Thursday, 15 December 2016

2016 The Year in Review - Part 4 – Ian’s Travels

The E green at Wolf Pointe
I usually make at least one trip to go and see new courses. This was the year where I made less effort. It was a combination of too many trips the year before and a lull in work in the Spring. But I still saw some interesting golf and I plan to see more next year.

By The Numbers

Rounds Played: 58
Average: 24
Rounds in Texas: 6
Lowest Round: 81 (the Last One)
Strangest Nine: 43 with a 10
Lessons Taken: 6

7th Green at Wolf Pointe - one of the game's best
The Courses

Favourite Modern Course - Wolf Point

I did play a few other games around Houston including Champions Club, but the highlight of the trip was easily Mike Nuzzo’s Wolf Point. I loved all the playing freedom and his green contours were terrific. The course had a few over the top moments, but that didn’t take away anything from the quality of the course. Greatness lies in taking big risks and I considered Mike’s work an architectural “breath of fresh air”.

5th at Bluejack National - courtesy of club
Runner Up - Bluejack National

Went to see it out of curiosity after Adam Lawrence had suggested I should. The golf was smarter than I thought it was going to be. It looks just a little too much like Augusta for me to be comfortable. There was a little too much shaping in spots, but some surprising restraint in other areas too. It’s really good and credit must go to the designers for thinking of fun first.

Favourite Golden Age Course - Pepper Pike Club

I wish I could share photos of the 2nd, 8th, 11th and 18th, but Pepper Pike is a very private club and has asked me to not share photos. The course was designed by William Flynn over some outstanding rolling terrain. The course invites risk, but offers ample room for every day play. You only need to go around once to realize that it would be a wonderful place to call home. The only note is I would play it back to front every time if I could, because the second hole is the hardest two shots of the day.

Best Nine Holes - Quogue Field Club

You know the details are great when the highest elevation on the property is four feet and it’s still compelling golf. The interior trees are all gone opening up the fescues and long views. But even better is the steady ocean breeze that impacts how you will play your shots. Simply golf as it’s meant to be.

Applebrook's 9th courtesy of Larry Lembrecht
Biggest Surprise – Applebrook

The front nine at Applebrook by Gil Hanse stands out as my favourite work of his to date. Where he ratcheted up the architecture it creates moments where you’re back on your heels. But the reason I’m so taken by the front nine is the other moments where he shows tremendous restraint and allows the golf to sit quietly into the surrounding landscape. There’s a rhythm to this that I like more than the having the architectural features come at you non-stop.

Favourite Canadian?

I played St. George’s for the first time since the greens were rebuilt, had a great time playing the restored 3rd green. I also made a return trip to Highlands Links to play this summer and saw the greens in the best condition I have seen since 2003. So how do I pick a favourite round, well I can’t, but both days were among the best I had all year.

Ardglass GC - courtesy Tee Off Times UK
Confidential Guide comes to Montreal

I took Tom Doak to see Laval-sur-le-lac Green and Blue, Royal Montreal Red and Blue, Mt. Bruno, Beaconsfield and Kanawaki on a quick trip. His favourite was Mt. Bruno. The highlight for me was playing the Blue Course at Laval-sur-le-lac on film for a potential Confidential Guide Podcast. He said some nice things about the greens and made a few observations for improvements which I agree with. It was a really nice few days with one of golf's best architects.

On Site at Streamsong (Black)

I spent two weeks working on Streamsong (Black) with Gil Hanse and his crew. It's always helpful to see how others do things differently and for me an education on finishing and springing into sand. I really like some of the bold concepts and feel strongly that this may become the strongest of the three resort courses.

Future Travels

Spring – Ireland North
Royal County Down - my favourite place for golf
Royal Portush - want to see changes and not play in 40mph wind
Machrahanish – will access by ferry - my single missing course in Scotland
Portstewart - not played yet
Ardglass - not played yet
Ballyliffin - not played yet
Portsalon - not played yet
Rosapenna - not played yet

The holy grail - Sand Hills - courtesy of Wisconsin Golf Addict
June – Nebraska (quick trip)
Sand Hills - the only Top 50 in the Wold I have not seen or played!
Ballyneal - worth the return trip
Might add round at Dismal River too

July – Cleveland (quick trip)
The Country Club - great threes
Kirtland - is it one of the best back nines in golf ...
Brookfield - under the radar ross
Canterbury - Herbert Strong!

Camargo's threes may be the best set in golf! - courtesy of Planet Golf

August – Cincinnati (quick trip)
Camargo - plan to take up this standing invite
Moraine - if I can make the extra time

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