Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Last Blog Post

More time for Scotch Tasting 
I want to thank anyone who has taken the time to read through any of the articles found here.

I can honestly say the experience has been an excellent one for me personally. I quickly found out I would need to research every facet of golf architecture in greater detail if I was going to explain it to others. What an education that turned out to be. It eventually made me reconsider what I believed and in many ways provided the new foundation for a slightly different philosophy on golf course architecture that I strongly believe in. I tried to share everything that I knew, that I learnt along the way right up to the really subtle nuances that I felt could explain why certain holes stir emotions in us.

The Index of Articles can be found here

It was fun sharing this with you and now I set out on the next potential journey, putting that all into a book. I intend to do that online and will post a link when I'm ready.

Very Best regards,

Ian Andrew

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

My Year in Review – Part Seven – Ian Andrew Golf Design

8th at Huntington CC - image of restored green site
New Clients

Crag Burn Golf Club, East Aurora, NY
Huntington Country Club, Huntington, NY
Quogue Field Club, Quogue, NY
St. George’s Golf & Country Club (w/ Tom Doak), Toronto, Ontario
The Club at North Halton , Georgetown, Ontario 

Quogue's 3rd green

Growth in USA

I’m finding I’m still growing the business far more quickly in the United States than in Canada. Last year saw three new American clients and interviews in Miami, New York and Boston. I think the two new clients on Long Island may turn out to be significant in the long run.
Spring Brook - Before - 2nd Hole

Spring Brook - After 2nd Hole

Master Plans

Spring Brook Country Club, Morristown, NJ
Penn Hills Golf Club, Bradford, Pa.
Pinegrove Golf Club, St. Jean, Quebec
Huntington Country Club, Huntington, NY
Cutten Fields, Guelph, Ontario (update)
Galt Country Club, Cambridge, Ontario (update)
Saskatoon Golf & Country Club, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Laval's short and complicated 16th

Most Influential in Canada?

From Going for the Green’s Most Influential in Canadian Golf List (On the Rise):

“Now Andrew’s business is vibrant – and his role as architectural consultant to courses like Highlands Links, St. George’s, and dozens of others has made him the go-to designer for classic clubs in Canada…”

“The fact that the 2017 Canadian Open will likely be played on a course Andrew designed with Mike Weir should bring even more attention.”

Orchard Park's 3rd Hole


Highlands Links - drained 6th hole
Carleton Golf & Yacht Club – renovated 2 holes
Islington – Bunker work and new 11th green
Glens Falls – more grassing work
Orchard Park complete bunker project
Cedar Brae – renovation to 4 holes
Craigowan - bunkered the 9th hole
Laval – removed the hedge and tee work


Islington's 15th Hole Under Construction this week


Definite Projects for Next Year

Islington – Build a new 15th hole
Beverly – complete bunker renovation
Maple Downs - complete rebuild of tees bunkers and greens
Onondaga – a few new fairway bunkers

Maple Downs Rebuild Fall of 2014

State of business

I’m thrilled at this year. It was supposed to an off year. I began the year with hardly anything booked and not a lot of prospects. I had some hope that my existing clients would call because they always do, but I certainly thought I would have a pretty quiet year.

The year even had a funny start with a couple of excellent high profile interviews, but I still had nothing to show other than a lot of second place finished to some very well-known and well respected architects. Then the year just flat out took off, I got each course that I interviewed for and lots of clubs began to look at projects.

What made the year so terrific is that a number of key projects got approved for this year. I have a bunker project, a new hole to build and even an entire course to renovate next year. The year looks to be an outstanding one before it begins and that is a great place to start the following season.



Tuesday, 3 December 2013

My Year in Review – Part Six – Weir Golf Design

Mike at Laval's 12th

Laval Blue Course Update

Not many people know, but Mike’s been back a few times to play. We are both very happy with the end results. Mike would like to see a couple of landing areas tighten up slightly. I’m still waiting to hear if the course will host the Canadian Open and we can make any adjustments at that time.

The feedback has been very strong, including a review of the course as a potential Canadian Open site. And I’ve had quite a few emails like this one:

“I played Laval-sur-le-Lac just this week with two other ScoreGolf panelists (all names removed). The green complexes are superb & the overall layout a true gem!  It was the second time that I have played it this year & I cannot wait to return….congratulations on a great re-design.   It is already one of my top 5 courses in Quebec & worthy of Top 20 in Canada!”

Did We Turn Down Angus Glen (South)?

From Robert Thompson’s Going for the Green Blog:

“But over time that shine lost its luster. It still did mondo business from the Toronto business community, but it slipped down SCOREGolf’s Top 100 list. Few people discussed it as one of the best in Canada. That led to the decision to try to rebuild it. Several options were discussed. Mike Weir and Ian Andrew were contacted, but passed on becoming involved. Doug Carrick was considered, but didn’t make the cut.”

Mike and I did look at the project in 2009. This was not long after I left Doug Carrick and I was “very” uncomfortable with performing a major renovation of one of his golf courses. Essentially I felt that this would really hurt his feelings and that mattered to me. We had nothing in writing, but I felt that I owed Doug the courtesy of avoiding his new work and new clients for at least 5 years. This was not the only request I turned down, involving Doug's new work, but I have no regrets for doing so.

Mike wasn’t that interested in the project, which made things a lot easier. He felt we were looking for a new project and not a renovation.

Possible Project for 2014

We were contacted a week ago by a Canadian Developer about working on a project outside of Canada. This would be an additional course for an existing resort. We have submitted our proposal and are currently waiting for an answer. This one would be our first project from a raw site and that would be very exciting.

Looking Ahead

It’s tough to find work. There are very few new projects in North America and even fewer happening in Canada. We have talked to a few people about projects, but the slow economy is holding all of them from proceeding. I think we’ll eventually find something to build, it just may take a few years to do so.

Highlights of the Year – Opening of Laval

The opening of Laval was the Highlight of the Year. It was great to watch Mike play extremely well and post the course record. I received a lot of feedback from the members about how much they were enjoying playing the golf course. And I was thrilled at the quality of the grow-in by Luc Ladocuer. It was just a great day.

I had a couple of chances to play after and I really believe the course plays as it was intended. The first was fun the day early on where it was still a little lush and wet. The second was late in the season when it was dry and Luc firmed up the surfaces to emphasize the challenge and it became tough as nails. It made me think perhaps it could host a Canadian Open ... but they’ll still go real low (and that's fine by me).

But the biggest highlight was something completely unexpected ... and that was when Le Club Laval-sur-le-lac made Mike and I honourary members of Laval. That meant a lot to me personally and is something I'll treasure for my entire career. That was my highlight.


Monday, 2 December 2013

My Year in Review – Part Five – Ian’s Golf Travels

Laval's Blue Course courtesy of club

My golfing travels took me to Florida (5), New York (4), Ohio (1) and Pennsylvania (1). I also played in British Columbia (1), Quebec (3) and Nova Scotia (1). The total was 16 rounds on the road and only 7 at home.

My fight with a “conventional” putter played a huge role in the limited amount of golf that I arranged. It got bad enough that I skipped my annual matches and after not playing for six weeks by choice, I realized I had essentially quit and went back to the Belly Putter.

 It was also a time to put the family first. I’m glad I made that choice, but I do have a couple of trips coming next year and should get back in the swing of things.

courtesy of
 Best Course in 2013 – Oakmont - Frownes

My trip to Oakmont came with enormous expectations and I have to say the course lived up to them all. It sits in very elite company with one of the greatest collections of fours in the game. The variety of long and short fours was astounding. What surprised me was the manageable rough, Merion and others should take note!

Streamsong 15th - uphill and very long

No Desire to Go Back – Steamsong (Red) – Coore and Crenshaw

The course has some exceptional holes, but my struggles came from the difficulty of the opening holes. Much of that had to do with close proximity of long grasses and strong use of water. Unless the wind is down you’re going to lose a lot of golf balls and that seemed an unusual approach to a resort course.

I think there are sections where the course was fun (7,8,9) and little too hard (1,2,3,5) (13,14,15) for the average player. Perhaps some of the grasses will become exposed sand and address my issues, but until then it's too tough for me.

8th at Mountain Lake courtesy of GCA
Where I’d Join – Mountain Lake - Raynor

Elegant, beautiful, interesting, fun, what a pleasure this course is to play. The course reminds me of Shoreacres where the templates are less pronounced and the course flows a little more with the land. Which made the Redan an even impressive because the setting was unexpected Raynor managed to build a feeder slope that works with warm season grass! It was a pleasure to play and a course I would happily play every day.

13th at Huntington Country Club 

Biggest Surprise – Huntington Country Club - Emmet

I had no idea how good Devereux Emmet was until I saw Huntington Country Club. The routing makes great use of some excellent terrain, particularly on the back nine. The holes have great variety in lengths and strategy. The re-creation of the Road Hole green site is best one I have seen so far. And the bunkering was incredibly diverse in size, presentation and strategy making it one of the better-bunkered courses I have seen. This one is a gem and stays off the radar only because it’s a small membership.

Best Renovation - Huntington Country Club – Done In House

The bunker restoration and clearing work at Huntington were all done before I got involved (by the golf course superintendent Glenn Cruetz). The work is excellent and all I’m doing is trying to take them to the next stage with more tree work, a lot of grassing work, returning an original green back to play, lots of tee work and some minor renovations to the work done after Emmet.

 Southern Hills - courtesy of the club

Ian’s Travels for 2014

Prairie Dunes and Southern Hills (both Perry Maxwell) in May. I expect to travel to Long Island for work and play some more while there. I also may try and get around to the New Jersey courses while at Spring Brook. On the wish list is either Boston or Nebraska and each is possible too.


Friday, 29 November 2013

Ian’s 2013 In Review – Part Four – In the Media

It was an interesting year for media coverage and the first section covers that off:

Video Interview – No Holds Barred - Frank Mastroianni

I not only enjoyed the whole interview, but I thought the piece provided a pretty good window into my history, what I think about architecture, some insight on projects, some ideas about slow play and finally where I’d play my final round …


Profile Piece – Conversations with Unknown Architects – Tony Dear

“What has been your favorite project to date?

The restoration of Highlands Links (an original Stanley Thompson design in Nova Scotia), a project that has become very personal. I think the work is essential for the good of the game since other architects can now come out and see Highlands Links in its original form once again. Each time I go to the course I put on my gloves and work boots and run the crew. Everything is done by hand and built by the people of the community. The whole project is all about the big picture, which is the economic survival of a small community.

How did you survive the economic downturn?

I have a small, very specialized niche business that is based out of my home. I'm very good at putting money aside during the good times to cover the quiet periods. My restoration work has remained solid throughout the last decade despite the ups and downs in the economy. I'm getting more and more calls from further away and that's a good sign that my profile continues to rise. I also get projects through the recommendation of my peers, so I must be doing something right.”

My Own Writing - Are your Bunkers too Perfect? – from Green Master

“I have spent the better part of the last two decades coming up with ways to keep bunkers playing consistently, avoiding contamination and getting the ball to the bottom of bunker for playability. While this may receive a resounding thumb up from golfers, I’m starting to wonder if I’m doing the right thing.”

I’m fully convinced that we got good enough at conditioning to screw up the architectural value, since 25% of a club’s costs go into bunkers, perhaps it’s time for a change of thinking…

Quote that Got Attention - Courses of Most Resistance – Adam Lawrence

In his excellent piece in Links Magazine he talks about how Minimalism had won the battle over Modernism. I found to my great surprise that I was featured as the last paragraph of the piece.

Canadian architect Ian Andrew, one of the golf industry’s deepest thinkers, takes an optimistically Darwinian view. “I think the economic troubles of today are good for the long term health of golf design”, he says. “With less work, there has been an essential thinning of the herd. The designers of the future have been reduced to a very small group. Only the best will manage to last and see the other side.” 

St. George's Hires Tom Doak and Ian Andrew as Consulting Architects – Brent Long
Tom Doak and Ian Andrew have been selected as new consulting architects for St. George’s Golf and Country Club.
The two noted architects are joining forces to work together for the first time and will be at St. George’s in the coming weeks to meet with club members as Doak takes on his first project in Canada.

“As part of our mission and vision of the club, we want to remain a top-tier golf course and for this reason we are evaluating all options with the new architect team to sustain and improve our world-class status,” says CEO and GM Joe Murphy. In 2013, Golf Magazine rated St. George’s G&CC No. 87 in the world, while in 2012, Golf Digest magazine ranked the course No. 10 in the world outside the United States and No. 1 in Canada.”

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Ian’s 2013 In Review – Part Three – Golf Architecture

18th Green at Olympic Course - image courtesy of Kyle Franz

Biggest Story – Part One – The Olympic Course Delays

March 20th - “Work has finally begun on the 2016 Olympic golf course after delays caused by a legal dispute over ownership of the site. The organizing committee for the Rio de Janeiro Games said on Wednesday that clearing work had begun to remove "non-native vegetation" after a permit was issued by the city. Construction is set to begin in April and Carlos Nuzman, head of the organizing committee, said the course would be ready for a test event in 2015.”

The Grading Permit came April 23rd and they were “finally” off and working.

image courtesy golf club atlas
Worst Renovations – Part One - The Old Course

It’s not the quality of work, but the arrogance of making changes that makes this the most misguided renovation in golf. Peter Dawson continues to roll along with phase two of the renovations despite the questions and opposition that came up after the first phase. This project is egregious enough that they are the my Villains of Golf Architecture for the second straight year.

Olympic Course – Part Two – First Review (Geoff Shackelford)

“The site exceeded expectations in terms of potential for a "great" golf course (very much so) and its setting in Rio (you know you are in Rio but not excessively so). Gil's also done a super job routing what will be a fun, walker friendly course long after the Olympics. It's the type of site a lot of architects would call boring or flattish, but it's far from that.

By now most have seen the images with sandy scrub, nice plant material and other attributes that give off a "sandbelt" essence. About half the property is set on dunesy land with the initial clearing exposing some tremendously good bumps, hillocks and swales. The "lower" section is on wetlands created after the original dunes were stripped off the property decades ago.”

Best Golf Architecture Quote – Brad Klein (GCA Interview)

“Golf course restoration takes that heritage and presents it with a clarity and quality that it never could have enjoyed in its original form (given agronomy and construction techniques back then) and presents it with flair and confidence under modern terms of management. The value there is the uniqueness, the fun and challenge it provides golfers, and the fact that it is readily distinguishable from so many of its more modern competitor facilities in the region. So I think that a good argument for golf course restoration is that it makes business sense in an increasingly competitive golf market.”

Future Architects - Don’t Bother Going to School

For years I’ve suggested a combination of practical experience and a degree in Landscape Architecture as a pretty solid combination which would provide you with an opportunity to join a design firm. Well guess what, design firms are a thing of the past and are likely never to return. This is the era of independent contractors where the vast majority of future architects are building or renovating the courses. To succeed in the current climate, you must be able to build what you design.

So, don’t bother with school, it costs too much and won’t get you a job. Learn to run a dozer or mini-excavator and build great golf before you design great golf.

Since We Have No Work - Architect’s Top 100?

The idea was very interesting, but the results disappointed me.  No list works unless you can vote for everything to show your admiration and disappointment with the various courses that you have seen. You need to be well travelled and I always thought a rater needed a minimum exposure to understand clearly how to compare the best of each region.

Picking you ten favorite’s produces a list where the first twenty will be rock solid, but the bottom fifty will unfairly benefit for not being voted against. That’s my criticism of this list, despite being a very intriguing idea.

Link to List:

image courtesy of Brent Long 
Canadian Architecture – Part One - St George’s Changes Architects

 “My first thought when I heard about the project was that I am generally not taking on new consulting clients anymore, because they chew up too much of my schedule, but that I had to make an exception for any course that was listed among my favourites in the Confidential Guide. That's how I got tied up with Royal Melbourne, too,” Doak said. “My second thought was that I knew Ian Andrew had done a lot of work at St George's a few years ago so I called him and asked if he wanted to collaborate.” - Tom Doak


 image courtesy of Joan Doast
Worst Renovations – Part Two – Pebble Beach

Two years ago I went out to Pebble beach to meet with Mike and walked Pebble while he played a practice round. The renovation work taking place on the bunkers is the worst work that I’ve ever seen on a Top 100 course. The “modernization” by Arnold Palmer has taken away all the interesting edges and features and made them look like any machine made Florida bunkers. The worst example is the breaking up of the massive fairway bunker on the 6th and turning into a series of smaller dull bunkers is undermining the great scale of the original bunkering. Nothing is more painful than the slow dumbing down of great bunkering.

Canadian Architecture – Part Two - Hamilton RFP

Not one Canadian architect was invited to either put in a proposal or team up with another foreign architect. They invited four so-called Colt experts, but two of the best alternatives were not invited into the process and two are clueless when it comes to his work. What further complicates things is the clubs desire to use an existing Master Plan which appears to have driven a few firms out of the process.

Olympic Course – Part Three – I’m Off to Volunteer

“Rio is still going slow but steady ....Would love to have you come down, my thinking is that January or February would be better timing to help with finish work.  If you want to come down in November that would be fine but we would still be pushing dirt at that time. - Gil Hanse

I’m off to help for a week and perhaps longer in January or February.

 Highlands Links 6th hole drainage going in
Canadian Architecture – Part Three - Highlands Links

Parks Canada has left Highlands Links in limbo. There is no outside group take over the course. The crew has become smaller with key members taking other jobs and Graham Hudson continues to keep things moving forward, but each year his job becomes harder and harder to do.

Architect of the Year – Ron Whitten’s Choice

Doak is my choice for mythical Golf Architect of the Year, based upon the astonishing variety of three new courses he introduced in 2013: the Blue Course at Florida's Streamsong Resort (the must-play destination of the year), the Red Course at Dismal River in Nebraska (vastly different from the club's older Nicklaus-designed White Course) and the totally rebuilt No. 1 Course at Medinah Country Club near Chicago.”

I think this was the year that an “outlier” should have been selected for what they were trying to do outside the mainstream. Out of the box, perhaps Richard Mandell’s Affordable Golf Symposium comes to mind. But I really believe that it should have been one of the architects working in Asia, but here’s the rub, none of us know their work because nobody is going over there to find the unknown great project.

 Cabot Cliffs image courtesy of Keith Rheab
Canadian Architecture – Part Four – Cabot Cliffs

This is definitely the most anticipate course in North America. The site has everything from ocean holes set along the cliffs to holes running through large dunes. Not only is this a spectacular site, but having the team of Coore and Crenshaw means the expectations are at a minimum Top 100 course in the World, but in some circles a landmark North American course.
I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t become the best course in Canada.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Ian’s 2013 In Review – Part Two – Year in Golf

image courtesy of Golf Digest
Biggest Story

In a joint announcement, the U.S. Golf Association and The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews cited the definition of the stroke as "freely swinging the entire club" to explain their rationale for instituting a ban on anchored putting, which has been used by the winner of four of the last six major championships.

The announcement comes nearly six months after the ruling bodies proposed a rule banning anchoring, and, in unprecedented fashion for a playing rule, after a 90-day public comment period. The rule, which will be known as 14-1b, will go into effect beginning in 2016. Its language is unchanged from the proposed wording announced last November:

"In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either 'directly' or by use of an 'anchor point.”

Best Quote - Part One - Graeme McDowell on Putter Ban

“I agree with the decision. I think anchoring goes against the ethos of the game, the physical demands of the game. You shouldn’t be anchoring a club to your body. I know it’s been around for many years but let’s keep the game pure. I would have gone for bifurcation because if it keeps elderly players or those with back issues or whatever in the game than that has to be good. Bifurcation would have been a good middle ground.”

I could have picked people who question the sanity of the decision, because that fit my own person world view, but I like his response because it had a traditional outlook combined with a bigger picture reflection.  

image courtesy of Golf Digest
Best writing - Ron Sirak – Golf Digest

“After losing a power struggle to bring broad organizational changes to the United States Golf Association, including what sources say was a bid to create a long-term chief-executive position, president Glen Nager will leave the organization for good when his second one-year term expires Feb. 8, Golf Digest has learned. "I have been involved with the USGA for eight years," Nager said, "and after I leave I won't be a part of it again."

Nager should have remembered "the birdman at trhe US Open"and Mike Davis's epic takedown and realized he met his match.

Quote of the Year - Tiger Woods at Augusta National

“I went down to the drop area, that wasn't going to be a good spot, because obviously it's into the grain, it's really grainy there. And it was a little bit wet,” Woods said following his second-round 71. “I went 2 yards further back and I took, tried to take 2 yards off the shot of what I felt I hit.”

Houston we have a problem...

Closest to the spot of the original shot does not mean “2 yards,” or a few feet as the video replay suggests. He’d taken an incorrect drop and now it was a question on whether he would be disqualified.

Video of the Year - Tiger Woods at BMW

First there was Augusta National and then this occurred at the BMW. This time people had a hard time defending the actions of Tiger Woods and many took him to task.


The Runner up ...



Best Shot – 18th at Merion - Justin Rose

Since I only watch the four majors and the Ryder Cup now... my list is limited.

My favourite was the approach shot into the 18th at Merion, because I know the shot is impossible. Then under that pressure, in a close tournament, for his first major, he delivered a spectacular long approach that set up the win.


Round of the Year - Final Round of Phil Mickelson at the British Open

He birdied four of the last six holes coming home at Muirfield and sized the championship he never thought he could win. After the US Open, somehow, whether you like Phil or not, this seemed a sweet win to watch.

Quote of the Year – Part Three - Rory McIlroy

"I have been suffering with a sore wisdom tooth, which is due to come out in the near future," he said. "It was very painful again this morning, and I was simply unable to concentrate. It was really bothering me and had begun to affect my playing partners."

Twitter Quote - Part One -  Ian Poulter at British Open

"Unfortunately the guys this afternoon will struggle with a few pin positions. 8th hole is a joke, 18th needs a windmill & clown face."

Twitter Quote - Part Two -  Lucas Glover at British Open

"Not that I landed my ball on very many of them...but the greens wouldn't hold a javelin today. #tough #awesometest #failedmiserably"

Canadian Golf Story of the Year- The Floods

If the flooding of courses in Calgary was not enough for Canadians, then the flooding in Toronto certain shook all golfers in the country as images began to circulate of golf courses completely covered by floodwaters.

The Toronto courses were all put back together. The Calgary area courses underwent massive recovery operations to bring them back into play, but in Kananaskis  the damage was so great that nothing was done as the debate centered on whether the courses should be rebuilt. Once the premier set in place a structure to help those left homeless golfers in Canada new Kananaskis  was at a minimum going to have to wait for another time … but more likely was done.

Picture of the Year - Kananaskis