Monday, August 28, 2006

The Red Deer Charette

This is the extension of the 4th hole to bring the Red Deer River into play and into view

This wasn’t a completely a charette because I did do some preliminary routing work to give myself some ideas on what was possible. Usually the first stage is to walk the golf course with members of the greens committee and the superintendent. I like to use the initial stage is to collect ideas and alternatives for discussion. Since the interview was conducted out on the course where we did discuss ideas, I was familiar with the holes and had a good feel for what direction the club wanted to go. A little routing investigation was a smart head start. I still intentionally took on the approach of a charette, to see if I could make the plan grow from a couple days looking at the course and talking through ideas.

I arrived at Red Deer (just in time for rain), and we went into a boardroom to talk about the plans and possible ideas. I definitely prefer to meet before going out to review the course, because it makes it easier to focus on what I need to accomplish. The club confirmed they were very interested in additional yardage being an important part of the plan, but proved to be very open to the ideas in trying to return a little more traditional architectural character. They understood when I recommended that a little restraint should be shown to retain a variety in yardages and a little courage would be required to really make the course a reflection of its era. I was very pleased that they agreed with my approach and were willing to take a long view and make a few extra changes to undue certain modernizations that did not fit. It was a relief that they understood my traditional vision for the club.

The potential new par three looking the other way up the river

We did make it outside after the meeting to walk and review the larger changes. I did discover some of my ideas worked better than expected including a new potential par three with a spectacular view up the river. I also found one of my larger changes did not since the mapping did not match what was in the field. We returned to the clubhouse and had dinner, this time with the entire board and once again went through our options. I took some time to explain my thought process and walk them through the potential changes. I also gave them two possible plans depending on whether a proposed land swap did go through. The committee was quite enthusiastic about the change so at that point I had clear direction. I wasn’t sure we could accomplish all this in one visit, but the committee made was pleased with the plans. I still wasn’t done.

I spent the second day looking at alternatives and reviewing them. I also spent four hours accumulating all the problems and difficulties of the property for the Superintendent. A superintendent a sharp as Wayne is an architect’s dream. I felt I finally had all the background information together and was ready to return to the plan.. I finished up with a round of golf with the Director of Golf, club president and next years club president. It was eye opening to see where the ball was going, which fortunately it went where I aimed that day! I did make a few revisions according to what I learnt from that round.

That night I went back to the hotel and begun the traditional end to the charette. I finalized a plan based upon the current envelope, the club’s direction, and my notes from the field. I began to produce a series of sketches to illustrate the changes to the holes. I also collected a series of images to illustrate the style of architecture using examples from existing courses to talk about different ideas. I ended up even producing a few simple illustrations to explain the different principles of modern architecture versus a more traditional architectural approach. In short, more carry bunkers off the tee and flanking bunkers at the greens versus more target bunkers off the tee and forced carries at the green.. The next day I presented the ideas to the membership and it was met with quite a few question and a very strong level of support. At the end of the presentation I knew I had a plan (with a little more tinkering at home).

I would definitely do this again.

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