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Jeff Tang

  • Karma: +0/-0
Land in its Original State
« on: March 29, 2011, 11:03:12 AM »
One of the cooler things about making treks to the prairie courses in the US is the land that you travel through getting there.  Itís been pointed out before on this site that itís fun to try and find your own golf holes as you drive through the hills and dunes and I totally agree with this.  One of the things I like most about GCA is the photos that are posted occasionally of before and after shots of golf holes (from pre-construction to final product).  Itís always interesting to me to see land that was already there and how it was used to produce the end result.  A while ago there was a picture of Erin Hillsí second green site that was posted in its original form and then also how it looks currently that I thought was very interesting.

What are the course sites you wish you could have seen before any work was done on them?  I think it would have been cool to see Sand Hills before any construction and to see how some of the ďholesĒ looked prior to them actually being made and to see how much dirt was actually moved.

Another question I have is does a course that exists in its final state that did not have a lot of earthmoving done to it deserve more accolades than a course that did have a significant amount of earthmoving?  Or is it the other way around?  Personally Iím of the opinion that itís just the final product that matters and that while minimal earthmoving is cool what really matters is what ends up on the ground.  I think itís possible that in the quest for ďminimalismĒ that too little dirt can be moved which would otherwise sacrifice a better golf hole.
So bad it's good!

michael damico

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2011, 11:11:28 AM »
Jeff,

I am no acclaimed architect, nor writer, but I agree with most of how you put it in your final paragraph. Minimalism shouldn't be restricted to a simple definition of the amount (or lack thereof) of earthmoving. You may need to move a total of 5,000 cubic meters of earth on 14 of the 18 holes, but in order to sequence that routing together, you may need to move 15,000 more cubic meters on those 4 other holes. In that case, it's how well the architect/shapers camouflage their handywork.

I am not there yet with my untrained eye, but I am sure one who is more experienced can walk a site and realize mis-routed holes, meaning that holes could have been routed another way so that either a better sequence of holes could be produced or less earthwork was needed...all for the better of the whole.
"without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible"
                                                                -fz

Jim Tang

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2011, 06:05:35 PM »
Jefe -

I remember seeing some pictures of the land at Ballyneal before construction began and that was pretty cool.  I just don't know how those architect guys do it.

Erin Hills is a good example where they tried to move as little dirt as possible and screwed up some of the holes as a result, all in the name of minimalism.  My idea of how it shold be done = move as little dirt as possible, but make sure you're creating great golf holes in the process.

Richard Choi

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2011, 06:37:47 PM »
I thought this is one cool looking site for a golf course. In fact, there is a world-famous course nearby, but it is not nearly as interesting as this landform suggests (care to guess where)?


Kalen Braley

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Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2011, 07:46:58 PM »
Rich,

That looks like Apache Stronghold land!!

As for a great drive where there are endless areas for great golf courses.  The drive to Ballyneal from Denver produced a ton of epic looking terrain.  And here in the Spokane area that is lots of undulating land that could have epic golf courses.  Its not sandy based land, but the movement in the landscape due to the glacial flooding is beyond epic in spots.


Richard Choi

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2011, 07:50:47 PM »
Kalen, good to have you back. I hope to get out to Spokane area this year. I hope you are free :)

Kalen Braley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2011, 07:56:33 PM »
Kalen, good to have you back. I hope to get out to Spokane area this year. I hope you are free :)

Thanks Richard,

I'm trying to check in more often.  And yes we're now playing golf in Spokane as most of the courses are back open.

P.S.  Was I correct about the photo?   : :)

Jim Colton

Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2011, 08:01:44 PM »
This thread reminds me of somebody telling me last year about their experience playing one of the new courses at the Prairie Club (likely the Dunes course).  I'm not sure of the hole, but the one that was built was nothing special. But standing on the tee, if you looked about 15 degrees to the right, was a potentially all-world hole just sitting there.

I have ultimate respect for those that can discover and see these things, especially when the ground nuances are masked by vegetation, trees, etc.  And connect the dots on top of that. How do these guys do it? Maybe Tom D really does see greensites like Neo?

Kalen...what great circle route are you taking to Ballyneal from Denver? It's pretty flat for the first 98% of that trip, then BAM!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 08:03:44 PM by Jim Colton »

Kalen Braley

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Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2011, 08:19:47 PM »
Kalen...what great circle route are you taking to Ballyneal from Denver? It's pretty flat for the first 98% of that trip, then BAM!

Hey Jim,

If you look at my prior post, I actually attributed the "undulating" type of land to the Spokane area.  While the drive out to Ballyneal is pretty flat as a general rule, I think the sandy low dunes could make for some terrific golf courses.

But alas, I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon in favor of being a land scout!! :)

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2011, 09:02:28 PM »

What are the course sites you wish you could have seen before any work was done on them?  I think it would have been cool to see Sand Hills before any construction and to see how some of the ďholesĒ looked prior to them actually being made and to see how much dirt was actually moved.

Another question I have is does a course that exists in its final state that did not have a lot of earthmoving done to it deserve more accolades than a course that did have a significant amount of earthmoving?  Or is it the other way around?  Personally Iím of the opinion that itís just the final product that matters and that while minimal earthmoving is cool what really matters is what ends up on the ground.  I think itís possible that in the quest for ďminimalismĒ that too little dirt can be moved which would otherwise sacrifice a better golf hole.


Jeff:

I did get to walk the routing for Sand Hills before anything was built; in fact Jim Urbina and I hit balls around some of the back nine, which was one of the cooler experiences I've had.  VERY LITTLE was moved from that point to the finished course.  They tacked the green up onto the side of the hill on #4, they did some creative stuff with a very severe site for #2 green, they moved a bit of earth in the fairway on #12 where it was just too severely crowned right in the middle.  That's about all I noticed, other than digging 90% of the bunkers.

In regard to your last paragraph, you should check out the argument on the "genius routing" thread.

Don_Mahaffey

Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2011, 11:10:52 PM »
Jeff Tang,
Right now on the front page of this DG there is a contest about selecting the best Alps hole.
My question to you and all others is, would anyone build a course with holes like that at Prestwick, not a copy or rendition or inspired by, but actually build a course routed across the land that played in a similar way to Prestwick? Outside of the nostalgia factor and the commercial desire to cash in on that, I don't think anyone would. Do you?

If not why? To move more earth and build better holes? Says who?

Peter Pallotta

Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2011, 11:28:29 PM »
Don - that is EXACTLY it. 

I paused for a second before I started typing this because my praise of your post won't help you much, and in fact it will probably HURT your case -- i.e. if I myself get tired of myself and my 'theoretical' musings, I'm sure everyone else long ago has. 

But that's the thing - I don't really believe a post like yours IS theoretical.  I think it is instead wholly PRACTICAL.  It asks a simple but very important question:

Why has every architect for the past 80 years built basically the SAME KIND of golf holes, the same 'forms"? 

Peter

Eric Smith

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Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2011, 11:35:39 PM »

Why has every architect for the past 80 years built basically the SAME KIND of golf holes, the same 'forms"?  


I don't know, Peter...maybe because they don't want the liability issues of taking the cart path up and over the Alps? Just a thought.

Don you've asked a really great question. You too, Peter!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 11:37:17 PM by Eric Smith »

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2011, 11:38:03 PM »
Don:

Excellent post.

When we took George Bahto to Scotland a few years back, prior to building Old Macdonald, Prestwick was (deliberately) first up on the itinerary.  After playing 18 holes, George sat down on the bench by the clubhouse while Don went in to buy some gifts from the pro shop.  And his first question to me was "How did we screw things up so bad?"   He meant golf, in general.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2011, 11:47:05 PM »
I should put in the caveat that not many American architects have built a course on land anything like Prestwick.  We might have had something like it at Old Macdonald -- if Mr. Keiser had insisted that we build our course on half as much property, so he could build a fifth course on what was left!

Which ties back to Eric's post, actually.  I think that for safety and other reasons, we are generally given so much land that we can work around our blind-shot problems.  If you wanted to see more courses like Prestwick, you should give your architects 120 acres and tell them to not worry about safety.  Necessity IS the mother of invention, and of holes like the last four at Prestwick.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2011, 03:24:13 AM »
I understand the need for safety only I believe true safety rests in the hands of golfers, not archies.  I wonder how much "safety" has impacted design and how much of it was actually necessary. 

Don - I believe archies have completely bought into safety design whether they admit it or not.  Plus, golfers have become conditioned against extreme architecture OR choose to define extreme in modern terms.  For example, an island green isn't extreme, but an Alps is.  It is no coincidence that the rise and passion for measuring yardage has coincided with the decline of blindness.  Blindness doesn't lend itself to measurement or quantification very well.  I would also say that definition in design (probablly keyed by safety concerns as well) is paramount for many archies; a road map must exist.  However, to be fair to archies, it becomes pointless to design wily holes when a guy can whip out a gun and measure what the archie tried to conceal. 

It has forever been a mystery to me that folks visit GB&I, love the courses, love the conditions, love how clubs are run and the connection many have to the local town(s), then go home and completely forget all these things in favour of the routine experience. 

Ciao 
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2011, 04:44:54 AM »
I understand the need for safety only I believe true safety rests in the hands of golfers, not archies.  I wonder how much "safety" has impacted design and how much of it was actually necessary. 
 

You can say the same about speeding on our roads Sean. Or about most things. If it was left solely with the participants to police themselves, then a few bad eggs would cause havoc for all.

I happen to think that an obvious blind shot is not the biggest safety hazard in a design though... As long as the architect understands how to provide mitigating circumstances, most golfers treat blind shots fairly sensibly...

The biggest internal safety hazards are usually to do with separation between holes, dog legs facing in to each other or weak attempts to provide barriers for safety reasons which reduce visibilty and create more problems than they save.... These are less obvious to the golfer and therefore they do not act with caution...

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2011, 05:11:34 AM »
eLts face it, even with 100% drivers on the road driving legally, my safety is in the hands of drivers, not rules.  Sure, rules mitigate the hazardous situations, but they are nowhere near a substitute for good and well aware drivers.  Its the same with trees on a course.  I would much rather have the opportunity to see what is going on around me then I would having to depend on trees to keep me safe. 

However, Bahto's and Tom's comments speak to space dividing holes as much as reducing blindness.  This space causes longer walks which in turn disrupts the flow of a game.  I can't deny that space is the ultimate in keeping the golfer as safe as is reasonably possible, but at what cost especially when we consider that we all trust strangers in much more dangerous situations?  That said, I am more favourable to the idea of space on a public course where it is far more likely that yahoos will be playing than on a private course.  Honestly, in all my years of golf I have only encontered a few spots which I think are needless dangers and making alterations wouldn't effect the quality of the hole(s).  Without doubt, Painswick's 8-9 combo is plainly stupid.  Sharing a fairway which is blind from either direction is totally unacceptable and I would have no problem seeing the owners sued if a serious injury occured.  Another situation is the 9th at Leven.  The tee for the 10th requires a lookout BACKWARDS toward the 9th tee - the par 3 green is that close to the tee - crazy set-up.   

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2011, 05:37:29 AM »
eLts face it, even with 100% drivers on the road driving legally, my safety is in the hands of drivers, not rules.  Sure, rules mitigate the hazardous situations, but they are nowhere near a substitute for good and well aware drivers. 

I agree entirely... But it's the yahoos that kill you... All you can do is make it more difficult for their unsafe actions to result in unsafe consequences.... Get rid of a blind corner for example...

The layout of Prestwick and other older courses has as much to do with balls that travelled less distance, courses that were far less busy, a bigger general awareness of surroundings, a weaker attitude towards safety across all walks of life and a less litigious society.

I do not disagree that the change in these aspects have had a detrimental affect on the way we enjoy golf. In fact, I again agree entirely.

But you can't build a course like Prestwick any more for these reasons far more than because it is against a Client's normal expectations to see a hole like The Alps.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2011, 05:44:49 AM »
Ally

I agree with everything you wrote except for "can't build".  I would change that to "won't build" and therein lies on of the major differences between classic and modern architecture. 

Ciao 
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2011, 05:48:14 AM »
Ally

I agree with everything you wrote except for "can't build".  I would change that to "won't build" and therein lies on of the major differences between classic and modern architecture. 

Ciao 

I'll go with that...

Although the classic era guys wouldn't have built those courses either given today's set of parameters.... So I'd say therin lies the difference between classic and modern golf courses... But not architecture...

michael damico

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #21 on: March 30, 2011, 10:25:07 AM »
Tom, Eric and PPollotta,

it seems we are drawn back to a metaphor Shackelford uses alot tying 'old school' golf design to traditional baseball stadium architecture. The site restricted the architect, eventually leading to a design solution that is now viewed as quirky.
"without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible"
                                                                -fz

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2011, 11:12:11 AM »
Tom, Eric and PPollotta,

it seems we are drawn back to a metaphor Shackelford uses alot tying 'old school' golf design to traditional baseball stadium architecture. The site restricted the architect, eventually leading to a design solution that is now viewed as quirky.

Michael:

Geoff grew up watching games at Dodger Stadium ... I saw a bunch of games live at the old Yankee Stadium, Fenway, Forbes Field, etc.  So he cannot tell me much about old baseball stadiums!

But it's a good metaphor.  To extend it a bit further, a lot of modern baseball stadiums try to imitate some of those old quirks, and most of them fail miserably because there is NO GOOD REASON to justify the ramp in centerfield in Houston, or all the quirky corners of the outfield walls at other stadiums.  They are just random elements introduced by the designer, and at that level, no one wants to accept them.  It's the same in golf architecture ... modern courses get less of a pass for quirk, but they should, because we have lots of ways to avoid it.


Richard Choi

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #23 on: March 30, 2011, 11:37:52 AM »
Kalen, that is actually the land around Mauna Kea on Big Island. The course is actually much less interesting than the landform surroundiing it - which I found quite interesting.

Peter Pallotta

Re: Land in its Original State
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2011, 11:40:59 AM »
Well - to use another metaphor.  You can look at most modern films with a magnifying glass and still not get a hint of any shadows, any play of light and shadows.  That's because they light the f--k out of the whole damn set and then add even more (spot) lights to make sure the audience never forgets for one second who the star is of the movie -- and then, just for good measure, in post production they drench/pump up the whole ugly unnatural thing in neon colours (because, "after all, the kids today are used to playing video games, and so they want that high-definition look").  Compare that to a film like the Maltese Falcon (I think it was) -- where the cinematographer had the set decorator put wall sconce lighting fixtures all around Bogie's apartment (to serve as the notional 'light sources') so that the various and varied shadows produced by the human beings moving and interacting with eachother that enrichen the scene would 'make sense' to the viewer's eye. In short, they wanted the shadows back then -- and so found a way to make them work.  So, yeah, we have a lot of ways to avoid quirk these days and there are always ways to tweak the land 'just a little' to make for a'better golf hole' and for 'safety reasons'.  But what the hell is wrong with shadows?! Where is the 'humaness'?  (Or do we really want to agree with the film producers and say "after all, the young golfers today have grown up playing EA Golf on high-definition monitors and expect pristine conditions and Augusta-like forms"?) To paraphrase Don's post "Who says shadows aren't great?".  They built Fenway the way they did because they had to, yes  -- but it was allowed to be built that way in the first place because they weren't afraid of 'casting shadows'.  Maybe it's because they weren't afraid of their own shadows. Hey - call it what you will; believe me, I understand the concept of working/creating within the 'conventional norms of the day', and of being creative within acceptable/traditional limits, and of giving people something that is within their 'comfort zone'.  But I think it's important to be clear about the fact that this is what we're doing, i.e. we are working within conventions, and enforcing acceptable limits, so that the customer can be comfortable. Good - that's good. It's a good and valuable thing, worthy of respect.  But it isn't transcendent, and will never be -- because we have set our sights too low; we have chosen to 'play in someone else's ball park' as it were, and to honour the collective taste and ideal instead of our own.  How often in the last 80 years has a Marion Hollins-type driven a ball 220 yards over the ocean and had a golf courser architect say, "Yup, that's going to be a fine par 3"?.  If you want to have the 16th at Cypress Point, you have to break a few eggs/forms.

End of rant and ramble.

Peter
« Last Edit: March 30, 2011, 12:43:03 PM by PPallotta »

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