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Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2011, 11:38:20 AM »
Tom Doak,

I know what you mean about the details.

I havenít played any of Fazioís courses mentioned, so I will pass on the detail critiques on those. I am afraid, having only looked at pictures that perhaps the real answer here is that he has adopted the frilly edge bunkers that are trendy now.  I donít know if he has adopted a lot more strategy with his bunkering schemes, however.

I did want to comment on your comment that Fazioís greens arenít cutting edge or wild enough!  When I play a Fazio course, I take the digital level with me, and I note that his greens often get up to 4% and greater, and have other areas that are actually flat at 0%.

I find them to be more contoured than most of the big name guys, especially when considering that he designs many high end clubs with fast greens.

The Fazio green I recall capturing my attention the most was at Dizzy World. A short par 5, with a wide, 3 level green, and the right two levels hidden from view.  It was a dogleg left, and to get the angle to the right side pins and maybe see them, you had to carry two large trees and hit a hook, too.  Unusual green and tied into the strategy quite well.  

Its an older course, so not representative of anything newer.  But, in the Fazio's I have played, I have never felt quite the sameness that others here profess.  Yeah, you can see some repetition in hole concepts, but most courses seemed to have a few new concepts tried.

EDIT: Just looked at the Gozzer pix.  Again, I wonder how much is his adoption there of lacey edge bunkers. However, I do see stronger angles than I typically associate with Faz on several holes that the web site features.

« Last Edit: March 12, 2011, 11:41:10 AM by Jeff_Brauer »
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Mike_Young

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2011, 11:40:18 AM »
Jeff,
I'm not real sure that many of the signature courses would hold up well with a significantly reduced maintenance budget....and I say that not based on fairway slopes etc but based on the style and number of bunkers etc used to enhance these courses as well as the landscaping required...

I have always felt that the top difference between the ODG's and the modern golf architect ( or what is described as minimalism vs modern golf design etc)  was FAIRWAY SHAPING....the ODG's didn't have that....so more routing skill was needed as well as better land....once we started shaping fairways then golf sort of got out of hand....maintenance wise as well as construction wise....  half of the junk out there would not exist if not for fairway shaping....JMO
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Bill_McBride

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2011, 11:41:15 AM »
Matt W--

Have you played Shadow Creek since the renovation of three years ago? 


Bob C--

What's amazing about Mountaintop is that when you're on 9 and you get a chance to peek up at where 17 is (and 18 is above that), you have to wonder how on earth you're going to get there because it's so much above you.  Yet, it's incredibly playable and there isn't a severely uphill hole in the bunch. 

That's what is so amazing about Stanley Thompson's routing at Capilano.  The course plays straight downhill for the first six holes, some 300 feet drop in elevation. Yet by #10 you are back up on top without suffering a heart attack, on foot.  Could the same be said of Mountaintop (walkable)?

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #28 on: March 12, 2011, 11:56:15 AM »
Mac,

Well, obviously the bankers care about $20M here and there.  But, I think that many high end courses have been financially successful, and many medium and low ends have gone bankrupt.  Its a matter of building a course to fit the specific market and most, but not all courses should be moderately cost to build.  But, its just not true that high budget courses lose their shirts every time.

Mike,

I suspect that we are starting to find out how some high end courses will look under less maintenance regimens!  No doubt that nearly every course will be scrutinized for bunker reductions. I have been doing a lot of that on mid level courses the last few years....including some of my own where they were nice enough to ask me back to consult rather than just ripping them out.  As in the 1930's, I think we can expect large bunker reductions, starting with the ones that get raked every day, but have no footprints! (ie don't see much play) and the ones that are just too hard to maintain.  

I put the digital level on a bunker of Faz bunkers, and they have slopes of up to 67%, when we know sand won't hold up on more than 25% slopes typically (can vary with sand type, and liners of course)  That is where Faz courses will change because many are built without regard to maintenance.  In fact, many have already changed, flattened out.

I agreed with you on fw shaping for a long time. I recall once putting out a plan with notes all over it that I wanted a specific area of fw NOT to be touched. I got out there and the contractor informed me that most gca's shape everywhere, and it was easier for them just to strip the topsoil in anticipation of same.  And, they had taken the first pass at shaping the fw based not on my plans, but their past work with me.  I was angry.

Another contractor explained to me some time in the 90's that he figured his shapers would be on a project for six months, so shaping the fw, even if not on plan, really didn't cost him anything. Short version, the idea of preserving ground in the fw to save money really sort of went out the window.  And fw shaping as you know often isn't all about effect, its about controlling off site water and a number of other things that requirements now demand, so shaping for artistic effect truly doesn't add to cost in many cases.

Lastly, if shaping truly doesn control long term drainage, it may really be quite cost effective in the long run in saving future drainage work, more days in play, etc.  As I have said before, maybe the perfect mix of golf shaping is to shape the roughs to keep lots of drainage from crossing the fw, and then leaving the fw contours natural, and many gca's do just that.

Mac,

Back to you!! I would also remind this board once again that there are so many non golf costs associated with a project that saving even a million, believe it or not, probably doesn't affect the project budget as much as you might think.  As I said to Mike above, that million probably equates to $85,000 a year in debt, or maybe $2-4 per round.  While there are cases where that will make the difference in success, if the project is well designed, located, etc. and popular, it may not make a difference, because people expect to pay more for a new course than an old one.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Adam Clayman

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #29 on: March 12, 2011, 12:02:24 PM »
"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

BCrosby

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #30 on: March 12, 2011, 12:11:10 PM »
Mac - To be clear, I don't see a new Fazio design philosophy in evidence at MT.

Bill - Fazio did a wonderful job at MT at minimizing severe uphill and downhill holes, especially when you consider that MT is built over a series of high ridges up at about 4,000 feet. Which basically the top of the Great Smokies in western NC. Most holes feel like parkland holes that could be in Atlanta. Except for the magnificent mountain vistas.

Bob  

Joel_Stewart

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #31 on: March 12, 2011, 03:36:31 PM »
As for Fazio, I noticed this little blurb.  It's his first course in Europe.

A huge expanse of waterfront property along Portugalís Alentejo coast will become the home of two complementary resorts, each with a ďbrandedĒ golf course worthy of hosting a Ryder Cup.

The Espirito Santo family has commissioned Tom Fazio and David McLay Kidd to design world-class 18-hole tracks for Herdade da Comporta, which will take shape near the village of Comporta, about an hourís drive south of Lisbon. The property is sandy and bumpy and lends itself especially well to golf.

Thatís part of the reason why Portuguese golf officials plan to nominate Fazioís course, to be called Comporta Links, as the host venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup.

ďItís a pure sand site with big, rolling contours,Ē says Brian Courcelle, one of Fazioís design associates. ďItís hard to call it a links course because itís not really close enough to the sea, but the golf course wonít have any trees, just areas of scrub, gorse, heather, and lavender.Ē


DMoriarty

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #32 on: March 12, 2011, 03:47:10 PM »
Lavender?  Fazio courses always put me to sleep. 
Golf history can be quite interesting if you just let your favorite legends go and allow the truth to take you where it will.
--Tom MacWood (1958-2012)

Matt_Ward

Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #33 on: March 12, 2011, 04:53:26 PM »
Adam M:

On SC -- the answer is no.

Look forward to a return visit to see if the place has really added the course elements rather than relying upon the storyline on how it came into existence.

Tom D:

Since you were referring to me with my past comments -- I would say a visit to Martis Camp would show several edgy greens that are quite different than earlier efforts. Fazio used to excel at having scenic landscapes thast were so shallow in terms of hole differentiation and overall shot diversity from tee to green.

I think the same thing can be said for a few of the other courses that have opened in the last 10-15 years -- Glenwild in UT is very well done -- not just a scenic wonder -- which it has.

The thing abot discussing TF designs is that one needs to show a pre-TF and post-TF works. I casn remember playing the original Wild Dunes in  Charleston and was quite impressed before the Hurrican hit the area a few years later. It just seems to me that so many of this efforts post Wild Dunes was fairly formulaic and not really interesting beyond the views and maintenance elements. I'm trying to get a reference point where that kind of style seemed to change. I'm looking through my TF designs played and will update shortly in that regard.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #34 on: March 12, 2011, 04:56:05 PM »
Jeff:

I keep missing the part where I've asked anybody to compare Tom Fazio's work to mine.  That was never the point of this thread; I'd like to know what he's doing that's different than what he used to, that justifies Matt's opinion that he has raised his game.

However, this passage from you deserves to be immortalized:


I recall once putting out a plan with notes all over it that I wanted a specific area of fw NOT to be touched. I got out there and the contractor informed me that most gca's shape everywhere, and it was easier for them just to strip the topsoil in anticipation of same.  And, they had taken the first pass at shaping the fw based not on my plans, but their past work with me.  I was angry.

Another contractor explained to me some time in the 90's that he figured his shapers would be on a project for six months, so shaping the fw, even if not on plan, really didn't cost him anything. Short version, the idea of preserving ground in the fw to save money really sort of went out the window.  And fw shaping as you know often isn't all about effect, its about controlling off site water and a number of other things that requirements now demand, so shaping for artistic effect truly doesn't add to cost in many cases.


Mac,

Back to you!! I would also remind this board once again that there are so many non golf costs associated with a project that saving even a million, believe it or not, probably doesn't affect the project budget as much as you might think.  


Some new math for me there.  I always thought that saving a million dollars would affect the budget a million dollars.  That may very well not be the difference between a project's success and its failure ... but it's a million dollars right up to the day the project goes bankrupt or gets sold at a loss.

As for letting the contractors convince you that everything needs to be shaped and it doesn't really cost any more to do it, well, that's a pretty big difference between your style and mine!  But this thread is about Tom Fazio's work, and even though I think I know where he falls on the shaping spectrum, I'll let it pass.  [Heck, I think every one of the new Fazio courses which is being praised here is sand-capped from wall to wall ... so even if it wasn't shaped, it was.  Indeed, it may be that the reason for an improvement in their work is that they have embraced sand-capping to the max and have gotten much better at it than they were before, particularly on the tie-ins.]

As for actual design details, what I've heard so far are  (a)  lacy edged bunkers,  (b)  centerline bunkers,  (c)  split fairways,  (d)  more subtle strategies,  (e)  not being afraid to "go for it", and (f)  opening up big vistas behind the greens.  I'd say that most of that constitutes a change of look, as opposed to a change of philosophy, wouldn't you?

Matt_Ward

Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #35 on: March 12, 2011, 05:05:58 PM »
Tom:

With a number of the more recent TF designs -- you don't get just the fluff and nothing else. Working the ball off the tee is now a major element -- Martis Camp shows that plenty of times. In other TF layouts driving the ball was just let it rip and go chase. Now positioning becomes more and more of the scene -- you also have the edgy look you referenced before -- far too many times in the distant past after the success of Wild Dunes which was quite good before the hurricane happened and the mass clutter with all the housing invaded the course. I can only wish the old Wild Dunes cold return but that's not likely to happen.

The final element deals with recent TF designs around the greens -- in the older versions you had some good contours at spots but the elements off the side of the greens were fairly elementary and not a real concern. Now, that side of things has changed -- putting more and more players on notice that one's total short game is needed.

I am going through my total listing of TF layouts and sizing up the more recent ones versus the ones from years back.


Tom_Doak

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2011, 05:12:46 PM »
Matt:

Thanks for that.  Paying more attention to the short game would be a huge plus in my book.

For the most part, I never thought Fazio emphasized the short game very much.  There was one course in particular -- that 36-hole project just off Hilton Head that opened 8-10 years ago, Belfair -- where I was told they had done their best-ever set of greens.  And what I saw was that the internal greens contouring was very good, but the tie-ins around the greens for chipping hadn't been a priority at all, so you had a lot of awkward little recovery shots up a sharp bank.

Jud_T

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2011, 05:17:07 PM »
Matt,

Interested to hear your take on new vs. old Faz.  It would be nice to hear they've really upped their game beyond aesthetics to justify all those courses debuting in the top 25 as more than the typical new course buzz only to watch them slide down to 50th over time where a bunch of his other designs reside...
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

DMoriarty

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2011, 05:19:47 PM »
How would they know if guests do rate it?

They wouldn't.  But it would be pretty sleazy of raters to play as guests and then go against the club's wishes, wouldn't it?
Golf history can be quite interesting if you just let your favorite legends go and allow the truth to take you where it will.
--Tom MacWood (1958-2012)

Adam_Messix

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #39 on: March 12, 2011, 05:26:55 PM »
Matt W--

I was interested to see if your views had changed post redo.  Shadow Creek in it's current state is a really interesting and quite difficult golf course.  It will be interesting to see what you think.

Doug Wright

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #40 on: March 12, 2011, 05:35:34 PM »
BTW, I think Art Hills has also really ramped up his work in the last ten years.  Believe me, all of us look around at what others are doing, and realize that we just can't keep doing the same old, same old, and expect to remain competitive.

Jeff although this is a Fazio thread I was curious about your comment above. What courses do you think reflect Art Hills' ramped up work in the past ten years?
Twitter: @Deneuchre

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2011, 05:53:33 PM »
Doug,

Like Fazio, I see Art taking more chances, and incorporating some blind shots, Redans, etc. in his work that he didn't before.  Mostly, I never liked his blind bunkers. Now, he has learned to build them with a slightly uphill slope - they are still his flat bunkers with steep banks, but now you can see them.

Tom Doak,

I guess I haven't played enough Faz lately to know where his trends are - Dallas National, Stonebriar and Vaquero here in DFW and even newer Butterfield Trail in El Paso, where I didn't see a lot new philosophically.  I did notice differences in Vaq and DN - mostly DN was more natural because of the spectacular site.  Vaquero had some of those big waste bunker type deals we often see on Fazio courses in Florida.

I have always seen him take a few chances in his large volume of work whereas some here see him as the king of anti-strategy.  I am imagining that to desribe what I think about Fazio, I would have to go hole by hole and classify it as strategic, anti strategic, etc. to please this group.  For example, I have seen holes where Fazio suggests strongly to work the ball. If newer work suggests it more, then more power to the Faz.

I found myself wondering what anyone here might have thought of his Mirasol in FL, where he was said to emulate Donald Ross fall away greens?  I have heard its not all that well recieved.  BTW, Tiger picked one of his designers, and I have had more than a few tour pros rave about Faz courses, getting one lecture about just how great his green contours are, how hard to read, etc.  So, we can't say his courses and greens don't appeal to better players in a universal way.

I have told the story about Lee Trevino dragging me out the fifth at DN to show me how you can't get a chip shot close because of the fallaway green and slight increase in slope in the middle of the green that you can't read and can't account for.  Oddly, this came just a few days after you had answered someone's question about making greens harder for good players, suggesting just such a feature!  But, this isn't about you......Anyway, as far as I can tell, many players, even top ones, seem to like his general approach of decent receptivity.

Sort of OT, but while I picked on one quote from his book by another, I will agree that there isn't much meat on the bone regarding strategy in that book.  Most of the comments I recall clearly are more about making it easier for the average player than creating challenge for the good one.  I can see why that sets up a view that he doesn't strive for real strategy by some.

Yeah, I know. This post is sort of guilty of the same thing...I used  a lot of words and didn't really say anything.  Sorry, but its sort of a broad topic to discuss.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2011, 05:58:31 PM by Jeff_Brauer »
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Matt_Ward

Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #42 on: March 12, 2011, 06:18:10 PM »
Jeff:

The key issue with TF is that his overall batting average is still so-so. In recent years the benchmark has risen but only with the really high profile big ticket layouts -- like Gozzer Ranch, The Alotian Club, Shooting Star, et al. I think more of his better efforts are now more complete -- less general weaknesses that cowtow to playability as the central theme.

Clearly, some people have weighed in on Mountaintop and don't see the course there being so worthy of its prasie for a top 30 modern position.

For me, the issue with TF designs of recent years -- is the driving dimension couples with more detailing in the short game area -- now the pitch and chip shots are more intense and require a tactical mind when approaching the putting surfaces.

One last word -- I really liked DN -- yes, the site is spectacular but there's so many risk shots that you need to handle -- just can't simply stare into space and marvel at its innate beauty.

Adam:

I'm looking forward to seeing SC -- Adam C speaks highly of it -- but the key is seeing if the storyline is now far beyond where it was initially. Thanks ...

Jud:

Buzz exists for plenty of courses before the dust settles -- not a new thing -- happened to Harbour Town when it first arrived. Ditto for Shadow Creek.

Unlike the early day TF designs which shot up fast and then descended almost as rapidly -- the more recent efforts are quite sophisticated in that mundame / scenic holes are less of an issue. Fazio has become less predictable -- usually one can discern his motives and desires -- the team he has are more adept in disguising such situations and with that guesswork thrust onto the player the overall qualities of the design are enhanced.

I will list such courses to showcase what I just said.

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2011, 06:29:58 PM »
Matt,

I think I know what you are saying.  The "typical" Fazio course often had pretty simplified slopes around many greens.  In fact, some flowed nearly concentric with the greens, which I always thought looked artificial to a degree. However, I have seen many Fazio greens where he did a GREAT job of tying the surrounding contours NOT to the putting surface, but used the natural flow of the contours around the green, sometimes resulting in some really pleasing effects.

I think its hard to explain, but for example, I am thinking of the 10th at Prairie Dunes.  The green is round, but the edge slopes don't follow the green shape, they come in at "funny" (non perpendicular to the green edge) angles suggested by nature.  I have seen Fazio do this as well, while other times, as I just said, his slopes paralell the green edge too much for my taste.

As for the slopes being too long and not "intense" IMHO, this raises the philosophical issue of whether the old guys like Tillie really designed "intense" contours around the green or just tied back as expressed above.  In truth, I don't think they over thought that aspect either, and their courses turned out just fine, in part because the green surrounds weren't over architected!

I also recall chipping from beside a Fazio green one day and saying to myself I didn't know how to hit this chip shot......as it happened, it was perfectly straight, which of course, is a shot to deal with, too.

Short version, I find it hard to think some critics would critique Fazio for his green surrounds, because in so many cases, they are very traditional.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

John Shimp

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2011, 08:40:57 PM »
I'm surprised how complementary the Mountaintop comments here are.  The comments hover around what a building feat it was and how there aren't any uphill shots and not too many severe downhill ones.   They  spent over 20mm on it.  That should fix a lot of things.  I think There are many weak holes 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, and 17 in my book. Its a downright weak set of 3s. I like 2, 5, 9 and more of the back.  All in all its notart particularly challenging course.  To me that piece of proprty should have some uphill shots.  Golf holes should move up down and over the property. It's silly to me how theyve been avoided to serve Up as many downhill leaning shots as possible.

Like I said before it's beautiful and pleasant but the golf isn't exciting.  There really are many better tf courses just in NC.  As far as NC mtn golf Mountaintop is so far behind grandfather in quality golf in my view. 

Matt_Ward

Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2011, 10:50:06 PM »
John:

What Doak rating number would you give to Mountaintop ?

Curious to know if the elevation change there is as extreme as you find at Mountain Air in Burnsville ?

Let me just say this a place like Martis Camp would be no less than a Doak 8 for me.

John Shimp

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #46 on: March 13, 2011, 09:29:09 AM »
It's a 6. Grandfather is an 8. Linville and diamond creek are 7s.  Haven't played wade Hampton unfortunately. 
Haven't played mtn aire. Sorry.   23 is a big over rate.  It is very visually appealing and high end an all.  Golf is just bland.
Ive played it a few times and there are so few blood pumping shots unless hanging a drive down a hill is big fun.  I do like
Many tf courses. I just think this one is the new thing and will slide as people get used to it and begin to think about the golf and not the luxury.

BCrosby

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #47 on: March 13, 2011, 09:45:00 AM »
"I just think this one is the new thing and will slide as people get used to it and begin to think about the golf and not the luxury."

MT's current rating is evidence of the 'exclusivity premium' at work once again. The principle goes something like the following:

If a new course is highly exclusive one, it's initial rating will be higher than it otherwise should be until enough people have played it to dilute the sense of exclusivity.

The operation of the 'exclusivity premium' might not be as predictable as Newton's Second Law of Thermodynamics. But it's close.

Bob   

John Shimp

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Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2011, 10:01:57 AM »
Bob
Obviously agree w your concept.  What is interesting to me about architecture and golf is how a course so visually stunning and all as mtn top can produce so few blood pumping/palm sweating shots and one as blah looking and "quiet" as chechessee creek (land form wise mostly) can produce so many.  It's easy to play around the danger and learn mtn top while chechessee is loaded with near miss iron shots that result in complicated recoveries.  Yet chechessee won't crack a rating as it's flat and 6600 yards (plays way longer) and offers a simple golf experience. The golf is anything but simple though and that's what makes it great. 

BCrosby

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Fazio's Push ...
« Reply #49 on: March 13, 2011, 10:05:40 AM »
John -

Just in the SE, I would add Cuscowilla. A really, really good course.

Bob

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