Thursday, June 21, 2012

Development of a bunker #oakvillegolfclub

Proposed location ~ March 2012.
Click on all images to enlarge.

Rough shape.

Field sketch, illustrating proposed detail.

Done ~ June 2012.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A few thoughts on Olympic-Lake.

During my last visit to the Olympic Club, in January 2009,
the new par 3 8th hole was under construction.
Click on image to enlarge.
The Olympic Club's Lake course, where the 2012 United States Open will be decided today, isn't my favourite. Granted, I'm a bit spoiled. During the same trip to northern California, back in January 2009, I also visited San Francisco Golf Club, The California Golf Club, Pasatiempo, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. By comparison, Olympic-Lake was underwhelming.

I really liked the tawny presentation of the course as seen on TV yesterday; there seems to be a very nice texture about the Lake course this week. The large cypress trees, and incredibly unique clubhouse overlooking the 8th and 18th greens are awesome too. And, as usual, I also appreciate some of the thoughtful elements the U.S. Golf Association's Mike Davis has incorporated into the course. Take some of the typically un-US Open-like short grass areas around greens for example. Saturday's 107-yard set-up at the par 3 15th hole was pretty cool, too.

But, in general, the course architecture and set-up at Olympic-Lake do nothing for me. The course is very one-dimensional - which is why it's a brilliant venue for a traditional 'US Open test', I guess. Most fairways are way too narrow relative to the slopes and pace of the course. All of those 'reverse camber' holes, where the fairways bend in the opposite direction of the general pitch of the land, get tiring after awhile, too. And, the short par 4 18th epitomizes the one-dimensional nature of the course. It's an 'over-rated' hole, talked about more because of history than architectural merit. I'm sure someone in contention later today will be playing their second shot to the home green from a divot in the ridiculously narrow 18th fairway, where there's really only 'one place' to drive the ball.

Olympic-Lake is 'hard', yeah - only two of the world's best golfers are currently under par after 54 holes this week. But does that make it a great course? Not in my opinion.

I'm a big fan of Mike Davis. Again, he's done some very thoughtful stuff in setting up some of America's best courses for US Open competition in recent years. As Davis knows, it's way too easy to make a course 'hard', and much better - for spectators and competitors alike - when a course simply plays 'interesting'. There's not enough 'interesting' about Olympic-Lake this week, in my opinion, unfortunately. And because of this fact, I suspect we might see another Jack Fleck beat Ben Hogan today; or another Billy Casper defeat Arnold Palmer. With all due respect, is Scott Simpson in the field?

This is what penal architecture and course set-up often produces. To my way of thinking, architecture and set-up should not determine champions. Players should be permitted to golf their balls and, in turn, determine outcomes. Driving to 28.6-yard wide fairways that are running away from you into 6-inch rough and playing to greens that are hard as rocks one day then significantly softer the next (as a result of heavy watering the night before) doesn't help.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

At the Derrick Club.

Visualization of proposed improvement at (what could be)
the Derrick Club's par-5 6th hole. Click on images to enlarge.
Obviously I haven't been posting here as regularly as I would typically like lately; which is good and bad. Bad because I enjoy writing/creating these posts, and would like to keep this blog current; good because I simply haven't had much time over the past few weeks and more. Finishing up our bunker renovation project at The Oakville Golf Club; visiting with a few potential new clients; planning for future work with a number of existing clients (including York Downs and Victoria); etc. has kept me as busy as I've (probably) ever been this year, so far. I'm currently in Edmonton, where I'll spend the next few days presenting our golf course improvement plan to members of the Derrick Club, and guiding tours of the course to further explain things to those most interested golfers in more detail.

Visualization of (what could be) the par-3 8th - a brand new
hole that's part of our plans to improve the layout
and sequence of play at the Derrick Club.
Our plan for the Derrick Club is very ambitious. Unlike a few other clubs where I'm working currently, it's more than a matter of draining and remodelling bunkers at the Derrick. The course suffers from some fundamental problems that can only be sincerely remedied through reconstruction. The Derrick is one of the top private clubs in the Edmonton area, offering members excellent year-round amenities. Frankly, its golf course - originally constructed during the late 1950s - doesn't match up with the dining, racquet sport, swimming, fitness and other facilities at the club. This, for me, is a very exciting opportunity to be part of placing the 'icing on the cake' at a fine club, by providing the Derrick with a top-notch golf experience. The next few days should be fun... then, hopefully, the next few years too, as we implement this ambitious, exciting golf course improvement plan.