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Ran Morrissett

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Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« on: July 27, 2018, 12:40:31 PM »
The name game is a tricky thing.

When in England, why not see a Colt course? You know that at the very least it will be well-routed with a fine balance of holes.

Same for Ross in this country.

As much as I wish we went to places 'tabula rasa', your time is generally well spent if you follow the footprints of great architects.

However, what if you didn't know the names of those who had built some of your favorite courses? What if the architecture was great and you just didn't know who created it?

Happily, this is the direction in which we are heading. Some talented people are getting their hands on property and doing wonderful things. People like Rob Collins, Nicolas Joakimides, and Mike Nuzzo are being creative and successful when given the opportunity. Golf insiders might know about some of these architects but not the golf populous. The era of a Nicklaus or Palmer giving star power to a project is winding down.

This may not be a bad thing in the sense that its the golf - not the architect - that matters the most. Somewhat bizarrely, I reckon who designed a course is immaterial to the vast majority of golfers though it is of keen interest to 98% of those that read this web site! And if you happened to be reading GCA in July 2017, you gained an appreciation for a new course called Stoatin Brae in south central Michigan built by Eric Iverson, Brian Schneider, Brian Slawnik and Don Placek via
their Feature Interview.  Its course profile (with too many photographs but they all convey something, including how darn pretty the place is) is now posted:

http://golfclubatlas.com/stoatin-brae/

Many of you know that those four guys were part of the muscle behind huge favorites like Barnbougle Dunes, Rock Creek, PacDunes, and Tara Iti. Therefore, in the profile I ask: "Should you be surprised that Stoatin Brae turned out so well?  Really, it's the otherwise, I would be shocked if it hadn't.

When you see a list, check for Stoatin Brae and you'll get a quick sense whether the name game is getting played or if the list reflects top drawer architecture in a wonderful setting. Living in North Carolina, I had never heard of the resort (Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort) that Stoatin Brae is attached to but I knew the architects, so off I went. It is a long-winded way of saying: the name game works, if you know the names that matter. 😊

Best,
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 04:24:54 PM by Ran Morrissett »

Peter Pallotta

Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2018, 01:51:09 PM »
Thanks, Ran.
Interesting that, to my eyes, this lovely course is both a new beginning and nod to the past -- specifically to Tom D's past, ie on first blush, it reminds me of Renaissance's earlier work, simpler in conception, more modest in approach, and less spectacular in aethetics, courses like Quail Crossing and Riverfront.
Peter

Tom_Doak

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2018, 09:47:27 PM »
Thanks, Ran.
Interesting that, to my eyes, this lovely course is both a new beginning and nod to the past -- specifically to Tom D's past, ie on first blush, it reminds me of Renaissance's earlier work, simpler in conception, more modest in approach, and less spectacular in aethetics, courses like Quail Crossing and Riverfront.
Peter


The course reminded me a bit of High Pointe, especially the holes in the back forty acres [of both courses].


That's not that surprising.  Jon Scott was the sort of client I had when I first started out, with a modest budget [so, don't build too many flashy bunkers to maintain] and a nice piece of ground.  Of course, Richard Sattler and Rupert O'Neal were sort of the same ... they just had the most spectacular pieces of land.

John Kirk

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2018, 10:06:14 PM »
Hi Ran,

Thanks for the detailed and complimentary profile.  I played a round there in the fall of 2016, and enjoyed a meal at the pleasant clubhouse afterwards.  I especially agree with your comment about the native areas, and the importance of maintaining the wide corridors.  Your pictures show the beautiful shaping.  When I played the course, it felt neither difficult nor easy; one of those courses where being a bit sloppy results in a bogey.  As you already reported, the walk is excellent, a gentle walk out and back over the plateau, with the clever routing of the middle five holes (10-14) feeling special.

I found hole #13 deceptive from the tee.  I guessed that I could aim left and fly it over the ridge to shorten the hole.  However, even though I hit my drive solidly (these days I'm a 225-230 carry kind of player), I ended up on the hill in the rough, and settled for an easy bogey.

The par 3 7th hole up the hill provoked a powerful image for me.  I felt compelled to punch a long iron, starting the ball out to the right of the green and let it drift back.  I succeeded and made par.  I can also see a faded fairway wood on a different occasion.  Hole #7 is excellent.

That's enough.  Adding a couple more anecdotes to the thread.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2018, 10:08:35 PM by John Kirk »

Matthew Mollica

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2018, 02:52:49 AM »
Thanks Ran for a really enjoyable read of what looks to be a neat course.


Your words really resonated with me, describing so much of what I look for in a course. A natural aesthetic, intelligent design, fun thought provoking holes and a smart routing.


And congratulations to your crew Tom. Obviously a job well done.


Matt
"The truth about golf courses has a slightly different expression for every golfer. Which of them, one might ask, is without the most definitive convictions concerning the merits or deficiencies of the links he plays over? Freedom of criticism is one of the last privileges he is likely to forgo."

Jake Marvin

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2018, 05:36:17 PM »
Great piece, Ran.


Stoatin Brae's everything that's enjoyable about minimalism: Doak gets out of the way and lets the land speak for itself. The result consists a number of great holes as majestic as any over-sculpted signature course thanks to the views afforded from the high ground the course sits on (identified in the piece, but the stretches from 6-8 and 10-15 come to mind), brought together by stretches of understated, sound holes that satisfy despite being somewhat less spectacular. The 18th struck me as a bit anticlimactic, but that's a nit-pick if ever there was one, and almost unavoidable after the rest of the back nine given the land near the clubhouse.


As has been mentioned on a slope-related thread, I suspect Stoatin Brae is one of the hardest courses around relative to its slope (yes, there's no water, but good luck playing from the fescue in the latter half of the season).


Finally, full credit to Gull Lake View for making Stoatin an economical offering and giving folks the chance to see great architecture at a reasonable price. I believe it was $55 to walk when I played, and I met quite a few players who clearly were unfamiliar with good golf architecture, to the point that they couldn't figure out why they so enjoyed the course. In an expensive hobby such as GCA, it's refreshing to come across the Stoatin Braes of the world.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2018, 04:16:33 PM »
Great piece, Ran.


Stoatin Brae's everything that's enjoyable about minimalism: Doak gets out of the way and lets the land speak for itself.


In this case, I did get REALLY out of the way 😀.  But thank God we still have a few clients  who are okay with paying me to be involved!

Bob_Garvelink

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2018, 10:10:04 PM »
I have been lucky enough to play Stoatin Brae a few times and its fantastic.  The par 3's are some of the best that I have played in Michigan.  Last year the course was perfect...playing fast and firm and very similar to The Loop.  Sadly, many of the locals complained that the course was too firm so they slowed it down a bit this year. 


The course has grown in well and I think they are just starting to figuring out their pricing.  Overall a great course for SW Michigan and one that will be talked about for along time.
"Pure Michigan"

Jerry Kluger

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2018, 07:12:30 AM »
Having just watched some great golf from Scotland I was wondering if it was ever considered to cut the grasses around the bunkers to fairway heights similar to what we saw at Carnoustie, TOC, etc.?

Thomas Dai

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2018, 07:26:23 AM »
Looks most interesting, the more so given that four sets of ideas will have ultimately morphed into one.
The comment about some of the holes being squeezed into part of the property whilst the rest are in more open terrain in interesting, particularly in relation to the ongoing thread about scale -http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66206.0.html
atb

Peter Pallotta

Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2018, 09:14:12 PM »
I have been lucky enough to play Stoatin Brae a few times and its fantastic.  The par 3's are some of the best that I have played in Michigan.  Last year the course was perfect...playing fast and firm and very similar to The Loop.  Sadly, many of the locals complained that the course was too firm so they slowed it down a bit this year. 

The course has grown in well and I think they are just starting to figuring out their pricing.  Overall a great course for SW Michigan and one that will be talked about for along time.

Bob, thanks for the report. I envy you the experience.

I re-read Ran's profile, and kept looking at the photos.  What struck me this time -- besides the fact that the course is on 130 acres, god bless it -- was that the architects seemed to have had the *playing of the game* first and foremost in their minds, i.e.   
nothing more and nothing less than creating an intriguing and challenging and walkable and sustainable field of play.
What an excellent and honourable and humble goal.   
What an ever-and-increasingly rare one.
I really have to get off my ass and make a couple of 'sacrifices' and travel 5-6 hours to support that kind of course.

Peter

« Last Edit: August 01, 2018, 09:25:06 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Ronald Montesano

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2018, 01:28:28 PM »
No time like the present to reread this interview with the impregnable quadrilateral of stoatin brae


http://buffalogolfer.com/wordpress/2016-interview-series-stoatin-brae-architectural-foursome/

RM
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 08:13:46 AM by Ronald Montesano »
Coming in August 2023
~Manakiki
~OSU Scarlet
~OSU Grey
~NCR South
~Springfield
~Columbus
~Lake Forest (OH)
~Sleepy Hollow (OH)

Cal Seifert

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2018, 05:27:14 PM »
No time like the present to reread this interview with the impregnable quadrilateral of stoatin brae


http://buffalogolfer.com/wordpress/2016-interview-series-stoatin-brae-architectural-foursome/

RM


Great interview. I hope this course can get the acclaim it seems to deserve even without a big name architect or any press releases.

Tim Pitner

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Re: Stoatin Brae porfile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2018, 01:43:54 PM »
Just looking at these photos, Commonground is the course that comes to my mind.  Which isn't a bad thing at all. 

Carl Rogers

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2018, 12:02:00 PM »
Going on over 12 years ago, having spent 3 days with the 2 Brians (along with TD) at the Bay of Dreams, it does not surprise me that there work with others would be well received.  Stoatin Brae is another reason to take a trip from VA to Michagan.
I decline to accept the end of man. ... William Faulkner

Jeff Bergeron

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2018, 07:56:12 PM »
I wish I owned this golf course. I could play it every day with my buddies. So much fun.
Ran, I hope you saw Battle Creek CC while you were there.It's as close to an untouched Willie Park as I think you will find anywhere.
A two day trip to play Stoatin and BCCC is as good a midwest trip as you can find  Stay at the Firekeepers casino to top off the trip,

John Mayhugh

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2018, 01:09:28 PM »
Very good profile.

I was in the Grand Rapids area last week, and found time to play 36 at Stoatin Brae. Knowing I was going to be there, I did not read Ran's review until after the first round. I thought it would be fun to see what observations he made that I missed.

The mix of prairie and hilly landscape reminded me quite a bit of the late High Pointe. None of the holes seem the same as those at HP, but the overall feeling of the two experiences was similar.

I really enjoyed the large variety of greens. Size, shape, angle, placement (some perched on knobs, others like an extension of fairway) would make this a course that gets more interesting as you accumulate rounds with varying wind and hole locations. Good variety of yardages and hazards. There is mostly ample width, but some holes (especially the 10th) could have used more width or less dense native.

Tee shots in the fairway bounded and rolled pretty well, but it was tough to putt from more than a couple of feet off the green. The bluegrass was also unpredictable for putting speed (maybe even more so than bermuda). The bluegrass also impacted the ball's roll on the punchbowl and held it up on slopes when you missed a green. Completely understand that the maintenance/cost tradeoff is worth it. I would love having this course in Kentucky.


Michael Whitaker

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2018, 06:54:05 PM »
Thanks, John, for your thoughts. I will be playing Stoatin Brae mid-September. Really looking forward to my visit!
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

JLahrman

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2019, 09:21:03 PM »

Anybody else made it to Stoatin Brae? I played it today, making the 1 hr 20 minute drive from Grand Rapids where we stay with my in-laws each summer.


I really enjoyed it. There is a fun mix of holes, and every green is interesting. As mentioned, some are large and some are small and knobby, but they are all fun to putt.


I played the morning after a big storm, the ground was fairly soft and there was hardly any wind. The course could be a bear in fast firm conditions, at least from the 6742 yard tees I played (the next longest tees played 6271 yards). The playing corridors are wide but once you get off of them (as I did today) the ball is as good as lost.


Will definitely try to get back there in future years, it's a ton of fun for $67.

Brian_Ewen

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2019, 03:11:16 AM »
No explanation to how they managed to come up with such a ridiculous name for a golf course?

JLahrman

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #20 on: July 04, 2019, 07:17:23 AM »
No explanation to how they managed to come up with such a ridiculous name for a golf course?

Not really the point, but I believe I read it means "Grand Hill" in Gaelic.

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #21 on: July 04, 2019, 07:42:17 AM »
No explanation to how they managed to come up with such a ridiculous name for a golf course?

Not really the point, but I believe I read it means "Grand Hill" in Gaelic.


Brae isn't a hill so much as a slope or hillside.


'Stoatin' does indeed mean grand or brilliant, but in Scots, not in Gaelic. So essentially the name is two words from different languages!
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Ronald Montesano

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2019, 08:14:34 AM »
No explanation to how they managed to come up with such a ridiculous name for a golf course?

Not really the point, but I believe I read it means "Grand Hill" in Gaelic.


Brae isn't a hill so much as a slope or hillside.


'Stoatin' does indeed mean grand or brilliant, but in Scots, not in Gaelic. So essentially the name is two words from different languages!


Sort of like Adam and Lawrence.

:)
Coming in August 2023
~Manakiki
~OSU Scarlet
~OSU Grey
~NCR South
~Springfield
~Columbus
~Lake Forest (OH)
~Sleepy Hollow (OH)

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2019, 08:15:58 AM »
eh?
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Brian_Ewen

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Re: Stoatin Brae profile now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2019, 10:26:30 AM »
'Stoatin' does indeed mean grand or brilliant, but in Scots, not in Gaelic.


To the majority of Scots nowadays, Stoatin is very much a slang word, and I would go as far as to say it's Glaswegian Slang.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 10:30:20 AM by Brian_Ewen »

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