The Figure Eight: How to Get More Beach in your Golf

It takes Pete Dye four holes to arrive at the beach on the front nine at Teeth of the Dog, allowing holes 5, 6 and 7 to play along the sea. (Larry Lambrecht photo)

One last word re. Teeth of the Dog, before we head up country to play another Pete Dye product here at Casa de Campo, Dye Fore, which, I’m quite certain, will be (to) Dye Fore:

The Teeth of the Dog course is similar to most seaside tracks in that there is but one stretch of beach, and it was the course architect’s job to maximize the number of holes played at seaside. That’s what we all want, right? To play as many holes as possible by the beach?

But how exactly does one make that happen? Dye shows us a pretty foolproof method here. It’s called the Figure Eight, and it achieves many practical objectives.

Imagine a stretch of beach. The clubhouse sits inland, above the beachfront, right in the middle of two circles that form the Figure Eight, which lies on its side (more like the infinity symbol). The first nine follows the outline of the right circle, holes linking up with each other while progressing in a clockwise fashion. When you reach 4 or 5 o’clock, the beach shows up on the players left and several holes can then be routed along the sea, before heading back inland to the clubhouse.

The back nine follows the outline of the left circle, progressing counter clockwise. When you reach 8 o’clock or so, the ocean shows up on the player’s right and several holes follow the beach before heading inland for home.

This is the routing plan at Teeth of the Dog, and it practically maximizes the beach frontage, while simultaneously providing players the variety of playing both ways along that beach. The wind affects seaside holes on the front and back sides differently, of course, as you’re playing them in different directions. Golfers who draw the ball, for example, will feel more comfortable dealing with the ocean hazard on one side, while struggling a bit more going the other way. Both nines return to the clubhouse.

Et voila.

The Figure Eight has been around for more than a century, but not all seaside courses maximially deploy it. Consider Royal Aberdeen’s Balgownie Course, a superb layout whose outward nine plays spectacularly all along the dunes bordering the North Sea. The inward nine follows the same path back to the clubhouse, in the opposite direction, entirely inland. There are great holes on the back, but it’s sort of a downer that once you make the turn, the sea and the dunes are no longer part of the equation.

Dye didn’t invent the Figure Eight, but he deployed it masterfully at Teeth of the Dog.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)