01 October 2007

Alive and Well

After a bit of hiatus, I am back and well. The past few weeks have been busy, but in that business there is a lot to share. My absence was due in part to a trip back to Pennsylvania to visit the family and see Genesis in Philadelphia. The trip included a trip back to Reading CC and some time on DuPont CC's DuPont and Nemours courses.

I've also discovered a Steve Smyers course in Lakeland called the Golf Course at Bridgewater. Having played a handful of Smyers courses, including Southern Dunes, both Royce Brooks and Old Memorial - Bridgewater is like nothing I've seen from him, and I hope this is the step he continues to make as his work matures. I am in class right now but will post more later tonight.

04 September 2007

Short Hazards on the Long Par 3

On the Monday Doodle, I have a long Par 3 design featuring a bunker well short of the green.

Let's take a closer look at the hole.

I envision a hole between 220-240 yards from the back tee with the bunker being 160 yards to carry. I drew a ridge just beyond the bunker with the green below the ridge and the green
obscured from the tee. Ideally, the upper portion of the flag is visible. The green should fall away slightly from the tee.

The idea is one of controlling trajectory to best approach the green. The better player is more often able to hit higher shots with longer clubs than players with higher handicaps. This hole affords the opportunity for the higher handicap player to use a shorter club, challenge the bunker and allow the ridge to run the shot on to the green. Meanwhile, the better player is forced to precisely execute a higher trajectory shot or the fall away nature of the green can work against the ball, moving it to a less than desirable position behind the green.

I didn't draw it, but a severe fall off or other form of trouble behind the green would be helpful in furthering this idea.

In practice, one doesn't often encounter such a par 3, but there are a few examples. Kelly Blake Moran has designed two holes such as this: the 3rd at Morgan Hill in Easton, PA and the 5th at Lederach in Harleysville, PA.

Pictured at the left is a view from behind the 14th green at Penn State's White Course, another example of the idea in practice. This hole is one of the original Willie Park, Jr. holes remaining from 1922. The tee is located at the top of the hill just left of the pine trees. Each "bump" in the hillside are bunkers that appear to sit next to the green from the tee, obscuring the approach from the tee. While the hole plays 190 yards downhill (a mid-iron for better players), attempting to fly the green often proves most difficult as stopping the shot on the green can be tricky given the fall-away design. Missing long makes for a difficult up and down. Simply carrying the bunkers with a low trajectory shot (130yards) provides a much more consistently successful alternative for all calibers of players.

Another particularly appealing feature of the idea is that on repeat play, the hole begins to outwit the golfer's mind. Now aware of the possibilities, the golfer may bring the bunkers into play through poor execution.

03 September 2007

Monday Doodle

Every Monday (when I have one available) I'll post one of my sketches for discussion and perusal. Yes, it's shameless self promotion, but that's what blogs are for. Here we have 4 holes I just let flow on the paper. A short par 4, followed by a longish par 3 and then two par 5s. I am particularly fond of the middle par 5 and the bunkers that hamper the second shot. I'll be exploring this bunker arrangement as a way of forcing the golfer to really commit to an angle of attack and his approach to the green. Each option presents a variety of choices and hazards to negotiate based on the skill level and daring of the golfer.

I like the idea of having the hazards well short of the green on a long par 3 as this allows the wily short hitting golfer a means to reach the green by challenging the hazards short while still forcing precision in the long hitter.

29 August 2007

Wednesday Chip Shots

Each Wednesday, I'll post a few quick points from the week in golf architecture.
  • Mike Cirba started a good thread on Golf Club Atlas about ground level tee boxes and their seeming fall into obscurity. While not reaching pandemic levels, it seems more and more the golf is hoisted on a pedestal for each hole. Thread can be read here.
  • Something I would have posted awhile ago, but Ian Andrew compiled a subjective, but very comprehensive ranking of deceased golf architects. His list, like all lists, stand some scrutiny but the discussion wrought as a result is interesting. He presented the list in a series of posts on his blog.
  • Perhaps out of the general ennui brought about by playing Florida golf over the summer, I've been doing a lot of sketches lately. While not terribly practical in terms of building a golf course, I feel that sketching rough concepts can help apply certain strategies in the field, especially given the correct land form. I will post some of these sketches later in the week.
  • In conjunction with my roundtable discussion threads on Golf Club Atlas (first two weeks found here and here) I will post the questions for discussion here each Sunday with my responses. As these threads seem to inspire some spin-off threads, I am going to continue with a weekly five question format. Any general topics for questions would be more than welcome.
  • The Castle Stuart construction videos on YouTube provide a very interesting and informative insight into some of the niches of golf course construction. Kudos to all involved with their production and to Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner for a peek into their world. Embedded below is the video on bunker construction and the "chunking" process:
Additionally, I've discovered through Ryan that Google's news aggregator hits on this Blog, as one of his criteria is "Doak," and yesterday's post came up. Yes, in some ways I'm doing this to see if he's still paying attention, but it's nice to know that a few buzzwords may generate some traffic.

28 August 2007

Change Afoot

So I've neglected this for far too long.

With my recent career happenings, I've been given a bit more time to keep things current and that's going to be the plan. Ideally, and concurrent with my participation in Golf Club Atlas's discussion group, I can offer some good content a few times per week.

I've also decided that the addition of another author will help keep the content fresh. I've asked Golf Architect student Ryan Farrow to contribute as often as he can. Ryan is a fellow participant in the GCA Discussion Group, a Landscape Architecture student at Arizona State, and recently completed an internship with Tom Doak on a project in Montana. Ryan has taken it upon himself to complement his landscape architecture education by seeking out some of the finest golf courses on the west coast, including Riviera and Los Angelos Country Club. A fellow Pennsylvania, Ryan hails from the Pittsburgh area and worked on the grounds staff at Oakmont Country Club during the summer of 2006.

I welcome Ryan's insight to the forum and hope we can keep things going in this "take 2" for "On Golf Architecture."