It's probably both a tribute to Harold and also his "fault" that temporary and permanent island green holes surrounded by OB have been popping up over the past several years, even though the concept was borrowed from ball golf. The rules for how these are played have also been evolving. The first time out at the USDGC, it was pretty brutal with no mercy. You had to land on the green or continue rethrowing from the tee forever, which lead to several double digit scores on hole 17. Eventually a drop zone was added outside the green after three tries from the tee. Last year, it was two tries from the tee then proceed to the drop zone which was at the far end of the green.
There are two problems with how it's been done so far. (1) All versions have been more brutal than how ball golf has done it for hundreds of years, and (2) The 2-shot penalty creates a funky scoring distribution that doesn't make sense for a par 3 hole when shooting a 3 is the least likely score on the hole.
It's not to say we need to do everything like ball golf. But even though many have heard about "tin cupping" where you continue to hit shots until clearing a water hazard, what most don't realize is that was/is a player choice that is not forced by the rules. In ball golf, after teeing into a water hazard on an island green hole, players may immediately proceed forward to the drop zone if provided or to the edge of the water hazard. Of course, they can always retee but that's a choice, not a requirement.
So, Harold, some other designers and I have been brainstorming a better way to do island holes so they still have a scary effect but produce a smoother range of scoring to demonstrate skill differences. Here's what we've come up with to try this year on the island green at Worlds and potentially on hole 17 if the test works well. There's a possibility it might also be tried at an A-tier in a few weeks.
Here's how it would work, players get up to three tries to land on the green from the tee before moving to the drop zone where they continue trying to land on the green, although the drop zone would be close enough that virtually 100% of players would be on the green on the first try. The innovation is that there's no penalty added for missing the green each time from the tee other than the distance you have to rethrow to try again. In other words, if you miss all three times, you are shooting your 4th shot from the drop zone rather than your 7th which is what it would be using traditional throw and distance penalties.
This isn't going to make the tee shot any easier but the distance penalty will be more fair relative to the fact you threw a less accurate drive than required. The fewer shots it takes to land on the green, the better your score just like you would want to see on any other well designed hole. The cool thing compared to ball golf is that rather than just duplicating their one try from the tee and go to the drop zone, this proposal allows players to have the "fun" of trying the tee shot up to three times for the challenge of it but not be brutally penalized for those three attempts. In addition, many times island holes designs are OK under normal weather, but virtually become unplayable in the wind. This new option keeps the scoring range closer to the same neighborhood more like a regular hole will change in heavier wind.