Geeked on Golf

A Celebration of the People & Places that Make Golf the Greatest Game


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Bandon Trails Course Tour by Jon Cavalier

BANDON TRAILS – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

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

Among the four full courses at Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon Trails stands out as the most different from the group.  Though the course starts just south of the Bandon Dunes course and plays through dunes for its first two holes, the course quickly leaves the shoreline dunes for the wooded areas inland.

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The uniqueness of Bandon Trails among the courses at Bandon Dunes, coupled with the beautiful terrain and the outstanding Coore/Crenshaw design, make this golf course a favorite among many Bandon visitors.  Within our group of 8 players, fully half listed Bandon Trails as their favorite of the Bandon courses.

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One notable difference to consider is that Bandon Trails has more elevation change than the other courses at the resort.  It is not a brutal walk by any stretch, but since many players are cramming in 36 or more holes, it bears mentioning that Bandon Trails can make for a more difficult walk at the end of a long day.  The back nine climbs to the fourteenth tee, plunges back into the valley, and then climbs again to the sixteenth green.

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Variety is one of the attributes that makes Bandon Dunes so special, and Bandon Trails provides more variety than any other course at the resort.

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Hole 1 – 356 yards – Par 4

Playing southward through dunes, the first hole plays as a slight dogleg right to an elevated green.

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The fairway is wide, but level lies are rare.

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The view to the west after ascending the first green is one of the best on the property.

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The writhing first fairway, as seen from behind the green.

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Hole 2- 166 yards – Par 3

The massive landing area short of this green is largely obscured by the large surrounding dunes.

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More room than appears from the tee . . .

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…though missing left presents difficulties.

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The first of a fantastic set of one shot holes at Trails.

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Hole 3 – 532 yards – Par 5

This gorgeous par-5 begins the course’s transition from dunes to hilly woodlands.

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The centerline bunkers provide additional challenge and interest for the second shot.

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Interestingly, none of the bunkers at the third actually touch the green.

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A beautiful setting.

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Hole 4 – 363 yards – Par 4

A lovely hole, the fourth plays out to a diagonal ridge bisecting the fairway.

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Drives that carry this ridge or play to the left will have a view of the green.  Drives that miss right will leave a blind approach.

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Three bunkers wait long right to gobble overly aggressive approaches.

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This view from behind the green reveals the scale of the fairway ridgeline.

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Hole 5 – 124 yards – Par 3

A beautiful short par-3.  Trees have been removed over the years to open up gorgeous views in this area of the course.

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Incorporation of the surrounding features into the greens adds great interest to Bandon Trails. On a different day, this ball may have ended up as a tap-in.

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The wonderfully contoured fifth green.

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Hole 6 – 359 yards – Par 4

Amazing what a small, well placed bunker can do to an otherwise simple drive.

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Playing to the high right of that bunker provides a view of the green but a crooked lie.

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Note the seamless transition from wide fairway to green.

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Hole 7 – 406 yards – Par 4

A terrific and difficult par-4, the seventh plays up a long and well bunkered fairway to an elevated and sloped green.

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The green is open in front, allowing players to work long approaches in along the ground while using the green’s contours to get close to the pin.

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The huge seventh green slopes significantly from back to front.  Putting back to a pin from the rear of the green is slippery.

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Hole 8 – 299 yards – Par 4

After the long par 4 seventh awaits the short par-4 eighth. A fantastic risk/reward hole.

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Though this green is reachable for many players, missing comes with a high cost.  Anything left is likely lost.

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The entire hole is designed to encourage players to take on the green, perhaps foolishly.

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Hole 9 – 522 yards – Par 5

The ninth is a classic par five which provides a bit of a breather for the golfer.

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The wide fairway is bunkered, but not oppressively so, and the hole continues to provide width through the green.

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Even the green complex is wide, with fairway ringing the putting surface for yards in all directions.

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The serene ninth hole.

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Hole 10 – 393 yards – Par 4

The tenth presents a very wide fairway, but the closer the player hugs the left, the better the angle and the shorter the approach.

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The large tenth green may lull players into a false sense of security on the approach.

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Hole 11 – 429 yards – Par 4

This lengthy par four presents the only internal water hazard at Bandon Dunes.  A rolling dogleg right around a waste area and a greenside pond.

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Having played several rounds without so much as thinking about a pond, the impact of the water hazard hugging the right of the green is large . . .

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. . . though it is quite pretty.

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While the eleventh is one of the longest two shot holes at Trails, the terrain and the open front of the green allows most players to hit the green in regulation.

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One of the longest par-3s on the property, the twelfth gives the player a massive amount of room to miss with the tee shot, particularly to the right . . .

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. . . but this large greenside knob makes recovery from misses right very difficult.

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From the rear, the player sees that short is the best place to miss this large green.

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Hole 13 – 374 yards – Par 4

Accuracy is critical for both shots on this rumpled two shot hole.

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Left is better off the tee, as it allows the approach to be played up the center of this narrow green, which falls off substantially on both sides.

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Approaches missed left will run up to twenty yards down this steep sideslope.

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And chipping from the sides of this green is no easy task.

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Hole 14 – 306 yards – Par 4

The first thing the player notices on this controversial short par four is the sheer beauty of the view.  The ocean and dunes to the right and rear, mountains in the distance straight ahead, the fourteenth tee is one of the prettiest spots at Bandon Dunes Resort.

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Tee shots short right will leave a steeply uphill, blind approach.  The left leaves a better angle.

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The green is small and treacherous.  Anything missing right or long will roll forever, and anything left leaves a delicate chip from a small depression to the narrowest part of this green.  2 or 20 – both are in play here.

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Hole 15 – 367 yards – Par 4

The ideal line off this tee is at or right of the cross bunker . . .

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. . . which will allow an approach up the mouth of the green.

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This beautifully bunkered green is one of the prettiest on the course.

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In fact, the stretch of holes from 14 to 17 is uniformly gorgeous.

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Hole 16 – 494 yards – Par 5

A short par-5 on the card, the sixteenth plays like it’s 100 yards longer.  It’s into the summer wind, and it’s drastically uphill.

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The slope in this wild fairway is STEEP and can add distance to a tee shot up the right.

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The green is well bunkered and contoured, as this view from the left side shows.

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The toughest walk at Bandon, but undeniably a standout par-5.

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Hole 17 – 159 yards – Par 3

The last of the one shot holes, the seventeenth presents a narrow green with a false front that must be carried.

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Distance control is at a premium.

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There is not much room to miss here, and no great spot to do so.

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Spectators add to the pressure.

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Hole 18 – 363 yards – Par 4

The final hole at Trails plays back through the dunes and up to the clubhouse.

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The fairway is riddled with mounds and lumps, making level lies rare.

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The large final green provides one last challenge.

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As noted above, Trails is different from the other three courses at Bandon. As a result, opinions on Trails vary more widely than those of the other courses. Some consider it the best course at Bandon. Others consider it their least favorite among the four.  But there can be little reasonable debate that Bandon Trails is an exceptional golf course in its own right, and that few who play it will place it anywhere but at or near the very top of the resort courses they have played.


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Coore & Crenshaw’s Great 18

My recent buddies trip to Boston included a visit to Old Sandwich – the seventh Coore & Crenshaw designed course that I have played.  #8 was a magical outing yesterday evening to Colorado Golf Club.

Playing C&C’s courses never fails to be a joy for me.  Their courses just look right to my eye, and they are a challenging blast to play.  The broad strokes of routing, green siting, and undulation are masterful, and the attention to the little details is always off the charts.  Their designs are packed with strategic and visual interest and yet, my buddy Shawn might have summed up best what makes their work so special while we walked down the first fairway at Old Sandwich.  He said, “Coore & Crenshaw’s holes lay so softly on the land.”  Indeed.

To express my enthusiasm, I thought it might be fun to geek out on their work and create a course of 18 of their great holes.  Picking 18 great holes seemed a little too easy though, so instead, this course will be 18 great holes, according to the actual hole numbers.  I started with the courses I have played, and then enlisted a little help from their associates David Zinkand, Keith Rhebb, and Jeff Bradley to fill in gaps and add a little flair.

What follows is what I call Coore & Crenshaw’s Great 18, but it is not meant to be definitive.  Rather, I want to hear from other C&C nuts.  Did we miss one of your favorites?  Leave your comment, or hit me up on Twitter (@JasonWay1493) or Instagram (@jwizay1493), and I’ll add yours to the mix.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE

#1 – Bandon Trails – Par 4 (Jeff Bradley pick) – I have been fortunate enough to play this opener on a chilly morning in October.  It demands a confident tee shot, and an even better approach.  It is an interesting dunesland tease as Trails makes its way away from the coast into a spectacular adventure through the woods.

#2 – Cabot Cliffs – Par 5 (Keith Rhebb pick, runners-up East Hampton, Talking Stick North) – From Keith’s GeekedOnGolf interview: “A lot of people think #16 is the best hole on the course.  The view from the green is stunning, but I still like the second hole best.  If you walked on #2 tee today, you probably wouldn’t realize the time and effort that went into the hole.  It was a total team effort to get it into the state that you see it now.”

#3 – Bandon Trails – Par 5 (David Zinkand pick, runner-up Colorado Golf Club) – From David’s GeekedOnGolf interview: “The par five Third Hole at Bandon Trails has a great deal of interest in its green that carries all of the way back up the hole in terms of how to attack.”

#4 – Old Sandwich – Par 3 (my pick, runner-up Warren Course) – When I walked up on to the tee of this par 3, my jaw almost hit the ground.  The green sits on the ridge naturally, and yet is also incredibly bold.  The green is huge, and so hitting it is not enough – you have to hit your tee shot in the proper section for a safe par or makable putt at birdie.

#5 – Cuscowilla – Par 4 (Jeff Bradley pick) – From Ran Morrissett’s GolfClubAtlas.com course tour: “…Coore rose to the occasion here by converting a wash area into a huge gaping bunker down what would normally have been the middle of the fairway.”

#6 – Shanqin Bay – Par 5 (David Zinkand pick, runner-up Friar’s Head) – From David’s GeekedOnGolf interview: “It was fun to build a classic Cape Hole on the Sixth at Shanqin Bay in Hainan, China.”

#7 – Bandon Preserve – Par 3 (my pick, runner-up Old Sandwich) – Truth be told, I loved playing the Preserve so much that I could have picked every one of those holes.  I settled on the seventh because of the way the green wrapped around and merged with its neighbor.  Not something you see every day!

#8 – Bandon Trails – Par 4 (Jeff Bradley pick) – Nobody does short 4s better than Coore & Crenshaw, and this hole is typically outstanding, especially in firm and fast conditions.  The lay of the land leaves options of attack open, including the ground game.

#9 – Friar’s Head – Par 4 (Jeff Bradley pick, runner-up Colorado Golf Club) – Friar’s Head is not just my favorite C&C course, it is my favorite course.  I have heard it described as the Cypress Point of the east coast, and nowhere is that feel more evident than standing on the 9th tee.  The color contrast of the dunes with the fairway running down into the green complex is simply breathtaking.  And don’t let the beauty fool you, par is a good score on this gem.

#10 – Colorado Golf Club – Par 4 (Jeff Bradley pick, runner-up WeKoPa) – I am a sucker for simple golf holes.  My favorite hole at my home course (Kingsley Club) is bunkerless, and so is the 10th at Colorado GC.  The tee shot is a thrill, and the approach is deceptively demanding.  Lose focus before the ball is in the bottom of the hole on this beauty, and you are staring an “other” in the face.

#11 – Warren Course – Par 3 (Jeff Bradley pick, runner-up Colorado Golf Club) – From the Warren Course site: “This par 3 features the largest green on the course.  Bunkers line the fairway and border the green to catch even the slightest errant shot.  Take enough club to carry the false front of the green.”

#12 – Talking Stick North – Par 4 (my pick, runner-up Dormie Club) – There are several holes at Talking Stick that use the straight property boundary to create wonderful angles off the tee.  Challenge the fence, and you are rewarded with a significantly easier approach.  Play it safe, and difficulty hitting the green awaits.  That choice is compounded on the twelfth by the wash down the middle of the hole.  No “fence sitters” allowed on this hole.

#13 – We Ko Pa Saguaro – Par 4 (my pick, runner-up Friar’s Head) – This hole is strategic golf at its most elegant, and features a wonderful Coore & Crenshaw centerline bunker.  There is no way to completely avoid peril.  So how do you want it?  On your tee shot, or on your approach?  Players who like to mindlessly whack the ball into the middle of the fairway on every hole will hate this hole, and that delights me!

#14 – Lost Farm – Par 4 (Keith Rhebb pick, runner-up Chechessee Creek) – From Keith’s GeekedOnGolf interview: “The rough contours were already within the lay of the land.  We had to tread lightly so we didn’t lose what was there in the construction process.  It turned out nicely.”

#15 – Friar’s Head – Par 4 (my pick, runner-up Streamsong Red) – Walking up the stairs from the 14th green to the 15th tee provides one of my favorite reveals in golf.  The awe turns to joy watching a well-struck drive float down the the fairway landing area, and the approach down to the green.  The joy flips right back to awe coming off the back of the 15th green to the wooden walkway overlooking Long Island Sound.  Pure magic.

#16 – Streamsong Red – Par 3 (my pick, runner-up Friar’s Head) – Everything about this hole is wild.  The visuals are wild.  The setting is wild.  The tee shot is wild.  And the green?  Get ready for a wild ride!

#17 – Chechessee Creek – Par 4 (Jeff Bradley pick, runner-up Colorado Golf Club) – From the club’s site: This short Par 4 certainly tests your courage. You can either drive over the hazard, a carry of 245 yards, or lay your ball out to the left, leaving a longer approach. The narrow green is protected on the right by two deep bunkers, but offers a generous bail-out area to the left.

#18 – Cabot Cliffs – Par 5 (my pick, runner-up Talking Stick North) – How often does a course and a hole live up to the hype?  I have not been to Cabot yet, but when I go (and I am going), I have no fear that this closer will exceed my very high expectations.

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Sculpting the Earth – An Interview with Architect Dave Zinkand

“Remote” is a good word to describe the location of Apache Stronghold.  Why did I make the trek through the mountains of the Tonto National Forest, past small mining towns, to an Indian Casino golf course in the middle of nowhere?  As always, I was in search of golf adventure and great architecture.  In this case, I was also lucky enough to have a chance to tee it up with architect Dave Zinkand.

The course was truly special, and Dave was great company – a talented architect, good player, and an even better man.  For me, the evening was what this great game is all about.

As we walked and talked, I was consistently reminded of what differentiates architects from players, even GCA geek players like me.  Architects see the course differently, and it was a blast to hear Dave’s insights about the course and his work.  A few highlights:

  • Apache Stronghold has wonderful contours, washes and gullies that wander through the fairways.  Dave pointed out that by routing the holes such that those features are often at an angle to the tee, Tom Doak has created interest.  The player can decide how much of the carry they want to take on, and they get the thrill of pulling off the carry on their selected line.  An architect does not always need to use bunkers or hazards to create that challenge and fun.  A ripple or ridge in the ground creates the same effect.
  • Dave pointed out the interesting slopes and mounds of the green surrounds.  He was particularly interested in the close proximity to the greens of some of the high-side slopes.  A bold design choice that makes for interesting approach and short-game shots.
  • We also discussed internal green contours at length, and Apache Stronghold has great ones shaped by Kye Goalby and the Renaissance Golf Design team.  Dave noted that a bold contour that might seem over-the-top on first playing, can often provide more options to pull off a brilliant shot once the player learns to use that feature to his advantage.
  • And finally, Dave put into words what I felt makes Apache Stronghold unique.  It is routed in such a way that the holes feel very intimate and engaging.  And yet, every so often, when ascending to a tee or green complex, the course reveals a vista that reminds one of the awe-inspiring expanse of the land on which the course is built.  It is a choreographed walk that creates pure magic.

My luck with Dave didn’t end with our time at Apache Stronghold.  He was gracious enough to share even more in the following interview.  I hope you enjoy his perspective as much as I do.


THE INTERVIEW

How were you first introduced to golf?

My introduction to golf was rather stereotypical.  As a boy, my father would take my sister and I out to Fremont Country Club, our hometown club in Ohio.  When Molly and I were old enough, we began to play from the 150 yard markers.

When did you know that the game had a hold on you?

It seems the addiction of trying to improve upon the last shot or round is almost instantaneous.  As for the bigger picture, I now recognize golf for what it is, an adventure.  It blends an outdoor sport on varied playing fields with a great deal of social interaction.  Perhaps I was unaware of how fulfilling it is until high school when I could really begin to appreciate those benefits.  By college, trips with the golf team were a welcome diversion from our studies.  To this day, I still enjoy getting out with Dad.

How did you get into the business?

Every summer in college I gained experience at a new job.  First, I worked maintenance at Heatherdowns CC in Toledo.  The second summer, I was a laborer on a Hurdzan Fry course being constructed in Cleveland.  The third, as an intern with Arthur Hills’ design firm.  After graduating from Cornell with a degree in landscape architecture in 1997, I went over to Britain on the Dreer Award.  When I came back I went to work for Gil Hanse and then spent 14 years as a Design Associate with Coore & Crenshaw.

How did the year you spent in the UK change your perspective?

Fellow Dreer recipient, Chris Monti, referred to his year abroad as “the move”, meaning the career move.  I couldn’t agree more.  It may not have been a highly marketable commodity to most potential employers, but has provided limitless inspiration that still fuels my passion for the hands-on designing and shaping of golf courses.

Who are your favorite Golden Era architects and why?

There are such obvious choices as Alister MacKenzie, who blended great strategies with unparalleled aesthetics.  But considering historic golf architects as a whole, there are folks like Harry Colt whose somewhat reserved style always yielded admirable results.  The eccentric Tom Simpson created provocative strategies with quirky contours and odd features such as flat-top mounds.  There is Tillie and Perry Maxwell… So many designers have contributed to the catalog of great work and ideas.  That is a fantastic attribute of our game, the immense variety!

You have worked extensively with Bill Coore and Gil Hanse.  How have they influenced you?

My work with Gil was relatively brief, four projects in all.  But I have always been impressed with his routings and aesthetics.  In the fourteen years I spent with Bill & Ben, as well as with their long-time Associate, Dave Axland, I really had an opportunity to delve into every aspect of golf design and construction.  I could throw creative ideas out and see what stuck.  I had so many conversations and received so much feedback from Bill, when I run into a question of how to handle a certain issue, by now I have a pretty good idea of how he might attack the problem.  All of that interaction certainly contributes to my perspective on golf design.  Working with Bill and Ben really gave me a solid understanding of how to meld beauty and function into a playable setting.

What is your favorite element of a golf hole to work on?

Greens.  There is a heightened importance in the contours of a green, both in terms of strategy and aesthetics.  That is where I spent much of my time shaping for Coore & Crenshaw.  All of that said, bunkers provide powerful aesthetics.  It is great fun to toy with their endless variety to present such a splash of interest on the landscape.  Bill Coore and I have had a lot of fun heckling Jeff Bradley, the ‘Bunker Guru’, over the stardom he receives for his sandy exploits!

What are some of the challenges associated with renovating a historic course like Old Elm or Desert Forest?

There are so many aspects to this topic.  Change is difficult and any given club has hundreds of members.  This essentially means the designer has hundreds of customers.  As the saying goes, you can’t please everybody all of the time.  That is why it is so important to be reverent to the history and attributes of a course, while pressing forward with the task of fulfilling the client’s current and future needs.  Doing so in step with the leadership and staff is essential.

What should every Green Committee member study/learn before undertaking a renovation project?

Prior to selecting a designer, they should research each candidate’s participation in the construction process (that was not self-promotion).  Preliminary design is essential for game-planning, but extra time spent on a drafting board or AutoCAD document does not replace on-site participation.  You don’t have to shape your own features as I can (that was self-promotion).  I find an unparalleled depth of interest in the work produced by designers who consciously allow their work to evolve in the field.  Bill Coore is a master at this.  Some of the concepts and details are not immediately evident or may even seem arbitrary, but reveal themselves over time.  This lends greatly to keeping a course fun to play over and again.

Which courses are on the top of your hit list to play next?

Jason, you finally got me out to Apache Stronghold.  I thank you, because that was a real treat.  Cypress Point is at the top of the list of courses I’ve never been to and really need to see.  I’ll bet my wife could have her arm twisted for a trip to Royal Melbourne and the Sandbelt in Australia.  There are also a number of classic courses on the east coast I would still love to see, such as Fishers Island.

Of the holes you have helped to build, which are your favorites?

It was fun to build a classic Cape Hole on the Sixth at Shanqin Bay in Hainan, China.

Shanqin Bay #6 - Photo courtesy of Brian Morgan

Shanqin Bay #6 – Photo courtesy of Brian Morgan

The par five Third Hole at Bandon Trails has a great deal of interest in its green that carries all of the way back up the hole in terms of how to attack.

Bandon Trails #5 - Photo courtesy of Wood Sabold

Bandon Trails #3 – Photo courtesy of Wood Sabold

The short par four Third at Colorado Golf Club doesn’t overwhelm, despite playing over a natural barranca.

Colorado Golf Club #3 - Photo courtesy of John Klinkerman

Colorado Golf Club #3 – Photo courtesy of John Klinkerman

I really enjoyed the bunkering improvements Jeff Bradley and I made to the Fourth Hole at Weekapaug Golf Club.  An additional bunker down the left keeps big hitters honest and the bunkering front-right of the green provides a much more engaging target.

Weekapaug Golf Club #4 - Photo courtesy of Gary Kellner at Dimpled Rock

Weekapaug Golf Club #4 – Photo courtesy of Gary Kellner at Dimpled Rock

Reinvigorating the island green on the Fourteenth at Old Elm Club with Drew Rogers was an old-fashioned opportunity to introduce Harry Colt’s original intention of torn edges.

Old Elm Club #15 - Photo courtesy of Scott Vincent

Old Elm Club #15 – Photo courtesy of Scott Vincent

My alteration of the Fourteenth at Desert Forest into a short par four was a fun contribution to an already impressive routing.  It also had the benefit of shortening the following green to tee walk.

Desert Forest #14

Desert Forest #14

Freely admitting my bias, I have thirteen favorite holes on Bandon Preserve. I thoroughly enjoyed that project and wonder if I’ll work on such a powerful parcel of ground ever again.

Bandon Preserve - Photo courtesy of Wood Sabold

Bandon Preserve – Photo courtesy of Wood Sabold

You recently joined the Mickelson design team.  What attracted you to that opportunity?

I really enjoy collaborating and they already had a strong team that shares great insights, with Phil, Mike Angus and Rick Smith.  It should be a lot of fun to introduce not only my own design views, but also contribute my experience and on-site guidance to help advance our design intentions in the field.

What do you love about practicing your craft?

It may sound corny, but I just love sculpting the earth.  I started out in Cornell’s School of Architecture, but quickly realized how important an organic edge was to finding my fulfillment in design.  Having my office outdoors and providing others, who often spend much of their time indoors, with sporty and provocative holes to play is rewarding.  I can’t even count how many times I have been told by people they never had more fun playing golf than on Bandon Preserve.  That is spectacularly gratifying.

Any interesting or challenging projects on the horizon for you?

I will spend the next two summers guiding and shaping Phil’s project in Calgary.  As for potential projects outside of that, I will be happy to give you an update.

When you are not working or playing golf, what are you doing?

My wife and I just had our first child, a girl.  She is the very definition of adorable.  I am happy to put my other interests, such as redesigning our new yard and brewing some wickedly dry cider, on the back burner so I can concentrate on helping her and Momma!  Perhaps someday, I’ll be busy taking her to play with Grandpa John on the golf course.


Additional Geeked On Golf Interviews:

 

Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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An Homage to the Short Par 3

“In this era of obscene power, the likes of which the game has never witnessed, why not strive to induce a little fun into the mix and at the same time present a true test of delicacy and accuracy?” – Ben Crenshaw

This quote from an essay in Geoff Shackelford’s book Masters of the Links resonates with me.  In the work I have been doing at Canal Shores (read more about it here), I am coming to appreciate short courses and short holes more and more – especially short par 3s.

Therefore, I would like to pay homage to short par 3s here by constructing an 18 hole course out of some of the best.  Mr. Crenshaw provided a list of 11 in his article:

  • Pine Valley #10
  • National Golf Links #6
  • Whitemarsh Valley #9
  • Merion #13
  • Royal Melbourne #7
  • Pebble Beach #7
  • Cypress Point #15
  • Royal Troon #8
  • Chicago Golf Club #10
  • Augusta National #12
  • Kingston Heath #15

I’ll round it out with 7 (plus a bonus) of my personal favorites to play:

  • Bandon Trails #5
  • Crystal Downs #14
  • Kingsley Club #2
  • Maidstone #8
  • Shoreacres #12
  • Streamsong Blue #5
  • Old Macdonald #5
  • Bonus Hole: Friar’s Head #17

Why do I love to play short par 3s?  Because they are great at causing internal conflict.  The shorter distance makes me think that I should be able to easily execute the shot.  That expectation of success can cut both ways: it comes with a boost of confidence, and extra pressure.  In much the same way that a 5-footer can break you down, so can a short par 3.  I have to try extra hard to focus on execution, and stay off the result.  Easier said than done when standing on the tee with a wedge or short iron.  Good golf shots are rarely produced with one’s head twisted into a pretzel.  I love taking on the mental challenge presented by short 3s.

I am working on concepts for several short par 3s for Canal Shores and they are great fun to contemplate and discuss.  Removal of distance as the primary challenge also removes creative constraints.  The player won’t be challenged by length, but there are so many other ways to interest and mentally torment – green size, contours, site lines, orientation, hazards, elevation change, etc.  Let it not be said that a shorty can’t test skill and fortitude.

It is my hope that architects continue to find ways to incorporate devilish little par 3s, and short holes of all kinds, into their designs.  In the age of the long ball (in every sense of the phrase), the shorties add so much to the game.

Do you have favorite short par 3s that I missed?  Post them here in the comments, or on Twitter – tag me at @JasonWay1493 or #short3s.


ADDITIONS FROM FELLOW GOLF GEEKS

 


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Golf Heaven on Earth – The Kingsley Club

KingsleyLogoMy discovery of the Kingsley Club was just dumb luck.  On a buddies trip to Arcadia Bluffs and Crystal Downs, we needed a third course to play.  I stumbled across the Kingsley Club review on GolfClubAtlas.com – it looked interesting, so it was added to our itinerary.

Turning into the property off a dirt road, it was apparent that we had found a hidden gem.  Beyond the modest clubhouse lay rolling hills covered in wild flowers and fescue grass, with beautiful undulating fairways cutting through them.  For me, it was love at first sight – a feeling of exhilaration that I find anew every time I pull into the parking lot, and every time I step onto the first tee.

The original intent of this post was to give a course tour.  Among the GolfClubAtlas.com review, the Club’s website, and KingsleyGolfer.com, that tour is thoroughly covered.  No need to redo what has already been well done.

Instead, this post is about why Kingsley has touched me so deeply.  Why I believe that it embodies everything that is great about golf.  (Thanks to fellow Kingsley member Tim B. for use of his photos)

Kingsley is certainly challenging and fun to play, and the laid-back culture of the club enhances the experience for me.  But the profound sense of joy it evokes in me goes beyond fun.  What makes Kingsley so special?  Three words hint at the answer: Interest, Variety, and Beauty.


KINGSLEY IS INTERESTING

A good golf course catches the player’s interest on the first hole and keeps it throughout the round.  A truly great golf course like Kingsley keeps the player’s interest round after round, ad infinitum.  Kingsley displays its greatness to me in how it keeps my interest.  It is like a puzzle to attempt to solve.  It provides challenges of strategy and execution, along with a mixed bag of good and bad luck.

After I have played a really good round at a course, I often lose interest.  My experience at Kingsley has been just the opposite.  I have played some of my best golf there, and yet I still want more.  It is simply impossible to imagine getting bored walking those fairways.

These specifics top the list of what makes Kingsley interesting:

  • Blind shots – The property is hilly and Mike DeVries’s routing takes advantage of the elevation changes to create numerous blind shots.  Blind shots quicken the pulse and provide interest.  There are few things quite as exciting in golf as hitting one’s shot, watching it disappear, and then taking the anticipatory walk to find out how it ended up.
  • Bouncing balls – The fairways and green complexes are gloriously undulating.  Coupled with fescue fairways and bent grass greens that drain well, the undulations provide bounces from tee to green that make the course unpredictable.  Superintendent Dan Lucas keeps the course in immaculate firm-and-fast condition, but it is not “manicured”.  Kingsley will hand players good and bad breaks according to its whim.  In golf, “fair” is another word for “predictable”.  Predictable gets boring quickly, and does not hold a player’s interest.  Kingsley is anything but predictable.
  • Distance and depth-perception – Elements of the course, in concert with the often windy Northern Michigan weather, make judging true distance and selecting clubs very challenging.  Even when playing repeatedly from the same spot, the shots are not the same.  One is never quite sure if the club is right.  Executing a confident shot in the face of that fundamental ambiguity is an interesting mental challenge indeed!

INTEREST IN IMAGES – Holes 1 and 2


KINGSLEY OFFERS VARIETY

Variety is the spice of life.  It is also the hallmark of a great golf course.  From tee to green, from front nine to back, Kingsley has tremendous variety.

The course has a wide variety of hole lengths and is routed to maximize directional changes.  Factor in time of day and weather conditions, and Kingsley can play like an entirely different course from round to round.

Kingsley puts its variety on display:

  • On the tees – Each hole offers several teeing grounds that often differ not just in length, but in direction.  The player can choose to play each hole from wherever they wish.  The best example of tee variety is on the par 3 9th, which can play from 106 to 240+ yards from two groups of tee boxes that are set at 90 degree angles to one another.
  • On the greens – Kingsley has incredible variety in its green complexes.  Some are heavily bunkered, some have few or no bunkers.  Some greens accept ground approaches and recoveries, others are elevated to encourage aerial shots.  There is a wide range of green sizes and shapes, some with subtle interior contours, and others more dramatic.  The course has punchbowls, table-tops, crowns, horseshoes, double plateaus, and multi-tiers.
  • In the feel of the nines – The outward nine is routed through sand hills.  It is open and largely treeless.  The inward nine has a much different feel, wandering through trees.  Both nines feel expansive, but each has a distinct feel.  Playing at Kingsley is like playing at Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails in the same round.

VARIETY IN IMAGES – Holes 12 and 13


KINGSLEY IS BEAUTIFUL

Kingsley possesses a rugged, natural beauty that might not be appreciated by those accustomed only to manicured, parkland golf.  The minimalist first impression gives way as the course reveals contrasts of greens and browns, painted onto beautiful contours.

The grounds crew has painstakingly tended the native areas, planting fescue and wildflowers.  Players who visit frequently are treated throughout the year to an ever-changing show of colors that is at once visually arresting and appropriate to the overall look of the course.

From the minor details to the grand scheme, Kingsley’s wide open spaces further contrast sky and earth into one breathtaking view after another.  It is the perfect marriage of outstanding design, construction, and maintenance, with the natural beauty that makes people fall in love with Northern Michigan.

BEAUTY IN IMAGES – Holes 14, 15 and 16


Interest, variety, beauty, and much more – the founders, Mike DeVries and Dan Lucas have put together the total package in a way that resonates deep down in my soul.  It is my golf heaven on earth, and I look forward to walking those fairways hundreds of times, for the rest of my life.

It is my sincere hope that many others get to experience Kingsley’s greatness too.  In the meantime, enjoy this photo tour compiled from my Twitter (@jasonway1493) series 18 Days of @KingsleyClub.

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