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Maple Downs and another Potential Project

 

 

Lateral Movement - a way to deal with a flat site

 

Monday featured an interview at Maple Downs. It’s a course that I’ve always loved playing because of the great natural terrain. I think the course sits on one of the best properties in Ontario and it’s fortunate to have a pretty good routing too. As much as I love Maple Downs it’s not hard to imagine how a few key alterations could make this course much better than it is. The possibilities are outstanding.

 

Tuesday had me flying to meet with a new group about a potential Weir Project. The site was fine, but surprisingly flat. The property is completely treed and large sections of the site featured native sand. The project is interesting but a little complicated too. This site would require a lot more imagination than other sites we have looked at. I think we would need to move much more earth than usual in order to develop some very strong architectural concepts. The project has me thinking Raynor and Banks for inspiration and the need to swing as hard for the fences as they did to make something special. I like the challenge.

 

On Wednesday I found out that I was selected to become the architect for Maple Downs. The news went out this week and the membership was notified on Friday. I will be working on the Master Plan this winter and there will surely be some fascinating changes in the works for Maple Downs. I’m very excited.

 

Thursday found me negotiating contracts. Some people are not fond of this side of the business but I like it because you can find out a great deal about the people you are working with. It provides a great deal more insight into people’s motivations and interests. It was important to get through the contract work this week so that I can get on with my winter’s projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming to a School Near You?

 

I met some fascinating people when I was in school and always appreciated them taking their time for me, so with that in mind I’ve been trying to give back some of my time to this generation of students. I have always talked to any student who called and meet them in person if that was their request. There have been lots more this year than usual, but that speaks volumes about how tough it is this year.

 

I also occasionally speak to students at schools and this year I have set up three sessions to do so. I will be speaking to the Landscape Architecture students at the University of Guelph next Thursday. Friday I will be speak at Niagara College about golf design to students in the Golf Management program. Finally I finish up early next month speaking to the Turf Students at the University of Guelph. I think that’s a good mix for this fall.

 

The really fun one for me will be addressing the LA students at the University of Guelph. I graduated that program in 1991 (it took a few years extra because I worked full time every year except 1988). I met with a group of students a few weeks ago who wanted to know about my business for their professional practice class. During discussions we ended up talking about how I got to where I am. I spent quite a bit of time talking about the decisions I made along the way and the implications of each in leading me to my intended goal.

 

They seemed surprised by the fact that I made many decisions in school and took particular jobs based around an end goal. The more we talked about goals and achieving them, the more I thought that the students might really need someone to explain to them that everything about what they do should be about and end goal of working in the area of Landscape Architecture that interested them the most. So the topic will be about setting and achieving goals after you leave school and how to accomplish what you dare to dream.

 

I look forward to that lecture.

 

 

 

 

Some Sunday Musings

 

 

Work this Year

 

I’m only a few days away from the end of the golf design season. All the construction work at Elm Ridge and Oakdale has been wrapped up this week and only the range at St. Thomas remains as work still to be completed. Where we get to from here depends largely on the vagaries of weather. I have a few things to do, but not that much, unless we start something to do with Laval.

 

 

Prospects for Next

 

This week I have two interviews in two days both in different cities. One is for an existing course and the other is for a new golf course. I have been preparing all week for both and look forward to each of the interviews. We continue to see a more positive trend in the golf design business and think we should make some news soon.

 

 

What I Might work on this Winter

 

I have always teased you that I might write a book. I have shared my frustrations about trying to find a theme or approach that is completely different from other existing architecture books, but this week walking I had my epiphany. I have what I think is a different approach to sharing my thoughts on golf architecture. The crazy thing is I can actually see this idea appealing to more than my family and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Fenway

 

 

 

Fenway’s spectacular 200 yard uphill 11th

 

This is the last of the reviews even though we began on Knollwood and finished on Winged Foot. They have been reviewed on here in the past.

 

I was taken by the contrast between Fenway’s architecture and that of Winged Foot and Quaker Ridge. The greens were smaller, very undulating and the bunker work was grass faced instead of flashed up. I found the effect much more understated and much more elegant.

 

Fenway’s opening set were awesome. The short opener, the long four that followed, the incredible five with a Sahara, the short and diabolical fourth and finally the long and demanding 5th returning to the clubhouse. This stretch was all excellent, varied and interesting as they come.

 

The 6th was a solid up hill par three. The next set of holes was interesting but very much ruined by all the excessive trees. The corner of the 7th was ridiculously overplanted. The 8th was completely ruined by trees. The lay-up option has been lost through over-planting on both sides. It was so bad that it made more sense to drive the ball onto the 12th fairway for a simple and open approach. The 9th is an all world par four featuring one of the best green sites on the course but is hurt by the excessive trees in the landing which has removed any of the options from the tee.

 

 

 

The 9th hole

 

The second nine begins like the front with the awesome long par four 10th hole. The 11th was one of the best threes I saw all week and is an ideal example of how to build an outstanding uphill par three. Then the trees begin to take over once again. The 12th was a great hole but over-treed down the left side removing the opportunity to take any aggressive line. The 13th is through a forest of trees with much of the architecture crowded out. The 14th continues the run of excessively long fours and by this point I was worn out from too much golf with too many trees.

 

The respite was the beautiful short 15th. Interestingly the dangerous line directly at the green was removed by trees planted on the corner. This forces/helps players play for the ideal approach angle. The small undulating green was a huge highlight for me and the hole is akin to the 10th at Riviera in its creative use of size and angle as a key to defending the hole. I will be borrowing from this hole in the future!

 

 

 

The clever green at the 15th

 

The final set of holes left me flat. The trees once again cluttered up the landing area of the 16th, particularly on the left where you needed to bail to avoid the massive trees on the inside corner. The 17th was a nice hole, but I’ll never be a fan of pond holes. Finally the 18th was a great tee shot, but the goal post of large trees in the second landing took away the charm of the hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elm Ridge Fall Construction Finishes

 

 

 

The 6th where the right bunkers were relocated 20 feet closer to the green

 

This fall we renovated the green side bunkers on the South Course at Elm Ridge. We have used a combination of detail work, rebuilding and reclamation to bring the bunkers back to life. I always thought that the original bunkers by William (William Flynn’s construction Forman at Shinnecock Hills) and David Gordon were pretty good, but needed some work to make them much more interesting.

 

 

 

The 10th green

 

The reaction to work has been overwhelming and probably the most positive reaction that I’ve got in some time. On some greens we used much of what was there and on others it required some significant work to bring interest to the bunkers back. The 11th is a good example of change. The left bunker was built by combining the two round bunkers together and establishing a new and more interesting interior line for character. The picture below shows the original form with the bunker that will be removed.

 

 

 

The 11th green completed

 

I expect the work to continue next year with the fairway bunkers.

 

 

 
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