Since the dawn of the steam shovel and tort law, blind shots have been largely eradicated from the game. Thankfully, a few relics have survived and serve as beacons of hope for those who prefer a bit of unpredictability with their golf. Enter “Punchbowl”.
The genesis of this design type can be traced back to the practicality of siting greens within natural hollows to gather water and keep turf verdant without artificial irrigation. On occasion, greens were situated within the folds of a dramatic bowl feature, concealing the green and in some cases, the flagstick. This design worked well on well-draining sandy soils but fell out of favor as course construction migrated inland where poorly draining clay-based soils predominated. CB Macdonald re-introduced this genre of golf hole in many of his designs in the US, overcoming drainage issues by cleverly routing a passage through the green complex to convey water. The most iconic Punchbowl green is probably the 16th at National Golf Links of America, replete with a tall metal post to signal the green’s center and a 50-foot windmill that cloaks an old water tower. Other textbook examples worth noting include the 5th at St. Louis CC, Fisher’s Island 4th, and the 15th at Sleepy Hollow CC.
Strategy usually revolves around a well-placed tee shot that will put the golfer in range to hit an approach with enough loft to clear the ridgeline that serves as the front edge of the bowl. With fairway properly cut to the top rim of the bowl, anything hit within its confines should finish somewhere on the green. A great example of a modern twist on the punchbowl is the 9th at Streamsong Black where bolder green contours place a premium on hitting the proper section of the green. A sporting nature and a sense of humor are prerequisites for playing the Punchbowl well.
Size: 20" wide x 16" tall
About the Artist:
Over the past 3 decades, Thad Layton has traveled the planet plying his trade as a Golf Course Architect for Arnold Palmer Design Company. He is a lifelong student of the game and has studied scores of golf’s greatest courses. Along the way, he’s catalogued the journey, filling up piles of sketchbooks with doodles and descriptions that have informed and inspired his work as an architect. Of these, Thad has illustrated a selection of his favorite design studies to share with fellow golf enthusiasts in a vivid series of original giclee watercolor prints.