Mike and I are currently working on our first design. It will involve the complete rebuild of Laval-sur-le-lac Blue Course in Quebec. We have met with the club, walked the property numerous times and gone through various routing concepts together before finalizing the layout that you will see. The layout has been finalized although we still might make adjustments as we build.
Most of the existing course is cut through a fairly mature stand of trees. The majority of the property is gently rolling with around 30 feet of elevation change which is fairly consistent throughout the property. The course has a parkland setting and therefore our first new course will be done within the context of the Parkland style.
The Impact of Our Philosophy on the Routing
Mike and I share a basic philosophy of how we want our golf courses to play. There are certain ideas and ideals that we would like to incorporate into our designs. Some of these ideas impact how we route the golf course, while others have a greater impact on individual hole design.
The ones that impacted this routing were:
1. A Desire for More Variety
Mike and I both believe that modern golf courses are being designed too long and too difficult for the average member to enjoy. Shorter courses allow us to offer far greater variety in our holes. While this doesn’t impact most of the routing decisions, it did allow us to use more of the natural terrain in the design since we were never looking to stretch holes to maximize the distances.
2. The Desire to Avoid Moving Earth
We feel that a good routing identifies the natural features and incorporates them into the design. In particular we have looked for natural plateaus and cross-slopes to incorporate into this particular design. These features allow us to add difficulty through the need to shape shots of adjust for uneven lies. This has a greater impact on the play of better players than it does the average player. By adding extensive short grass around the plateau green sites we were able to emphasize the challenge for the stronger player, without removing any of the ground options that the average player will use to reach the green.
3. The Desire to Bring the Ground Back into Play
We believe that the ground should always be an option. This provides the skilled player with alternatives to consider depending on the wind and the pin position. We want players to try different shots depending on the situation. This had us searching for feeder slopes that could be incorporated into the design of holes or greens, so that there were alternative routes to the green. We want the golfer to have to figure out “their” most effective way to play the hole.
4. The Desire to Emphasize the short game
We want the players to have multiple options around the greens. We want them to have to use their creativity when they get around the greens. This involves the extensive use of short grass as a defense and as an opportunity. This was why we often went looking for natural rises or plateaus as our green site of choice on this course. The winter conditions were also a consideration too.
These weren’t the only thoughts that played a role in the routing stage, but they were some of the key considerations that we brought to the routing stage.