Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands


Why the routing of a golf course matters, and what goes into finalizing a design

Cape Wickham 10th.jpg

Courtesy of Cape Wickham

How much thought does an average golfer give to the way holes are laid out on a golf course? Does the routing matter, or at least does it matter more than the quality of the individual holes? Can a golf course be great if the routing is poor, and conversely, can a wonderful routing save ho-hum designs?

The question of how a golf course is routed is of the most critical importance to golf course architects—and to many players as well. Great routings tell a story about the land they’re on, guiding the play to its most interesting parts and blending beautiful features into elements of the holes. They have beginnings, middles and ends, moments of excitement and moments of pause. They are journeys and, at best adventures.

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At least that’s the story golf designers tell. Michigan-based architect Mike DeVries comes into the Salon to discuss whether this is true, talking about all things routing with golf course builder Jim Urbina and host Derek Duncan, Golf Digest associate editor of architecture.

DeVries has routed courses on extraordinary properties like Cape Wickham on King Island in Tasmania and Kingsley Club near Traverse City, Mich., and he shares stories about what guides his decisions during the routing process, whether it’s more important to locate great holes or develop a sense of rhythm, and he shares what he believes are some of the best-routed courses in the world.

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