A reversible golf course is being designed in Michigan – along the same lines as The Old Course at St.Andrews.
Tom Doak is one of the world’s great, contemporary golf course designers with many of his designs ranking high among the world’s best golf courses including Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania, Pacific Dunes in Oregon and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand.
Doak has just been contracted to build a golf course that you can not only play the conventional way (from hole 1 to 18), but also backwards.
The idea is not a new one. The Old Course at St.Andrews is designed to play in the standard anti-clockwise routing or the clockwise routing which starts with golfers teeing off the first tee to the 17th green, eventually finishing at the 18th green after teeing off the 2nd tee.
I believe that a few times a year you can book to play the Old Course backwards – although I couldn’t find any mention of it on the St.Andrews website.
According to Golf Digest’s report, there are even several courses in the US that were designed to be played ‘forwards’ and backwards, but the logistics of designing such a course is not trivial.
“It is not a super dramatic site, but that’s better for this concept,” he said. “If you were playing over ravines in one direction, you’d probably have to play blindly out of them the other way around. You can’t have woods behind the green, or you’d have to play over the trees from the other direction.”
Doak said the most difficult part of designing the reversible course is thinking about the greens.
“They have to work from both directions,” he said. “You can’t have severe greens.”
If you’re keen to know more about the reverse Old Course at St.Andrews then check out Jeremy Glenn’s in depth piece on it at Golf Club Atlas or Larry Olmsted’s account of playing the reverse Old Course, where he described it as the “dangerous round of golf in my life”.