Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New View and Banner Image

I had a very enjoyable day at Wolf Point yesterday. The big surprise for me was the new dramatic view pictured above. The big clubhouse is taking shape and the first floor is in place - so I got a better elevated look across the golf course. It was the elevation and long green vista that was a beautiful revelation. The camera is looking down 18 with views of the 14th & 17th greens, with the 17th fairway disappearing in the distance.

Also of note we had a new visitor who has had a very accomplished career that involved 30 years of design, construction and maintenance. Unprompted she thought the open areas resembled Scotland. She commented on how nice the live oaks were across the site, and some very good use of them with regards to hole design. And she was also most impressed with the overall management of the construction and maintenance. Her experiences on construction sights was mostly that the outsides of the course weren't finished until way after the course was built. Lastly she said it would take her a while to get her head around the place, as it all seemed so different.

And to top it all off I spent some evening time with our client his family and friends - they were all so excited after seeing the course and its progress. I also learned our client has been chipping a bit on one of the 7th fairway. He was very pleased.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Instant Infrastructure

The last program I worked on at Lockheed was a $650 million geosynchronous regional satellite capable of providing telephony services - voice & data to Southeast Asia - Indonesia, China, Japan and India - 50% of the world's population. At the time of the launch in 2000 the wait time for a phone in some areas was well over 5 years. Think of trying to install phone lines or even cell towers across every island in Indonesia. After launch a single small handheld satellite phone was all one needed to call anywhere. The satellite was big and powerful - it had to be to send and recieve content 23,000 miles to a tiny antenna.

Without the opportunity to go in space and see it in person, this is as close as I'm going to get -- I was able to find it on a NASA satellite tracking site where the above image was captured.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Does he want to be an astronaut?

After describing what I did for a living over dinner with some friends, Mike's date asked if I wanted to be an astronaut. I didn't think it was as bad a question as Mike did - he thought it was hilarious. This was probably 15 years ago and I was designing satellite antennas working for Lockheed Martin.

I thought of this story recently after seeing another barely recognizable professional golfer hanging up a shingle saying they were a golf course architect - kind of like an astronaut designing a space shuttle. The astronaut's input is certainly helpful when designing something they will operate - like a professional golfer - but to think without significant experiences and study that professional golfers are anything more than marketing is somewhat disappointing.

I used to be afraid of telling potential clients I have an aerospace engineering degree, mostly because if someone told me something similar I thought there would be a chance that they'd produce a golf course that looks like the picture below - which as you can tell from this blog - looks nothing like anything at Wolf Point.

With some encouragement and now that Wolf Point is nearly completed I'm going to share a bit more of my background, starting over the next few days here on the blog.

the above image is not from Wolf Point! :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Winter has been a little wet - not unusual. The course has had a great deal of infrastructure work done over the last two months - including the maintenance roads, fences and clubhouse. The fences look very good - they are rustic cedar posts with a fair bit of barb wire to keep the cattle off the course. They fit the setting perfectly - both the cattle and fences.

Don reports that many fairways are being cut at fairway height. And the course is still mostly green. It has been several weeks since my last visit - I'm looking forward to getting down very soon. Should be lots of new pictures.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Last year at the Golf Industry Show, I was interviewed by Emmy Moor Minister for a show she produces "Voice of the Valley". I saw it for the first time earlier today. She spoke with several architects and created the entire program around the Conference. Once I figure out how to extract the video I'll post my interview, as well as Don's. We did pretty good.

We had a good chance to talk about Wolf Point, and the video encourages me to try and use video at some point on the blog - we'll just need to find an interviewer as good as Emmy.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The 18th

The 18th green complex is quite wild. There is a large swale that passes behind the small putting surface - the 18th is part of a double green complex so in the above illustration the swale passes from right to left through the middle of the green. The back right pin is my favorite due to the sharp fall off behind and to the right - it is on a very steep and high corner.

There is a split fairway and ultimately two major influences that would help the player choose which one to play. The short par 4 plays into the prevailing wind, making the creek crossing tee shot much riskier on a brisk day. The pin placement can provide an advantage from either fairway as well. I thought at great lenght to make each fairway an option - sometimes with very subtle ideas, but ultimately the wind will play the biggest factor.

I also like starting and finishing on short par 4s - I only know of one other example - The Old Course at St. Andrews.

Earlier Holes Featured: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 -11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Infierno from a distance

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Some examples of iterations - 14th Fairway

Last week I showed an image of several iterations of the course. I'm going to further explain how the process of acquiring field data and design evolution worked together. The above flash images show part of the evolution of the 14th fairway.

The first of 3 images show green highlighting - which is the planned clearing. Originally I was trying to find the best angle into the green that crossed the creek. There were two very nice live oaks that surrounded the eventual creek opening. I had to select which tree to have removed.

During the clearing Don and I found that there was an even nicer tree near the 2nd landing area - it is a par 5. So now the question was which side of the tree to go around. Between our time on site and updating the GPS and construction files it was easy to see the impacts of our decision. We decided to leave the tree - figuring we could always take it down if the hole wasn't better strategically.

The third and final image shows how we incorporated the tree into the irrigation plans. The tree location was brought back into the construction documents and the irrigation plan was modified. Note we also didn't build a few bunkers as the strategy of the tree and the shaping of the fairway created enough strategy to make 14 a very fine hole.
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