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Ian Andrew's Golf Design Blog is now here:

http://ianandrewsgolfdesignblog.blogspot.com/

Why did I go back to Blogger?

 
1. The people who read regularly didn't like the format and missed the opportunity to ask questions and leave comments.
 
2. The platform of the Weir Golf Design web site did not work for the blog. The search engines could not find the articles which prevented me from growing an audience. In fact it was smaller than the defunct original blog!
 
3. The way it was set up made it complicated for anyone to look back at past articles.
 
4. I found it difficult to find things I wrote previously.
 
  
What to Expect this Year

The original blog could have been called "Everything you needed to know about designing a golf course (.... but was afraid to ask". The Weir Golf Design blog explored an actual project and the thought that went into designing each of the holes. The new blog will follow the building and opening of the first Weir Golf Design course.

 

 
 

 

 

 

The Fun of Being a Quote

 

I collect quotes from golf architects and use them quite a bit when I write. I enjoy pulling a second opinion and incorporating that into the pieces that I’m writing. I too have been quoted in magazines, newspapers and books, but becoming a key quote used to start a chapter is a new experience.

 

Yesterday I received my new updated version of:

 

Dream Golf

The Making of Bandon Dunes

Revised and Expanded

By Stephen Goodwin

 

Stephen expanded the book by adding a series of new chapters to include the making of Bandon Trails (chapter 19) in the 3rd section and then a full section on Old Macdonald. When I began to read through, I was more than a little surprised to see the opening of Chapter 23 had the quote above.

 

I had spent a few days at Bandon with 11 other guys from the ASGCA playing the courses. I met Stephen on that trip and the two of us hit it off as we talked about “the game”, playing at twilight and the joy of chance found in golf. We took a conversation (begun over beers) out to Bandon Trails for a three club match with Dan Schlegel where we discussed the reactions to what was built on the four courses at Bandon. A couple of architects were very critical of work and when asked I responded strongly which begins on the end of page 321 and finishes at the end of the next page.

 

The short version is they question the strategic value of Pacific Dunes (in particular) and I spend quite a bit of time explaining the difference between the Modern School of Design ad the minimalists who see golf design and the playing experience from a different place. The end quote sums it up pretty good:

 

“I don’t know any young architects who want to design courses with strategy that is rigidly defined. I know I don’t. I want to build holes like the ones I just played. It might take a while for people to really notice but there’s a major change taking place in design. It’s not a change in fashion, it’s a change in philosophy. Courses that are shaped by the land, with features created by hand, letting each golfer play his own game – this is what golf used to be, and what it’s going to be again. This is the future of golf course design, right here.”

 

 

 

 

The Year in Review – Part 7 - Weir Golf Design

 

 

A steep slope with short grass dominates the approach to the 5th

 

Weir Golf Design could not have been started at a worse time. The business began just prior to the financial crisis in November of 2009. As the money flow ended, the building boom was over. The fall out of the crisis was people stopped spending and one of the areas hardest hit was golf real estate market, which had been driving the boom.

 

 

The Last Couple of Years

 

 

I would love to build this course at Predator Ridge

 

We looked at a couple of key projects in British Columbia. One was the expansion or rebuilding of Predator Ridge. While the project still makes sense from all sides, the timing clearly does not. This is one that I hope to see in the years to come.

 

We also looked at a high end private club in the Okanogan area, but while everything fit well, the finance remained elusive as people discovered they were limited to how much they could borrow. We looked at multiple properties in Southern Ontario, had discussions about a project is Saskatchewan and even submitted a full proposal for a project in Quebec.

 

The one commonality with all of these projects is while we haven’t built anything, neither has anyone else.

 

 

The First Weir Design Course

 

Unless there is a complete surprise in the next few weeks, I expect that we will be formally announcing that we will be completely rebuilding a course in Quebec. The course involves the re-routing of six holes and re-using the other twelve corridors. There will be nothing left of the previous design and only a few of the holes begin and end at the same points.

 

 

What are We Building

 

 

Short Grass plays a key role

 

The course will be unique and fascinating to play because of the green sites. Most sites are raised above the native grade which places a premium on the approach. The interior of the green are receptive and subtle, but as you get out to the edges they begin to fall off into the short grass that surrounds the green. While there are lots of friendly pin positions on the interior of the greens, there are a whole host of dangerous and complicated pin positions out on the edges.

 

The highlight of the course is the extensive use of short grass all the way around all the greens. This creates multiple options for recovery shots. The average player will play to their strengths while the better players will have to decide between all the options they are presented. They can putt, get creative with a bump and run, or try a wedge off a tight lie. The short grass around the greens will encourage some creative shot-making but more importantly the design will reward good decision making throughout the round.

 

 

 

The short grass around this three will be tough

 

These unique green sites provide the club tremendous flexibility to set up the course to be fun to play or to play tough. To add difficulty the club will need only to increase the speed and firmness of the greens, cut the surrounds tighter, and to move the pin areas out closer to the green edges. The course has been designed to be more or less difficult simply by adjusting the maintenance practices or the pin positions.

 

 

We have seen a few promising signs, like the course in Quebec, where people are beginning to think about building. I expect this year to become more active than last and the real breakout to finally come one year out. I don’t think we’ll ever see another boom in this decade, but I also don’t believe the market will stay this quiet either. What I do see is a little more activity each year and finally some new work beginning to flow.

 

 

December 14th, 2010

 

 

There may still be one more installment to come

 

 

 

 

The Year in Review – Part 6 - Writing

 

 

 

The blog has shown proposals for projects like this on

 

 

I wrote the original blog Caddy Shack for around 3 years. The idea was to use the blog as a vehicle for self promotion and to help expose my abilities and thoughts to a wider audience.

 

The original Caddy Shack morphed into something greater because I used it to explore just about every design idea that I could and I learned a lot through trying to explain that to a readership. I’m pretty proud of the resource that sits on that site and I still turn to the resource to explain ideas for a proposal, answer question at GCA, or simply as a resource to a particularly taxing problem I’m facing as a designer. It is a far greater resource to me than I could have ever anticipated. I’m glad I wrote it.

 

 

Future of the Caddy Shack

 

I finally made my decision on what to do with the original Caddy Shack. This winter I plan to remove all the content from the Caddy Shack and close the site down for good. I have decided that I’m “not” going to transfer all that content over to another blog site but rather keep all my content for my own use.

 

The first step will be transferring the content into a useable platform at home. The next stage is a quick edit of each piece to evaluate the content and to make any minor modifications to improve the writing. From there I will place the entire collection into a searchable data base on my server.

 

 

 

 

 

 

shared projects that almost happened...

 

 

Caddy Shack the Book?

 

Once I have the searchable data base created, I want to load the pages into book format that I have as part of my software for the Mac. I have a rough idea on how to present all the information, but I might also leave it as a loose collection of essays. If the format is flexible and easy to use, I may work a little more seriously on the content and format of the book.

 

The plan is to self publish the book and give a copy to a series of close friends who have had an impact on my design career. If it’s good, I may make the book available to order at cost but will limit that.

 

 

This Particular Golf Design Blog … is done

 

I plan to either move the blog over to a new site or create a facebook page which will have a far greater reach. I will investigate an RRS feed here or a direct link to where I continue to write, but publishing on this site is fruitless.

 

I don’t have enough exposure that makes this worth the time invested. I already hate the format since the content on this site is not searchable and that leaves me constantly frustrated when I try to find something. I plan to create a way to make all my content easy to search through and available. I need that for my own use, but I expect others will enjoy the opportunity to explore the writings through a comfortable format.

 

 

 

 

and talked about ones that will...

 

 

To Blog or not to Blog

 

I’m enjoying writing so this is not the end of blogging.

 

I always envisioned the blog as a three act play about designing a golf course. The first act was the long and involved learning process on how to design a course. The Caddy Shack is the first act. The second act was the exploration of an actual project and the thought that went into designing the holes. The second act is contained here with Laval. The third act is building and opening the course.

 

The third act will come very soon … just not here.

 

December 13th, 2010

 

Wednesday: Part 7 - Weir Golf Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Year in Review – Part Five – My Thoughts on the ASGCA

 

 

 

 

The Class of 2005 - turns out the two "Black Sheep" came in together 

 

 

In 2005 I attended my first meeting at Pebble Beach and met the other associates who joined the organization the same year. We all went out to dinner together on the first night and the director Paul Fullmer said that he could see at least two future presidents among the group. I can tell you that everyone in the room would have picked the same person as the surest bet of all.

 

 

Meeting in Ponte Vedra

 

I still love seeing all the members. I seek out the older members to buy them a drink and listen to their stories. I enjoy the advice of the generation before me many whom offer me a wonderful resource. Most of all I enjoy my peers. I count many among my closest friends and use them as a sounding board when I have important decisions or look for architectural advice. Florida for me was a great “hang.”

 

 

 

Jack Nicklaus, Steve Smyers and Mark McCumber - the technology panel - was the best presentation in years

 

 

The Courses We Play

 

Just prior to my joining the society they were playing courses such as Pine Valley, Merion, Oakmont, on a regular basis. When I joined we went to Pebble Beach and Pinehurst in the first two years. After that we began “to play members work” and that’s when they lost me. I’m not a fan of Modern design and that’s what the focus has been.

 

Many members are aware that I play a course or two different from them each year because I see no point in playing something I don’t like (I always have company). I guess because of this I was asked about the following year where New Jersey was seriously being considered (great choice). The focal point is Liberty National because of Bub Cupp becoming President. I said that the agenda needed to include a course like Plainfield, Sommerset Hills or even a Baltusrol to make that event a draw.

 

 

Meeting in Denver

 

Next year we will play three public courses as part of Rick Phelps’s desire to “return us to the roots of the game.” Our meeting will talk about public golf and growing the game. I support his efforts and will make this trip specifically to support his initiative. I’ll play his rotation although I still wish Cherry Hill or Sand Hills was part of the week.

 

Each President is left to set their agenda. Depending on what you personally want from the ASGCA, depends on how much you hare their agenda. In my time with the ASGCA I was most pleased with Greg Muirhead who created the Strategic Planning Committee. The committee has sought input from the membership through a series of studies and surveys.

 

 

Why I stay - it's a rare chance to see close friends (Brian and Dan)

  

 

Tartan Panel

 

I served on one of the panels recently, headed by Jason Straka that was asked to define the skills that would be required ten years in the future. The committee was made up of a small and diverse group hand-picked by Jason to bring a certain perspective. I was selected for my experience as a start up business and niche player. I was surprised to be asked but enjoyed the opportunity.

 

The experience was excellent and the committee worked very well to develop our perspective and offer recommendations through Jason I understood the reasoning for opening up the report to the executive and past presidents, but was not pleased when one of the members insisted on the importance of their ideas over the input of an entire panel.

 

 

The Disconnect

 

The Executive appoints the Executive. The problem is not the idea, but the inevitable result. It’s only natural for people to invite the people they trust and like. This leads to a common dynamic in the group. Often their common concern or interest conflicts with the interests or desires other members. One year is fine, but because of how the executive is appointed, this can become a multi-year disconnect between the members and their executive.

 

 

Where Do We/I Go From Here?

 

I think change needs to come. I’ve tried to be actively involved in the process and encouraged an open forum on the Society in Seattle. I asked for more education but was told that was a cost they were not ready for. I was disheartened to see the same opportunity for interaction was not added to the agenda in Florida.

 

I don’t feel that I’m getting anything for the large sum of money that I spend. The short version is all I’m asking for is a much better education program at the next meeting. I want to pay speakers to come and educate me about what I need to know. I will stay in the society and show up to every conference if they make this one improvement, it means far more to me than the minor complaint about golf courses.

 

I received a phone call six weeks ago from the guy we all thought was the sure bet to become President out of our year. He surprised me by saying he was disappointed with the whole ASGCA experience and was seriously considering leaving. I know exactly where he’s coming from because when I picked up my invoice this week I asked whether the money was well spent.

 

 

December 12th, 2010

 

 

 

Tomorrow - Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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