Golf Club Atlas

GolfClubAtlas.com => Golf Course Architecture => Topic started by: Carl Nichols on November 19, 2009, 05:06:40 PM

Title: Jockey Club
Post by: Carl Nichols on November 19, 2009, 05:06:40 PM
As I’ve mentioned before, the Cancha Colorada (Red Course) at the Jockey Club in Argentina is one of my two favorite courses in South America.  (The other is Mar del Plata GC.)  I don’t have much to add to Ran’s excellent review – see http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/argentina/jockey1 -- except for the following:

My host told me that, in the last few years, the Club has grudgingly decided to engage in some tree-trimming/removal.  There’s apparently significant resistance to engage in significant removal, and the compromise has been to pare trees back and/or trim away low-hanging branches.  I tried to convince my host that in several places they really needed to do more, but I don’t think my host was convinced.

Between the closely mowed and/or dormant greenside grass and the Mackenzie greensites and greens, our group spent the whole day grappling with incredibly fun (though difficult) chips and pitches.  Virtually every shot was off a tight lie, often over or around mounds or through slopes that seemed like extensions of the fairways – and sometimes the right way to play the shot was directly away from the hole, in order to utilize a slope to bring the ball back to the hole.

As Ran notes, the Club is a great sporting club – terrific clubhouse, two golf courses, and tons of equestrian stuff going on.  What a place!

Here are some pictures that I haven’t labeled…..

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Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Stan Dodd on November 19, 2009, 08:43:58 PM
Wow! Looks like a ton of fun.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Ryan Admussen on November 19, 2009, 08:55:15 PM
Looks like a great day out on the course! Is golf popular in Argentina?
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: JC Jones on November 19, 2009, 11:05:13 PM
I understand Mike DeVries was recently down there, maybe the big guy will chime in on this thread.

Questions:  Are the fairways as completely flat as they appear to be?  Is there much strategy off the tee or is it really a "second shot" course?
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: astavrides on November 20, 2009, 05:18:50 AM
Looks like a great day out on the course! Is golf popular in Argentina?

my impression was that it is mostly a game for the rich.  not too many public courses, although probably all courses are open to foreigners.  if memory serves, the jockey club, with the favorable exchange rate, cost me much less than $100, caddy included, a couple years ago.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Carl Nichols on November 20, 2009, 12:09:07 PM
JC:
The fairways are quite flat (as is the entire property).  I thought it was a pretty easy driving course, though I probably had to think about the kind of second shot I wanted more than I typically do, often because there were certain shots (like a stock SW with some spin) that wouldn't work very well given the green and pin. 

Golf seems to be more popular in Argentina than in any other South American country [it certainly produces more tour-caliber players than any other country], but Ryan is right that it's more a game for the well-off than here in the States.  There are probably a lot of reasons for that, but I think the main one is that Argentina is a much poorer country and so most people just don't have the money to play.   
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Padraig Dooley on November 20, 2009, 06:11:27 PM
I understand Mike DeVries was recently down there, maybe the big guy will chime in on this thread.

Questions:  Are the fairways as completely flat as they appear to be?  Is there much strategy off the tee or is it really a "second shot" course?

Mike played for the Jockey Club in the recent MacKenzie Cup at his home course, Crystal Downs. The MacKenzie Cup heads down to The Jockey Club in 2012, so something to look forward to!
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: astavrides on November 20, 2009, 06:18:23 PM

Golf seems to be more popular in Argentina than in any other South American country

That's not saying much

but Ryan is right

astavrides was the one who was right.  Ryan was the one asking the question. 8)

I enjoyed the Jockey club too by the way.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Carl Nichols on November 20, 2009, 06:49:48 PM
you're right -- thanks for the correction
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Mike_DeVries on November 20, 2009, 08:24:48 PM
Carl,

Nice sequence of photos -- it is #1-18 in order for those who are wondering what hole they are looking at, although that might not be easy to follow.

I was down in Argentina a month ago and was impressed by the Jockey Club -- 36 holes of MacKenzie (I believe the only place that has 36 of his, with the exception of Ohio State, where they were built posthumously -- and I don't like to give the Buckeyes any credit, especially this week of the year  ;D -- GO BLUE!!!!) -- particularly the green complexes which, as others have said, have lots of good shot values to and around them.  Alas, the fairways are quite flat like the coast of most of Argentina.  Drainage swales serve to move water off the holes and the property drains fairly well.  But the contouring in fairways would have been much better had MacKenzie been on-site for that portion of the work, with more tilted stances and better surface drainage -- think of the Old Course which has subtle movements in many places and constantly moving ground. 

Everyone talks about the Colorada (Red) course, but I found a lot to like on the Azul (Blue) course too, with a bit more movement on the ground due to its location near the low point on the property and the fact that most of the water from the Red has to go through the Blue or pipe that does the job. 

Jockey is an amazing club -- horse racing, polo, the downtown club, 36 by MacKenzie, tennis, pools, and something like 7000-8000 members!  It is a huge place and very cool.

As to the rich-poor concept, I don't know enough about S. America to know the answer, but golf has lots of opportunity there, especially with the Rio Olympics and golf in 2016.

Best,
Mike
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Rob Rigg on November 21, 2009, 12:52:43 AM
Can those who have played the JC think of any courses in N Am that have such interesting green complexes despite a flat flat property - the movement looks quite spectacular from the photos - must be quite a challenge on the approaches along with chips and putts. Very cool.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Lou_Duran on November 21, 2009, 10:53:03 AM
Rob,

It is hard to think of any course I've played that's as flat as JC-Red.  While the green complexes are pretty "interesting", the contrast to the flat-as-a-pancake surroundings probably overstates it.  Compared to Pasatiempo or even Palmetto, the greens normally play rather tame.  Perhaps the reason is that they're grassed with an old bermuda strain (tifdwarf or maybe something barely mutated above common) and tend to be slower and grainier.

The course plays pretty short, particularly when it's dry.  The pictures reflect the dry, low-maintenance conditions that I witnessed during my visit several years ago.  Unfortunately, according to my host, the regimen is not the result of careful plans to feature the course's architecture, but of economic realities.

If the Jockey Club represents golf at the highest social strata in Argentina, there is not much hope for any trickle-down.  The three members I played with, all professionals in their occupations, played with clubs several product cycles old and scuffed balls that wouldn't make it into our shag bags.  On the plus side, I was "invited" to join as an international member for a very modest initiation fee and nominal annual dues.  While the facility is indeed impressive, the wear and tear is noticeable.  I would guess that something like it would never be attempted in modern Argentina. 


Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Jeff_Brauer on November 21, 2009, 11:03:39 AM
Do any of the Mac experts here know how much is still original? From the photos, it looks like most if not all of it.  The design seems to have a lot of the intricately shaped greens, with wild shapes and contours.  It would be somewhat sad if the best preserved Mac course was actually one of his lesser designs, due to topo, local construction, etc.

It would also be interesting to know how much Mac was there for the shaping. Clearly, the mounds are not as natural and free flowing as typical Mac mounds and if he was there, it would probably be a case of no matter how hard he tried, the local laborers just couldn't quite grasp the concept of adding a little more fill at the base of slopes to make them tie in.  If he was only there a little, it would make more sense to me, although tie ins on flat slopes are always harder than when you have something to work with.

 
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Bill_McBride on November 21, 2009, 11:23:21 AM
Can those who have played the JC think of any courses in N Am that have such interesting green complexes despite a flat flat property - the movement looks quite spectacular from the photos - must be quite a challenge on the approaches along with chips and putts. Very cool.

Talking Stick North is about the only course I can think of.  South is a few steps behind, not sure why since they are side by side.

The old Desert Inn course in Las Vegas was also pretty flat and was a lot of fun to play.  Now it's another Wynn casino hotel.   :-\
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Bill_McBride on November 21, 2009, 11:25:46 AM
I understand Mike DeVries was recently down there, maybe the big guy will chime in on this thread.

Questions:  Are the fairways as completely flat as they appear to be?  Is there much strategy off the tee or is it really a "second shot" course?

Mike played for the Jockey Club in the recent MacKenzie Cup at his home course, Crystal Downs. The MacKenzie Cup heads down to The Jockey Club in 2012, so something to look forward to!

How many players did the Jockey Club send?

That is a terrific event.  My Valley Club friends have played in the past and had a great time.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Carl Nichols on November 21, 2009, 02:26:32 PM
Lou:
I don't know when you were in Argentina, but the economy has improved over the last several years, so there is more trickle down than in '01 - '04.  There's also been a recent proliferation of gated communities [for security and other reasons], sometimes with a golf course inside, and I suspect that places like Nordelta (Nicklaus course in a gated housing development) have pulled money away from the older places like the Jockey Club.   
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Mike_DeVries on November 23, 2009, 12:14:20 AM
Rob,
Essex CC in Windsor, Ont. has very cool green complexes (not as elevated as at the Jockey) and it is a flat property, evidenced by the surrounding area, although the course has a little more movement in it, due to Ross contouring the greens with material sculpted from the fairways and subtle lower elevations, which is used for some holding ponds (I think the larger one is more modern and not the original irrigation source, but now serves as that?  Jeff Mingay could answer this.).  Anyway, I think the greens are fantastic and the course is very flat.

Jeff,
The course is quite original: exceptions include the 5th and 8th greens on the Red, which were redone in recent times, bunkers all around are not even close due to years of maintenance and poor remodeling, and the "other side of the road" on the Blue, where the pond has changed a little.  It is also my understanding that the Red's 4th and 6th greens were originally a double green, although now they are separated by short grass in a deep valley and the 6th is very elevated from that.  MacKenzie was only around S. America for 2-3 months so he was really only around for the basic greens shaping -- hence, that is the highlight of the courses and the tees and fairway shaping are not up to his standards (I think that also is one of the reasons it is sooooo flat and without more continuous movement like at the Old Course.).

Best,
Mike
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Mike_DeVries on November 23, 2009, 12:19:16 AM
Bill,
Jockey sent 7 players and I played as their pro (now that is desperate, I know some of you are thinking that, but I was given typical handicap strokes -- it is a friendly competition and blood is usually not drawn!).

It is a great event and the camaraderie and sharing of information about MacKenzie and the preservation of his work is really what it is about, not the tournament.

Mike
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Bill_McBride on November 23, 2009, 10:07:36 AM
Bill,
Jockey sent 7 players and I played as their pro (now that is desperate, I know some of you are thinking that, but I was given typical handicap strokes -- it is a friendly competition and blood is usually not drawn!).

It is a great event and the camaraderie and sharing of information about MacKenzie and the preservation of his work is really what it is about, not the tournament.

Mike

I almost joined Alwoodley as an overseas member just in the event that I might be able to participate in a Mackenzie Cup!  It does sound great, but I think Alwoodley wouldn't have to delve into the overseas dilettantes to fill out their team!
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on November 24, 2009, 05:26:17 AM
I was just reading a Tom Simpson essay (from Hawtree's 'Aspects of Golf Architecture 1925 -1971') where he talks about a letter that Dr. MacKenzie had just sent him... The letter was from San Isidro (The Jockey Club) and its point was to show off a hole to Simpson that MacKenzie was just designing, knowing that he would appreciate it...

The hole was a strategic masterpiece, made possible by the natural course of a stream that ran through it... Simposn had asked the question whether the stream's course had been altered, so perfect was it for the hole... MacKenzie replied in the negative...

Yesterday I looked up the masterplans of the two courses. There is no hole that anywhere near resembles MacKenzie's design...

If I get a chance, I'll scan the plan... (unless anyone wishes to beat me to the punch)
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Tom MacWood on November 24, 2009, 07:23:03 AM
Are San Isidro and Jockey the same place? San Isidro was adjacent to the sea according to the plan for the hole Simpson discussed.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on November 24, 2009, 07:31:04 AM
Are San Isidro and Jockey the same place? San Isidro was adjacent to the sea according to the plan for the hole Simpson discussed.

You are right Tom... I forgot that detail... I presume that the Jockey Club is not then, even though its address is San Isidro...

In that case, do we have any details of the "other" course that Dr. MacK was designing?
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Tom_Doak on November 24, 2009, 08:23:58 AM
Tom M:

San Isidro is the suburb where The Jockey Club is located.  The courses for Jockey Club are a couple of miles from the sea.

There is also a San Isidro Golf Club, whose club history goes all the way back to 1918 [so if Dr. MacKenzie worked there, it was a renovation, but probably 50% of his work was renovations].  The pictures I've seen look as though it is also a little bit inland, though.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on November 24, 2009, 08:38:00 AM
Just looked up the plan of San Isidro Golf Club which also appears to be inland (as TD says) and also doesn't have a hole remotely like the one Dr. Mac had designed...

All we know is his letter was posted from San Isidro... So maybe it was the design of another hole that he was working on whilst on site at The Jockey Club?....

I'd love to know if that hole ever made it in to the ground...
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Carl Nichols on November 24, 2009, 08:58:57 AM
Ally:
Could it be a hole for El Boqueron? 

Tom D:
That's actually the River Plate (Rio de la Plata), not the Sea, that's a couple of miles from the Jockey Club -- though the River there is quite wide and probably brackish.. 
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on November 24, 2009, 09:18:01 AM
Ally:
Could it be a hole for El Boqueron? 

Tom D:
That's actually the River Plate (Rio de la Plata), not the Sea, that's a couple of miles from the Jockey Club -- though the River there is quite wide and probably brackish.. 

Carl,

It's not El Boqueron...

I've found info on the El Boqueron thread that suggests it might have been a course called El Nautico San Isidro... Look at the David Edel posts which are fascinating:

http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,38874.0/
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Lou_Duran on November 24, 2009, 10:05:23 AM
Carl,

I am glad to hear things are getting better.  It was Nov. 2002 when I played the JC.  I haven't heard from my cousin in BA that things are all that improved, but perhaps she is not paying attention.  For what it is worth, an investment firm I am acquainted with is very bullish on Brazil, but won't touch Argentina with a 10' pole.

Kelly,

Bent in BA?  I understand that it gets extremely hot there and with the proximity to the river, I think it would be humid as well.

What do you know of the business and economic climate there?  Can golf gain a foothold?  How about in Brazil?

 
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Carl Nichols on November 24, 2009, 10:29:02 AM
Lou:
Nov. 2002 was a pretty bleak time down there, right after the 2001 crisis/seizure of bank accounts/etc.  From 2003-2007 or so there was some decent growth, but the current Administration is a complete joke, and is doing all kinds of things to ruin the economy.  So while things remain better than 2002, (a) that's not saying a whole lot, and (b) wouldn't lead me to invest in a significant project.  It's unclear whether things will trend positive or negative. 
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: David Edel on November 24, 2009, 10:40:12 AM
Hello<

Ally can't wait to see your scan.  The El Nautico San Isidro plan that I have has two creek formations.  They are not really creeks or streams, as plan was developed from dredge spoils, so the creek features were probably developed for water drainage, and strategic value when the land was created.  The land is acutally an island, so the entire property is surounded by a narrow canal system.  El Nautico is primarily a sailing club so the clubs major focus is on boating.  

El Nautico has a perfect rendition of thel Lido hole.  A 1927 article in El Nacion talked of Aubrey Boomer and Henry Cotton asked to create a plan for the club.  The club wanted these architects to create a golf course with the famed holes from around the world.  I think it is safe to say that the clubs wishes were in part maintained by Mackenzie.  

The Nautico plan has a 9 hole preliminary plan that was to morf into the 18 hole master plan.  Only a little boot shaped piece of land existed when Mackenzie was in Argentina.  The club has a 4 story look out tower, and my guess is he was able to look out over the land and do some of his work from a birds eye view. The 18 hole plan was never executed as a large dike wall was developed and a small marina created on the far end of the property.  Carlos Blasi the club professional reportedly created the new design.  The course has always suffered from extreme flooding.  The winter storm surge would flood the property and destroyed much of the course on several occasions.  For this reason the club created the dike to prevent annual destruction of the course.  As you can imagine the original plan along the water was awesome as he designed it.  The lido is on this part of the layout.  The club existed as a 9 holer until the early 50's.  It also operated as a 6 holer for 7 or 8 years after it was first created.  The original Mackenzie 9 hole routing is very simple to accomodate the changes that he envisioned taking place in the preceeding years.

As far as San Isidro Golf club, there is an article on the new greens at San Isidro recently finished by Luther Koontz.  Koontz for those who do not know, worked for Wendell Miller Group and stayed in South America till the 50's.  He is listed as a Super at Palermo in the mid 40's or Golf Club Argentino as is was called before Peron got his hands on it.  He also did seven greens for San Andres, and many of the greens at Olivos, before the club moved to its current site.  I believe that much of what people claim as Mackenzie in Argentina is actually Koontz's work.  Not to say that Mackenzie did not see the properties and provide suggestions which were done by Koontz?  

Anybody know anything about Koontz.  Neil Crafter should be able to figure out were he ended up.  My trail on him dies around the mid 50's.

David
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Tom MacWood on November 24, 2009, 12:29:08 PM
Here is the drawing.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 24, 2009, 03:36:13 PM
Lou,
Argentina is a difficult business climate for sure, there are probably more planned golf development´projects than in the US at this moment. The economy is so so due to the politicians more than anything else as Carl mentioned. But it is also one the less effected by the world slow down...they live in crisis, so its no big deal to them. Brazil has really impressive numbers and Lula really knows how to sell his country. But there is a lot of corruption and the enviromental agencies are worst than California. ITS very, very difficult to do business there and the beuracracy is at the highest level. I have not talked to anyone doing busisness there from the states that don´t have a nightmare to share. Nicklaus had a project there and tried for about eight years to get it off the ground and going, at one point Trump put his name on it for a million bucks. Last week I heard the project was dead, killed by the enviromental agencies. Your chances of getting screwed in business deal in Brazil are about 98% and in Argentina about 80%. there are some good serious people in Argentina but you would never sleep because you would live in fear what the goverment could do next but hopefully that will change.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: David Edel on November 24, 2009, 05:48:20 PM
Hello,

From the drawing posted from Tom, this has attributes of the 6th hole on El Nautico  but is not oriented the same way to the river.  The stream has more curves than the Nautico plan, but they both play over the stream twice.  My guess is he recognized that the River Plate, was not a sea, so it would speculation that this has any similiarity at best.

David
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Neil_Crafter on November 24, 2009, 06:43:16 PM
Ally, Tom
Are one of you able to post scans of the article by Simpson? Love to see it. I have not got that book by Hawtree - I have the earlier one - and I'm interested to hear of the Mackenzie / Simpson correspondence as I was unaware of it.

As for Luther Koontz and David's suggestion that I know where he ended up, I have to say I don't. If I had to guess I'd say he remained in South America but its only a guess. Koontz travelled down with Mackenzie from the US to Buenos Aries as Wendell Miller's representative but did not leave with him. Mac went back to England when he left South America. Koontz stayed, must have liked the place!!
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: David Edel on November 25, 2009, 10:29:45 AM
Neil,

i just figured with your investigation skills you have already found out who was on the grassy knoll.  I think all that is known about Mackenzie lies with Koontz.  My guess is he had all his drawings and correspondance from that early period.  I have seen a green sketch by koontz and it was on quadrated paper like the kind Mackenzie used with the same page set up.  I don't think he had much experience as an architect, but assumed the role after Mackenzie left. 
There is an article about him travelling to the U.K. and France to study golf courses.  He has numerous photos in about 5 publications that post his pictures of great venues and his perception of their architecture. 
If he was not already married, the temptation to marry a good looking Argentine would have been difficult to resist.  He did a lot of work in Uruguay, Chile, and possibly in Colombia. I believe I saw a figure were he designed 27 golf courses?
Problem is that it is difficult to find documentation in Argentina.  The trail goes cold really quickly.  He just vanishes.

All the best,

David
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 25, 2009, 12:20:35 PM
I have come across nothing he did in chile
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: David Edel on November 25, 2009, 04:22:16 PM
Randy<

In the middle to late 50's when La Dehesa was built, Luther Koontz was listed as the architect in the Golfer Argentino.  Most of my fact finding comes from reading these magazines.  I have from 1931 to 1961 bound by year with all the magazines.  I have seen these volumes at other clubs with the same binding, so I am assuming that the magazine created a limited edition of all the magazines for purchase, or they gave them to the clubs? 

So, if I am wrong, then the magazine overstated his involvement.  I see numerous courses that he was listed in articles as the architect, but modern credit goes to a Pedro Churio, or Emilo Serra to name a few.   I don't know if he was more involved in the irrigation or drainage which seemed to be his expertise.  Like the LLao Llao goes to Alberto Diego Solar as the architect, but the plans are labelled Luther Koontz?  I can send you the article if you want it. 

David
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 25, 2009, 04:39:43 PM
David,
Thanks and I am sure your correct. I have asked about the history of most of the clubs here or have been told but never knew much about Ladesha. Emilo did about three or four greens over when I first moved here in 95 and they had just been seeded. I did a indepth consulting report shortly there after for the club but in relation to the maintenance only. A guy that work for me recently did some more changes to green complexes and converted the fairways from common to 419. In reality they had more Kiyku than common. Thanks for the info, I knew of a lot of his work in Argentina but did not realize he crossed the Andes also. I wonder how he made it out of here without getting married! i was not able to do so and my gypsy day´s are over but no regets!!!Take care!
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Dónal Ó Ceallaigh on November 25, 2009, 04:54:40 PM
MacKenzie wrote the following in "The Spirit of At. Andrews":

We recently made two eighteen hole courses for the Jockey Club at Buenos Aires. The ground was dead flat - in fact there was hardly a three foot rise on it - but fortunately at one end there was a three foot drop which enabled us to get drainage outside the property. We made all the ground extremely undulating by constructing a series of irregular swales radiating to the lowest point, and these swales gave us the following advantages: they cheapened and facilitated the drainage. They gave us plenty of soil for making greens and creating undulating ground, and above all, they gave the place such a natural appearance that the undulations appear to have been created by the effects of wind and water thousands of years ago.

Did MacKenzie see the finished product? From viewing the photos, it's hard to understand how he could make the statement:

The course has a greater resemblence - not only in appearance but in the character of its golf - to the Old Course at St. Andrews than any inland course I know.

The contouring of the course was done in 21 days!

MacKenzie said to the club captain:

The undulations have created such a varied, interesting and pleasurable test of golf that we do not require a single bunker; nevertheless for the sake of appearance and for the purpose of creating more spectacular thrills we will give you a few bunkers.

Hyperbole?  :-\

Dónal.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: David Edel on November 25, 2009, 06:23:13 PM
Donald,

Mackenzie did not see the final product.  I just spent a week with Mike DeVries consulting at the Jockey and we made some observations that may be relative.  I actually was a witness, Mike was consulting.  It would appear that due to the time lines of his experience in Argentina, roughly 2.5 months that he was directly involved in with the construction and shaping of the greens.  Also, those who know the jockey see alot of undulation near the tees, but that is were it stops.  Apart from from holes 13 and 15 which have significantly more slope and undulations than any of the other holes on the course.  It would seem plauseable that he was around for tee development, and the initial movement near the tees was executed, but never carried through to the greens? 
The blue course has substantially more movement as it was a dumping ground for earth moved during the drainage channels and the development of the lakes on the blue.

At the time he left, what was the skill level of Koontz to carry out the vision of Mackenzie is unknown.  It would be nice to look at club ledgers of committee meetings to see what was on the agenda, but all those are lost to the great fire.  My guess is that they would have had comments on expenses to create more undulations.  It is important to note, that all the courses accept for Mar Del Plata and Ranelagh were extremely flat.  Maybe the powers to be were concerned that the course would have been to difficult with all that slope, and decided to halt further development of contour?  Maybe the depression started to have its affect and they looked for a way to cut costs?

I think Mike could give a greater description of his thoughts on the matter.  To what I have seen at the Jockey, the influence of Mackenzie is the routing and the green complexes.  Apart from that, it was left to inexperienced supers, Koontz, and the club professionals that were at the club.  Namely Tomas Genata and later Enrique Bertolino who were both very well respected.

So much potential to make it something great.

David

Randy,  I too got bedazzled  by a Chilena.  Koontz must have been a stronger man if he didn't.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 25, 2009, 07:38:12 PM
David,
I am far from an expert on history but, I believe Argentina around the time of the construction of the Jockey was a very strong economy and I believe like the 5th strongest in the world at that time. One can see this throughout the city in the buildings that were also constructed, architectually incredible and the cost to do something similar today would lead to big-big numbers. I believe it was during the same time period, there was a saying going around the world, "Rich as an Argentinin"! I just attribute Jockey´s design to, big earth movements just were not common in those days, or am I wrong, were other courses developed during that time frame and by the doc for example or anybody else for that matter, was it common to find 100,000m3 moved, 200, 300, 400???? Please tell me because I have no idea. I always assumed you worked with the lay of the land for most part, improved the drainage and what ever dirt you had left over from improving the drainage was set aside for green complexes.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Tom MacWood on November 26, 2009, 10:04:02 AM
~
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on November 26, 2009, 12:05:32 PM
Thanks Tom... I was looking at it again last night...

I was wondering who came up with the title of the piece (i.e San Isidro 17th hole)- whether it was Fred Hawtree and he knew something we don't?... It can't have been Simpson's original title because he says in the text he was making an assumption on the course...

It certainly doesn't sit with any of San Isidro's current holes and must be more relevant to David's El Nautico course (going on his description)...
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 26, 2009, 12:39:18 PM
Lou,
The bents do fine if the green bases are constructed properly. I worked in North Texas for 11 years and eight of those were on bent greens, and it is much eaiser mainntaining bent in Argentina than in North Texas. You get a couple of streches of four or five days at a time, where the heat and humidity can set it back a little and then the weather changes and you get a stretch of cool days and more importantly cool nights. Temps seem to go up one degree celius from 25 every day, and humidty also, it gets to 32 o 33 degrees and high humidity and a shower comes and the process starts over again. But understanding this formula one understands, yes they are on the transition zone and both Bermuda and bent will work but neither are in there idea enviroment. Chile on the other hand, the nights drop down to 12 or 13 celcius all summer long, making it perfect for bentgrass greens and humidity is much lower than Argentina because in the santiago area we go from september to abril without rain. Cheers!
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Neil_Crafter on November 27, 2009, 06:42:41 AM
Tom
thanks very much for posting the article, from "English Golf" originally I see. Quite interesting.

Ally
I think it more likely that an editor did the title - didn't Fred Hawtree die a while back before this book was published?

David
I know very little about Koontz and have not really had the time or the focus to look into him too much. I am interested in your statement "I think all that is known about Mackenzie lies with Koontz." Can you elaborate a bit on this for me?
I am interested to try and pin down Mac's arrival in Argentina and departure. All I have is the date he left New York and the date he arrived back in Southhampton.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Ally Mcintosh on November 27, 2009, 07:37:28 AM

Ally
I think it more likely that an editor did the title - didn't Fred Hawtree die a while back before this book was published?


Hi Neil,

Maybe an editor (Martin Hawtree or Grant himself)... But from what I can see, the book had been written with introduction, chapters and autobiography all by the hand of Fred W....

Whoever it was, it begs the question of what info they knew that Simpson didn't?... and was that info correct?
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Lou_Duran on November 27, 2009, 09:35:22 AM
Randy and Kelly,

Thanks for your responses.  The more I play the new ultradwarf bermuda hybrids managed by competent superintendents, the more I think that it is the way to go in transitional areas.  I am encouraged that some very good private clubs aren't being apologetic about their bermuda greens.  Just a few weeks ago, I learned that a very prominent member of Colonial Country Club is floating a petition asking the board to consider replacing its signature bent grass with a new hybrid bermuda.

Not meaning to hijack this thread any further, but what other Central and S.A. countries might be "interesting" for golf-oriented Americans seeking a respite from these culturally, politically, and economically troubling times?  A fellow GCAer told me that a couple of associates packed-it in and gone to Costa Rica.  Is Chile with its socialist president a possiblity any longer?  What are the prospects for golf there?   

Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: David Edel on November 27, 2009, 10:34:24 AM
Neil,

My comment about all that is known about Mackenzie in South American lies with Koontz implies that since all the records at the Jockey are lost, and that all the follow up came from Koontz, and that unlike all the other Mackenzie contributors he lies in obscurity.  It would be interesting to find a relative to see if he keep all his correspondence and sketches.  Maybe there is a journal of what happened at that time.  The second obstacle is the spanish languague, and how well they documented or kept records.  In south america in general they do not seem to value history in the same way that other countries do.  Argentina is a country were you want as little paper on you as you can, so it does not come back to bite you, or is something that you can trace.  I am sure Randy would agree with me on that one.  So, I would feel that any relative of koontz could have a lot important stuff.  I think that his trail ends in Uruguay as the climate for golf in the 50's was getting beat up by Peron.  Uruguay was developing a lot of golf courses int he 50's and for sure had a more laid back environment than Argentina at that time.  Just an idea.

Randy, 

I know Argentina was a very strong economic power at the time, but from the Ledger of Minutes that i have from Mar Del Plata Golf club, they inferred that the cost of the Mackenzie's changes would not be prudent in the economic climate at present, and that they would defer these changes for a better time.  I think the whole world either slowed a lot or the fear of spending was on everyones mind.  It took the club at least 10 years to create the current clubhouse, so they were not throwing money around.  If it was not a money issue the clubhouse would have been created much sooner in my opinion.  Then and now, the foucs of the Jockey Club has always been with the Ponies.  So all expenditures have go through the main committee, and they were also wanting to build other attractions to the new property, so golf was not the only thing that they were shelling out the $$$$.  Are you in Chile right now?

David
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 27, 2009, 12:22:58 PM
David,
Yes, I live in Chile now and took the week off. Next week off to Buenos Aires. I understand what your saying but.....Mar del Plata was a club that was a summer club for the wealthy from Benos Aires, a two month club, so the economics were always a lot more difficult then and now, especially when you compare to a club like the Jockey in the middle of the mega metroplex, Buenos Aires. Its like comparing a first home development with a second home development, we tend to accept higher expenses and dues associated with our principal property or club. Was it common to take a flat piece of property back then and move a couple of hundred thousand cubic meters, I really don´t know, are there examples in Europe or USA where they did so??
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 27, 2009, 01:12:03 PM
Lou,
My career started just 10 miles west of Colonial, Squaw creek golf course presently owned by lockheed. The bent there does fine but Colonial always struggles. I think its due to the fact that it kind of sits in the Trinity river basin and that river produces a little more humidity and then the big huge oaks, it just too much. From Squaw I went to Abilene, the course the was hosting the PGA tour event, the LaJET Classic later on the SouthWest classic. We worked with Colonial and started the bentgrass research fund and raised lots of money for devloping a bentgrass more suited for the metroplex area. The end results were Cato and Crenshaw and today I believe they have A1 or A4 or a mixture, not sure but its not Cato or Crenshaw. Now today the ultra dwarfs are suppose to pretty good and maybe better than pretty good. I have not played on of these new bermuda greens so can not give my opinion. I wonder if Pine Tree has ultra dwarf, if they do it will be interesting to hear Anthony´s opinion in another six months time but when he left Colonial he seemed to be in favor of continuing with bent, at least I got the interputation from some past thread. Anyways, my opinion and my conclusions, Colonial has been wagging war for thirty years trying to make or devlope or whatever, a grass that adapts to conditions that it can not adapt to and at any expense. I would admitt defeat and convert if the new bermuda are as good as they say they are! The problem is that the polictics of the club are that the tournament takes a higher priority than it should and a cool spring could cause transition problems during the tournament and therefore have below standards playing surfaces during the tournament week. As a member of a club, I would prefer the club put its memberships needs first and do the best we could for the tournament but thats it. Your golfing buddy is correct in my opinion, but he will have his work cut out for him and I wish him all the luck!

Elections are in two weeks and it looks like the socialist party will be out. Most likely a very sucessful businessman will win and has been involved in a couple of golf and residential developments. Even though on paper we have been governed by a supposedly socialist goverment, we are really a shadow of the US. There is not much difference, I feel like I am still in the states. Golfing climate is good and growing. One of our projects has a third of its owners or members ..foreign and the devlopers  have done zero marketing in the foreign market direction, they just come and some stay!
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Lou_Duran on November 27, 2009, 07:38:11 PM
Randy,

It is a very small world.  My first job out of graduate school was with General Dynamics which then owned Squaw Creek.  I think it was 1980 when I won the first flight of the club championship there despite making a nine on #16 during an extremely windy day (30-35 mph).  When the then bermuda greens were firm, and with all their grain, a 15 mph wind was all it needed to make things very interesting.   Plummer did a great job out there with no budget.  I've played it a few times since the conversion to bent and the greens are pretty good, but because they're typically softer and hold the shots better, the course plays a bit easier.

I've also played Fairway Oaks, a relatively flat, open course where the wind could play havoc.  I suspect that bent did well there.  BTW, Charlie Coody was also involved with a good public course in Abilene, Diamondback.

As you noted, Colonial was built in the Trinity River bottoms.  Its many beautiful, large pecan and oak trees also block light and air circulation, compounding the problem of small greens and a large amount of play.  Mr. Leonard's legacy bent greens may continue to endure, but their poor condition from June through mid-October despite a most generous budget is a very sore point for many of the members.  With the very successful conversion at nearby Mira Vista several years ago, the comparison is unavoidable.  And at least with Champion, the ultradwarfs green-up much faster and go dormant later than its predecessors.

Regarding Chile, it has a very beautiful coastline, but I was not too impressed with Valparaiso or Santiago.  The only golf I saw during my brief visit was a very rudimentary course near the southern coast.  Where are the best courses and which clubs in the U.S. would they be comparable?   
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 27, 2009, 08:37:26 PM
Lou,
You probably beat out D. R. Richardson to win the club championship that year! I was there from 81 to 83. I built a putting green for charles in his back yard but still didn´t help, his putting was his weak point, hellofa nice guy and excellent family I always admired! He had a lot to do with the design at fairway also. I agree plummer did an excellent job, its a good design and still a good bargin in the metroplex, one of the best in my opinion for the price outsiders pay. I played there about a year ago and now looking at it from architects eyes, I would only change the 17th par three and put a little fairway in front, sixteen and seventeen back to back, one of them would always sneak up and bite you and there went the good round. But sixteen was a good par five, requiring two well placed shots. Not sure if you remember but they experimented with a product to take out the overseed and try to speed up the transition and lost a significant amount of Bermuda...thats when I got hired.
Chile has some good courses and always getting better, some good costal experience and one that Kelly and I did just got named one of the best designs in Chile ny Golf Digest Latin America and is called La Serena and is built in the dunes and is five hours north of Santiago. The other was Santa Domingo Los Rocas, which has about fifty years and some really nice pine trees and built close to the ocean. Anyways if you get down here, let me know and we can play some and visit some. We are adding the second nine at this time to Santa Martina built at the base of the Andes on an incredible site, and this nine should raise the bar for golf in Chile, its going to be strong. We just finished shaping the first four and half holes and it took one month, that should tell you...were editing the property not creating nothing but some nice bowls and a few bunkers. Maybe I will post some pictures in the near future. Take care! I posted some photos of la serena about a year ago and if you search you maybe be able to locate them. Take care!
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Lou_Duran on November 27, 2009, 09:32:07 PM
Randy,

I left GD in May 1981, but I was already a member at Walnut Creek and Great Southwest by then, so I wasn't playing GDRA (Squaw Creek) much anymore.  Richardson won most of the plant tournaments, but as a 3 at that time, I didn't qualify for the championship flight.  My recollection is that a young red-haired guy, also by the name of Randy, won it that year.  I think this fella turned pro eventually.  A weekend group that I am still a part of plays out there occasionally, and it is one of the best deals around.  That they allow the group to BYOB is not bad either.

The 16th hole at SC is one of the great strategic par 5s built on flat ground without a single bunker until you got close to the green.  With the creek running diagonally on the second shot and into the prevailing southwest wind, it was a SOB.  The 17th always played hard for me, but that greenside rock wall with the evergreen planters was an abomination.  I actually liked the quirky 18th hole and could seldom get my pitch or chips up the steep slope to the level where the cup was cut.  And come to think of it, #15 was a great driving hole as well with a very difficult green.  Really, there is a bunch of good golf out there.
 
Charles Coody doning his Amana bucket hat and standing erect with his long putter makes for quite a contrast to today's tour golfer.  He had a rather flat looking, somewhat quick swing, and as I recall, he'd hit a low-boring right-to-left shot most of the time.  He seemed like a nice guy.

I've been promising Mike Young that I would visit his place in Costa Rica pretty soon.  Maybe an extension to Chile is in order.   
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Randy Thompson on November 27, 2009, 10:57:34 PM
Lou,
and if you come all that way,,,its just an another hour and half flight to B.A and we can have some more fun and play a couple there and maybe even the Jockey Club which got all this started! Hope we can cross some time and meet, my kids live in Fort Worth, so I am there a couple of times of year, my daughter lives in front of Shady Oaks, another decent track, have only seen the changes from the road and always say I am gonna cross the street and walk it but she is pretty póssive of my time. My last adventure in Texas before moving to South America was over seeing the construction of the Cliff´s at PK and I stayed on as director of golf, that ball eating layout but some spectacular views.
Title: Re: Jockey Club
Post by: Mike_DeVries on November 29, 2009, 10:21:15 AM
Donald,

Mackenzie did not see the final product.  I just spent a week with Mike DeVries consulting at the Jockey and we made some observations that may be relative.  I actually was a witness, Mike was consulting.  It would appear that due to the time lines of his experience in Argentina, roughly 2.5 months that he was directly involved in with the construction and shaping of the greens.  Also, those who know the jockey see alot of undulation near the tees, but that is were it stops.  Apart from from holes 13 and 15 which have significantly more slope and undulations than any of the other holes on the course.  It would seem plauseable that he was around for tee development, and the initial movement near the tees was executed, but never carried through to the greens? 
The blue course has substantially more movement as it was a dumping ground for earth moved during the drainage channels and the development of the lakes on the blue.

At the time he left, what was the skill level of Koontz to carry out the vision of Mackenzie is unknown.  It would be nice to look at club ledgers of committee meetings to see what was on the agenda, but all those are lost to the great fire.  My guess is that they would have had comments on expenses to create more undulations.  It is important to note, that all the courses accept for Mar Del Plata and Ranelagh were extremely flat.  Maybe the powers to be were concerned that the course would have been to difficult with all that slope, and decided to halt further development of contour?  Maybe the depression started to have its affect and they looked for a way to cut costs?

I think Mike could give a greater description of his thoughts on the matter.  To what I have seen at the Jockey, the influence of Mackenzie is the routing and the green complexes.  Apart from that, it was left to inexperienced supers, Koontz, and the club professionals that were at the club.  Namely Tomas Genata and later Enrique Bertolino who were both very well respected.

So much potential to make it something great.

David

Randy,  I too got bedazzled  by a Chilena.  Koontz must have been a stronger man if he didn't.

David is correct, that MacKenzie was not there for the shaping beyond the green complexes (and subsequently some of the tees, due to proximity to greens) and I think Koontz finished off the rest of the work but didn’t carry it out as it should have been.  As has been noted, the green complexes are very good but then once you are off the green surface, or even close, the fairway turns very flat and there is little to no movement in the playing surface.  Just off the tees, there are swales and drainage to facilitate storm water movement, but the problem is that it usually ends 100 yards or less off the tee and isn’t carried throughout the fairway, which would have been more interesting, play-wise, and more functional, drainage and turf-wise.  I think MacKenzie got the most important aspect of the course (greens) done and figured that Koontz would get the rest done (hence MacKenzie’s exaggeration of the undulations of the fairways in his description).