Monday, December 29, 2008

It looks suspiciously like Shinneock meets St. Andrews . . .

Wow, I love the rolls and folds when the fairway segues perfectly into the putting surfaces. It looks suspiciously like Shinneock meets St. Andrews . . . 

This was a comment I received from a friend after he saw the latest pictures from Wolf Point Club.  Above is the 4th green looking towards the tee.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"What makes you think you can design a golf course?"

When I first started my journey from working as an aerospace engineer to golf course architect there were quite a few naysayers, bad advice givers and mostly those that didn't respond to calls or e-mails - all understandably so.  And eventually there were many who were more than helpful - thank you.

On Friday a young man from Texas A&M met with me in my office about his potential future in the golf design business. I think some would say "Don't even consider it!" and would probably be accurate - it will be a tough road for anyone for the next few years. But I do think there is certainly room for an excellent project for me, just like I think there would be some opportunities for this young man to find an start. He didn't know what questions to ask yet, but I'm sure glad I was able to offer some suggestions with potential.

Pictured above is proof that even a small bunker can create a big penalty.  It is me trying to hit the 2nd green.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Greens have roots!

Not highly techinical, but one day I asked Don to show me some roots.  This picture was taken in September.  They are long, and the grass is doing great.  Don's practices will ensure that in dry years the grass will be strong and lean - not a whimpy and over watered couch potato that can't handle the heat.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Infierno Got Drainage

This fall the bunkers were completed. Infierno was the last one - Don saved the best for last. It is big - 11,750 square feet the last time I measured. It is about 20% of the bunker square footage on the course.  We have a total of 56,000 sft spread across 61 bunkers, and the average size if far less than those numbers would indicate.  

The bunker on #7 is also large, leaving an average size of 600 sft for the remainder of the bunkers.  Don and I both prefer a smaller bunker.  We have one that is 150 sft that is all the penalty one would need around the 2nd green.

The picture above is of the crew installing drainage pipe throughout the bunker.  The pipe is designed to collect the water and get it away from the sand.  Bunker drainage is a big issue today, in that there are many different ways to manage the water and maintenance, with nothing that works ideally or practically.

The best way to keep water out of bunkers is by shaping the land to divert the water, and that keeps the balls out too.  That method would make an ugly bunker that didnt' come into play.  We have none of those!

Holiday Cheer

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Playing safe on #5 can cause trouble

Lou (pictured in the distance) played away from the bunkers on the 5th tee shot - playing safe.  From the far left side of the fairway he was forced to try a long low approach to hit the green - a very heroic shot with a high probability of failure.  He did not have that shot in his bag at the moment and wound up short and left of the green with an equally difficult last shot to the green. Those swales are bigger than they look from the tee.

*Yes those are carts - I often talk about how much I enjoy walking Wolf Point - sometimes if we only have 2 1/2 hours to play we need to ride.  That isn't a rushing 2 1/2 hours either.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Double Green

I don't think much of double greens outside of St. Andrews. These double greens, 8 & 18, just evolved. I kept shifting the 8th green during the routing process to minimize the walk to 9 tee.  You can play to either one from either hole, and with the flag near the swale it is a trick shot.  Hitting an approach on 18 can run long to the swale, and a slight pull on the long par 3 8th will also find the swale.

From the other direction:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Deflation at the golf course

Deflation has spread to Texas. The above chart is the evolution of the golf course construction budget for Wolf Point Club - from initial budget to actual $'s - no numbers attached for now - the decrease is 40%. I hope someday building a course practically can be appreciated.

*Golf Course Construction is generally quoted to include just the golf course:
Erosion control
Grassing & grow-in
Feature construction - greens, bunkers, tees
Lakes & water features

The following is not included:
Access roads & infrastructure
Maintenance facility and equipment
Utilities - water & electric
Engineering & design fees

When I worked for Lockheed I always beat my weight and schedule budgets.... more important as they had a bigger effect on costs than actual costs.
When Don ran his own golf course - he did too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


We had a great time at the course this week.
The first words Lou uttered (also immediately after the above picture was taken):

"Look at that ball bounce!"

He was very impressed and highly congratulatory of me and Don.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Warm Up hole

What a great way to start a round at Wolf Point.  Walkers get to use the par three 8th as a warm up hole - driver (240) to mid-iron (160) - there are a lot of tees.

If you'd like a larger digital version of this illustration please ask.
Can you see our 4-legged companion?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The new birdie balls are here, the new birdie balls are here.

If you haven't gotten a birdie ball in the mail before - please ask - the new version is here. It has a nice little picture of the 6th on the side.

This is the modern version of the golf wiffle ball. This one draws, fades and makes a neat sounds when you hit one with your club. Yes they don't break and go about 40 yards in the back yard.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maintenance - Then & Now

Above is a picture during the 1952 Masters.  It is amazing that conditions good enough for Hogan, Burke, Nelson and Palmer aren't close to the demands of today's average golfer.  Someone complaining about conditions is like a traveler complaining about the high speed internet not working on a plane.  In order for many of today's courses to survive practical maintenance needs to be embraced.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Clubhouse View

Here is the view from the clubhouse I mentioned yesterday. There are several tees to the 8th & 18th green around the deck just in case after a few beers someone thinks they can have another crack at the day's victor.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Clubhouse Complete

It has been a year since I Iast posted a picture of the clubhouse (here is the clubhouse label).  I would say it is 99% finished - Don has done a great job.  He has been responsible for all the vertical architecture and keeps expanding on his responsibilities - not that being the superintendent wasn't demanding enough.  Our client very much appreciates his abilities and continues to ask him to do more.

The clubhouse is a great place to have a beer (they taste really good), review the day's round and have a look at the golf course -- tomorrow I'll post a view from the clubhouse.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Juilliard's Golf Program

I recently got a wonderfully flattering e-mail from a post-graduate student from Juilliard wanting to persue his other passion of golf course design.  It is an extremely competitive market for projects and for those that want to enter the business.  I've heard many architects tell prospective applicants not to even bother - it is just too hard today - which is very good and accurate advice.  I try to be a little more optimistic - doubtful - but still optimistic.

His message was inspiring for me and I'm honored to be its recipeint and better understand how lucky I am to be in the position I am.  Thank you.

Pictured above is the 18th green from above.  Sometimes the clouds make the picture too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Byron Nuzzo

Pictured above are my father, Uncle Jim & Uncle Dom standing on the 5th green. I was very fortunate to bring them to the course this past week. My client is very gracious.

They had a ball. I'm not sure when, but for a long time whenever it is an outing of all Nuzzo's it automatically becomes a tournament round. It has the moniker of The Byron Nuzzo - out of respect for Lord Byron. My Uncle Jim is the self appointed president for life and defines the rules this way -- our tournaments are more like Boxing. The winner is the Champ - no provisions for past records or performance. I must have been too gracious of a host myself as I wound up trounced. Wolf Point is very challenging if one isn't paying attention.

We had a great time full of new firsts - not the least of which was playing on my first solo course.

They introduced me to this great game and an appreciation for spending time with loved ones - for this I am forever grateful.

I did regain the title before they got on a plane back home.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mike and I

My oldest friend came to visit. We've been playing together for years around the country. We caddied together in High School. We were also 2 of 5 Mikes in our 2nd grade class.

Here were some of his thoughts of the course:

• The rolls and waves of the fairways looked awesome. But deceptive, as I thought I’d have some troublesome lies with a second or third shot. But in actuality I can’t recall the ball being very much above or below my feet more than a couple times in several rounds.

• The visual from the tees are very calming, appealing, and natural looking. Tee shots do not feel intimidating and in essence that probably leads to a false sense of security on the tee. (more deception)

• Options near the green were endless and really made me think. Do I bump and run, chip, pitch, flop, putt, putt a hybrid….. After I would hit a greenside shot, the ‘what-ifs’ enter your head.

• There is a certain aura and peacefulness about the course that made me feel very good. And made me feel that at the time, there was no place I’d rather be.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A busy afternoon

It was me, Mike and Will and two extra visitors. In other words a busy day for the course.

The crop duster was actually playing a few holes along with us flying from tee to green - I think he loved the extra wide 4th fairway too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ULI Fall Expo

I spent last week at the ULI Fall expo in Miami. It was quite the week. I got to hear some great talks from Paul Volker, Christiane Amanpour, Vicente Fox and Sam Zell. In all it was a very worth while trip.

Here is what I learned, we spent too much, we can achieve our goal of stopping enrichment in Iran - but not regime change, the rest of the world admires our freedom - probably even more so this week, some people think we can WIN a drug war and it is possible to be a billionaire and still be way cool.

The expo was impressive too - the picture above was of a house that was built in hours in the convention hall - note the deck on the back right corner.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Newest caddie at the course

I haven't shown an animal picture in a while.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Here come the players

Recently I had two visitors to the course. Will pictured above on the back 9th tee thought the course was perfect for our client and one of the better modern courses he's seen - more comments to follow. Incidentally he is hitting towards the 5th green - at the end of the day we hit a few different shots around the course.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The 16th Green

Above is the 16th green.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

With Age Comes Wisdom

I'm 40 today. So technically a much more experienced architect. Above is the 15th green.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Golfweek's Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar

I thought we were going to be in this years calendar - I think we were close. Unfortunately you'll have to only see the above picture here. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don's Putt

Don curved a nice low shot to the 15th green, unfortunately it ran further than expected - leaving this easy putt - he did make a par!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bones of a Golf Course

A recently published article about routing a golf course.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Me & Perry

I'm off to the Golf Inc. conference in Phoenix. Above I'm sitting on a panel with Perry Dye at Doral this spring. Perry tells good stories about Pete.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Auggie & Robert - Thank you.

Thank you CPS and especially Auggie & Robert (pictured outside my office).  Power is back after 13 1/2 days! I learned a lot about linemen today.  Ike was very big - Center Point Energy had thier hands full.

A few funny signs were in the neighborhood this week too:
Free Beer for Lineman.
We Love CPS and Billy.
Hot Wife wants lineman!!

I do have to thank Don and Wayne - they helped get the office running for a couple days this week - a real life Rube Goldberg - sending e-mail and blogging with gasoline.

Peace to all:  Red Cross.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Course Set Up

"I just set a really great pin on the 15th green" Don said enthusiastically on the phone. "Front left of the green. I also put the 14th tee up a little as it is planing downwind -- give 'em a chance to go for the green in two." Don told me he always enjoyed setting up his courses, but never as much as at Wolf Point. There are so many more variables - the tees can almost be anywhere and the greens are so irregular just a few feet can change the optimum strategy.

Above is the 7th green - with a very front pin.

You can learn a lot about a course if you follow a skilled individual set one up -- better yet -- ask Don.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The 10th green complex

Above is a picture of the 10th green complex looking back towards the tee. The humps are in play if you go too far left -- away from the lake. It is the shortest par 4 on the course.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Gone Goodbye...

Yankee Stadium that is (Wolf Point fared Hurricane Ike great - more to share later in the week). Tonight is the last game at Yankee Stadium. There is a very good article in Sports Illustrated this week. Sadly I won't be watching -- we don't have power yet -- and I don't know how much I'd like to watch anyway.

This game however was a most memorable game for a fourth grader with his father. Coincidently Tom Doak was at this same game too -- we weren't sitting together.
R.I.P. Yankee Stadium.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Like Everything.

Last week I played a round with our client. When we got to the 13th tee I asked how he thought the bunkers were turning out. His reply -- "I Like Everything."

He hasn't missed a day on the course while in town. Why should tomorrow be any different? So has a tee time tomorrow with a different partner -- IKE. Don will be there too, I'm not sure if he'll be caddying for him like Carl did for the Father.

Here's to a career round that doesn't get spoiled by lightning.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


It has been a year since I wrote about the weather. I hope this is the last time I do and the last time I see Port Lavaca on a national map. Peace.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Tortuous Path

This picture is taken from the middle of the 3rd fairway. The right side of this par five is "The Tortuous Path". The green is receptive to play from the left side of the fairway. I played my 2nd 18 hole round last week - I have lots of new images to show - please note the new banner image.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One of my favorites is easy...

I love the 15th hole. Above is a new picture from the tee. It has played pretty easy. There is lots of room to bail right on the safe side and then it is a pretty straight forward up and down. Although if you check the last scorecard you'll see I made a mess here too. I'm looking forward to playing soon. The 15th is ranked 15th for handicapping purposes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I really like site visits

An adventure to some place new is always a great trip - as a job requirement it is one of the most enjoyable. I prefer a site plan or topographic map so I can visit with a preliminary routing sketch. If the land dictates something different - I can ignore the routing. Some elements turn out better than anticipated and some not as good. And I also look to see how well my ideas would work. I have heard a good number of stories of scares happening to architects on preliminary site visits - so I am a little cautious - but it is hardly uncharted territories. I have gotten pretty good at avoiding spiders....

I never know what I will find.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The 10th for the first time...

I haven't shown any pictures of number 10 before. Please enjoy the above image. The green is in the foreground with the tee just on the other side of the lake. When we played it for the first time it was about 265 yards. In the fivesome - there was just one par - and it wasn't me. It was a VERY difficult hole location. We all were within 25 yards of the putting surface - less one slicer who put a couple in the lake. I chipped and 3 putted from my 20 yards - I played my tee shot too far too the left away from the lake - it is a much tougher angle. The wind was down too - it usually plays into the prevailing wind. It is the first fairway we shaped. Did I forget to mention that the fairway is 60 yards wide without a single bunker on the hole.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Now for the 6th green

The bump on the front of the 6th green is there to make it a little trickier if you play the tee shot safe. I can attest that it works well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The 6th Hole

The 6th has been tough for me. I aim right edge of the green every time - the creek is just too costly. But I make bogey more often than a 3 because of the contours.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Playing all 18 for the first time --- Wow!

I had a blast. The above scorecard is from our first 18 hole round. We played in a fivesome. It was great. Everyone loved it. Some of the holes were quite surprising for the guests - the yardages were very unexpected for everyone (many 1/2 pars). I was quite nervous at the start - as noted by my scores - I had a TC Chen in honor of the PGA on the first. I couldn't make a putt either - it was a little overwhelming for me. It was also a very hot++ and humid day - I was drenched before I started -- It was a very easy walk even still.

The newly opened holes - 8 through 13 went by way too fast. They all were so varied.
I am very much looking forward to my first round with Don - we accomplished so much.
There is sill some work to go but huge congratulations to the team.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Comments are encouraged!

I love getting comments from respected friends and professionals. Here are a few from this week - please read to the end. :)

"I noticed this morning the grrrrrrreat! (imagine Tony the Tiger....) pictures of Wolf Point...."

"Just saw some of the updated pics of Wolf Point.
Looks fantastic. The fairway contours look unbelievable."

"The course looks awesome."

"THIS is what a golf course in Texas should look like."

"The latest progress on your design...looks absolutely fantastic!"

"The pictures are phenomenal."

Don & Mike
"... we are always searching for something new and different; something that has the feel of originality. Originality is the element that draws us ... and that is the element you have captured at Wolf Point. You have created something that feels fresh and original. Congratulations!

The above picture is of the 5th green and approach.
VERY BIG DAY FRIDAY - and I don't mean the PGA.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The 2nd Green from two perspectives

Above is the 2nd green again. This picture was taken from just behind the bunker. Notice the contours.

When I take a few steps back, and get a few feet in the air, the green changes completely (see below). I hope it is evident that the tee shot placement in the fairway matters a great deal.

From the left side of the fairway the right side of the green falls away from the approach, and from the right side of the fairway the left side of the green falls away.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Routing Plan #11

Nine months in is when we finalized the above routing plan. We had cleared the creek for the potential 16th hole, and with a better look at the property it the holes along the creek were going to be much more practical to build and I think way better. They turned out great.

Previously I was asked about the tees that have started showing up on the plan. On this version you can see two sets of center lines. The red are the regular tees (approx 6500 yds) and the green are the forward tees (approx 4500 yards). There are also several other light green circles spread around each green. The philosophy is that what ever hole length the player prefers, it will be a minimum walk to the next tee. As a very private course we were able to surround the greens with potential tees. They aren't traditional looking if anything they are hard to find - as they blend into the green complexes. For the 4500 yard tees I had fun placing them in very strategic locations - there are also many other options if one didn't want to take on infierno bunker.

We found ideal tee locations for having the stratagies play as differently for every hole as possible - also taking into account the strong prevailing winds. With so much fairway the winner of the hole can choose almost any spot to tee off from. And there are several cross country holes to choose from as well as a few backwards ones

The tree shows up now in the middle of the 14th and the bunkers are becoming finalized - with some more changes yet to come...

Friday, August 1, 2008

The other side of the bunker

Just on the other side of this bunker is the first green. Please note the lack of containment mounding. Until the construction clubhouse is complete the tee will be playing a little forward - which is fine by me as I've birdied this one twice so far. With the tee back 20 yards I will certainly need to change my tee ball strategy.

I got a very nice message saying that Wolf Point looked more like it was along the Firth of Forth (in Scotland) than along the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bunker on the first

This bunker has a bit of a different look as compared with some from earlier. The first tee shot of the day will usually contend with this bunker. If you carry it the flag is not far beyond.

Friday, July 25, 2008

#9 almost ready

The above picture is taken from on the 9th green towards the main clubhouse - the tee is just in front. The green is growning in well. The fairway wraps around the lake. It is one of the first pictures I've taken of the hole. I have a good idea on how I'm going to photograph it when it's ready. Taking as many pictures as I do - I'm often planning out future shots. Next time I shoot this image I'm going to make sure the whole fairway is in view.
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