Thursday, August 25, 2011

Which golf hole would you rather play? The tees matter...

Both pictures are of the 13th hole at The Battleground outside Houston. The new tee above is what the player will see vs. the picture below, which is the old view.

They have a scenic lake that was barely visible from the old tee. Now the player can see the whole lake for a better sense of place. The old tee was blocked by the trees, away from the lake and the view was even blocked by the forward tees. We improved the angle a little for more interest based on hole locations. The electric power poles aren't lined up with the green too - this looks better and forces the better player use a less distinct target.

Originally The Battleground's par 3 tees were built way too small, a fraction of what they need for their number of annual players. We will be enlarging the tees and repairing many others, improving maintenance practices and aesthetics. The remainder of the work will happen this winter. We built four alternate tees to keep the course open during the next phase of construction.

The next phase will see a lowering of the forward tee, more tree clearing and a greatly expanded teeing surface.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Updated google earth aerial of Wolf Point Golf Club

The first time Google earth had captured our work at Wolf Point I was alerted by our crack inspector - my father - who was just as excited to see it from above as I. It was under construction in the satellite image and it showed the different stages of construction.

Recently I checked and found the 3rd iteration of the golf course aerial - see above. This one is recent. I'll need Don to accurately add a date. The course is more mature and grown-in (often it takes a few years).

What pops out for me? The areas that we hardly disturbed look easier to maintain, but those are also the areas along the creek - where water naturally heads anyway.

The file I compiled from Google is very large, large enough so show detailed areas and holes in the coming weeks or months.

Can you see the routing - or identify all the holes?  Hint:  Start from the building in the middle.


Monday, June 6, 2011

An e-mail from a visitor about playing golf at Wolf Point Club

i think you achieved something truly important out there in those fields i didn't really understand it until we completed the first 18 holes and went around the house to tee off on number one the second time standing there, i saw the hole, which i did not understand the first time i played it, in a new light we are so accustomed to playing, and seeing, courses that are manufactured according to preconceived ideas of what a course should be here's the hole it's defined by trees or hummocks or water on it's sides there are obstacles near where our shots will probably land it ends in that hollow or on the flattened rise hit to position a, then to position b etc

so, teeing off on number one the second time i got it a little this is what it would be like to take a "found" landscape and play golf on it with many, many ways to play the hole, depending on your imagination and skill

i won't do a hole by hole

some things which are indelible
the topsy turvy swale in front of five green the psychedelic green on the long par five 14 the green and surrounds on three never mind there are amazing things on nearly every hole


the subtle green sites on 4 and 13
which feel like someone draped smooths blanket on gentle hillsides sorta like "let's play to over there" to the side of that hill even though "over there" would be flattened by a succession of committees to make it more "fair" on any other golf course two genius green sites more so as you made them up

and the inspired bunkers
on the diagonal ridge in front of the third green and the erosion gully on the left of twelve i know you made these, too but they are the most natural feeling features i've ever seen on any golf course i felt like i was on some primeval landscape for the first time thinking this would make a great place to play a game with some clubs and a ball from here to there what should we call it?

i never had a more enjoyable time playing golf

the variety of shots required
and the variety of shots that were possible strategy blah blah you got that, too

you should be proud for having accomplished something remarkable i think back to places i've played where i was really happy beautiful places where life seemed in balance bandon pebble and wolf point more often than others


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cameron University's newest golf team member

Don's son recently committed to go to Cameron University and play on the golf team. They have a very fine team. There are lots of types of fun golf. Playing competitive collegiate golf is certainly one form. It is even more fun if this game helps one get an education.

Ryan spent most of his high school years prepping for football games under the lights. This was one of the reason's that helped Don move to Texas - his son wanted to play Texas high school football. And play football Ryan did! Starting both ways often on the line of scrimmage.

Since football has ended he has poured that same football commitment into his golf game. And boy has it improved over the last year.

Golf is a great game/sport, and it will have a lifelong impact on Ryan and his family.

Congratulations Ryan - have fun!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Curious Case of Mike Nuzzo - Texas Golfer Magazine April 2011

This month's Texas Golfer Magazine has an article about me and our work. Carl, the writer, found Wolf Point listed in a somewhat obscure place. Having never heard of this course in his home state, he did some research and found me.
I'm very glad he did.

This is a fun quote from the article:
"To date, 517 humans have traveled into outer space.  It would be fair to guess that considerably fewer have played Wolf Point Club."

Here is a link to the article: The Curious Case of Mike Nuzzo
Or a link to the entire issue: Texas Golfer April Issue

Please read the article 2 pages later about the great Mr. Jackie Burke Jr. and winning the Golf Writers Association Award.  Congratulations Mr. Burke.

And a small plug for the Red Cross

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tiger's Dubai Desert Project, Al Ruwaya, and first NLE - Part 2

I remember the copy on Tiger's original design web site.  He said he wanted to create amazing golf courses - it has since been edited.  The hole pictured (Golf Digest pictures) above is a par 5 with 6! tees.  I can imagine it is very windy at times and that might be reason for extra tees, but I doubt it.  The 2nd & 5th tees are totally superfluous - who are those for?  Some of the best holes and courses in the world have just 2 sets of tees.  On to playability:  The first shot should stay left of the fairway bunkers - but doesn't look like it matters - because the 2nd shot will just find the fairway too with little advantage for attacking the green - the angles are too narrow.  The bunker in front of the green may be a nice touch and give the few people in the world who can reach the green in two some concern.  Everyone else will try to hit the fairway twice then the middle of the green.  This hole is not memorable - nice - but certainly not memorable - I wouldn't call it amazing, unless spending more money on a golf hole than any other on the planet is part of the criteria.  They do get a point for not making lacey edged bunkers that are so in vogue these days - they are clearly Fazio bunkers though - using one of their shapers is my guess.

The previous hole, a par 4, looks like store brand vanilla ice cream. A tee shot between two bunkers to an angled green.  That's it.

I'll guess the grass is Paspalum - a warm season grass that does well in high salt environments. The water comes from a desalination plant - this lush vegetation requires a LOT of water. Golf courses do best - look and play - when they blend into the native environment. The course isn't fighting nature and it looks like it fits.

I have one last picture to describe for tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tiger's Desert Project, Al Ruwaya, and first NLE

Tiger Wood's first golf course design project was being developed in Dubai. As of yesterday it was announced that the project was cancelled. NLE = No Longer Existing, and it is usually the term when an old golf course closes - there have been a few notable modern ones in recent years. I thought it would be interesting to analyze the course architecturally speaking. From Tiger's website: Par 72 championship-quality course. The vision for Al Ruwaya Golf Course is to transform the blank canvas into a unique golf course that rivals any in the world.

Tiger teamed up with a former Fazio associate to create his design firm. (That former associate also has his own firm with no mention of Tiger on their website.) The following are my assumptions.

The project was to sell about $1 Billion dollar's of real estate. With that as the goal you can rationalize almost anything - like a reported $10-20 million design fee - but it is all still a guess for the owners. One of Fazio's most famous and successful golf course designs is Shadow Creek in the desert outside Las Vegas. I believe the cost for construction was over $40 million dollars. I assume this was the model for Al Ruwaya - to create an oasis.

Pictured above is an image of the project from Golf Digest. I see a very densely vegetated area = a lot of water too keep everything alive. There are 5.5 holes constructed with grass. The hole corridors appear to be somewhat wide between holes - there looks like as much to irrigate outside the hole as the hole itself - which translates to at least twice as much maintained area for non-playing surfaces - you can irrigate a lot less around tees until you get to the fairway. That is very expensive and doesn't effect the playability of the hole.

There appears to be some shaping in the fairways - not just surrounding the hole - they get a point for this work. And they get another point for keeping the holes together - not every hole is lined with houses. But they loose that point quickly with the distance between greens and tees - not that anyone will walk here, but there is no need to separate when a good angle will do just fine.

I am thankfully keeping busy with my own work - this post was written during a break - so I'll get to more in the next day or two.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A couple of media mentions

Last week Nuzzo Course Design was mentioned in a couple places:

I was asked to be a judge for Golf Inc Magazine's annual development of the year awards.
Some were nice, but most were still overdone.  Some of the best golf courses in the world have been built on practical budgets.  I don't think many developments are marketing to players.  Pretty pictures will bring someone down once.  The golf course had better be really good if you want them to come back.

Here are a few of my comments about the nominations:
  • At that price I’m not sure how the mission could be achieved. The ride from 9 to 10 is one of the longest I have ever seen. Too much water for the public golfer to enjoy regularly.
  • Too much water, way spread out, over done bunkering.
  • Does not blend seamlessly into the native environment – not even close. Lots of water and 11 parallel hole corridors – 8 of them side by side.
  • The routing appears a bit disjointed with some large separations between holes. Some of the shaping and features are overdone, and some of the bunkering looks really good and original.
  • Nice to see non-returning 9s, fewer restraints usually leads to a better course.
  • Some pictures show good restraint and very nice golf holes, others seem to shout look at me.
  • Would have done better with fewer and less busy looking bunkers.
There was also a brief mention of some of my work at Champions Golf Club in Golf Course Industry Magazine.  The picture above is during the range renovation at Champions.  In the foreground is a sub-meter GPS measuring device.  I can map my designs on to the ground and record what happens in the field as we go - to make sure the irrigation is efficient and in this case to get the tee line oriented perfectly.  In the background a laser is used to measure the finish work and helps keep the tee perfectly on plane.
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