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The Tournament Ball


On Monday this week 24 players from the Canadian Tour played the “tournament ball.” I got to see one of the balls and it has nothing on it except a very cryptic code that would be appropriate on the side of a German U-Boat. The ball had nothing that would make it clear who had made it.

24 players played it and had to agree to complete confidentiality on the results. I spoke the next day at a Pro-am and interestingly enough the subject that I choose was the impact on the ball on golf design. I had a number of players who approached me after the talk and a couple mentioned they had played the ball yesterday and how ironic it was that I was talking about how much a role back would help as designer. There was no criticism from anyone that I spoke to.

One player in particular went so far as to mentioned that he loved the ball since it required him to hit one of two clubs more into all the holes and felt that this rewarded skill. He also felt that they were playing the holes as they were designed to play and that was placing a premium back on the approach and ball placement. He felt that anything that returned shot-making was better for the game. He also pointed out the great layouts they used to play that have become too short and felt that was reason enough for change.


I talked to the commissioner Rick Janes about the ball from a designer’s perspective and went into detail about safety, acreage requirements, the additional maintenance requirements, extra time to play and the overall impact on the cost of golf. I told him that in my perspective this had nothing to do with defending par, and everything to do with fixing the economics and stemming the decline in participation. And as the player above said, getting them back on some old great layouts that technology is making less relevant.


August 19th, 2010





Seaforth Pro Am



Andrew with my dad


Yesterday I spent the day at the Seaforth Pro Am. I decided that this was something that I wanted to do to support the Doig family and the event. I think The Canadian Tour is very important and I wanted to show my support. Seaforth is also a very special place for me since it’s everything that I like most about golf. The golf course is family owned and central part of the local community. They make you feel like one of the family.


I spoke at both the morning and evening pro-ams about the golf ball and its effect on design, Mike Weir’s first win (which was at Seaforth), my thoughts about Whistling Straights and a little about design. I also played in the morning event with my father (who had my son as his caddie), Glenn and our professional Andrew Parr. Andrew and his brother (his caddie) were absolutely delightful. We chatted for eighteen holes and I could not have had a more enjoyable time. If all pro-am experiences were like that there would be a 10 year waiting list.


After speaking about the impact of technology in the morning, I had a player approach me with comments about the tournament ball. They played it on Monday at an event. In the afternoon I got a chance to speak with Rick Janes, the Canadian Tour commissioner, also on the ball and I’ll share what we talked ended up talking about.  


I encourage anyone out in that area to go out and watch the players. They can flat out play and there is no other venue where you can get that close to the players. I’m obviously pulling for my playing partner, but I ended up talking with a number of players and really found I liked each and every one of them.


Tommorrow: the “tournament ball”





Construction This Fall




The 16th today


I’m pleased to say that I have some construction this fall. It’s been a year composed of almost all planning work and one bunker project at Galt (although 90% of that was just sand replacement) I thought the fall might have no construction this year, but there was certainly a change in attitude this summer and clubs appear to be back to investing in the courses.


My first project is a green rebuild at Cutten. The 17th green has had turf issues from the outset and the green will be replaced with new mix and seeded to eliminate the issues. I’m going to use this opportunity to make some minor modification to the contour and shape to get this green a little more in context with the others.




The 16th in 1927


The project is another green, this time at Knollwood (Seth Raynor) in New York, where the 16th green has shrunk 2,000 sq.ft. The plan is to recapture the green area and restore the bunkers around the green at the same time. The green has been struggling this year with the heat and rain. The work includes a major tree removal project behind the green for airflow and sunlight. We made an interesting discovery, the green has no fall, much to everyone’s surprise, and we have determined that we will require minor modifications in each of the three exit point to get the water out efficiently.



August 15th, 2010








Ebb and Flow of Business


The Fall Rush is here and I’m scrambling this month as I have been for quite a few now. I’m pleased to say that I have been a very busy year from very early spring right through to today. It’s all been planning this year. Why? Because clubs are not in the financial position to undertake major works, but they do want to move forward and planning is both good business and relatively inexpensive. There are very few clubs today that will do anything without a long term plan since it helps avoid more expensive pitfalls down the road.


I have worked on five brand new Master Plans this year (that suprised me when I figured it out) and will have updated three at the same time. Most of that work is now done, but I do have another few weeks work to finish up.


The funny part about the the workload is that it never comes in a steady flow; it’s more like waves at the beach. I find that I have to spend evenings and week-ends managing the bigger waves to complete the excess work and bring the flow back to something that provides me with the opportunity to get things back to people in a short period of time. I’m not capable of making people wait.


I have played golf only twice since May 1st in Ontario and a couple of times out West for the opening in Saskatoon. I seem to have had less time this year than most and yet I feel better this year than other years. I've really enjoyed this year for some reason. The number of evening meetings or week-end meetings has been very high this year and I’ve had two in the last two days (one was in New York), but the committees have been fun.


So its fall and for the first time in a while I see a gap in my schedule. Either it will fill itself or I will play more golf. Both are just fine by me.






Working with My Son


Yesterday afternoon we got home from my Mom and Dad’s and I mentioned to my son Cam that I had some work for him if he was interested. Cam has begun to do very small projects on the computer to help me out. The first project was to digitize all the contour lines and hole locations off an old survey. It wasn’t difficult, but it gave him some initial idea on how to move around in CAD and also was an introduction to some simple tools. One day and he made some money off the old man.


Yesterday I mentioned that I thought the task may be too hard, but if he wanted to try and learn how to create individual drawings from an existing file, that he could really help me since I needed 19 holes done. I collected a base plan and showed him how reference files worked, how to manipulate the elements, cut them down to what we need, remove parts by changing the settings, how to take information from the reference file to the live files and then manipulate it, how to import text files to fill out a written section and how to save the drawings in a way for easy use. Not simple.


Well I showed him once, I helped him only once and he got all the other 18 holes done in 5 hours. I doubt I can go much faster, but what amazed me was the difference between my generation learning a process and his generation. Admittedly I needed to figure it all out and create the process first, but instantly he understood the process, use of tools and movement around the files. I checked a couple of the drawings and everything was done as it should have been.


The reason I was encouraging him was his desire be an architect (buildings rather than golf or landscape) and I thought a little experience would be helpful even if it wasn’t going to really help me. Well turns out I think he will be able to easily help me, and that should be fun to watch.


This does not change the fact that eventually I will need help in the future, we're just not quite there yest, and he can help me bridge the gap.




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