|The Cardinal Bunker at Prestwick|
It doesn’t take long for a golfer to realize that Prestwick is different from most golf courses. The first hole at Prestwick is very narrow and bordered on the entire right by a long wall that separates the golf course from the railway. Out of bounds is definitely a huge consideration on the first tee, and yet you need to be tight to the wall to get a view to the green site. Rather than have clear visibility of the green, the bunkers in front also hide the green. Play to the left off the tee and a large knoll blocks the view to the green and the surrounds.
The 3rd hole features a massive bunker complex called the Cardinal bunker. The tee shot involves judging your distance up to the full blind beginnings of the hazard. The second shot is over the massive expanse of sand and bulk heading that makes the shot completely blind to the fairway or the green. The fairway is full of moguls from one end to the other meaning the ball can bounce anywhere.
|False front on 13th at Prestwick|
By now you must be wondering how I find this course so charming, but it all magically fits together. Part of it is the history and our ability to accept quirkier work from the past and not from the present, but most of it has to do with the overwhelming number of fascinating details that are almost unmatched by any other course. The golf course is so full of brilliant little moments that the parts may exceed the whole in this rare case. As architects we are always looking for ideas and they are much easier to find in small bits rather than in entire courses or even holes. Often our epiphanies come from the subtle use of a roll or a small minor feature rather than an 18 hole visit. Prestwick is so full of little unusual and interesting ideas that I think one walk and one playing has likely only unraveled half the actual charm found at Prestwick. I’m quite certain I could go there year after year, enjoy each round a little more, and learn something new on every play. That is the definition of greatness in my book.