhillyGolf.com

Greenbrier “Old White” – 8th – 234 yards

The Redan at C.B. Macdonald’s only public access course is a dandy. The natural topography is ideal for this template. A wise player will keep their shot towards the right as the green is guarded front-left by the deepest bunker on the course. Old White’s Redan is one of the few that plays to the original intention of the hole with its yardage which requires a low running shot.

Shinnecock Hills – 7th – 189 yards

A little history lesson for Shinnecock’s Redan. After C.B. Macdonald designed the neighboring National Golf Links, he and Seth Raynor were enlisted to redesign Shinny. The course was subsequently redesigned again by William Flynn, who removed many of Macdonald and Raynor’s changes. One that made the cut was the Redan hole. Flynn did alter the green raising it, which made it more severe than it was originally. This hole is nasty thanks to the tee box being moved right. The green has heavy slope from front to back and requires perfection.

Macdonald and Raynor's Redan on the 7th at Shinnecock Hills - Photo Credit: Jon Cavalier @linksgems

Fishers Island Club – 2nd – 172 yards

Seth Raynor’s seaside masterpiece, Fishers Island, features a Redan hole early in the round. This one is a bit shorter than a typical Redan hole and has the added water element short of the green to play with a player’s mind.

Fishers Island Club – 12th – 389 yards – par 4

Fishers Island also has a two-shot Redan. The par-4 12th, features a Reverse Redan green that makes for a vexing short par four. Players have to approach the challenging green complex from a myriad of uneven lies. The putting surface also features a subtle knoll in the back half that creates a small added challenge.

The Course at Yale – 13th – 213 yards

The 13th at Yale is a beautiful downhill Redan at one of Seth Raynor’s best designs. At 213 yards, it still calls for a relatively long approach but the downhill makes this version play a little bit shorter.

The course at Yale 11th – par 4 -379 yards

Yale is also home to a two-shot reverse-redan, the short par 4 11th. The downhill tee shot forces a decision, layup short of the fairway’s center roll or hit driver over it. Laying up short leaves a shot of over 150 yards while an aggressive driver leaves an awkward short wedge shot to the fallaway green. Players who find the roll in the fairway will face a lie on an upslope or downslope. The 11th at Yale is a wonderful strategic golf hole that is often overlooked.

High above the 11th at Yale shows the fairway feature that forces players hands.

Behind the short par 4 11th at Yale.

The Creek Club – 8th – 185 yards

Macdonald built a beautiful Reverse Redan at Long Island’s The Creek Club. A good mid-iron shot with a high cut is the ideal tee ball into the left-to-right sloping green.

Lookout Mountain Golf Club – 13th – 203 yards

Seth Raynor build another interesting Redan at Lookout Mountain. The 13th has all of the core features of a redan with the deep front bunker as well as the short framing bunker. The hole plays slightly downhill and features treacherous bunkers. The combination of the slope and mountain pull make putting a challenge at the 13th.

The view from the right of Raynor's Redan 13th at Lookout Mountain

Mountain Lake Country Club -11th – 160 yards

The Redan 8th from Seth Raynor’s beautiful central Florida course Mountain Lake features a dramatic sweeping right-to-left slope that influences shots hit on the right side of the green. The slope of the 8th has to be seen to believed – it’s truly remarkable. While Mountain Lake’s is shorter than your typical Redan hole, the bold shaping makes up for the lack of distance.

From the tee on Mountain Lake's 8th, with front bunkers menacing

A closer look reveals the scale and slope of this Redan

Yeamans Hall – 6th – 190 yards

One of the best Seth Raynor designs is the exclusive Yeamans Hall in Charleston, South Carolina. Back pin positions are particularly nasty on this rendition.

The tee shot on the Redan 6th at Raynor's lowcountry gem - Photo Credit: Jon Cavalier

A historical photo of the shoulder slope on this Redan

Southampton Golf Club – 7th – 212 yards – par 3

A fine representation of the Redan template is at the oft-overlooked Southampton Golf Club. The club flies under the radar thanks to its high-profile neighbors NGLA and Shinnecock Hills. What makes Southampton’s Redan hole special is the bold slope from right-to-left and front-to-back.

The view from the behind the green at Southampton's 7th

Blue Mound Golf and Country Club – 1st – 398 yards – Par 4

Unlike most on his Redans, the opener at Seth Raynor’s Blue Mound is a two shot hole. It is an interesting take on template because, placing a premium on the position of the tee shot. While this hole has changed significantly due to modern technology, imagine hitting a long-iron shot into this par-4 green as opposed to a short-iron or wedge. A demanding start to the round.

The approach into Blue Mound's Redan opener

Blue Mound Golf and Country Club – 13th – 185 yards

Blue Mound’s par-3 version of the Redan hole is a beauty that plays downhill. The green has considerable slope from right-to-left and front-to-back making short putts extremely challenging. Just as with the par-4 1st, this gorgeous Redan has been changed by technology as players can now hit a mid-iron approach rather than a long-iron.

The view downhill from the tee on the 13th at Blue Mound

This look from wide left of the green gives perspective on the scale of the green slope

Forsgate Country Club – 7th – 217 yards

A Charles Banks design, Forsgate has great template holes including the 7th, their Redan hole. The 7th is a Reverse Redan, and the longer yardage demands a shot with a longer club, as Macdonald intended with this template.

The long-iron tee shot at the 7th at Charles Banks' Forsgate - Photo Credit: The Bausch Collection at MyPhillyGolf.com

Behind the 7th green at Forsgate, with its significant slope - Photo Credit: The Bausch Collection at MyPhillyGolf.com

Hackensack Golf Club – 12th – 194 yards

The bold Charles Banks design in Emerson, New Jersey features a wonderful redan hole. The 11th has big features that Banks and his steam shovel were known for. Until recently the tremendous kicker slope on the right was buried under rough.

Midland Hills Country Club – 16th – 206 yards

One of the Raynor designs in Minneapolis, Midland Hills kicks off its closing trio with the redan 16th. The hole plays semi-blind and uphill to the green. With a Jim Urbina restoration on the way, expect this Raynor gem to only improve.

Cavalier Yacht and Golf Club – 18th – 210 yards

The Redan finisher at Cavalier, a Charles Banks design in Virginia Beach, is unique as Banks brought a water hazard into play. Unlike most Redan holes, players do not want to miss long or left on the 18th, making the hole all the more challenging.

The tee shot on the home hole at Cavalier - The Bausch Collection at MyPhillyGolf.com

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