Monday, 26 January 2015

Jasper Park Evolution

I spent the last month researching and writing a piece on the evolution of Jasper Park Golf Course. I plan to post the article in a week or two on Golf Club Atlas as a resource for people to understand and appreciate the work of Stanley Thompson. The piece has approximately 40 images to support the text.

With all the early praise for Jasper in 1925-1926, it’s stunning to think that the bunkers at Jasper Park would look quite different by the time they played the Canadian Amateur in 1929. The piece reviews Jasper from the origins through to the 1929 Amateur.

It has been long rumored that the work was done immediately upon the completion of construction of Banff Springs, which would have meant 1929. The story was that once the CNR had seen the finished results at Banff Springs they demanded Thompson return to Jasper immediately and make their bunkers even more impressive than Banff’s.

The only problem with this story is by the summer of 1929 Jasper Park had hosted the Canadian Amateur and the pictures taken in that year clearly show the bunkers have been changed prior to the event.

6th green - looking out over the 10th hole

In the Fall of 1928 a team of British senior golfers, including Alister Mackenzie, visited Jasper. Mackenzie was quoted saying,, “In Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, Canada has taken the lead in golf course architecture and has produced 18 holes that within the whole scope of my experience and knowledge are not surpassed. Quite apart from its scenic features, which are glorious, and considering it purely from the golfing standpoint, I consider the course to be the best I have ever seen. It is greater than our Gleneagles which we are inordinately proud.” Regina Post September 1928

It was far more likely that Mackenzie was impressed by what Jasper had become that what was originally built. So when was the work done...

My research took me to some unusual locations to retrieve photos and information. The source of some very important photos turned out to be the Science and Technology Museum. With-in their archives I was able to go through the collection of railway images from CNR. This was my long-shot, but my intuition was rewarded with exactly what I hoped to find, photos of Jasper Park from 1929 and 1946. The first clue to their existence came from a couple of images at the Yellowhead Museum in Jasper Townsite.
4th green in 1926
But the more rewarding find was the book Golf in Jasper Park by A.J. Hills in the Toronto Resource Library. In that book, I was able to use the information on each hole to piece the puzzle to what was built and what was changed by Thompson.

What I found compelling about the bunker renovation at Jasper Park is it provides a window into what was going on inside of Stanley Thompson during this period. He was quickly transitioning from a very good architect to the creator of some of the most impressive and imaginative landscapes the game has ever seen. It provides a chance to observe what he saw differently from one period of his career to the next - the one that made him a legend.

Of note: None of these images were used in the piece 

Monday, 19 January 2015

We Need Your Playing Accomplishments?

Mike and I discussing the 10th at Riviera

One of the funniest moments I ever had was when I was working on the Weir Golf Design Web Site. The person organizing the site had just finished putting Mike’s playing accomplishments on his page and felt mine should have the same symmetry. So making an assumption they asked, “We need all your playing accomplishments.”

I deadpanned, “When I was eighteen I coughed up a four shot lead with nine holes to go in the Junior Club Championship and lost by one when I three putted the final hole.”

It was met with stunned silence. 

I finally said, “Why don’t you list where I have lectured, it almost matches Mike’s list numerically and it’s far more important.” Funny, I can stand in front of 500 people and talk freely, but I can’t hit a ball straight with an exceptional round in progress …

3rd at Pacific Dunes - source of two discussions

I've twice in my life been told (interestingly by ASGCA members), “If you were a better player, you would have better understanding of strategy.” Interestingly both comments stemmed from a discussion about the same course, Pacific Dunes. One felt it completely lacked “strategy.” That's impossible, but anyway, my counter-argument was that not everything has to be defined and challenged by a hazard to be strategic. Besides, the undulations in the landscape and cant of a green forms the basics of strategy before we begin to bunker. The other architect felt that you should be rewarded for hitting greens and was disappointed in putting defensively. I pointed out to him how wide open the holes like the third were to play and that the defense was all set at the green. It was an ideal approach to a resort course on a windy site. 

Their own weakness was their criticisms revolved around their own game.

Sometimes it helps not to be a strong player because you watch everyone else's game intently to see what the impact of features are for all styles of play. Great design encompasses all players, not just the elite.

A broad perspective is often the best perspective when it comes to designing holes.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Who Routed Capilano?

courtesy Global Air Photos

So who "really" routed Capilano?

Here is an article by Robert Trent Jones Biographer James Hansen called, “Who routed the course at Capilano: Thompson or Jones?” published on October 30th, 2014:

Here is my response by letter to the magazine (published this month):

Dear Editor,

I wanted to reply to Professor James Hanson’s article in the last issue of GCA, in which he made the case that Robert Trent Jones was responsible for the routing of the Capilano course in Vancouver, not Stanley Thompson. “I routed the holes for Thompson at Capilano,” Jones asserted in his 1988 autobiographical book, Golf’s Magnificent Challenge.

The full quote reads: “We soon turned north to Canada, where there was still some money with which to build courses. I routed the holes for Thompson at Capilano, worked on some short courses in Ontario and Quebec and helped him with the course in Banff, where they were having trouble with winter kill on the greens.”

Interestingly, a few pages earlier Jones says: “Thompson's modus operandi was in keeping with his personality. He would walk a property to get a feel for it, never taking a note, then sit back with a bottle of Scotch and a good cigar and design the course. And they were always good. Jasper Park and Banff Springs in Alberta, Capilano in Vancouver, Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia – all were wonderful, beautiful layouts.”

So which quote represents the truth? 

Hansen says: “If anyone would dispute Jones’ claim to Capilano’s routing plan, it would be the Canadian golf historian and Stanley Thompson biographer, James Barclay (who died in 2012). But even Barclay, in his biography of Stanley Thompson, The Toronto Terror, conceded, ‘Jones did the course routing for Stanley Thompson’s classic layout at Capilano’.”

The problem is they both cite the exact same single source – "Trent Jones" in Golf’s Magnificent Challenge

So let’s step back for a moment and pull together what is known about Stanley Thompson and Capilano.

For perspective, by 1931 he had already built 67 courses and in 1932 Thompson would build Noranda Mines, Woodbine in Toronto, St Leonard’s in Montreal, Sunningdale in London, Ontario, Waterdown near Hamilton and went to work at Gavea and Itanhanga in Rio.

Hathstauwk, Eric Whitehead’s club history of Capilano, mentions AJ Taylor met Thompson and hired him to design the course in 1931. In Canadian Golfer in February 1932 we read:“Stanley Thompson, golf architect of Toronto, is in Vancouver this month on consultation in connection with building a very fine new course.”

When we look at when Thompson was compensated for the job,it is worth noting he was paid on 20 April 1932, for a visit. We know Thompson met Taylor at the Waldorf Astoria in July 1932 from Hathstauwk: “This 1932 meeting at the Waldorf, which was eventually adjourned to an informal cocktail session down in the hotel's famous Peacock Alley, was merely in the nature of an early report on preliminary drawings created from a topography map.”

From this information it’s rational to conclude that he walked the site in February and then produced a routing on a topographic map while in his hotel room. This had been his modus operandi throughout his career.

The timeline also brings into question Trent’s travels since he went to Banff during the summer, to consult on turf and see the sites in the Bow Valley before headed out to Vancouver to see the British Pacific Properties. Throw in the length and complications of train travel and it’s unlikely that he was back before Thompson met with Taylor.

But that’s not the limit of the supporting information. Thompson went to Vancouver in the spring of 1933 to inspect the site “and had his course design on paper.” Some clearing began immediately under the direction of Stan Conway. They began with the clearing of the centre lines with the intention to work their way out later. We also know that Thompson submitted construction plans (typically layout plans) in June 1933 that included the irrigation drawings referred to in another letter after that visit.

Using the notes about payment once more, it is worth noting his next visit came on 20 October 1934. The clearing at Capilano turned out to be absolutely brutal given issues with the massive boulders and huge tree stumps found on every hole. It was in 1935 that Stanley hired Geoff Cornish as an associate to help address the lack of soil on site.

Thompson’s next visit was 9 November 1935, followed quickly again on 31 January 1936. At this point he was directing the construction and was supervising the green contours and bunker shaping on these trips. He wrote 12 pages of “finishing notes” on 4 February 1936, that outlined all the work he wanted completed on each hole to finish the golf course. His (often sarcastic) letters and telegraphs (published in Hathstauwk) were sent to British Properties project supervisor John Anderson document the timing of the rest of his construction visits.

But we also need to address what Thompson was like to work for. Hansen says: “Not just that, as 80-year-old records now preserved in the Robert Trent Jones Sr Collection at Cornell University Archives show, Trent Jones also produced sketches for some of Capilano’s green complexes.”

But when Thompson had time he didn't produce green drawings,he would build models. In the Nashwaak Review’s “Interview of Geoff Cornish,” Cornish, one of Thompson’s associates, says: “You know here in Cape Breton, Stan only did models of one or two greens, like I showed you last night. He did some courses, such as Capilano, where he did all eighteen.”

There are images of the complete model he made for Banff. There’s a great photo of Thompson painting an individual green model in 1950. His nephew talked about visiting just before his death and the house being full of plaster models. Stan also did not do working drawings, just routing plans with tees, fairways, bunkers and greens hand drawn. These were always produced by the engineering firm Wilson Bunnell & Borgstrom from his tracings.

There are various interviews around with former Thompson associates, including one I conducted with Geoff Cornish myself. The one constant is how decisive Thompson was on what he wanted. He had his associates supervise construction, but both Robbie Robinson, another former associate, and Geoff have made it clear that Stan did not welcome input. He was very particular about getting precisely what he wanted, often gruff with them and never one to extend an opportunity for them to design holes. “You learnt by observing,” Geoff once said.

Thompson was, after all, a man who convinced titans of industry to spend way more than they budgeted. He was an architect who was always the centre of attention according to his family and peers. He built St George’s, Banff and Jasper along with 64 other courses before he started Capilano. What are the odds this man would hand over the routing of his most important commission to one of his junior partners?

The evidence provided by James Hansen is not enough to make any change to the accreditation of Capilano.

Yours sincerely

Ian Andrew
Ian Andrew Golf Design
Brantford, Ontario

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Year in Review - Part Three - Golf Architecture

The Year in Golf Architecture

Larry Packard Passes

January began on a sad note when ASGCA member and past president Larry Packard died. He began his career with Robert Bruce Harris in the 1940’s and worked on approximately 600 courses in his lifetime, including Innisbrook, where he was living at the time of his passing.

The Donald - Part One - Buys Doonbeg

After a long and drawn out battle trying to build a second course and fighting new wind turbines, Donald Trump took his bag of marbles to Ireland and purchased the Doonbeg Resort. He planned a major rebuild of the course.

Pebble Beach – To rebuild the 14th and 17th greens

I’ve always found the 14th to be one of the more interesting and iconic greens I have seen. I understand the need to have more pin locations, but I’m fearful of the results since the recent bunker work seems to be driven by easing maintenance rather than preserving or restoring architecture. If the right side is indeed softened to for pin locations, the fear of a ball backing up that same slope and going “around” the front bunker will be lost. The hole will not be the same after. [i]Please be careful with this one![/i]

The Donald – Part Two - The Meltdown in Miami

There was no question that Doral had lost its teeth. So the Donald after buying the resort decided that it needed an update. He made sure to mandate Gil Hanse to return “The Blue Monster”. What nobody anticipated was the combination of 30 mph winds and the early firmness that made the course tough as nails. The golf course was still young, which meant that the greens were as hard as a rock and the wind was clearly redirecting the approach shots. Add some young turf on the banks of the ponds and anything close to the water went in. Only 14 guys were under par after the first round, then only four after the second round. Trump triumphantly said, “They haven’t even set it up hard.” The Monster was back...

George Bahto Passes

George Bahto was a friend. He wrote a remarkable book on the life and architecture of Charles Blair Macdonald called The Evangelist of Golf. He was in the middle of writing another on the life and work of Seth Raynor which I hope to see published with help from friends. He was also a wonderful architect in his own right who preserved and restored numerous works by Macdonald, Raynor and Banks. He is missed by all of us.

Water – The New Oil

The California Drought made a clear statement of how scarce the resource is in certain regions. There are clear limitations to how far this resource can be stretched when storage along the Colorado continues to decline. We did see some closures, mostly through economics, but water was brought up in closures for the first time that I can remember. It’s not a stretch to see a future where “water” limits the new development of golf and that excess run-off or rain become the only source. It’s quite likely that water – and not a real estate crash – that will end China’s golf boom.

Tree Replacement? – Part One - Ike’s Tree

News flooded out pre-Masters that Ike’s Tree on the 17th had come down. Many pointed out that the tree’s relevance had pretty much ended when technology allowed the ball to carry the tree on all but the coldest or windiest days. But traditionalists like Gary Player said, ”Purchase the biggest replacement known to mankind & replace it. The hole is not the same without Ike's Tree.” I honestly thought they would, but I love the fact they have not.

The R&A’s Lead Architect Dawson announces his Retirement

I should be nicer to him because this is for all the right reasons (family and health), but his constant tinkering with the Open Courses and not addressing the ball has driven me nuts for the last 20 years. His organization – and the USGA shares blame – has failed to address the problems that impact everything from safety through to cost. They had a simple answer called the ball, but instead he tinkered with the Open Courses in the name of relevance – while telling us there was nothing was wrong with technology.

The Donald – Part Three – Let the Threats Begin

One of the things many of us remember about the original build of Doonbeg was the environmental restrictions created by a microscopic snail found in key sections of the property. The Donald plans to rebuild the golf course, but none of that will make sense unless he can persuade the Irish government to overturn the current environmental status of the property. I never could figure out how he got it done in Scotland – so anything is possible – but I don’t believe lightening will strike twice.

The Donald – Part Four – Trump Turnberry

Donald Trump continues to expand his presence in golf by purchasing one of the most famous and highly ranked courses in the UK. There are more than few critics who have suggested that this was the only way he was ever going to see any Open on any of his properties.  The Donald talked about how much he revered this golf course, “Some of the greatest championships in the history of golf have taken place at Turnberry,” Trump said. “And the golf course itself is considered one of the greatest in the world. Some rate it as the best in the world. I’m not going to touch a thing unless the Royal and Ancient ask for it or approve it. I have the greatest respect for the R&A and for Peter Dawson. I won’t do anything to the golf course at all without their full stamp of approval.”

The Donald – Part Five - Pinehurst

From the @RealDonaldTrump, “I think Pinehurst is Ugly”

Sustainability - The US Open at Pinehurst

This was the singular most important moment in golf course architecture. The USGA – to their credit - was presenting a course where sustainability was a critical element in the redevelopment and restoration of this famous course. For those like myself that think sustainability is now a critical factor in any golf project, this was the landmark moment we need to help steer our clients towards the future. We needed it to look good, play well and hoped to have the media to support the “bigger picture” on this one. While the Augustafiles were aghast, there were lots of great articles written to explain and support what was accomplished. It still ran headlong into old and tired ideals of what golf should be, but it remained a great moment for golf architecture.

Is the China Golf Boom Over?

We all knew that things had slowed down, but as Dan Washburn (credit him for most of the information below) pointed out, that still meant China was building more courses than anyone else. Then very recently the slowdown became almost a shutdown with very few new projects proceeding. The government began to actually enforce the moratorium placed in 2004. They began to use satellite imagery to find projects and have even turned a number of illegal projects back into raw land. The banking industry became a lot stricter about the rules for lending on real estate developments. Speculating on real estate has begun to decline. Administrators in smaller provinces, who allowed the projects to happen assuming the distance from Beijing would insulate them from being noticed, became fearful when courses began to disappear. Finally, China has seen severe water shortages in particular regions and are becoming more serious about reducing any unnecessary consumption - golf is an easy target moving forward.

Will a Reversible Course stay reversible?

Tom Doak and Brian Slawnick of Rennassaince Golf have been commissioned to build a reversible course. It’s an interesting challenge for the two designers who will both concentrate on a single direction. The concept is not new. Westchester by Travis was among those that were designed to be reversible. Intrestingly, even the Old Course eventually ended up played in one preferred direction.

Happy Birthday Eden Course

After seeing the front nine greens at the Eden Course this year I could help but think that they were in the discussion for the best set of greens in golf. One of the clear standouts was the 5th green. So what do you do to celebrate the 100th anniversary – rebuild the 5th … @#%#

Oh Canada – Part One - Cabot Cliffs will be Stunning

Bill Coore has said, [i]“If we don’t deliver a great course on a site like this, then it’s our fault.” [/i]All bets are on this one being a course of a generation and by a longshot the greatest course Canada has. Like everyone else, I can’t wait to see and play this course.

New Neighbors for Old Courses

Hey USGA, question for you … What’s the other impact of a ball flying too far? …that is flies further off line too! I expect the high profile court at Quaker Ridge could see a new precedent for an American clubs. The Islington ruling has had an impact on Canadian golf clubs. Imagine if it becomes the responsibility of the club to keep the balls on their own property… it’s a frightening thought.

Oh Canada – Part Two – Mickelson National Club of Canada … seriously?

OK, I laughed at the name. I laughed even harder at the idea of an 8,000 yard course [i]“for members play every day”[/i] It’s not completely Phil’s fault since he inherited the water filled layout and project from Johnny Miller, but in an era of “Tee it Forward”, this feels like a dinosaur.

Baltusrol Designated a National Historical Landmark

The designation was bestowed by the Department of the Interior for both of Baltusrol's courses. They have been deemed important designs of Golden Age golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast. It’s nice to see courses recognized as being important cultural landscapes because they are. My only question becomes, should there be any restrictions placed on a designated course. In my case, I have always believed Highlands Links should get the same designation and be frozen in time after restoration, but that’s because the people of Canada own the course.

Olympic Golf Course – Part One - Fazio Consults at Kasumigaseki

The club’s comments,“He has a great reputation, as we know from his role at Augusta National. He emphasized that he would respect what we have here. He will balance the natural feeling here with the improvements needed to challenge the best players.” It’s interesting that the club controls the agenda and not the International Golf Federation.

TPC Scottsdale Renovations

This was Tom Weiskopf`s original design (one which I liked), so it was his course to alter as he saw fit, but the Augustaification of this course was truly confusing to me.

Albert Warren Tillinghast – enters the World Golf Hall of Fame

It was about time! I’ve long been a fan of Tillinghast’s approach of building golfscapes. Whether he found holes, or completely created everything, he always managed to meld this back into the surroundings. His visions were often bolder and brasher than his contemporaries and often took an average site and created something magical. He among the best of the best in golf architecture and in my opinion should have been recognized the very first year.

Dr. Bradley Klein named Donald Ross Award Recipient from ASGCA

Brad's writings and books have helped inform and shaped opinions about golf architecture. He has done an excellent job of drawing attention to the history of architecture as well as push and prod the present golf architects for better answers and an improved vision for the future of golf architecture. Congratulations Brad.

The Donald – Part Six – Turnberry Renovations

The Donald announces major changes to Ailsa's ninth, 10th and 11th holes - which will see the ninth become "the most spectacular hole in all of golf" I think we`ve all looked at that cove and seen the possibilities, but I also think we easily underestimate the qualities of the ninth and how it fits into the flow of the course. I get this change, but don’t think it’s as necessary as other do.

The Donald – Part Seven - Tiger Woods Design

Dubai, Cabo, Houston … he may be one of the busiest architects in the business. But the combination of Donald Trump and Tiger Woods in Dubai is as intriguing prospect. Particularly when they provided lines like this,“Bringing Tiger Woods to Dubai is a testament to the luxury and quality that can be anticipated at AKOYA Oxygen – where fashion meets the outdoors, and green really is the new black.” what? ... I have no idea what that supposed to mean, but it made me cringe instinctively.

Olympic Golf Course – Part Two – The course can finally be built …

Judge Eduardo Antonio Klausner said in his decision that there are no new facts justifying a stoppage to the construction of the course … other than they’re done. The bigger question is how long after the Olympics will this course become development. My over/under is five years. Glad I saw it, even if only during construction, because it’s really good.

Tree Replacement – Part Two – Pebble Beach’s 18th Fairway Trees

Nothing made me happier than seeing that one of golf’s stupid trees on the ground. I’ve never been able to comprehend how anyone at any point thought this was good architecture when all of the greatest architects have described this type of tree as anything from fluky to nuisance to ridiculous. Come on wind, blow the other dumb tree down too.

From “0” to Hero in one Commission

David Kidd has seen his share of criticism of the years, including Tom Doak’s “0” for his Castle Course, all the while his career has progressed steadily along with a series of interesting projects. The end of the year brought praise for Gamble Sands and the awarding of the most anticipated commission - the second course at Sand Valley. You could argue that this was his year

... or was it the Year of Donald Trump?

Friday, 12 December 2014

2014 Year in Review – Part Two – The Courses I Saw

2014 Year in Review – Part Two – The Courses I Saw

13th at Chicago Golf Club

Lots of great golf, but almost no casual golf in between. Highlights were St. Andrew's, Prairie Dunes and Chicago. If you truly understood every aspect of these three courses, you would have the perfect foundation to become a great golf course architect. These courses still inspire me and open up new and exciting alternatives each time I see one of them.

Trump International's 3rd - where the course meets the sea

Scotland – early April

Day One
St. Andrew’s Old – the back nine may be the best in the game
Lundin – only a few holes around the clubhouse were inspiring

Day Two
Elie – brilliant greens surprised me, lots of great golf
Crail – great site ... disappointing architecturally
St. Andrew’s (Eden) – front nine – one of the best set of greens in golf … then the back starts… still a must play while at the Old Course

Day Three
Murcar – so many impressive holes, but far too tight on a windy afternoon
Royal Aberdeen – a three act play: one of the finest nines in golf, the renovations to the middle are really disappointing, but a nice finish at the end was a pleasant surprise

Day Four
Trump International – great site, pretty solid routing, weakness was overdoing it when restraint would have yielded superior results ... worth playing
Fraserburg – plenty of amazing holes mid round worth seeking out, 13th is one of the great gems in the game

Day Five
Castle Stuart – really impressed with how interesting and varied the holes were, largely because of how the routing was assembled
Fortrose and Rosemarkie – interesting site, but not very interesting golf, unless you like pedestrians and cars!

11th at Southern Hills - no place to miss... as usual

ASGCA Meeting - early May

Prairie Dunes (36) – no course blurs the line between nature and golf better than PD, still remains in my personal Top 10 in "all" of golf
Hillcrest – great layout and great set of greens brought a major surprise
Patriot - I've walked 36 at Highlands Links, I’m not sure if this course could be walked
Southern Hills – it’s very well done, but the greatness is largely built around the challenge - it's a  one dimensional course to play except close to the clubhouse
Tulsa CC – just too "Modern" (style rather than new) for my taste

Laval's 16th, inspired by Riviera's 10th

Summer Rounds

Laval (Blue) – twice – still find it fun to play all those running shots around the greens
Cutten Fields – back nine needs more work
Huntington - love the combination of scale, templates and ground game

2nd green at Chicago Golf

Chicago Trip - mid- October

Oak Park – enjoyed it, but found it was lacking ... something
Chicago – one of the most impressive courses I have ever seen because of the scale and aggressive features, one of the best courses I have seen.
Shoreacres – in my opinion grassing changes brought this up another tier

Planned for 2015

This will be a great "playing" year. I've already arranged and paid for my trips to come. I may even join the local Private club this year and try to recapture my old golf game. 

Burnham and Barrow

Southwest England - Spring

Burnham and Barrow
Royal North Devon
St. Enodoc (36) - been on the top of my wish list for years

Royal Cinque Port

Southeast England – Fall Matches

Sunningdale (New)
St. George’s
Royal Cinque Port - want to see those greens

Maple Downs 8th Hole

Openings to Attend

St. George’s

Maple Downs

I plan to play a little more unless I become too busy. I do expect a couple of rounds in Boston this Spring, but no extended trip planned ... yet. If luck comes, I plan to explore the great courses of New Jersey next year. I expect to play more this year....

Thursday, 11 December 2014

2014 My Year in Review – Part One - Ian Andrew Golf Design

New 15th at Islington GC

New Clients

Huntington Crescent Club (Deverault Emmet), Huntington, NY
Thorny Lea Golf Club (Stiles and Van Kleek)
Wheatley Hills Country Club (Deverault Emmet), Long Island, NY

Continued Growth in USA

My current growth is in the US. Nine of the last 10 new courses were American clubs with half of them being in New York State. The area of largest growth has become New York City. I’m thrilled that my name comes up for renovation or restoration work in the Northeastern United States. I continue to get new opportunities and even new architects to work with.

Master Plans

Thorny Lea Golf Club (Stiles and Van Kleek)
Quogue Field Club (Bendelow), Quogue, New York

3rd at St. George's mid construction


This was the year like no other, from May to October I was involved in the rebuilding of 59 greens! I don’t expect to see another year like it…

Islington GC – April - Relocated the 15th hole
Islington GC – May/June - Rebuilt remaining 17 greens and bunkers on 8 holes
Beverly G&CC – May/September - Rebuilt the bunkers
Pheasant Run GC – June - Rebuilt one green
St. George’s G&C (w/Tom Doak) – July/Sept – assisted with rebuilding 20 greens and 2 fairways
Maple Down G&CC – July/October – Rebuilt 20 greens, all bunkers and most tees
Cedar Brae – October - Rebuilt the bunkers on the 6th and 16th holes
Onondoga – October - added new fairway bunkers

Potential Projects for Next Year

Kawartha G&CC – Build two new holes
Penn Hills – two new  “Travis” greens
Oakdale – Relocate a hole
Laval – Rebuild bunkers on Green Course
Ashburn – Rebuild 8 greens
Knollwood – Rebuild remaining bunkers

New 13th green at Maple Downs

State of business

I had a really good year set in place from the outset.

I had one substantial project in the Fall with the rebuilding of greens tees and bunkers at Maple Downs. It was my opportunity to channel my inner “Raynor” and take a great property and solid routing and turn it into something even more substantial.

I also relocated the 15th hole green at Islington to address the safety issues of the adjacent road along with addressing the miserable growing environment. It was an excellent project involving everything from creek work to golf construction.

The third project was the rebuilding of the bunkers at Beverly Golf & Country Club. This project involved some relocation to make bunkers more strategic, better detailing for long term stability, but mostly removals and a style change designed to address the long term stability of the golf course.

But once spring arrived, everyone knew this was a winter like no other and the year went into overdrive. Islington was devastated and quickly committed to rebuilding their greens. St. George’s would follow soon after and I spent my year going from course to course rebuilding greens.

I won’t see another year like that. There are lots of potential projects on the books for next year, but nothing is set in stone. This is like most winters for me, no clarity, but I do know that clubs will move ahead with projects and I will fill a good portion of the year with planning and construction. I always do. Or I’ll play a little more golf for a change…

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Minimalism and Impressionism

Sunrise - 1873 - Monet

The foundations or Minimalism were laid in the early 1960’s with the earliest work of Pete Dye. It’s well understood that he was trying to draw attention by creating something polar opposite to founder of Modernism Robert Trent Jones. While Pete moved on to different ideas a short decade later, a small group of architects took note at the early work with interest and the movement survived in thought.

In the 19th century art was dominated in France by the Royal Academies of Art which not only ran schools of instruction, but held an annual exhibition where the latest art could be seem and hopefully create critical notice for the painter. These institutions through their power and influence essentially established institutions public taste and official patronage. People bought and supported the artists that they made popular.

Interestingly in the 1970’s and 1980’s Golf Magazines made certain architects celebrities and created a scenario where you needed to hire one of the celebrity architects to keep up with the Jones’s.

In the middle to late 1800’s an important artistic movement was emerging, but the critics who ran the Salon generally ignored the work declaring it incomplete or poorly executed. They felt that most works were illustrative rather than finished pictures. The standard for the day was a very regimented and realistic composition based largely around themes of military and religion. The critics of the day simply excluded the Impressionist pieces, or if they allowed it they would place it well up the walls to limit the accessibility for the public.

Sand Hills - canvas by Josh Smith

In the early 1990’s the Minimalist Movement was still largely ignored until Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s were commissioned to create Sand Hills. Not only was the work spectacular, but their philosophy and approach caught many people’s attention including critics. The incorporating of nature, the minimal earthmoving and the idea of giving players greater opportunity for self-expression all hit a cord with a new generation of architects wanting to express themselves differently than the popular architects of the day. They had their example and this became the game changer for golf design, but society remained focused on Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus and Stadium Golf.

The Impressionists, including Monet, Degas, Pissarro and Sisley, eventually decided to organize a group called the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc. They organized their own exhibition in Paris to showcase their works without the same limitations and politics found in the Salon. Change did not come overnight, but a few critics like Edmond Duranty described the collective works as a revolution in painting.

 In 1999 Mike Keiser started Bandon Dunes which would be the tipping point with the work at Pacific Dunes ushering in a new era of design.

The Impressionists paintings stood out from their contemporaries for their use of bright colors instead of sombre tones. They dared to use colour to create light and shade rather than the established technique of applying white and black. Even the darkened finish of heavy lacquer was often not used leaving the brash and exuberant hues and colours on full display. New paints had brought in a richer colour palette which were not only embraced but featured in works. But the real change was the subject matter. They revelled in modern Paris life capturing the excitement in the air of a city in flux. The painters captured life around Paris in all its moods and intrigue.

Modern Architecture evolved into a game played against an architect who controlled not only every aspect but also demanded the course be played as they had set out, whereas Minimalism gave the player the freedom to choose their own path and create their own experience through self-expression.

By 1886 the Impressionist movement had exploded out to include new forms of exploration and new techniques. More artists pushed the boundaries and the Impressionist movement blossomed.

The critics and public have clearly embraced Minimalism to a point where the leading Minimalists are now the darlings of the press. Their peers and their protégée’s have also ascended to gain key commissions and gain recognition. What’s interesting is a new group of younger architects have redefined the roll of an architect and are pushing the definition of Golf Course Architect. The Golden Age grew out from people like Colt to include Mackenzie, Tillinghast and Thomas. But it also provided room for more eccentric artists like Raynor, Thompson and Strong.

With the emergence of the internet and the slow death of magazines and newspapers, careers can now come from almost anywhere.
The Impressionists no longer need the Salon!