Geeked on Golf


Right on the Sweet Spot – Architecture Week III

This time around it was different.  They changed the name, and they changed their game.  The third installment of Architecture Week on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive took a different approach, and for me, it hit the sweet spot.

This time around was different for me as well.  For the previous two AWs, I was able to watch each day.  This year, with action-packed holidays, work, and developments at Canal Shores, I missed the live broadcast.  It wasn’t until mid-January that I was finally able to sit down and binge watch all of the segments (thanks Howard Riefs for the links – on Twitter @hriefs).  As it turns out, watching Architecture Week in this manner gave me a perspective that might have been missed by my fellow GCA geeks.

Simply put, Architecture Week III was by far the best yet.  Its greatness was the result of the same basic ingredients that make for great golf architecture – variety, challenge, and fun.  From beginning to end, it was designed to be interesting and accessible for all viewers, in the same way that a great golf course is interesting and accessible to all players.

Golf Channel increased the variety in several ways:

  • Complementing Matt Ginella with Geoff Shackelford throughout the week was a stroke of genius.  They seem to have good chemistry born of a shared spirit for the game, but they clearly do not agree on everything.  That makes for good conversation and provides the viewer with a richer perspective on the subject.  It was also nice to see additional members of the Morning Drive cast participate.
  • There was greater variety in the segments.  Some pre-produced, some live.  Some in-studio, some on-location.  Some focused on courses, some focused on the architects, and still others focused on the player experience.  A multi-media smorgasbord of discussion, video, pictures.  This gear-shifting throughout the week delivered visual and intellectual stimulation, and made for a much higher level of interest.
  • The week also had depth.  From Architecture 101 educational segments to deeper looks at the lives of Tillinghast and Ross, AWIII was substantive enough to satisfy my geekiest interests.  It did not include these elements at the expense of including the GCA novice though.  To steal the essence of Matt’s “thoughtful architecture” concept, Morning Drive knows its audience, and it designed a week with enough breadth and depth to provide interesting content for all.

I would still like to see an increase in breadth of coverage.  More history and more education on the principles of great architecture.  A wider range of featured projects, especially those focused on community golf like the Schoolhouse 9 and Sharp Park.  And of course, new and different faces including industry vets like Ian Andrew and Drew Rogers, as well as up-and-comers like Dave Zinkand, Andy Staples, Keith Rhebb and others.

Hitting the sweet spot with this installment of Architecture Week proves that a GCA show can be viable.  The remaining breadth of compelling GCA subject matter to left to cover reminds us that a GCA show is necessary.

And now, for the recap…


“The chief object of every golf architect worth his salt is to imitate the beauties of nature so closely as to make his work indistinguishable from nature itself.” – Dr. Alister MacKenzie


“Strategic design is at the core of the great holes and great courses of the world.” – Geoff Shackelford

“Could you play a course every day and not get tired of it?” – Geoff Shackelford

Spot on.  This is my top criteria for my favorite golf courses.  If I wouldn’t want to play it every day for the rest of my life, it isn’t going to crack my Top 10.  I agree too with the point about the misplaced importance of prestige in American golf.  This is at the core of what has taken golf in this country off the rails, because it is about ego.  Where there is ego in golf, accessibility and fun tend to get crowded out.

“The merit of a golf hole is not its length.  It’s the variety and interest therein that golf hole.”  – A.W. Tillinghast

“A.W. Tillinghast was not only the greatest character the American game ever knew, he was quite possibly the most imaginative designer this country has ever produced.” – Geoff Shackelford

Nobody does this historical content better than Geoff, and I love it.  Especially at this point in architecture, being called by some the new Golden Age, it is helpful to look back to the lives and work of the men who practiced their craft in The Golden Age.  They are endless sources of inspiration.

Side note about the Mike Keiser story:  Although the elements of this story are not new to Golf Channel, it is nice to see Matt continue to follow up and share updates over time.  The building of a golf course and the revitalization of a community do not happen overnight.  I appreciate Matt and the Golf Channel taking the longer view so that we can witness the unfolding.

“The first thing is, everybody just has to get over scoring.” – Geoff Shackelford

“As a player of the game for 25 years, I never really thought about why I liked a golf course or didn’t like a golf course.” – Paige Mackenzie

This was a wonderful discussion punctuated by Paige describing the evolution of her perspective, and the deepening of her understanding of architectural intent.

Side note about Streamsong Black:  The description of Royal Melbourne style bunkering, while building off the big site shaping of the Olympic Course in Rio, has me salivating.  I will be at Streamsong in 2 weeks and I hope to sneak a peak at the Black course.

“(The Keisers) only touch pieces of land that have the potential to be something unbelievably unique and special.  Mike has an ability to draw out of people much more than they thought they were capable of, or maybe more than they were capable of, and that is part of his genius.” – David McLay Kidd

“The vision is to bring heathland golf to the U.S.” – Michael Keiser

As I previously posted, I had the privilege of visiting Sand Valley for a tour (read my recap with photos here).  The Coore & Crenshaw course will be an instant classic, and from the look of it, the Kidd course promises to be equally mind-blowing.  It is a great time to be a golfer in the Midwest.


“If you play the great variety of courses that are out there…you can’t help but realize that golf is way more fun when there is strategic interest…” – Geoff Ogilvy

I could not have been happier to see the OCCM team featured on Architecture Week.  Even better, they are bringing their Sandbelt sensibility and classic spirit of the game to the U.S.  Could there be a course in Wisconsin in their future?  We can hope…


If you are a student of the game and GCA, you must own Cob Carlson’s Donald Ross documentary.  You can purchase it at  As is the case with many architects’ work, Cob’s wonderful film is a labor of love that deserves our support.

“This is thoughtful.  We’re identifying architects who are doing good work.  The good work they’re doing is because they put thought into the mission they’re trying to execute.” – Matt Ginella

Matt made this statement in reference to Pete & Alice Dye’s approach to designing for their players.  Their players are resort golfers, and everyday golfers.  Low handicappers, and high handicappers.  Professionals and amateurs.  The Dyes don’t use a one size-fits-all approach.  They think about their players, and design for those players.  That thoughtfulness obviously does not limit their creativity.  Rather, it makes it possible for their creativity to be accessible and enjoyable, and it is a key ingredient in GCA that stands the test of time.

Exciting times ahead in the world of golf course architecture.  Thanks to Matt, Geoff, and the Morning Drive crew for continuing to cover it for us.



Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


Bandon Preserve Course Tour by Jon Cavalier


Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon, OR – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw


Bandon Preserve sits on a nook of cliffside dunes between Bandon Trails to the East and Bandon Dunes to the north.  The setting for this little gem is spectacular — every hole has views of the cliffs and the ocean.  The course itself has everything a golfer could want from 150 yards and in (the longest hole from the back tee measures 147 yards) including shared greens, huge undulations, blind shots, ground game opportunities, and wind.


There isn’t much I can tell you about this collection of one-shot holes — the photos themselves do a better job than I could.  But I will tell you that anyone who misses out on playing the Preserve on a trip to Bandon Dunes is doing themselves a major disservice.  As with the Punchbowl, the Preserve is one of those elements that makes a trip to Bandon so special.  The uniqueness of a short course in such a beautiful setting; the opportunity to add to long travel day with a quick loop; the fun of plunking down a few wagers with your foursome (or fivesome, or eightsome – closest to the pin, anyone?); or perhaps best of all, a solo walk around these thirteen holes at dusk, with only your wedge, your putter and your thoughts of rounds played and rounds to come.


Hole 1 – 134 yards (back); 90 yards (front)

A player knows right from the start that Coore & Crenshaw treated this thirteen holer with the same love and care that they do each of their full size projects.


Hole 2 – 150 yards (back); 93 yards (front)

The second at Preserve is as good as any par-3 at the resort.


The view from behind the second.


Hole 3 – 87 yards (back); 65 yards (front)

This diminutive par-3 is the second-shortest hole at Preserve.


Hole 4 – 118 yards (back); 83 yards (front)

This gorgeous hole starts a three hole stretch which takes the player down across the property to the edge of the dunes.


The fourth shares its green with the seventh hole, with the putting surface as a large “L” shape.  This view is of the long side of the “L” used by the fourth hole.


The full green.


Hole 5 – 142 yards (back); 95 yards (front)

A gorgeous hole.  Putting from the tee is an option here.


Hole 6 – 131 yards (back); 77 yards (front)

The sixth is benched into the side of the dunes bordering the property . . .


. . . and provides some of the best views at Preserve.


Hole 7 – 147 yards (back); 119 yards (front)

The longest hole at Preserve, the seventh can play entirely blind, depending on which section of teeing area the player chooses.


A side view of the seventh green.


Hole 8 – 63 yards (back); 40 yards (front)

The shortest hole at Preserve plays to a tiny punchbowl green.


This hole must see more aces than any other at the Resort.


Hole 9 – 134 yards (back); 88 yards (front)

Perhaps the prettiest hole at Preserve, the ninth plays directly toward the ocean and the endless field of gorse below.


The ninth also boasts one of the most contoured greens at Preserve.


Hole 10 – 120 yards (back); 93 yards (front)

The tenth plays to a green fronted by a large mound which obscures a sizable section of the putting surface.


The view from the mouth of the tenth.


Hole 11 – 142 yards (back); 95 yards (front)

The eleventh plays along the edge of the property and begins the return to the clubhouse.


The views to the left of the eleventh are breathtaking — the lone tree near the sixteenth green at Bandon Dunes is center here.


Hole 12 – 132 yards (back); 108 yards (front)

Two framing bunkers short right and short left guard the mouth of the punchbowl-like twelfth green.


As seen in this photo from behind the twelfth green, shots played up the right side will carom on to the large green.


Hole 13 – 109 yards (back); 75 yards (front)

If you’ve never hit a 100 yard approach to a green with your putter, this is your chance.  All downhill and fronted by a rolling downslope leading to the mouth of the green, a well-struck putt from the tee will leave a birdie opportunity.


Just make sure you avoid the bunkers.


I cannot speak highly enough of the Preserve.  If I lived near it, I would play it every day.  And if you make the trip to Bandon, I strongly urge you to make time to play this little thirteen hole gem – you’ll regret it if you don’t.






Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


Journey Along the Shores – Part 13 (4 Course Concept Revisited)

Our Lead Architect David Zinkand has completed his Preliminary Design of the new Canal Shores (below), bringing to life the 4 Course Concept that we have been discussing.  It has certainly come a long way since the idea’s inception.

This design is considered preliminary, rather than final, for several reasons:

  1. We are committed to continuing to gather public and industry expert feedback.  The best ideas will win.
  2. We still need to compile comprehensive details for our Master Plan in order that MWRD, The City of Evanston, the Village of Wilmette, and our Board can consider it for approval.
  3. We leave open the possibility of tweaking details of the design during implementation if there is potential for a better outcome “on the ground”.

Given the innovative nature of the 4 Course Concept, let’s take a moment to address potential points of confusion.

What are we doing to the course?

First, to be clear, we are NOT proposing replacing the existing 18-hole course with a 12-hole course plus practice areas.  What we are proposing is a transformation of the facility into 4 courses totaling 41 holes where players of all ages and skill levels can learn and enjoy the game through playing the game.

Who can use the courses?

The entire facility will be open to the public, at reasonable rates.  However, as is the case now, each of the courses will likely be closed on certain days at certain times for events, leagues, outings, teams, clinics, and/or camps.  By changing from 1 course to 4, we believe that Canal Shores will be better structured to handle these groups while still providing an enjoyable venue for daily players.

What are the 4 courses?

Before getting to the descriptions, Dave’s completed preliminary design.


Note that this design does not include non-golf components, such as paths, pocket parks, and habitat areas.  We will soon have an interactive version of the design with all components displayed together.  For now though, back to the 4 courses – on the map from north to south, they are:

The Jans Course (labeled as “12 Hole Course” above) will occupy the area north of Central.  It is intended to be a 12-hole executive course of par-3s and par-4s, with design inspiration taken from classic Chicagoland golf architecture.  The course is designed for players of moderate to advanced skill, and will be laid out in a clockwise loop.  It also includes inner loops that allow for flexible play.  If space allows, we also intend to have a putting green and hitting bays for warm-up.





The Kids Links (labeled as “Youth Links & Practice Facility”) will be located between Central and Lincoln.  It will include a 5-hole short course as well as a driving range, putting and chipping greens designed specifically for kids.  This spot has been chosen for the Kids Links because it is self-contained and safely adjacent to the clubhouse.


The Rolling Green putting course (labeled as “Rolling Green”) will be located south of Lincoln, next to Leahy Park.  This 18-hole course will cover 25,000 square feet and include exciting contours and mounds to navigate.  This is not intended to be used as a putting green for practice – it is intended to be played by players of all skill levels and ages.

The Back Lot (labeled as “6 Hole Multi-directional Play & Practice Area”), to be located south of the Rolling Green, will be a 6-hole par-3 course for the public.  It will also serve at times as a highly dynamic and challenging practice course for advanced players.


This concept, coupled with Dave’s shaping talent, will result in our community having the most unique and interesting golf facility on the planet.  Players can come each day and, based on their time and preference, choose their own golf adventure.  And even better, that adventure will be different and fun every time – in the very best spirit of the game.

What about playing 18 holes?

From my perspective, the 18-hole format is artificial and in no way fundamental to the enjoyment of the game of golf.  For more on the history of the 18-hole format, visit

However, we understand that there are players who get satisfaction out of completing 18 holes.  Our 4 Course Concept actually allows players several ways that they CAN play 18 holes, if that is their hearts’ desire:

  • They can play the 18-hole Rolling Green Putting Course.
  • They can play the Jans Course full loop, and then replay the inner 6 hole loop (12+6=18).  Dave purposely designed the Jans Course that way.
  • At some times, they will be able to play the Jans Course, and then the Back Lot Short Course (12+6=18).
  • At other times, they can play the Back Lot Short Course three times (6+6+6=18).
  • At other times, they can play the Kids Links with their kids, then the inner 4 hole loop on the Jans Course, and then close it out on the first half of the Rolling Green (5+4+9=18).

You get where I’m headed here.  At the new Canal Shores, the answer to anyone who says “I want to play 18 holes” is, “Okay, here are your options today for playing 18 holes. Go play.”

The beauty of what we are planning is that if someone says, “I want to play (fill in the blank between 3 and 36 holes)”, unlike other facilities, we will have the ability to give them the same response. “Here are your options.  Go play.”

At the end of the day, our mission is to make golf accessible and enjoyable for the greatest number of players possible (especially kids) and we believe that the 4 Course Concept is the best approach to achieving that mission.  We couldn’t be more excited to be able to tell you, “Go play.”



For those who are interested in the nuts-and-bolts of the design process, Dave gave me permission to share some of his earlier sketches, along with technical details specific to water management that he has been working through with Todd Quitno.

In this version of the Kids Links, we were considering putting the Rolling Green putting course in the same section so that kids would have easy access to it.  Dave also had a practice green across the canal.


After further discussion with our friends from The First Tee and The Golf Practice, and another site visit, Dave moved the Rolling Green out of that section of the property.


We went around and around trying to figure out how to make the Back Lot work as both a dynamic practice facility and a short course.  I suspect that it will be difficult to comprehend just how great Dave’s design is until it gets built.

We hope that putting the Rolling Green adjacent to the park will both increase its exposure to kids and families and allow us to keep the putting course open at night during the summer.


We are not allowed to drain water into the canal or use subsurface drainage.  The site is mostly sandy, but it has some trouble spots.  We will be using a combination of grading, dry burns, dry basins, and planted wet basins to manage water.

Dave provided his thoughts on locations to Todd.


After a site visit with our Superintendent Tom Tully, Todd put together a much more comprehensive drainage layout.



It has been fascinating for me to witness these talented, experienced professionals collaborate and bring this vision to life.  I am convinced that we are in very capable hands – the end product will be highly functional, sustainable, and a joy to play for decades to come.


More Journey Along the Shores posts:



Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf