Friday, April 03, 2009

The Blog is Back

The blog is back - but not here. Go to and you will find my new blog at that location.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Best of Caddy Shack

This blog has come to an end. I took about two years to explore golf course architecture and put all my ideas and the ideas of other under the microscope. What emerged through this experience was a lot of design clarity for me. If you’re daring enough to read from start to finish you will likely see the transition.

The Best of Caddy Shack

1. The 25 Greatest Architects in History
2. The History of Golf Course Architecture
3. A Study of 18 of the Greatest Holes in Golf
4. The 10 Course Every Architect Must Study to Understand Golf Architecture
5. Defending Against Technology - without Length
6. A Complete Look at Bunkers from Philosophy to Art
7. The Joy of the Short Par Four - with a breakdown of famous Holes
8. The Short Par Three - Everybody's favourite hole
9. The Importance of the Long Par Three - with examples
10. Short Par Fives - Balancing opportunity with calamity

Other Interesting Series

1. The Role of a Greens Committee
2. How Green is Golf - review and discussion of John Barton Article
3. The Future of Canadian Golf Course Architecture - Discussion of the Enviornment, Water Useage and Economics
4. Growing the Game
5. 10 Things I Don't Like in Golf Architecture

25 Short Pieces on Golf Architecture

1. Compression and Release
2. Do Undulating Tees Make Sense?
3. Building a "Good" Low Cost Golf Course
4. Restoration - shades of grey
5. Bunker Lips that Won't Erode
6. Bunkers Inside the Fairway Lines
7. Playing Freedoms are the Key
8. The Writings that Shaped Me
9. Redans, Biarritz and other clever holes
10. Why flanking bunkers should make a comback
11. The Value of Sweeping Fairway Contours
12. Where Maintenance Meets Architecture
13. The Biarritz Green - a history
14. The Insurmountable Hole
15. Dealing with a Flat Site
16. The Redan - a history
17. Carry Angles
18. Blindness - charm or failing?
19. The Rise of Inoffensive Architecture
20. My Eclectic Top 18 Holes
21. The Use and Value of Central Bunker
22. Target Bunkers are .... Useless
23. Breather Holes are Good
24. Are fast Greens Good or Bad for Golf
25. The Best Piece I Ever Wrote

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Rubenstein on St. George's and the Canadian Open

Lorne Rubenstein has an article about the announcement of St. George’s as the 2010 host of the Canadian Open titled - St. George's short on yardage, but long on Quality.

He talks a lot about the set up and the speculation on which hole will be shortened. I add my two cents worth indicating it will be the 4th. I made a three there in my infamous round where I was one over through 13 (from the very back tees) and wound up shooting 90!

I’m quoted in the article including:

"The one thing I can say for sure is they will all say this is the best course they played all year outside the majors and perhaps Riviera [in Los Angeles],"

I really think the players will rave about the course - but unless they can rotate through great old courses like Hamilton and St. George's year after year (and avoid Glen Abbey or Angus Glen) they will never get another decent field.

The reference he makes to the old 4th is found here:

It includes a picture of what the old hole looked like.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Salts and Saskatoon

Testing for conductivity

The person in the photo is a fellow named Les Henry. Les wrote a publication called The Nature and Management of Salt-Affected Land in Saskatchewan. Les is from the Soil Science Department at the University of Saskatoon. The device in Les’s hands – he calls his Ouija Board – is a devise used to test for soil conductivity. In other words the devise is helping us look for salt.

If you look at Les’s feet in the photos and you will recognize the tell tale spot of white that occurs in a highly alkali soil. When the soils are drying out, the salts are drawn to the surface by evapo-transpiration and there fore we get salt crystals at the surface. Les’s devise provides a reading at the surface and again at four feet. We are taking alakali readings all across the future range at Saskatoon Golf & Country Club.

They have salts in much of the soils in Saskatchewan. Salt not only takes away the plants ability to take up water but also ties up much of the nutrients too. When I routed the new nine holes, I intentionally ran the holes over the high areas not only to deal with flooding in the spring but also to get far enough away from the water table and the saline soils underneath. The only area that I could not accomplish this was one small area on the south side where they the old 9th and 18th were - and I intentionally placed the range in this area. This was equally due to it being the ideal location for the range and also to the issue of salts.

The area for the range

So we have a range that has areas of high alkaline soils. Les spent the day taking readings which told us where the soils were alkali and where the soils were acceptable. This told me how much topsoil we could strip and use and what topsoil should be buried with fill to keep the salts from occurring in the top soil layer. Now salts can be “washed” out of the topsoil over time – the process takes a few years and recovering the soils is a common technique. We don’t have the time – so we needed to organize the build to avoid having alkali soil where we will be seeding new grass.

The future range

This trip out by Les was all about where we could get topsoil, how much soil we had to use, how to deal with the soils we had and what we should do with the range. I’ve dealt with a lot of issues – including a very difficult build at Muskoka Bay - but this issue is one is one of the most complicated I have ever had to deal with.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Compression and Release

The 4th at Bandon Dunes

I was at a course a few weeks ago where one of the best holes on the course drops around 60 feet from the tee down into a beautiful valley and then doglegs to the left around a stand of mature pines and oaks. The club was quite convinced that the green must have been visible - when built in the 1920’s - from the tee and that trees had encroached and taken away a beautiful view of the entire hole.

In today’s day and age of golf design, it’s pretty rare to find an architect would present a hole in this manner. In fact in this world of “comfort” architecture – the main overriding philosophy is putting everything in front of player right from the tee so they can see it and understand the strategies. The idea of unveiling a hole a shot at a time is rare since this type of hole isn’t quite as photographic as a hole that unveils itself slowly. This MTV style attention span has spread to golf too – and people simply want it all and want it now – even in golf design. One of the great losses because of this is the near disappearance of a technique called compression and release.

What is compression and release? Compression is when you find yourself in a location that is narrow, very clear defined with no long views. To excellent examples are playing out of a chute of trees or playing a tee shot from a tee surrounded by higher dunes on either side. You don’t have a feel for the landscape around and only feel the edges on the landscape that you are “with-in.” In these situations you find that the golf hole is the clear single focus. The release is felt when you exit that space to a wider area with a long horizon. You immediately feel the expanse of the space around you and tend to look anywhere but at the hole. It’s actually an instinctive reaction to the change – but a fascinating aspect that can be exploited to have a larger impact on a setting you want to feature.

The 4th at Bandon Dunes is a wonderful example where David Kidd takes you between the dunes and out to the landing area. When you get there you find yourself well above the 4th green with a wide open view down the coast. You can’t help but be humbled by that experience and it takes you a while to really take in the green, since your busy admiring the stunning Oregon coastline. David did this intentionally so you’re your first look at the ocean would be as dramatic as possible. The technique he used is compression (down between the dunes) and release (having as wide a view as you get anywhere on the course).

The hole I saw works on the same principle but on a far more subtle level. The tee shot is into a clearly defined tree lined valley that feels tighter than it really is because of the elevated tees and angle. You walk down to the landing area and look to the left to see a spectacular green set up on a natural hogs back. The valley is wider, the clearing is more extensive, and looking from below widens the perspective of the view. You are stunned by the beauty of the green site but also taken back by how beautiful this glade is and how much of the natural undulations of the land that you nw can see. This too is compression and release but a far more subtle version.