The Redan hole is one of the more popular “template” greens that designers often used during the Golden Age of golf course architecture. Today it is still incorporated in some modern designs, however the original concept is historic and from the 193 yard 15th hole at North Berwick West Links in Scotland. David Strath is credited with designing this first hole in the late 1800s.
The primary idea is for the green to sit on a narrow ridge and run at a 45 degree angle to the line of play. Deep bunkers guard the front of the green and often a few will protect the back. More often than not the green runs to the rear diagonal of the green.
CB MacDonald said the Redan was, “the finest one-shot hole in the world.” Seth Raynor and Charles Banks were probably the most instrumental architects in terms of using the Redan in their course designs.
The design of the hole calls for a lower shot that uses the slope of the green from right to left and front to back. However, with shorter Redan holes, a shot that spins against the slope and comes in from a higher trajectory can be used as well. The design allows for players of multiple skill levels different options to get a tee shot on the green or even close to the pin. The design has stood the test of time and is still seen in modern golf course architecture.
The Redan is often called a “template” green. The idea of template greens comes from the 1910-1920’s and was utilized largely by CB MacDonald and Seth Raynor . Essentially these architects had a bag full of designs, and used them on the properties on which they worked. It is fun exercise to see how the same hole concept can play so differently given the location, grass type, season and property. While the overall design is fundamentally the same, the small nuances are what can make the holes so memorable.
Redan holes are seen all over the country. Some of the more notable holes are located on iconic courses such as National Golf Links, Shinnecock Golf Links and Chicago Golf Club. They can be seen on tour every once in a while. Raynor’s Old White course at The Greenbrier features a Redan par three.
In my opinion, the key to a good design is to challenge a player to think and choose. Options are critical and Redan style greens have plenty. This is why they are still such a large part of golf course design.