Saturday, 20 January 2018

Coming Soon ... My Book

I don't update this site very much any more and I would recommend anyone coming here go to the index on the upper left and begin to wade through years of writing on golf design.

Some time this summer, I expect to publish my book on Stanley Thompson's five greatest works: Jasper Park, Banff Springs, St. George's, Capilano and Cape Breton Highlands. My goal is for the start of this golf season, but don't know the timing on process. The book will talk about how each project came about and share what the courses looked like around opening. There are approximately 400 images and plans in the book. I also touch on Stanley Thompson's architectural evolution as a designer and share some thoughts on his design techniques and philosophy. This has been a labour of love.

It is written and being reviewed by friends who will let me know whether I have something worth publishing, whether it needs work, or whether I should work on home renovations instead.

The title is a quote from Geoff Cornish on Stan.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

2017 The Year in Review - Part 5 – My Business

Pepper Pike 6th
So this is the final installment. Hope you enjoyed seeing the year through my eyes.


This was another really good year. I had quite a bit of construction work, which was mostly based upon Master Plans done with my long-term clients. Construction was the biggest part of what I did all year, with planning playing less of a role. I continue to seek out new work, but I’m finding the competition has dramatically increased.

Played Knollwood CC after the grow-in phase - photo by Matt Nues

By The Numbers


Miles Driven: 28,235 (not including rental car miles – down 20%) 
Flights Taken: 36 (down 35%)
Total Miles Flown: 25,703 miles (down 50%)
Nights in Holiday Inn: 30 (similar)
Rental Cars: 24 (similar)

My Business

“Active” Clients Last Year: 38
American Clients: 33%
American Income: 50%
Interviews: 5
New clients:

New Clients

1.      Ken-Wo, New Minas, Nova Scotia – Master Plan
2.      Lancaster CC, Buffalo – Potential New Holes
3.      Sao Paulo Golf Club, Sao Paulo, Brazil 

In the Field

9th Park CC

Construction – Part One – Park CC Bunkers

The work at Park Country Club re-started in April of 2107. It was an opportunity to finish the restoration of Charles Alison’s Park CC. The upper holes were completed this fall and all the valley work will begin in the spring. We began by raising the front of the 18th green to return play. The work was done by Faery Landscaping. The highlights for me included the changes to the fairway bunkers on the 3rd, 15th and 17th. The work is now 100% complete.

Construction – Part Two – The Briars G&CC

I had a chance to go back and tweak my own work at the Briars. They wanted to add bentonite liners to the back nine and provided me with the opportunity to make a few modifications. The highlight was finally getting the tree down from the front of the 15th.  In the end I made a few changes, but left just as much untouched. The work was done by Flightline Golf.

1st on Homenuik Nine Oakdale

Construction – Part Three – Oakdale’s Homenuik Nine

We continued with the renovation work to Oakdale. This time, we took on the remaining eight holes on Homenuik and rebuilt half the tees and all the bunkers. Some changes were fairly dramatic, while other bunkers saw small modifications for character. The highlight is the opening hole which is as dramatic as any of the work on the course. The work was done by KCM Construction.

Construction – Part Four – St. Catharines Bunkers

The club decided to do five holes worth of bunkers. Flighline Golf rebuilt a total seven bunkers in a renovation of St. Catharines. The changes to the 14th hole would be the most dramatic with a deep bunker on the left now defining the hole and a feeder slope added to the right. It’s not quite a Redan, but has many of those features.

Pepper Pike's 5th hole - 2nd shot on the five

Construction – Part Five – Pepper Pike 

We began the bunker work on the 5th and 13th hole. A few lessons were learnt together and I realized I needed to bring the faces a little higher to achieve the character I was after. We began working on the 6th, then 14th and then finally finished with the 4th before winter timed us out. The work was done by Precision Golf and they had a shaping assist by yours truly. This is something I’m gaining more confidence with. The highlight was the 5th landing where golfers are invited to take far more risk, but there is also far more in place to penalize the miss. Tree work at the club is extensive and really impressive.

Construction – Part Six – Crag Burn 8th and 9th Holes

The golf course remains largely intact and when asked to work with the club, I did recommend keeping things as they were built in 1969. Both the 8th and 9th had been altered from their original design by the club and what we did was essentially put everything back the way it was. The work all done in October by Faery Landscaping.

The Principal's Nose - 17th at Wheatley Hills

Construction – Part Seven – Wheatley Hills Bunkers

The club continues to plug along on with their Emmet restoration. The bunkers were done on the 5th, 6th and 17th holes. The 17th is the most dramatic alteration I made to any hole where some minor modifications have turned this simple hole into a strategic beast. The principal’s nose bunker will be the talk of the club next year. The most fun part was I got to rough shape that feature before I went home. The work was mostly done in house. The club works with Jeff Porteous when he’s available.

18th at Ashburn Old

Coming in 2018

Booked Projects

1.      Pepper Pike Club – Spring/Fall – remaining bunker work
2.      Ashburn (Old) – Summer/Fall- rebuild 9 greens and bunkers 
3.      Pinegrove Bunkers – Fall - greenside bunkers
4.      Oakdale Knudson Nine – Summer/Fall rebuild 2 greens, renovate  bunkers & tees
5.      Wheatley Hills – more fall bunker work


This is the thing that ruins my sleep. I count on this provision for my work permits. This should be the year where we find out what will happen to the agreement. I have been told I have an alternative, but I’d prefer to have this arrangement to remain since I know the process really well and do my own permitting. It saves clubs money.

17th at Spring Brook

Potential Construction Projects

  1. Islington – Spring – relocate 18th green
  2. Galt CC – Spring – chipping facility / driving net
  3. Ken-wo – Summer – green relocation or bunker work
  4. Briars – Summer/Fall – Bunkers North of Black Creek
  5. Spring Brook Bunkers - this is a long shot

Sao Paulo Golf Club
New Client in Brazil?

I’m going to Sao Paulo Golf Club in Sao Paulo, Brazil in late January. We'll see if there's any possibility of a long-term relationship here.

Monday, 18 December 2017

2017 The Year in Review - Part 4 – In The Media

see at: Joshua C.F. Smith‏ @joshuacfsmith

Best of Twitter

Images: Cavalier Golf Photos @LinksGem
Great images and insight into golf architecture

Golf Course History: Simon Haines @Hainesy76 
Full of surprises, great rich walk through the game and the greatest architecture in its formative years.

Tour Player: Louis Oosthuizen @Louis57TM       

Go see August 13th where he posts, “Just finished my career grand slam seconds … "I'll rise up" and then proceeds to sing along with the hit song.

Favourite Post: Cypress Canvas (in process) by @joshuacfsmith

Worst of Twitter

#WTF: Peter Kessler
One of the biggest surprises this year was Peter Kessler – and his quickly deleted tweets - going after Gil Hanse’s renovation work. It included shots at the very well received Winged Foot renovation and a whole host of other high profile projects. #Wow

Pot, Kettle, Black: Brandel Chamblee
Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee says “He blocks around ten people a day on Twitter and feels that it is interfering with the "civility" of golf.” This included Jason Duffner who told the talking head to “Shut the “F” up” when he made comments about his swing coach.

Put a Shirt on: Greg Norman
I don’t follow any of the players except a friend or two. And I certainly try to avoid golf’s creepy old man Greg Norman – seriously put a shirt on #WTF – but his wackiest moments are always shared for all to just shake their head.

My Own Twitter by the Numbers

I’m a fan of twitter and post pretty regularly. I love following a few architects, multiple golf writers and a lot of superintendents. It remains something I enjoy. I find the interaction has largely been enjoyable even when we don’t agree. Kudos to those in golf for “civility.”

Tweets: 2848
Following: 189
Followers: 2,290
Blocked: None
Best tweet: Favourite Ride at Disney. The adults only bar. Short line. No motion. Given a beer at the end.Cancel Saving... Save changes

In Print

Where Have all the Writers Gone?
Ed Sherman of Golf World wrote a piece where he quotes a series of writers. I thought these were quite interesting comments:

Selfishly, Harig says it is good for him and that there are far fewer outlets covering golf. But he doesn’t think it is bodes well for the overall game.”

“The hardcore fans know where to go if they want to get golf news,” Harig said. “Where you are losing out are the average fans who might stumble on a golf story in the paper. They might like that story and they become more interested in reading about golf. Without those stories, you’re missing out on that person.”

“Ferguson contends most of the younger players, who did not grow up reading newspapers, have little awareness of today’s media landscape. He tells of an exchange with Daniel Berger, who looked at his credential and asked, “Associated Press? So what’s that like, Bleacher Report?”

New Follow: Jason Deegan
Nothing beats a writer who consistently puts out interesting pieces and gets you to think around the edges of architecture and golf. Loved his piece on whether to use a par of 73 and then the examples he shares.

Howard Stern of Golf: Geoff Shackelford
I love Howard Stern, but only about 70% of the time. But he’s so good, that I still live with the rest of his nonsense to get to the best material. Geoff is like that for me. Brilliant, frustrating at times, but always worth a read.


Golfweek Architecture Summit

Golfweek presented this event as a chance to bring together leading designers of the most influential courses both new and restored.

The first panel featured Gil Hanse, Tom Doak, Kyle Phillips and David Kidd. This was fun because of the interplay. David is all in on the idea of making the game easy … I’m not … I think it may bring popularity to his courses, but that will also hold them back from reaching the heights of his peers. I still really like the middle of Bandon Dunes, never sure why he abandoned this tact… Davis was the most fun and most interesting of the four. Discussions were great … even better over beers together at the bar later that night.

May part featured myself, Andrew Green and Matt Dusenberry. I presented a Cape Breton Highlands (a pure restoration), Andrew talked about Inverness (a hybrid of restoration and entirely new holes) and Matt talked about an Emmet renovation (with no information) based entirely upon the greatest hits of Emmet. It was good, they were both long and we had little time for a good Q&A after (which IMHO would have been more interesting than the case studies).

On Video

Tarten Talks – Bunkers
Golf Course Industry – Interview by Guy Cipriano – January 2017
A frank conversation about the placement, construction and maintenance of golf course bunkers. Includes the commentary on why they are architecturally less relevant than in the past.

Capilano History
Stanley Thompson Society YouTube Channel – May 2017
A summary of my research on Capilano and proof the Hansen was wrong. Robert Trent Jones did not lay out Capilano.

Pulling off an impossible bunker shot
This 30 second clip was posted on Golf News Net – April 2017

New Books on Golf Architecture

I’m going to pitch my own book in this case. I plan to finish my book on the Five Great Commissions of Stanley Thompson. My goal is to finish the writing this winter and publish into the Spring Golf Season. Details will about how to get your own copy will come in the Spring. Work and work on the house have severely hampered any progress. I may not meet my own deadlines …

My Published Writing

The Decline of Restoration
Golf Architecture – Coming December 2017
This will come out in the next month’s magazine. It talks about the history of restoration, the move to hybrids of restoration and renovation and finally why the movement is inevitably beginning to wane in North America.

Hero Holes
Score Magazine – July 2017
There is nothing more compelling than taking a risk, where anything but you best may be disastrous. But the reward is too great to resist.

Looking Ahead To Portrush
Score Magazine – July 2017
A discussion about renovating iconic courses and the results at Royal Portrush.

Cape Breton Highland 1937-1941
Golf Club Atlas
The entire history from conception to completion. Shares everything from the multiple plans through to the horrible history of expropriation.

Articles About My Work

Knudson Nine at Oakdale G&CC undergoes Thompson-style makeover
Sean Dudley - Golf Architecture - November 2017
Transforming the third nine at Oakdale from a bad Pete Dye like nine through to a cohesive Stanley Thompson inspired nine. It’s all about balancing play and feeling like Thompson built all 27 holes.

Really old school
Guy Cipriano - Golf Course Industry - November 2017
The best insight anywhere on how architects research history and make their decisions on what to do. Knollwood CC provides the background to an interesting process.

Getting to Know: Ian Andrew, Golf Course Architect 
American Golfer – September 2017

I answer many typical questions about my past and the future of architecture, but the part I recommend is on what I think is the best hole I ever designed – 12th at Maple Downs

Renovated Knollwood golf course harkens to Bobby Jones' era
Michael Dougherty, USA Today
Another look into the process at Knollwood CC, but in this case its more about the club’s process and journey

What About Less?
Guy Cipriano - Golf Course Industry - February 2017
A great discussion featuring myself and Todd Quintino discussing whether we need so many bunkers and are they as relevant to what we do.

Knollwood completes Raynor/Banks restoration with help of Ian Andrew
Adam Lawrence - Golf Architecture - January 2017
A nice overview of the process and what was done in the restoration at Knollwood CC

Sunday, 17 December 2017

2017 The Year in Review - Part 3 – Ian’s Golfing Travels

I usually make at least one trip to go and see new courses. This was a pretty good year because I began with a trip to both Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

Travels in 2017

By The Numbers

Rounds Played: 61 (most since 1985)
Rounds in Ireland: 12
Lowest Round: 83 multiple times including an interview round!
Lowest To Par: +11 (84) at Streamsong Black on first play 
Low Nine: 38 (+2)
Strangest Nine: 7 pars, a bogie and a 10 with 7 putts …
Handicap: Dropped 3
Lessons Taken: 2 (putting and chipping)
Tournaments Won: 1 (Caveman Cup)

Tornaments Won Caveman Cup

My most famous/infamous story was choking with a four shot lead with four to go in the Junior club championship at 17. Well my partner Ben Hillard and I posted a combined 51 in the opening round in the Stableford and then topped that off with 46 to shoot 97 over two days. We won by four on a birdie at the end where I went for the 18th in two and two putted for a final birdie.

Favourite Course Royal County Down

I made the comment after the second round of the day I think this is the best course in the World. The opening nine is easily the best in golf and only the 6th would be considered anything “close” to average. The 3rd and 9th make most lists of the best 18 holes in Golf. I find the course continues the momentum right through to the 16th. I happen to really like the 16th, but others are not as convinced. The 17th and 18th have always been the biggest question marks, but it’s only because they show up at the end that anyone questions the legitimacy of this being best course in the world. Well, for me, it is. Play it 10 to 18 once and there’s no question after.

aerial of course -  Getty Images

Runner-Up Seminole

I had the chance to return to Seminole in the spring. It remains an architectural masterpiece. The routing is flawless continually working to and from the main ridges in a way which reduces the impact of the flat central section of the course. There are so many exceptional moments that it’s the one where I will always say it’s not the club, it’s the course that makes it at comfortable a Top 100. Much, much better than anything at Streamsong or Sand Valley.

Best New Course – Streamsong Black

Is the best of the three? Potentially, but I still think I would pick the Red by a slim margin. The Red has higher highs, but contains a few moments that I’m not enamoured with including the overuse – yes I think you can – of half par holes. Black is more consistent and has better greens than the other two and the ground is more in play which I appreciated a great deal. I think Gil was given a high bar and exceeded on a site that was not near as good as the other two.

Biggest Surprise – Kirtland CC

The front nine of this Colt and Alison is a treat, with some expansive and impressive architectural work at the greens, but the back has a reasonable argument for being among the best two or three in the game. It has everything from elevation change, to river crossings to sublime architectural ideas that punctuate with ramble up into the final bowl and out along the top of the valley coming hole. Just wow.

Hidden Gem – Portsalon

Played all of Ballyliffen and Rossapenna along with a host of courses in Norther Ireland, but the real gem and the one I kept thinking about was Portsalon. The 2nd is an epic four among the greats in the game. There’s a whole host of excellent holes that play through the dunes or ramble across the undulating upper portion of the property. This is one not to miss.  

Hidden Gem – Lawsonia Links

I would rather play Lawsonia that Sand Valley or Mammoth Dunes. The scale is epic, but so are the features and that is why architecturally this course is a masterpiece. It’s a lesson in scale and consequence justifying width and space. The beginning of the back nine stands with anything – and I mean anything – in golf design.

Favourite Canadian Round - Laval-sur-le-lac (Green)

I was very pleased to how much the changes impacted the play of the course. There were odds and ends that needed to be fixed, but by-in-large the course had finally come together as I always had envisioned it should be presented. Now we just need to get the rest of the trees down …

On Site at Ohoopee

I spent just a week and because of the extremely cold snap, did not have to dodge snakes and spiders. I ran a skid steer and spent my time reclaiming native grasses and transferring them into bunkers for the shapers to put their final touches on. It was a fun week to see what the work after Streamsong Black would look and feel like. 4th, 5th and 6th were my favourite stretch.  This is Gil’s chance to work with a much better sandy site.

Did I Just Walk the 3rd Course at Sand Valley Resort?

I joined Tom Doak for a couple of days walking the South-west quarter of  Sand Valley. It was interesting to see where he choose to go and the reasoning for some of his choices. The second day featured a walk with Mike Keiser and his family. I enjoyed the experience and thank Tom for including me in the walks and discussion with Brian Schneider. I can't share the plan or pictures from the day ... but ...

Here is my alternative plan:

2018 Travels

Spring – Houston ASGCA Meeting

I’m not really that interested in where we are playing. I have played Champions, but it was pretty average golf with an incredible club atmosphere. But I have arranged a small group of eight to go up and see Bluejack National. I walked it last time out and loved it. It will be fun to play there.

Spring – West Coast of England?

Robert and I have discussed “one more” – every trip is sold to our wives this way – trip to see what we haven’t seen. Lytham, Liverpool, Ganton and Woodhall Spa are on the must-see list. This one is likely, but not set.

Summer – New Jersey

Sommerset Hills

Sand Hills?

The only Top 50 I have not seen in person. I always mention Sand Hills every year … I really need to go … I really want to go …

Caveman Cup in Georgia at Ohoopee

We play this event in early November, which will make a nice finish to my 2018, since most construction projects end exactly at that point. 

And after all, Ben and I are defending champions!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

2017 The Year in Review - Part 2 – Golf Architecture

Pebble’s 14th Rebuilt and Open for Play

“It's a sensible green change,” Padraig Harrington said after his round. “Be interesting to see how it would play in U.S. Open conditions when it's Stimping at 12 or more. I had a putt on the right side, 5 feet above the hole, and I wasn't trying to diddle it. I was trying to hit it. The greens are slow enough today, so it was very playable today. I was surprised how flat that area of the green is. There was a bit more break in it, but today I was looking at it and it probably would be able to hold a pin at a U.S. Open.”

This was one of the more memorable greens I had ever seen in my travels. One of the most intimidating approach shots I have ever faced. It made the five relevant even in a day and age of bombers. The first time I played in 1991, they had a pin on the right and it was awesome and challenging. The goal was to return this location back into play.  My impression is they were successful. That is good for golf because Pebble matters a great deal to the game.

One Thing Golf Doesn’t Need - More Panelists

Golf Digest Editor Jerry Tarde reveals in his February that the America's 100 Greatest Courses panel is looking to double by 2020 to around 2,000. What’s not said is they will also be charging all for the privilege and turning this into a source of revenue … ugh.

“Dean Knuth, known as the Pope of Slope for his decades of work on the USGA's handicapping system and the chief statistician for Golf Digest's course rankings, advises us that we need to raise our minimum qualifying number of evaluations from 45 to at least 70 to make the 100 Greatest statistically above reproach. To reach that goal, we're dedicating our efforts to double the size of the panel by 2020.”

They will also be charging all for the privilege and turning this into a source of revenue … so I call “bullshit ” on the explanation.

Augusta Made Easier By Changes?

Steve DiMeglio of USA Today reported Tiger Woods comment on Augusta National, “The golf course has been redesigned and it’s not as difficult as it used to be. The golf course was quicker and faster. All the greens have been redesigned and it’s not as difficult as it used to be; they’ve all gotten bigger and flatter. But at the same time they’ve made the golf course longer so we’re all hitting longer shots into the greens.”

He went on to say the shots around the greens have changed too, “I think that the short shots at Augusta have gotten so different. The grass has gotten longer. Chipping with Seve and Raymond  and Ollie, showed me how to play all these different shots because you had to play those little shots.”

The key is his comments about the greens. Team Fazio has been levelling out critical features to create a new pin here and a new pin there for years. What they didn’t understand was how critical they were to approach shots and percentages.

Sand Valley Resort

I thought I would share my own thoughts. I went not expecting much because I wasn’t convinced about the site from photos. I was wrong. Frist off, the resort caught me a little off-guard and I really liked what they had built. The setting was better than anticipated and the whole ambiance was fantastic. It’s the little details that had the most appealed to me from the (intentionally) cheap food at the halfway house to the Muskoka Chairs at the 1st and 10th tees of the Coore and Crenshaw course to the fire pit at the clubhouse. It just works.

I really enjoyed Bill and Ben’s course, but I’ll leave the full review to the Best New Category at the end.

I don’t get David Kidd’s Mammoth Dunes. But I do know that players will enjoy playing well there because David goes out of his way to make things work out well. I think some will love the combination of scale, exposed dunes land and quest to make sure you have fun – others will find the course generous to a fault.

The best course of the three is called the Sand Box. The short course at Sand Valley mostly created by Jim Craig is a brilliant combination of short and challenging holes. It will be the ultimate match-play - with drink in hand - experience. I could play that course for an entire day.

Alice Dye Pans New 12th at TPC

"It’s an awkward hole," says Alice Dye. "It doesn’t fit the course. He OK’d it, but it’s not a Pete Dye design."

Geoff Shackelford on the other hand said, “I think it’s a success.” he liked that players were now willing to go for the green about a quarter of the time.

I really liked the original and prefer odd or quirky holes over something that’s super obvious like the new hole. It compels more to go for the green, but the irony is Pete never intended the hole to be about the drive. It was all about the approach shot and finding the right place to make the shot from. I prefer a more subtle and cerebral version of architecture.

US Open Coming to Jackson Park in Chicago?

It’s kind of how we ended up with Erin Hills and Chambers Bay hosting Opens. They unveiled a $30 million – wait 30 million? - Tiger Woods golf course in the park's southern end. I get the appeal for serious golfers, but I don’t see this as a good city planning choice.  I’ve always argued some things are best not done and this strikes me as one of them.

Oh Canada – Part One - Bunker Liner Issue at Glen Abbey

Geoff Shackelford of Golfweek reports, “Credit Hoffman and caddie for recognizing the renovated Glen Abbey bunkers for having newly installed bunker floor lining that prevented him from digging enough to take a stance on his bunker shot.”

The site is pure clay underneath, clay makes a great natural liner as long as there are no rocks. You can get clean rock-free clay nearby really cheap. But instead we get really expensive liners that have to be buried deep with extra $120. a ton sand. Hmmm.

Augusta Sells Land to Augusta

Kevin Spain of USA Today reported, “It wasn't revealed what the purchase price for the land was — although Golfweek reported in April of 2016 that the price was around $25 million — nor what plans Augusta National has for it, but Masters chairman Billy Payne said in 2016 that the Club was studying changes to No. 13.”

Geoff Shackelford reports, “The inclination is to assume the 13th hole will be lengthened even though the governing bodies insist things have flat lined. Also look for a service road and stronger property buffer to be part of future changes to the Amen Corner portion of Augusta National.”

Reports are they offered up their architect too, but the Country Club politely declined.

The Olympic Course Lives On

Rex Hoggard responds, “An Agence France-Presse report last November described a layout overgrown with natural vegetation and nearly devoid of players. But as the anniversary of that historic hand-over passes it appears the rumors of the layout’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”

In talking with Gil around that time, he went to check the aerials and realized what others had reported as unkempt and overgrown was the very successful preservation and transplanting of native materials from around the site.

Oh Canada - Part Two – Glen Abbey To Become Houses

Sorry, was a cheering out loud…

Robert Thompson states, “Truthfully, history hasn’t been kind to Glen Abbey as a golf design. Some of the elements highlighted for preservation could readily be considered the biggest shortcomings of the course. Described as “unusual,” the report says the “17th green with its horseshoe configuration around a left greenside bunker … is in keeping with the design intent of the course,” and “its uniqueness and novelty in tournament play deserves attention.” Some might also just contend the green is awful, and it has even been rebuilt to deal with its challenges. Other parts of the course are pedestrian to the point of being plain and dull.”

I even got in my own twitter debate about the fact that development was the outcome from the day the RCGA (now Golf Canada) sold the golf course.

I’ve played the course multiple times and it is one of the least interesting courses in Toronto. It has one nice run of holes in the valley and the remainder is a Real Estate Course. There is nothing unique or special in the design, Jack’s built much better work after this. The only thing people can hang onto is the number of great shots hit on that golf course. 

Golf Top 100 Panel Confidential

For the record, I am a Golf Magazine Panelist. That was the second time I have participated.
We break our Top 10 into top 3 and remaining 7 … so I will share the top of my ballot alphabetically:

National Golf Links
Pine Valley
Royal County Down

Cypress Point
Merion (East)
Royal Dornoch
Royal Melboune
Shinnecock Hills
St. Andrew’s Old

(next two were Prairie Dunes and Crystal Downs - btw, not seen Sand Hills)

After, we were asked to fill out some additional questions for the Panel Confidential. I thought I would share the results and highlight my own choices and comments.

Most Overrated Course

1. Seminole, 15% (of the 75 panelists polled)
"By a mile. Lovely club, nice course, but a pushover unless the wind is blowing and the greens are brown, running at 13+. The upcoming Coore/Crenshaw renovation will help immensely."

2. Baltusrol (Lower), 12%

"A boring slog of long par 4s. Relies on its competitive history and strong conditioning to impress. Its sister, the Upper, is more interesting, more fun."

Underrated" Course

1. North Berwick (West Links), 7%
"It's the most 'fun' course in the world."

2. Los Angeles Country Club (North), 4%
"George Thomas was a genius, and not many people have had the opportunity to see his brilliance on display at this masterpiece, but that's about to change with this year's Walker Cup and the U.S. Open being played at LA North."

3. Yale, 3%
"Yale University—an architecture master class in scale and consequence." (I wrote that)

Who is the greatest Golden Age architect?
Alister MacKenzie, 54%

Who is the greatest modern architect?
Bill Coore (with Ben Crenshaw), 54%
"Each has a role to play, but Bill is a genius. He is the MacKenzie of our time."

What is the design feature most panelists overvalue?
Conditioning, 22%

Shinnecock Restored but Narrowed

“A recent push to narrow the fairways marginally has seen the grounds staff  to convert seven of the layout’s 50 acres of shortgrass to rough. The idea is to create more strategic twist and turn to the fairways consistent with Flynn’s plan and to bring more fairway bunkers closer to the line of play. Fairway widths are still on the relatively generous side for U.S. Open, 28-34 yards in the championship landing areas. But their delineation pays close attention to the lay of the land and the role of airway bunkers.”

The overreaction to Erin Hills and Chambers Bay …

Oh Canada - Part Three – We Have No New Ideas

Golf Canada had Nicklaus drop by during Canadian Open. They promoted the idea of a joint venture replacement course for Glen Abbey designed by Jack. The reaction was surprisingly negative with most saying it was time to move on. The more cynical pointing out that Golf Canada had no land or money, so why would a developer want to get them involved with them.

Short Courses are Becoming Really Popular

Jaime Diaz points out a growing trend to short course at resorts and remote destination courses.

“To me, a good par-3 course works on many levels besides just the price and the pace. A little funkiness in design and even conditioning is a plus, as the capriciousness invites improvisation. The mood should be informal and promote a hint of relaxed raucousness.”

I always play the short course or warn-up holes anywhere they are offered. Among my favourites are: 

Bandon Preserve
World Woods (warm up nine is better than Rolling Oaks)
Sand Valley – Sand Box

Fred Ridley Augusta and Technology

“We will take whatever action, whatever course of action is necessary to protect the integrity of Augusta National golf course,”  

Sounds like more work and not a new ball to me. But he did speak about the potential of a different ball,

“We’re interested in that issue,” he said. “It’s not my place to talk about what’s good and not good for the game. I might have opinions, but I’m not the person to talk about it. What I can talk about is what’s good for Augusta National and our golf course. Going back to the guiding principles, again, I believe that the philosophies that Jones and (Alister) MacKenzie established here are timeless.”

Best New Course – Streamsong Black – Gil Hanse

Is it the best course at the resort? Probably. THe Red has better high points, but the Black is so consistently good from beginning to end and the most complete course of the three, Gil managed to create on an impressive scale some really intimate and imaginative holes to play. It plays the best of the three and that gives it the nod.

Runner Up – Sand Valley – Coore and Crenshaw

The highlights such as the 8th, 9th, 10th, 14th and 17th are truly impressive. But this time there are some misses too. The 2nd green was really forced and the split fairway on the 12th didn’t provide any advantage from either side. They had lots of land and a great property so the choices were all there’s to make.

They still build great golf courses every time out. They are still the best in the game. But I will always hold them up against other works like Friars Head where I think they did even better.

Surprising note for C&C is they currently don't have a 2018 project.

Renovation of the Year – Winged Foot - Gil Hanse

The three part series put out by the USGA does a great job in explaining the research and detail that went into preserving, restoring and rebuilding some of golf's most iconic greens.

Most Anticipated Openings

Sand Valley by David Kidd
Ohoopee Match Play Club by Gil Hanse
Trinity Forest by Coore and Crenshaw