No Repeat Par: Examining One of Golf’s Unique Routing Quirks

When “The Other Course” at Scottsdale National Golf Club debuted in 2016, much of the focus was that the dramatic routing had been built from an almost pancake-flat piece of property by moving 1.5 million cubic yards of dirt. But the layout, from the design team of Tim Jackson and David Kahn, is among the most unusual in the country for a different reason.

Not once on the second 18 at Scottsdale National will a player encounter back-to-back holes of the same par, with a perfect mix of six par-three holes, six par fours, and six par fives.

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“The Other Course” at Scottsdale National (photo by Erik Matuszewski)

While there are “perfect par” spreads on many courses over nine holes—the front nine at Augusta National Golf Club being one example—having this kind of variety on the scorecard throughout a full 18 is limited to a select few of the over 10,000 18-hole U.S. courses. This includes not having a repeating par on holes 9 and 10 as players go from the front nine to the back.

The main reason the full no-repeat is so rare is that it requires more par threes and par fives than usual and only six par fours instead of the most common number, 10. Bob Parsons, the founder of Scottsdale National and golf equipment brand PXG, is no stranger to unconventional approaches and followed a similar path in the creation of “The Other Course.”

“The 6–6–6 concept and no repeating par was quite intentional as Mr. Parsons truly wanted a unique design, certainly much different than any other course in the Scottsdale area or southwestern U.S. for that matter,” says Tim Jackson, one of the co-founders of Jackson Kahn Design. “If you can create a course where each golf hole has its own individual character and then utilize those in a cadence of holes that optimizes how those details are being presented differentially to the golfer, that is an engaging design.

“Obviously a 6–6–6, no repeating par sequence may be the ultimate expression of that concept.”

The only other U.S. example I’ve come across is WestRidge Golf Course, a public layout in McKinney, Texas, that lays claim to being the only course among more than 800 in the Lone Star State with six par-five holes. Most playing the Jeff Brauer design might be unaware of the unusual routing unless they examine the scorecard closely.

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The scorecard for WestRidge Golf Course

One of the hundreds of courses to open during the U.S. golf boom around the turn of the century, WestRidge sought to stand out by calling on six senior tour players to design three holes each: a par three, par four, and par five. When the project sold before being built, the new developer opted against using the senior players as a promotional point but stuck with the mix of holes. Both the front and back nines have three par threes, three par fours, and three par fives.

Typically, in course design the routing is dictated by the land. In both the above cases—flat expanses in Arizona and Texas—the architects had more creative license. But that’s not to say there weren’t challenges as the Jackson Kahn team worked with fellow architect Scott Hoffman, a former math major, on the Scottsdale National routing.

“Placing golf holes on any particular property many times becomes a mathematical exercise,” Jackson says. “We did have somewhat of a free hand… but there were also federally protected washes that ran through these areas as well that could not be disturbed.

“One of more ingenious aspects of the routing in my opinion is that all those washes are placed in the best position on each golf hole with respect to both strategy and playability. Each time there was an adjustment to the plan, the domino effect of keeping the 6–6–6 non-repeat and best utilization and placement of the washes was no easy task.”

The result: one of the unique routings in golf.

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“The Other Course” at Scottsdale National (photo by Erik Matuszewski)

Do you know of any other courses where the holes never repeat in par?

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