Alas! This blog has officially moved to Mingay Golf Course Design's new web site at jeffmingay.com, where all previous entries at this blog site are now archived as well.
Thanks for your continued interest in MGCD. We look forward to seeing you at jeffmingay.com
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
|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.
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
|Visualization of proposed improvement at (what could be) |
the Derrick Club's par-5 6th hole. Click on images to enlarge.
|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.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
As a follow-up to yesterday's post, which touched on the importance of creating distinctive golf courses, below is a collection of photos illustrating a variety of architectural styles I've been involved with implementing over recent years, at select projects (click on all photos to enlarge) ~
Blackhawk Golf Club ~ Edmonton
Blackhawk Golf Club ~ Edmonton
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
|Our recent work at The Oakville Golf Club, influenced and |
inspired by site characteritics and conditions, history,
client needs and desires, etc...
The contrasting styles of Tillinghast's golf architecture at Somerset Hills (New Jersey), Winged Foot (New York) and the San Francisco Golf Club, for example, provide a wonderful illustration of this very important element in golf course design.
If we didn't know better, we'd likely think each of these remarkable courses were designed by different architects - not all by the great Tillinghast.
Over the past weekend, I came across a short column on Moshe Safdie in the June 2012 issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Safdie is one of the world's leading building architects, who first became famous some five decades ago with his design of Habitat '67, in Montreal. Safdie has since designed many more revered buildings throughout the world, including the National Gallery in Ottawa and the U.S. Institute of Peace, on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
John Heilpern writes about Safdie's resistence to the phenomenon of "starchitects", who have become "almost as famous in the U.S. as celebrity chefs". The theorist-teacher within (Safdie), writes Heilpern, opposes the unquiet architecture of Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind and what he terms, ominously, "the Bilboa effect".
"I don't think I have a signature style that announces, 'This is a Safdie'," says the 74-year old architect. "But I think star architects have seized an opportunity to go anywhere in the world to produce meaningless buildings. You know?"
According to Heilpern, Safdie is constantly asking what the purpose of a building actually is - as his early mentor, Louis I. Kahn, once asked, "What does a building want to be?"
This, to my way of thinking, is a question golf course architects should constantly be asking themselves as well - "What does a golf course want to be?" The answer to this all-important question should be unique in each case - relative to site characteristics and conditions, (in some cases) history, client needs and desires, and other important factors which should (almost always) assist with consistently creating distinctive golf courses.
"I try firstly to make buildings humane," adds Safdie. "Countries and places have a history, a story, and a culture. I want my buildings to take root and look as if they've always been there... it isn't about pastiche or adapting what's already there. It's about trying to blend the future and the past."
I could (and may) paraphase Safdie relative to my own work in golf architecture, simply substituting the words 'golf courses' for 'buildings'.
Safdie also makes an interesting point to Heilpern about inevitable contraints in architecture, citing past debates with influential American building architect Philip Johnson (1906-2005). "There are no rules," Johnson declared. "Only a sense of wonderful freedom."
|... bares no resemblence to Sagebrush, where I was on-site|
architect - working with Rod Whitman, Richard Zokol and
Armen Suny - through the course's development.
The parallels between world-class building architecture and the very best golf architecture continues to fascinate.
What's most important to me is to, many years from now, be able to look back on my career in golf architecture and point to a remarkably diverse portfolio - unique golf course designs which derive from sincerely answering the question, "What does this golf courses want to be?"; distinctive golf course designs that intelligently deal with inevitable contraints in creative ways that allow each course to take root and look as if its always been there; and, individual golf courses that completely fulfill their unique purposes.
The works and wisdom of Moshe Safdie and A.W. Tillinghast speak volumes.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Some (more) of what's left of Stanley Thompson's 1922 design in Thornhill, Ontario (click on all images to enlarge):
|The par 3 4th hole.|
|Miss the green short at the 4th and you'll face this recovery shot.|
|Looking at Thornhill G&CC, through the fence behind the 4th green.|
|Tee shot at the par 4 5th - Uplands' best hole, I think.|
|Lumpy fairway leading up to the 5th green (not sure what's|
being built there, right of the green?).
|Looking back at the 5th hole.|