Friday, October 30, 2009

Black Widow Feast for a Happy Halloween

It was another crazy weather year at Wolf Point. During construction the county saw more rain then in its previous 100 year recorded history. This summer the drought broke all records for least amount of rainfall. Thankfully the rain has come back this fall.

The Black Widow pictured above seemed to be doing ok. There were lots of cracks in the native areas for her to hide and catch some eats.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Green Contours

This weekend I got a very nice compliment from a visitor to Wolf Point. They thought the greens were excellent and not like so many they've seen before - unusual. Where a green may have flat areas separated by a slope - the greens within a green premise.

Our greens seemed so much more natural with the shapes blending and rolling and it made for so much more fun and imagination.

Subtle rolls and shapes like the ones pictured above, of the 5th green,
keep the strategy alive until the player is in the hole. With flat sections once the player picks a fairway side and hits their approach there is no strategy left.

With subtle movement the strategy applies to the putt or pitch to the hole as there is usually an aggressive and safer line to the hole.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

There is no Greatest Golf Course! - Feedback

Thomas Dunne from Out-and-Back had some very nice comments about my essay here

I was completely chuffed to receive an e-mail from someone who read my essay - in print form from Paul Daley's Book.
Here it is with the club name removed...
I have just read your article in Paul Daley's latest book. At our club we have a MacKenzie course which is rated very highly in the world. Needless to say being a MacKenzie course it fits into the enjoyable category; a sentiment confirmed by Bobby Jones in his forward to "The Spirit of St Andrews". I am a member of the Course Strategy Committee and some on the committee and a number of the club members are saying it is too easy. Of course, when I try to say MacKenzie wrote, "If you cant make a hole more enjoyable don't change it", my remarks are treated as those of an old has been, who can only hit the ball 2/3 the distance of the average single figure marker (if that).

Mike, with your permission I would like to make copies of your article and give each member a copy. With help from your article, I just might be able to save one of the most enjoyable golf courses in the world from suffering the fate of so many other enjoyable courses from the "card and pencil' players.

Thank you very much - I am deeply honored.

As an aside the above letter came from a past club champion -- I hope they listen(d) and continue to do so - he is far to valuable.

Pictured above is the very fun 17th green. I hope you can see that from above it looks like a circle - see here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Green Theory Notes

Some notes on our Green Theory and what we created at Wolf Point (2nd green pictured above):

There are no rules - the following are some observations from our work.
Greens fit the client and the business model, including maintenance goals
An open green front for run-up shots – few forced carries
Each green will be original and different from the rest and in the same family or seem related.
Proportional variation - some may look the same but play different.
Fit settings without any conspicuous or artificial mounding
Contours vary from subtle to bold – with no distinct levels or shelfs – more like soft organic folds
Accentuated by micro movement and drainage exit points in multiple locations
Simple circular mow patterns that would ideally blend into the subsequent teeing complex
Start with a minimum of pin settings and area based on amount of play
Rewarding of multiple approach angles based on client – front, left, right, back and multiple - which is generally accomplished with varying tilts and surface biases
(Based on client as a private club may have more greens that run away from the player)
Wolf Point is unique in total rounds will never be over a few thousand – so we designed as fun as possible – the client will be playing every single day – we needed to keep it interesting every day.
Preliminary sketches may look simple – but they are rather complex upon description
Their interest comes from the 3rd dimension

From above the greens appear as circles or ellipses – no squiggly mow lines creating artificial interest – same with the fairways.
Wolf Point greens are Emerald Bermuda – in fitting with the clients maintenance requirements
The immediate surrounds are also Emerald Bermuda – allowing for full circles and uniform water requirements
The greens mix was excavated from on site – at an installation cost of way less than $1 a ton. Morris Brown and an agronomist preferred the native materials over a spec mix.
The roots are currently over 8” long and performing great in this drought year.
The above two items saved approximately $500,000 at Wolf Point and will be a consideration for all my future warm season projects.
Greens should roll at speeds appropriate to the clientele and slope
At Wolf Point they will roll up to a 10+ and are VERY FIRM
Sizes range from 4,500 to 10,000 sft.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day - Walk NO GOLF CARTS!

I'm not a big fan of the words "Save the Planet" - I'm a fan of saying "Save Ourselves" more.

My 3 recommendations:

Don't build cart paths.
Walk don't ride a golf cart (if you can).
Ignore the USGA's groove change rule - what a waste of good golf clubs.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

There is no Greatest Golf Course!

There is no greatest golf course: there are only greatest golf courses
Is the title of my essay in the most recent of Paul Daley's outstanding books: Golf Architecture a Worldwide Perspective Volume V.

Why does the golf course industry segment courses in a way different from the way that people who play golf enjoy the game and its grounds? Why are there such differences between what the magazine rankings and also players consider to be the greatest course?

Please read the essay here for the detailed answers. The short answer is that there are different types of players and golf courses. The world's greatest courses weren't built for everyone, they were crafted for a specific client. It became much easier to express my existing thoughts after viewing Malcolm Gladwell's discussion on spaghetti sauce. Please read the essay and watch the video - it is worth sharing.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Swanson's Yardage Chart in Flash

Want to know the yardages to the 11 target greens at Swanson's Golf Center?
Find the nearest spot, on the 53,000 square foot tee, to the sprinkler in the above flash file.
Click the arrow hands until your spot is highlighted.
Read the measurements to the target greens.

If you have an i-phone give this link a try:

Thank you Charlie &
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