Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Stanley Thompson Book Coming in Christmas


I plan to publish a book on the five great commissions of Stanley Thompson at the end of this year. I’ve researched and written most of the book. There is a small amount of additional research required before I can finalize the content, but I’m very close.

The focus of the book will be Thompson’s best work; Jasper Park, Banff Springs, St. George’s, Capilano and Cape Breton Highlands.

I will introduce you to the origins of each project, the key people involved, walk you through the routing, share the plans he produced, explain the changes he made in design, introduce you to his key people, detail the challenges he faced during construction, show you exactly what he built and explain what happened in the first few years.

The book will feature approximately 50 historical images and plans per course. Almost every hole on all five courses will be seen just after opening day. There are photos of each site before any work is done, hundreds of construction photos and even a few promotional images done after completion. The intention is to journey back to the 1920’s and 1930’s to see first-hand what each course was initially like.

I will have some significant surprises to share.

The book begins by explaining how he changed his approach as a designer leading up to Banff Springs, then ends with a series of individual holes to understand his design choices and techniques used in these commissions.

My intention is to print a small run of books specifically for those individuals interested in the architecture of Stanley Thompson. When the book is ready for printing, the book will be pre-sold in advance.


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Cape Breton Highlands Essay



I have published another detailed history of Stanley Thompson's five master works. This one covers how the course got built from concept through to completion. The story touches on the expropriation, the changes in design, the actual build and even the aftermath. Images clarify everything from the process through to original built form.

In many ways it is my love letter to that special and complicated place.


The essay can be reached directly here:
http://golfclubatlas.com/best-of-golf/andrew-ian-cape-breton-highlands-1937-to-1941/

Or you can being with Ran's lovely introduction first:
http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php?topic=64238.0


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Bunker Podcast and Article in Golf Course Industry Magazine


Last month I did a podcast and interview with Guy Cipriano of Golf Course Industry Magazine on bunkers. We touched on everything from design to maintenance in the podcast. The article addresses more maintenance issues and draws in a number of Golf Superintendents.

I think the podcast is worth a listen because a few thoughts question conventional thinking.

The article is here and is called; Bunker Mentality

The Podcast is here Tartan Talks #7 "Bunkers"





Sunday, 22 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - National Golf Links of America

I was asked by FriedEgg.com to pick 5 courses for the rest of my life.
Here is the piece: http://www.friedegg.co/golf-courses/january-ask-an-architect

  1. National Golf Links of America Southampton, NY. C.B. Macdonald
I’m a massive fan of golf architecture history and there is no better museum that the National Golf Links of America. Charles Blair Macdonald studied the classic holes of Great Britain extensively before creating his own adaptations of those holes at the National Golf Links of America. We know Macdonald famously said there are only four or five good holes in golf, but at The National he managed to create a magnificent collection where most of his templates exceed the quality of the original holes.

But what sets The National Golf Links of America apart from other great golf courses is it’s the ability to adapt. There are so many interesting and challenging pin positions on every green that a week spent playing the course will be a week playing entirely different approaches because of the intricacies of the greens. Some greens are so radically different, depending on pin locations that often players will need to come in from the opposite side of the fairway to have a sporting chance.

But the greatest joy lies in the style of play. Eventually we all begin to hit the ball shorter and lose the height from our shots. The joy of the National Golf Links of America is you can pretty much play along the ground all day and still do fine. In fact, I’d argue that you should on many holes regardless of skill that is a smarter play. No matter what skill level you have, the National accommodates all players and allows almost every playing option. For me, that equals fun.

If I could arrange one annual round anywhere, I'd fly to Long Island and play there over every course in the World. Yes before Cypress Point, Pine Valley, etc. It's that good and that much fun.

15th at NLGA, courtesy of Golf Tripper

Saturday, 21 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - Jasper Park


    2. Jasper Park, Alberta, Canada. Stanley Thompson, 1925
In Jasper, Stanley Thompson inherited a marvelous piece of land from the Canadian National Railway. The site had wonderful rolling terrain which got progressively stronger the closer you were to the mountains. The heart of the property contained a beautiful glacial lake that could be incorporated into the golf course, but the vast majority of its shoreline had to be left for the lodges. The routing stays mostly on the softer undulations, but it does venture down into a lower valley and right up to mountains a few times during the round for drama. What’s most memorable about the routing is the way Stanley managed to line up all 18 holes with 18 different mountain peaks.

What I enjoy the most at Jasper Park is the scale of the golf course. Stanley recognized that if he increased his clearing width, he would open up wider vistas out to the mountains, but it would also change how the course played. While it is hard to lose a golf ball, the golf course could have become insignificant within the setting. So Thompson added a lot of very large bunkers to match the scale of the site to bring the attention back down to the golf holes.

When you play there you are in awe of how the visual canvas works in harmony with the setting. You find out the scale provides you with so much more room that you hit more fairways. The elevation means you gain a few extra yards on each shot. As you play you will have likely made more pars or birdies than you’re used to. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the mountains than a fun filled round of golf at Jasper Park Lodge.
11tth hole - courtesy of Edmonton Journal

Friday, 20 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - The Old Course


3. The Old Course, St. Andrew’s, Scotland. Robertsom/Morris

St. Andrew’s is the well-spring for golf course architecture. Almost every great idea ever incorporated in golf design can be found on this immaculate links. The irony is many ideas were not planned by expert nor was the course built over outstanding terrain. The magic lies in the multitude of small details that when collected together deliver an incredible playing experience. It reminds us every time that golf is not about how a course looks, but how it plays on the ground.

After finishing a recent enjoyable round at St. Andrew’s Old, played in very aggressive winds, I had an epiphany about the experience. I realized that the style of the architecture at the Old Course had little to do with punishing poor shots and had much more to do with encouraging intelligent play. Its greatest attribute was the freedom to choose. I had always appreciated how the course provided me with the option to select an appropriate route and the opportunity to play a variety of shots. I’m still thrilled by the unlimited options throughout the round, but it took a round played under difficult conditions to drive home the importance of having the freedom to set your own path.

I played well that day despite the wind. While I was pleased with the results, I knew that to improve my score that I would need to take on much more risk the next time out. St. Andrew’s Old is one of the few courses I know where you can have this sort of experience regardless of weather.

Eden Hole Image courtesy of St. Andrew





Tuesday, 17 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - Royal Melbourne (West)


4. Royal Melbourne (West) Melbourne, Australia. Mackenzie

Royal Melbourne is one of golf greatest collaborative efforts. It begins with Alister Mackenzie’s fantastic routing. His routing challenges the rolling terrain from so many different ways, mostly diagonally, but on occasion even straight up. The impact is tremendous variety of cants and fairway contours in play in landing areas. In fact, it’s one of the best driving courses in golf. The course also features a series of beautiful green sites, some on plateaus others within bowls, but each beautifully blended into the surrounding landscape. Russel and Morcom deserve much credit for getting Alister’s plan and details in the ground, but it’s Claude Crockford’s integration of native plant materials and course presentation that make this course sublime.

What I enjoy most is the epic scale of the site. Mackenzie added multitudes of dramatic bunkers that are very much in play. You are constantly asked whether you should carry a hazard in order to gain position or play safe and take on a longer tougher approach. But you know that if you’re going to get anywhere you must take on some of the trouble. This balance of playability and disaster engages you. Missing fairways or approaches comes with a price, but making the shot comes with a just reward.

I love the freedom to choose and think. I love the notion of taking on as much as I dare. I have all the safe options I would ever want, but just as many dangerous and compelling options that I can’t pass up. It’s all up to me.

6th Hole West by David Scaletti

Sunday, 15 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - Riviera CC

5. Riviera C.C. Pacific Palisades, CA. George Thomas

It’s so easy to underestimate the routing of Riviera. The site is a simple box canyon with not a lot of features, but Thomas incorporated the central barranca so effectively on six holes. He then utilizes the side slopes and elevations changes at the edges of the canyon to play a significant role on another six. But what takes Riviera to a whole other architectural level is the excellence in design details on remaining six holes that traverse over the lesser land of the property.

The 10th hole is the game’s greatest creation. Thomas’s used deception, strategic angles, pitch and the juxtaposition of grand and small scale to confuse and confound the player. It is also a testimony that a player’s ego can be used against them to reduce their chances of succeeding. In other holes he relied on dramatic bunkers and creative green contours to play an essential role in how the hole must be approached. In all cases he insists upon constant positional play, which means even when the land isn’t dramatic, the challenges still hold your attention.

There is no course that plays quite like Riviera. You are constantly asked to hit either a draw or fade off the tee. Thomas did this in a variety of ways, including the use of key trees, careful placement of bunkers, slopes of the green, and even the keen use of side slopes that require a tee shot to be shaped to remain on the fairway. The joy at Riviera is the constant flow back and forth between fade and draw, even alternating on the same hole at times (like the 3rd hole). It’s a course where skill and cunning is required to score, but on the occasion where find yourself well out of position, the ball is still easy to find and easy to put back in play. And that ensures it's fun too.

10th at Riviera - courtesy of Loe Turf