Thursday, October 27, 2011


VGC: Restored bunker right of the green at #11.
Someone once asked Ben Crenshaw to identify the most important element in golf course architecture. Mr. Crenshaw simply answered, "Time".

That's right, time. Time to think. Time to shape and build. Time to look. Time to ponder. And, of course, time to adjust.

I happen to agree with Mr. Crenshaw. Time is very important. But, when renovating existing golf courses, time usually works against us. Golfers rightfully want those holes under repair back in play as soon as possible. So work must be completed as quickly as possible. This type of schedule more often than not prevents all of that time we'd prefer to have to think, look, shape and build, ponder, and adjust.

Which reminds me of a great story I was told by Dick Youngscap. Mr. Youngscap is most famous for developing Sand Hills Golf Club (designed by Mr. Crenshaw, and his partner, Bill Coore), in Nebraska. He is also the brains behind Firethorn Golf Club in Nebraska's state capital, Lincoln. Pete Dye designed the original 18-holes at Firethorn. During construction of the course, Pete was using time to his advantage, constantly changing this and that, tinkering with all of the details. Finally - however many months into it - Mr. Youngscap finally had it. I'm paraphasing, but I recall he frankly told Pete, "Alright, you're done." Grass it.

I'll be honest, golf course designers - including myself - need that kinda push (at least some times). Sticking to the schedule at VGC for this fall, I'm on an airplane tomorrow morning... even though I could have easily stayed to continue to think, look, ponder and, of course, adjust.

I'm lucky though. The remaining work at VGC is left in the capable hands of a fine crew, under the leadership of Paul Robertson and Derek Sheffield, who've been making me look good for almost three years now.

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