Are We Going to End up with a Minimalist Overload ???
Yesterday we found out Sebonack was named the Best New Private course in America. The course was a collaboration between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak – whose styles couldn’t have been farther apart. The work is excellent – even if the working conditions were strained – and the award was well deserved. The strain has continued beyond the project with Jack making inflammatory statements where he suggests he supplied the strategy and Tom supplied the look (a funny comment since Tom routed the course). If you were to actually believe Jack – then he just built his first course in the so-called Minimalist style.
When you continue down the same list you come to another Minimalist looking layout called Pronghorn. This time the architect is Tom Fazio – or at least one of his lead associates – and the work is quite striking and beautiful. It certainly was well chosen for the site except for the creeks that seem painfully out of place. It represents a clear attempt by a big named architect to work in the style popularized by Doak, and Coore - to show they he too can work in the same style.
A more obvious example was Erin Hills where Hurdzan Fry brought along Ron Whitten as a co-designer and set out to build their own Minimalist Masterpiece. Hurdzan Fry has always been a company that follows the trends of architecture and this time they even used one of Coore’s key shapers - Rod Whitman (who shaped at Friars Head) – and set out to create a course in the same style.
The latest one is Chambers Bay by Robert Trent Jones Jr. They may have broken the Minimalist mold by having to move large amounts of dirt – but there is no question that the details oand the look of the architecture is based squarely on the work by Coore and Doak
It used to be every architects web site claimesd they work with the land - now they claim they can work in that style. Everyone has been swept up by this trend – which is good for golf – but tough on the people who really are Minimalists. Once a style becomes this popular – the smaller architects (like me) are almost forced to find a different look in order to set themselves apart from the bigger more marketable names. It doesn't mean abondoning your principles - just creating architecture that looks different from the rest.
Ones to Watch for Next Year
Designed by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner have crafted with some of the more creative and innovative bunkering I have seen borrowing from the old Hutchison book to create bunkers that are literally sod walls with sections caving in. The views are also out of this world.
Tom Doak and Jim Urbina are in the middle of creating a new course at Bandon Dunes built using the MacDonald template holes. I could not think of a better exercise for these brilliant designers to really show their creativity. Throw in George Bahto and Brad Klien and you have a course with high expectations.
Funny enough two courses that will not look like the ones I've mentioned above.