Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Highlands Links 8th Hole Bunkers

Picture of the approach bunkers at the end of the day

The plan is to get all the bunkers on the 8th hole done for this week.

We began by working on the two approach bunkers. Yes there were two. If you look left of the big bunker in the photo above, you will see it under the birch trees among the rocks and scrub Spruce. Those trees will all go very soon, although the Birch might wait till a bit later.

Jeff (backhoe operator) had the main bunker and eye bunker both gutted out in the morning. While we waited for those bunkers the boys (Dale, Jason and Greg) and I restored and finished the central aiming pot bunker by hand which provides the line for the critical feeder slope that can help you drive the green.

In the afternoon the boys finished what you see in the photo. I went back and forth between finishing the upper bunker and providing direction on the fairway bunkers. First we extended the right fairway bunker back to its original length. Then we used the spoils to fill in the middle pot which Graham Cooke had added. Then we extended the right upper bunker to match the photo and begun to use the spoils to fill in the lower left bunker Graham had added.

By the end of the day we had two fairway bunkers roughed in ready for finishing. We also had three bunkers ready for sod and one ready for sand. All we need to do now is restore the hidden cavern bunker right of the green along with the feeder slopes into the bunker.

The goal is all the bunkers on the 8th hole. My hope is to spend some time tweaking the Dragon and Fireball on the 5th. Perhaps if it goes really well a little golf one evening too ...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Building a Course for a Canadian Open

Mike, Luc, Les on 9th tees

I’ve had a while to think about this now and it’s far easier to design a really good course if you don’t have any plans to host any sort of professional event.

I think we’ve been very smart to design a course that has such versatility relying on firmness, pin position and the absence of rough around greens. There has a been a lot of thought put into how to defend without a reliance on excessive length, but their ability to hit it ridiculously long occasionally creeps into the architectural conversation/decision making particularly concerning landing areas.

16th from just short of the landing
Mike and I have put our heart and soul into making this a really interesting place to play first and foremost. My prime focus will always be the membership. I want them to have fun. I want them to embrace all the options, the decisions and the opportunity to attack the course in a number of directions. I want them occasionally perplexed by which way to play a hole.

It was interesting to hear Les Claytor from the PGA Tour say, after a second day walking the course with me, I think I understand your quirky holes a little bit better. I like them a lot more the second time through. Awesome. Perfect. I always thought great golf had an element of discovery and a learning curve. I always thought a course to be weak if everything is obvious and clear on first play.

Over the back at 16
I’ll confess my biggest concern has always been “will they get it” rather, rather than is it good. The punchbowl green is the greatest example. Some see the hole as super fun and sporty, others find it a little weird, and I’m good with both.

We ended up making a few modifications and tightened up the grassing lines in the landing areas just a bit to make sure the professionals didn’t have a free run. Again I’ll count on the set-up and keeping the rough low and in check as a critical factor in making sure this course is fun.