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Denver Trip – Day Two and Three - Common Ground Golf Course


The punchbowl 3rd (courtesy of Renaissance Design)



Common Ground is a purely public golf facility built by the Colorado Golf Association. The course is designed to be accommodating for the average player with lots of room and open fronted greens. The course also contains lots of challenge because of the strongly contoured greens, deep bunkers and extensive use of short grass as a defence. It creates a fascinating challenge for all players because not only do they have to hit good shots, but they also must make good decisions in order to score. The course has become wildly popular because its great golf all at a reasonable price.


While the land is fairly gentle, the routing relies on the incorporation of a series of small ridges and valleys for character. Most landforms were part of the original site, but the team added additional valleys to deal with drainage issues and add character in the flatter interior portion of the holes.


The long 17th - par three (courtesy of Renaissance Design)



I was quite impressed with the number of interesting ideas they used to develop many of the sites, but was equally disappointed by the incorporation of the irrigation pond into the course. Both holes around the pond seemed a little out of place from the others and the 11th was truly awkward with all grades running towards the pond from the prominent mound front right. It told me that if I faced a similar site, that the pond should play a less prominent role in the design.


On the other hand the work at all the greens was often very impressive. I loved some of the more restrained greens like the 7th for their simple brilliance. At the same time I was total blown away by clever green complexes like the punchbowl green on the 3rd. The creativity and character brought to simple sites often gave incredible life and interest to what could have been a simple hole. Throw in an unusual and effective bunker technique and this all adds up to superior golf.


Well done guys. 





Denver Trip – Day One Colorado Golf Club



The 2nd at Colorado reminds me of the 2nd at Prairie Dunes


The next three blogs will be a review of the three courses I played while in Colorado. I was once again invited out to play in the Renaissance Cup matches put on by Tom Doak for clients and friends. I renewed my partnership with Bruce Hepner and I played some of the best golf I have played in years.


The day before I was to head out I received an email from architect Mike Young inviting me out to the Colorado Golf Club. I’m a big fan of the architecture of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and really wanted to see the course. The property featured some wonderful rolling hills covered with sporadic Ponderosa Pine, but was mostly wide open high desert. The course featured beautiful views out to the Rocky Mountains and the landscape was a combination of fescues, sage and yucca.



The short reachable 14th at Colorado


The opener was an inviting downhill five with the ground game quite prominent in the approach. The second was my favourite hole on the course, a short three, clearly based upon the 2nd at Prairie Dunes. The third, a clever downhill diagonal tee shot and approach brought the players down to the valley for a series of holes set along the valley bottom. The controversial 5th green was one of my favourites of all the greens on the course. The main architectural feature of the valley area was the small rises used for green sites and the dry wash used as a prominent hazard. Many of these greens contained some very aggressive internal contours which reminded me a lot of Prairie Dunes.


The holes then scrambled up the main ridge and back up to the clubhouse with a series of excellent fours that attacked the hills rather than traversing them. The back nine began as the front, heading down the main ridge lines, but this time the main three was downhill. This was the one hole I was not to keen on since I thought the green was far too severe and I was surprised to find they had built a traditional pond par three. The 12th was the final downhill hole, but this time it played “across the grade” and to the valley below. The 13th turned straight back up the hill and this time traversed the ridge and finished into a lovely small bowl. Finally the 14th went straight off the top of the ridge and finished in a wild boomerang green similar to the 7th at Crystal Downs. Bill Coore had ascended and descended the ridge line in every possible way between the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes. This was probably the most influential part of the design for me.



The 16th with creek between fairways - I'm not a fan of this idea


The final four holes were routed through another smaller valley. The 15th is a wild rollercoaster of a par five that introduces the player to the valley. The 16th featured a par five with alternate fairways on either side of a creek. It confirmed to me that I don’t like the idea of water separating fairways. The 17th plays to natural promontory with the creek hard on the front left. Finally the 18th plays back up to the clubhouse and was my favourite of the four holes.


This is a good week to stay with the blog....




Charity Consulting?



I have agreed in principle to do something very unusual.


I was approached by a writer and magazine about providing a consulting visit to a club with a writer in attendance. The idea was to document the course review and write about the process of having an architect visit a club. The writer and magazine wanted to expose up the process to people to help them understand what architect’s do on a course review and what sort of advice they offer to a club.


I thought the idea was a very good one and agreed to be the architect involved in the process. I made a few quick personal decisions. This was not going to be with an existing client. I also decided since I was going to clearly benefit through the presentation of this visit that I was not going charge a fee for the visit, but that for the integrity of my profession it was important that I still charged for my services. I approached everyone involved and said I would do the visit only if the club would make a donation to junior golf (in their own name) for the amount I would have charged them.


We are in the final strokes of getting everything confirmed and today a new wrinkle crept in. The magazine asked if they could film the walk around. I have already agreed and that’s how we will go through the process. I’m going to leave the club and writer out of this until we have all the arrangements finalized.


I have a great deal to talk about over the next two week including a great trip to Denver and some interesting new developments with Weir Golf Design. The next couple of weeks will be well worth following.






Go figure... I'm one of the 19 Most interesting People to Play with in Ontario...


The Annual Writers vs. Supers Event



The awesome 10th at Oakdale


I am hosting the third annual Writers versus Supers Match Play Event this week. The competition is an annual series of matches played against a group of Superintendents headed up by David Kuypers. My side is made up of golf writers, which I’m included in for my past writing. The event begins with a two man scramble, changes to two man alternate shot, in the afternoon moves onto two man better ball and finishes with a Captain’s choice from the losing team for the final nine hole match.


This year the event is being played at Oakdale, one of the finest courses in the City and a club we are all looking forward to playing. We began with the Cutten Club and Galt Country Club and hope to take this event to different clubs each year. Cherry Hill Club has been discussed as a likely candidate for the next round.



We've talked about the matches.... one day down the road perhaps


The first year (four on four) was won easily by the supers (5-1) with only Jason Logan and I winning a single match. The afternoon ended after 27 holes since there was not enough points left and the weather was poor.


The second year (six on six) was a close battle (6-6) where the Writers won the last two matches to halve the competition. It seemed like a fitting day after so many close matches went right to the final hole.


I look forward to another fun day of competition this week. I’ve been playing better as of late and all the signs are there for a breakout day. It would be nice to bring the Cup home.




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