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Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2011, 11:07:25 AM »
A few more things occur to me, being, apparently, in the mood to be philosophical.

Did the label "minimalism" really srping up only because of a brief period in gca where the limits of earthmoving and artistic expression of that art started to dominate?  I mean really, as mentioned, from Flynn to Jones and Fazio, there is usually a desire to look natural, no matter what it takes.

Of course, I guess its not really a decade trend.  I don't think there was much natural looking to Pete Dyes courses, even in the 60's as the stark bunkering was clearly manufactured.  Move to the 80's and the JN cone mounds.  But, at the same time, Art Hills and many others were very low profile and natural.

As to the definition of minimalism, if you won't count Art (and others) as a minimalist because his style looks very traditional, then minimalism has to be a mostly a marketing label for a select group of gca's whose bunker and green style meets certain standards (Jagged Bunkers?) rather than any technical definition of earthmoving, no?
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Terry Lavin

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2011, 11:19:02 AM »
Hey Chris - I think you've gotten Ally and Adam's posts criss crossed? Or maybe I'm reading this wrong - it's still early.

 yet one is revered and the other is not.

Remember, Seinfeld was almost cancelled and shopped to Fox (who declined to pick it up) after it's debut.

Time, along with a greater sampling of visits to Dismal, will take care of a lot of past issues.



I think Chris' statement about SH being revered and DR "not" being revered are undeniably correct.  That doesn't mean that those who don't revere DR are correct, but there's little doubt that the chatter about DR has been remarkably negative, UNTIL some devotees hereabouts started playing/joining in the past year or so.  I have no opinion on Dismal River, because I haven't played it.  I can't see anything negative on the photographs, because the land looks very similar and the bunkering is similar and judging a course on photos alone is a bit of a fools errand.  AS for Sand Hills, I have played it and I like it better than any course at Bandon, better than Pebble, better than Prairie Dunes, better than pretty much every course I've ever played.  I'd even put it above Cypress Point, which most would disagree with.  My only point in saying this is that Sand Hills was such a breath of fresh Nebraska prairie air that Dismal River had an almost impossible job in trying to compete in the early going.  It probably didn't help that the minimalist crowd fairly snickered at Jack Nicklaus trying to beat Ben and Bill in their proverbial wheelhouse.

There's little doubt that Tom Doak will build a phenomenal golf course along the lines that most of us here will revere.  Maybe then, the original course will finally get the props that maybe it deserved all along.
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.  H.L. Mencken

Anthony Gray

Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #27 on: August 04, 2011, 11:21:18 AM »


  Naturalism is the new minimalism.

  Anthony


Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #28 on: August 04, 2011, 11:31:32 AM »
Anthony,

I doubt it, but maybe.  Would we go so far as to not have bunkers where none would exist naturally?  Or stick to the tradition of sand bunkers on golf courses?

Minimalism, and for that matter, most of design really is a myth.  Golf courses are constructed man made landscapes, and more so every year as they also act as environmental buffers, flood control, or extensions of very artificial lawns that also try to replicate some long ago English Estate landscape, even in the Desert.

Naturalism has flown the coop.......and did so by the Golden Age.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Terry Lavin

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2011, 11:34:01 AM »
Whether it's a movement, a marketing label or just a trend, it's been working for a while and the real question is does it still have "legs"?
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.  H.L. Mencken

Adam Clayman

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2011, 11:43:28 AM »
Chris, You've pointed out examples where Chris got it wrong.  (Not wrong as just not necessarily the best) But, as far as the minimal argument goes, there's great, more subtle ground,  (less steep movements) all over out there. Heck, The Dismal Deuce is on such ground and Tom and team aren't going to move much, but, there won't be cardiac climbs out of green sites or, severely steep areas where both golf and maintenance carts can have a serious problem.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 11:54:13 AM by Adam Clayman »
"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

Jim Nugent

Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #31 on: August 04, 2011, 11:47:10 AM »
There's little doubt that Tom Doak will build a phenomenal golf course along the lines that most of us here will revere.  Maybe then, the original course will finally get the props that maybe it deserved all along.

The course there now is not the original course.  They have changed it regularly, substantially, starting almost immediately after DR opened.  This makes me think the criticisms back then were justified.    

Chris Johnston

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #32 on: August 04, 2011, 12:58:24 PM »
Chris, You've pointed out examples where Chris got it wrong.  (Not wrong as just not necessarily the best) But, as far as the minimal argument goes, there's great, more subtle ground,  (less steep movements) all over out there. Heck, The Dismal Deuce is on such ground and Tom and team aren't going to move much, but, there won't be cardiac climbs out of green sites or, severely steep areas where both golf and maintenance carts can have a serious problem.

Thanks, Adam.  As a weight challenged individual, I tend to agree on the steeps and there certainly is no shortage of alternative holes. That said, there are 18 very good holes here, especially so after many greens were softened.  She is hard and fast, welcoming ground game and creative shotmakers.  The walk up 1, 2, 13 and 18 at SHGC ain't real easy either. Cart paths are a challenge everywhere out this way but you gotta have them.  Personally, I do wonder why so many other places with fairly radical holes/greens seem to escape criticism here, but that is why this is all so subjective and fun.  If you have to moderate green speeds dues to pitch and slope, is that worthy of criticism?

Terry - the course changes were mainly to rework excessive slopes on greens as the surface was moderately fast- fairly comparable to SHGC (very fast) today (e.g. #2) given speeds so we should probably criticize them all if we criticize any but that should possibly be another thread entirely.   Early on, I recall SHGC had a criticism from a USGA official on the mix of slope/speed shortly after opening.  SHGC chose not to accept the idea and the critic was reportedly simply encouraged not to return.  The greens in question remain the same although others (#1) have been quietly changed a bit.  Were the criticisms "justified"?  That is why this stuff is fun.

Greg Tallman

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #33 on: August 04, 2011, 05:13:47 PM »
Perhaps your understanding of minimalism is off? It's not about moving less dirt, it's about making it look natural, like it belongs and has been there ever since whatever forces that formed the ground movement.

Max Behr didn't write about the wrong road because there weren't poor examples available to him in the 1920's.


  Its not about moving less dirt? Wow have I been drinking the Kool Aid.

  Anthony



Ya don't say?

Bradley Anderson

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #34 on: August 04, 2011, 07:00:34 PM »
Jeff,

Can we say that the thing which qualifies the classic golf courses as being more minimalist than modern courses is the distances between cuts and fills?

There are many modern golf courses where less overall dirt is moved than the average classic golf course, but if the dirt is moved further from point A to point B, doesnít that make the modern course less minimalist than the classic course where the architect has balanced his cuts and fills in close proximity?

Whereas a classic architect cut 2,000 yards of bunker cavity around a green to shore it up, a modern architect might be more inclined to borrow 2,000 yards of fill from a radical change of grade before the tee to remove a blind spot.

Adam Clayman

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2011, 08:59:04 PM »
Chris, I think we have to dial in what dramatic, and softened, means. I don't know if we are on the same page. Yes, The 2nd at SH has a dramatic backdrop. But, is the ground it's on severely steep? Not in my recollection. Yes the green was altered the first or second year, but it's still a wicked bugger if you play to the wrong place. I don't think the greens at DR were softened, as much as they were made better by becoming more interesting. That altering required more earth moving. Yes? They are now what I call thoughtful, because, depending on one's approach or angle into them, there are other ways to get to the hole locations, that before, were only pass/fail, or one dimensional questions. Now, When one is out of position, there's a creative way to get the job done. In the first iteration, the greens lacked any creative thinkers ability to out-think the ground. It was either pass or fail and no fun.

IMO, JN designs mis-understood what minimalism was all about back in 05-06'. They Must've thought it was not moving a lot of dirt. There was even a ridiculous dust up on here because someone questioned the statement that they only moved 10-15k yards. It was just a mis-understanding between posters, but, it became quite the point of contention. IMO, What was needed was to melt some of those dunes down, similar to how the 13th fairway now looks, and plays, because before, it was too steep for acceptable golfing ground. The current 6th hole is a blast, but, it does border on being on too severe ground. I would hate to see someone someday, not pay attention while they are driving their cart as they approach the LZ, that steep drop, on the right, looks like a potential oops spot. It could've easily been corrected with some fill, because it's blind from the teeing ground, and that's why I suspect they were too focused, on not moving any sand.

I hope that further explains my opinions on the subject matter.

"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

Chris Johnston

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #36 on: August 04, 2011, 09:33:32 PM »
AC - I was responding to the cardiac comment and assumed it refers to access -  #2 at SHGC has a very steep walk from tee to green, as does #9. Real gassers.  Many of the holes do as well.  Fairway to green, they aren't steep but are when you walk, the tee to fairway steeps are similar to DRGC.  The most steep fairways are here are #'s 13 and 18 - most comparable to #6 here.  Only point is, we are no more steep than SHGC and may be less so.  We sometimes catch flak for steep.  I like it.

The green on SHGC #2 is wicked and challenging, to say the least.  4 foot elevation change and first 1/3 a 5-6 foot false front, usually coming in with a long iron from the back tees making par a very good reward.  SHGC #3 and #6 and #15 have more than tons of slope.  Very similar to the original "Jack" and DRGC greens aren't as fast.

The greens were here altered/softened but agree they remain interesting and fun.  Initially, 3-5 foot slopes was not what people here found fun.  I accept your definition and agree with your comments.

JESII

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #37 on: August 04, 2011, 10:09:38 PM »
I think the word "minimalism" should come with a trademark or asterix so people eventually recognize it has nothing to do with less of something. The worm turned for me a few years ago when Tom Doak defined it as just working harder to make it look like not much earth was moved...or something similar. Coming from one of the few guys on the planet actually in a position to define it was an eye-opener.

Can I copyright the term "faux naturale"?

JESII

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #38 on: August 04, 2011, 10:11:55 PM »
How can minimalist architecture be anything other than doing as little as possible to the ground during the construction of the course?

Tom MacWood

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #39 on: August 04, 2011, 10:32:25 PM »
Is it a myth? Yes and no, most of the great architects of the 20's were products of an earlier time when they were extremely limited as far as earth movement, and so they developed a strong appreciation for natural features. When they were finally given the ability to move more dirt they did so with and in conjunction of that appreciation for natural features.

John Kirk

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #40 on: August 04, 2011, 10:34:42 PM »
How can minimalist architecture be anything other than doing as little as possible to the ground during the construction of the course?

This, plus the "faux naturale" comment, are great back-to-back comments.  Minimalism is moving only what needs to be moved to create great golf.

JESII

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #41 on: August 04, 2011, 10:40:28 PM »

How can minimalist architecture be anything other than doing as little as possible to the ground during the construction of the course?



This, plus the "faux naturale" comment, are great back-to-back comments.  Minimalism is moving only what needs to be moved to create great golf.

I wonder John.

I haven't been to Shadow Creek, but have heard it's great. At a minimum, I'm sure it's quite good. How much less dirt movement could it have afforded?

Doesn't a true minimalist effort have to begin with site selection? I ask this with a full understanding that the architect isn't always in the site selection process...

Adam Clayman

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #42 on: August 04, 2011, 10:41:42 PM »
Sully, Because it has evolved into an art form, as far as gca is concerned. Art should not be strictly limited to Webster's definition of the word. The term has evolved to mean more.

John Kirk, I think The Rawls Course is the exception that proves, there's more to it than just doing little.
"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

JESII

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #43 on: August 04, 2011, 10:46:38 PM »
Fair enough Adam, but please tell me it evolved to mean more than just..."well, we don't actually want to move so little dirt this time because the site is pretty severe so how about we just try harder than the others to cover our tracks..."

Peter Pallotta

Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #44 on: August 04, 2011, 10:56:12 PM »
I wonder when 'the hand of man' first became a dirty word. I'm thinking it was in the late 80s, around the time "Wall Street" came out.

Matthew Sander

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #45 on: August 04, 2011, 11:19:35 PM »
Well done boys...there are a slew of thought provoking threads rotating on the main page at the moment.

I think the recurring minimalism discussion is difficult because the definition can be so darn nebulous. I prefer not to classify courses in this way in my own mind, so as not to confuse myself (it is way too easy!). Is "minimalism" intended to describe the result? Or the process?

John Kirk stated that "Minimalism is moving only what needs to be moved to create great golf." I like the simplicity of this statement and I feel it probably applies more to the process than the product. In my mind I'm trying to apply this point of view to a course like Lawsonia (Links), which I fell in (golf course) love with at the Mashie.

Now, with my heretofore interpretation of minimalism, I would in no way label Lawsonia as visually minimalistic. I feel the slopes and features are so abrupt, vertical, and in many cases elevated from the surrounding terrain that they could never be mistaken for natural or untouched features. Just by looking at the golf specific obstacles, they don't necessarily fit in with the environment (visually, in my opinion).

However, I can see some characteristics of minimalism with the overall use of the land. To my untrained eye, it looks as if the only engineering or earth movement had to do with golf specific features.  There seems to be minimal superfluous earth movement and little or no attempt to artificially frame holes with man made landforms or additional vegetation. So what you have is a playing field with well defined and in some cases extreme golf-specific obstacles, but nothing "on the side". So I could be persuaded that this is a form of minimalism.

There you go, I've just confused myself again...

Ben Sims

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #46 on: August 04, 2011, 11:34:54 PM »
I don't think it's about dirt quantities, or a routing, or a marketing device.  It's about efficiency, getting it right, and making the golf course play on the ground it is built upon.  It's about integration features into the hole, integrating the holes into the landscape, and having the course flow smoothly.

There's a classic playability that has come along with minimalism.  I--like many of you--am not a fan of the word itself.  

Adam Clayman

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #47 on: August 04, 2011, 11:43:33 PM »
Matthew, The juxtaposition to nature of the man made features at Lawsonia, accentuate the natural lay of that property. But even in their abruptness, there's a blending in of the surroundings. I hate to generalize, but one example, you can often see, is on the top lines of these features and how they curve to fit the land beyond. or on it's periphery. My favorite illustration of the difference in quality, and thoughtfulness, is in a picture that compares the Gil Hanse restoration, with the Rees Jones work, on the Short at Sleepy Hollow.

Peter, That was how I read Behr. With disdain for the hand of man. So, the 20's

Sully, I don't get your quote? Covering the hand of man is part of the art. So is picking the less severe ground to work on. Rock Creek is in the mountains yet walkable. See. I don't get your point in the quotes.
"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

John Kirk

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #48 on: August 05, 2011, 12:03:44 AM »

How can minimalist architecture be anything other than doing as little as possible to the ground during the construction of the course?



This, plus the "faux naturale" comment, are great back-to-back comments.  Minimalism is moving only what needs to be moved to create great golf.

I wonder John.

I haven't been to Shadow Creek, but have heard it's great. At a minimum, I'm sure it's quite good. How much less dirt movement could it have afforded?

Doesn't a true minimalist effort have to begin with site selection? I ask this with a full understanding that the architect isn't always in the site selection process...

Interesting.  Add this to Adam Clayman's comment about the Rawls Course at Texas Tech, and we are describing two manufactured courses.  By most accounts, Shadow Creek rates about an 8 or 9, and the Rawls Course is a 5 or 6.

Like you say Jim, a minimalistic design philosophy wants to maximize a great site.  I think these designs are best.

My experience says Tom Fazio builds big, beautiful golf courses, but he is decidedly not a minimalist.  He's great at what he does, no question.  Pronghorn is very cool here in Oregon, for instance.  The Madison Club in La Quinta, though I only toured the facility, is a big, bold design.

I admire Tom Doak for trying different things.  Aren't Shadow Creek and The Rawls Course both built on flat ground?  I think Doak is a less strict minimalist than Coore and Crenshaw, and may leave a more diverse legacy.  It will be a great debate for years.  When good courses are built these days, they are very good.  

Don't we go back to the Tom Paul Big World Theory of golf courses here?  Minimalism is one of essentially two golf course design philosophies, though I might argue for a third, lost design principle mentioned recently by Pat Mucci, the natural Golden Age course with built-up green sites to add challenge.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 12:06:18 AM by John Kirk »

Jordan Caron

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Re: Is "minimalism" a myth ?
« Reply #49 on: August 05, 2011, 12:46:02 AM »
Whether it's a movement, a marketing label or just a trend, it's been working for a while and the real question is does it still have "legs"?

Cost alone, yes.  The market for this style of golf is rather small though and given how much people are watching their money, I think this style of golf will suffer or peder off for a few years.  The average golfer would be blown away after playing a Cascata or Shawdow Creek and simply wouldn't get what Sand Hills or Old MacDonald are all about about.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 12:48:03 AM by Jordan Caron »

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