Sunday, 26 December 2010

Old Macdonald

The 15th 

The final course I played was the 10 holes at Old Macdonald. The rest of the holes were being finished while I arrived by co-designer Jim Urbina and Superintendent Ken Nice. I not only played the 10 holes but walked the entire course next morning including the new holes.

The inspiration for the course was The National Golf Links of America in Long Island. This was the course that single-handedly changed American architecture. They created a course on the same scale and using similar concepts for play and strategy. But rather than turning to the template approach of Macdonald’s protégé Seth Raynor, the design team returned to the inspiration of Macdonald for the holes. There are some templates out there, but for the most part they opted for their own original takes on the ideas that inspired him. In places the new approaches turned out to be bloody brilliant.
Some of the highlights include the 1st hole and a wonderful version of the principle’s nose that protects the double plateau green. The third is a better version of the Sahara than the original and has one of the most memorable (blind) tee shots in golf with a wild an undulating awaiting you on your second shot. The 4th is a cool reproduction of the Hogsback, so close in the landing that it’s almost uncanny. I must admit that I didn’t get the scale of the Short – because the green is so big that it overwhelmed me – but I wonder if that would grow on me over time.

Their take the Biarritz valley by using a much more varied crease has more appeal than the engineered looking original. The Road hole green complex was a fantastic recreation of the 17th at St. Andrew’s with short grass used instead of the road behind - I really liked the variation. The Redan was great because it was a new variation on the theme with the front left as short grass slope that feeds the ball to the bunker set further back on the left. The right is also short grass and no bunkers – which create a much more playable version and still pretty cool. This idea is worth further exploration.

The highlight for me was the 15th and 16th. The beautiful uphill par five 15th rambles over the landscape all the way to a green perched up in the dune with wicked contours. The Alps that follows is a stunning hole and a slightly different take on the idea with a created dune blocking the view into the most awesome green site on the property. I love the idea of a perfect drive on the right allows a peak into the back corner of the green site. Nice take on the idea.

All in all – I thought it was great – a real interesting take on the original ideas of CBM. I give them full credit for taking it on the way that they did. If I returned I would seriously consider playing Old Mac each morning to try new pins and wind. I would play a rotation of courses in the afternoon.

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