Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Creating Sagebrush: #11.

Whereas the 2nd hole was one of the simplest to create at Sagebrush (see previous post), the 11th was quite challenging to build. This 500-yard par 4 is a very important hole too. Along with the 8th (another long par 4 that also required a major construction effort), the 11th hole is key to the routing coming together; getting golfers to a beautiful spot at the back of the property (where the wonderfully short 12th and 13th holes are interrupted by 'The Hideout').

There's a lot of talk about 'minimalism' in golf course architecture these days; and, finding natural holes - like Sagebrush's 2nd - requires unique talent. But to be a great golf course designer, you must also possess extraordinary powers to visualize possibilities through construction work. Most holes at Sagebrush were quite easy to 'see' on the raw ground before construction of the course began; not the 8th and 11th though. In fact, when Rod Whitman first pitched what is now Sagebrush's 11th hole, most people involved with the project couldn't see it at all. 

Below is a pre-construction view of the proposed green site (click on all images to enlarge). This photo was taken from the 11th hole side of a massive fairway area shared with the adjacent 14th hole, at right. This proposed green site for the 11th hole was a steep hillside; a beautiful spot, but not an ideal location to build a green, really.

Below is a similar view during construction. Work is being done to soften a steep slope in the fairway area, some 300 yards off the back tee. The beginnings of a green pad, created by gouging material out of the hillside there, can also be seen in the distance. It took quite a bit of time and material to create a site for this green that was large enough and flat enough to accommodate golf. In fact, a lot of work went into creating all of the greens at Sagebrush. Due to the extreme nature of the site, it was challenging to make these sites flat enough while at the same time creating interesting putting greens.

Finally, below is a view of the 11th green site complete (photo by Duncan Ridley). It's another of Sagebrush's many massive putting greens, featuring some neat 'waves' rolling across its surface from front to back. (Quite a climb is required to get to the short par 3 12th, which is well above the 11th green, playing across a tiny plateau in the shadow of that large rock face you see in the image below.)

Sagebrush's 11th hole is monument to extraordinary imagination in golf course design.

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