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Kevin_Reilly

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Fowler's Del Paso - update
« on: January 14, 2006, 02:42:45 AM »
My NCGA bluebook edition came today, with a one-page spotlights on Doak's work at Pasatiempo and on Fowler's Del Paso Country Club near Sacramento.  Article is titled "Unforgotten History.  I'll transcribe the Del Paso section here (unedited):

Quote
Del Paso Country Club, north of downtown Sacramento, has a brand new course.  An all-embracing 18-month, $9 million renovation and redesign began in January of last year and will result in a course unfamiliar to its members.

The Herbert Fowler layout played host to the 1982 US Women's Open and was well known as a traditional track.  The design had changed since its opening in 1920 and was ready for a new face.  The par-72, 6,300-yard layout needed to be more playable for high handicappers but at the same time more challenging for the club's better players.

Take a deep breath.

Quote
Kyle Phillips (Morgan Creek) stretched everyone's minds and expectations with a painstakenly thorough plan to reinvent the venerable course.  Phillips carried out his vision by taking the same plot of land and reconfiguring the layout to carry 700 more yards and host three additional sets of tees.  In re-routing the entire course, more than 1,200 trees were cleared and the entire playing surface was changed from Bermuda to Rye.  All 18 holes are brand new, and only four holes remain in the same plot of land.

Sit down, think about maybe on the bright side you now have something to add to the "NLE's you've played" thread, and breathe into a paper bag.

Quote
"The purpose wasn't just to lengthen the course," said head professional Mike Green, "but we now have a championship course.  In my wildest dreams, I never thought this was possible.  The outcome is phenomenal."

In addition to the redesign, the cart storage and maintenance facilities are being moved and rebuilt and the practice range is being reversed.  During the renovation, the bulk of member play has been sent to Morgan Creek in nearby Roseville.  The winter and spring will allow the grass to grow while the members eagerly wait to experience a championship course with the same old-style feel during the July opening.

"GOLF COURSES SHOULD BE ENJOYED RATHER THAN RATED" - Tom Watson

PThomas

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Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2006, 08:12:28 AM »
"a championship course with the same old-style feeling":  whatever the hell that means ::)
198 played, only 2 to go!!

Joel_Stewart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2006, 10:10:52 AM »
I know Kyle a little bit and have questioned him many times about Del Paso.   There was virtually none of Fowlers work left to be restored, the course had been tinkered with so much that it wasn't possible to restore anything.  

Kyle is very proud of his work there, I'll reserve judgement till playing it later this year.  Kevin, will you join me?

Kevin_Reilly

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2006, 11:51:45 AM »
I'll join you, Joel.  

As an aside, my concern re the above article stems from that cavalier way in which the renovation was described in terms of championship courses, challenge for better players, etc etc., and the throwaway nature of the course's original design (which, as you say, might already have been thrown away).  

Would the members have wanted the original design if it were possible to restore it?  It wouldn't seem so, from the comments in the article.  I'd have to go back through the archives here to remember that thread from a few years ago where this was discussed.
"GOLF COURSES SHOULD BE ENJOYED RATHER THAN RATED" - Tom Watson

John Kirk

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Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2006, 12:27:21 PM »
Isn't Del Paso the course in Carmichael?  I went to college in Davis, and remember passing by it on my way to Arden Mall to see a movie.

I'm surprised they had enough room to make the course 700 yards longer.  It seemed to me it was totally surrounded by housing, even 25 years ago.  Wow I'm getting old.

I don't know enough about rye grass to know whether it can withstand the hot dry summers in the Central Valley.

Mike Benham

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Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2006, 12:36:43 PM »
Isn't Del Paso the course in Carmichael?  

Yes it is ... although I guess this aerial is pre-rennovation ...

Del Paso Aerial
"... and I liked the guy ..."

Tom Jefferson

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Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2006, 12:47:56 PM »
John;

We're ALL getting old!!  For I last saw Del Paso in the late '80s, when I played it as a visiting super.  

I had the pleasure of caddying in the '82 Women's Open, for Lancy Smith, who was a leading amateur and Curtis Cup player.

My memories of Del Paso was that indeed it was all houses around it, that there were many doglegs, the greens were small and tightly mounded, and all holes treelined and tight.  
Also small, concrete lined and fountained water hazards.
The membership was elderly....old Sacramento money.

I can believe the thought that there was little of the original shaping and features left.

But I considered it one of Sacramento's best tracks....hope the redo was a big step up.

Regarding ryegrass in the valley....it is a transition climate, where the super is stuck between cool season and warm season turf....neither one seems to dominate.  The result is often patches of bermuda dominating in the warmest spots, and rye/poa in the cooler, shadier microclimates.  This topic, at least in my experience (the Chico area, 90 minutes north), was often debated, with good arguments on both sides.  I always wanted to grow rye, with its dark green beauty, but it simply went dormant the longer we went into summer.  And the bermuda wouldn't really get going until June or so, so it was often weak.

The better courses would sometimes commit to overseeding with rye in the fairways for 'better' winter play, which by summer would only add to the patchy look.

Tom
the pres

Joel_Stewart

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Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2006, 12:23:46 AM »
There was a faction of members who wanted to try and restore it but the majority won out.  Restoring the course would not have saved the membership which was starting to dwindle.   The club felt it was way behind in trying to attract new and younger members such as Granite Bay, Morgan Creek and others.

Kevin:
You can try and find some previous conversations here on GCA between a woman and a guy who were on the greens committee and had a debate right here on GCA.

T_MacWood

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2006, 12:37:25 AM »
Joel
What is your opinion of Herbert Fowler?

Patrick_Mucci

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2006, 06:45:02 AM »
Kevin Reilly,

Tommy Naccarato, me and a woman member had a discussion on the proposed project prior to the vote to change the golf course.   Other off line communications continued for some time.

I don't Understand the phrase that "None of Fowler was left, therefore, it couldn't be restored."

I would think that that would be the perfect reason to restore it.

If the routing were intact, and aerial photos available,
( in California I'd be surprised if there weren't an abundance of photos that could be accessed and retreived ) then why couldn't you restore the golf course ?

It sounds like the membership was watching too much TV and caught up in the desire to create a "championship" golf course.

And, what does "ready for a new face" mean ?
Is that the justification for the scalpel ?
Is this what's wrong with all "classic" or "Golden Age" golf courses ?   They need new faces ?

I also don't know how you create a championship golf course that's easy for the high handicap to negotiate, other than through yardage, vis a vis tees.

An error that I believe most clubs make is the assumption that a declining membership is bad.

Less members would seem to indicate less crowding, no tee times, etc., etc. = more desireable, more exclusive.  

Too many clubs try to be all things to all people and get weighted down with ever expanding operational budgets that require a large membership to sustain.   Scaling back, and making the club a golf club with limited rather than grand amenities would seem far more prudent from the perspective of "a golfer".

$ 9,000,000 doesn't sound like an impovershed membership.
What's the return on that investment ?

One would think, that $ 1,000,000 spent on a restoration, with length added where possible and practical, would have made the course unique and attractive, and wouldn't have disrupted normal operations as much.

In a sense, it's unfair to compare the new course to the old course.   The comparison should have been, the new course to the restored course.

That's a hell of a roll of the dice for $ 9,000,000.

Tommy_Naccarato

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2006, 11:51:49 AM »
I too would like to hear Joel's thoughts on Fowler's architecture.

Patrick,
I actually had a post on here lambasting Mark Thawley of Kyle Phillips Design, which I removed. While well deserved, I didn't need to be so scathing, even though it is a prime example of a complete sell-out to any artistic integrity.

To say that there was nothing left to restore, well that's a complete fabrication on Kyle's and Mark's part. From the beginning, this thing has been about an architect disregarding the past while filling his pockets. The right thing to have done was to properly research the course. Hire a Tom MacWood or someone like that. I'll disqualify myself since I'm making this personal, but I will comment on the lack of sensitivity, the complete foolishness of destroying an important part of California Golf history--Herbert Fowler in California. It was one of the last remains of his works here with Crystal Springs being another. (Pisano Pete can comment on that one) Further, if there was nothing left to restore, then how come he rerouted the course? Isn't rerouting an important piece of the history? I think it is. I'll try to call Mindy Bazelin today and see what she thinks of this wonderful new Kyle Phillips/Mark Thawley design.

« Last Edit: January 15, 2006, 11:54:24 AM by Thomas Naccarato »

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2006, 03:50:03 PM »
Tommy:

Couldn't pimping for a complete restoration ALSO be seen as a way for an architect to line one's pockets, if you don't like the architect?

And what is artistic integrity?  Who decides?  I consider myself a preservationist, but I still think the preservationists here ought to document a list of important courses and not just add them one at a time.

I don't know a thing about Del Paso.  Maybe there were a bunch of great old features they could have restored, and if so, then you're right.  Otherwise, the hard truth is that "restoring" a Fowler course would have pretty much no cachet in Sacramento.  It's a good contrast with the public course there which they are trying to "restore" to MacKenzie even though they put a highway through it years ago!

John Kirk

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2006, 03:53:18 PM »
Guys, here's another recent article on the project:

Sacramento Bee/Kevin German
Del Paso course taking shape
The country club has grass once again, just six months from targeted reopening.
By Steve Pajak -- Bee Staff Writer

Thinking green at Del Paso Country Club is about more than money again.

It's about grass. Lush rye in the fairways and shiny bent on the greens.

Almost a year after the private golf club closed its 158 acres to undertake a massive renovation, it looks like a course again.

It's still six months away from its targeted July reopening, but tee pads are defined, greens look puttable, bunkers are filled with sand and gorgeous green grass is waving in the late fall breezes.

"Eight weeks ago, there wasn't a single blade of green grass," head pro Mike Green told 30 members touring the property Saturday.

An unseasonably warm October and November helped make up for a seeding schedule that was two weeks behind.

"It's nice that I don't have to ask people to rely on their imagination anymore," said Green, who has hosted tours since the project's start. "Now that they can see a light at the end of tunnel, morale has been lifted."

It wasn't pretty in the beginning. The felling of nearly 1,000 trees and the removal of the top 8 to 10 inches of soil that was replaced with 4,800 truckloads of sand left Del Paso looking as if it had been hit by a hurricane.

Factor in the dirt moved to add contour and reconfigure 14 holes, and those members who voted 277-128 to change the face of the 90-year-old course might have been feeling a little queasy.

General manager Cliff Hutchinson said the renovation sparked renewed outside interest in the club.

"It's probably the biggest year for new memberships in the past 20 years," said Hutchinson, who said 40 new members have signed on since January. Five members left the club because of the project, Hutchinson estimated.

The cost of membership went from $60,000 to $67,500 in the span. Hutchinson said he expects that figure to increase to between $75,000 and $80,000 as reopening anticipation increases.

"Virtually all of the new members are serious golfers," Hutchinson said. "They're living a lifestyle, not just looking for a social club. We've attracted a new demographic."

Del Paso's decision to renovate was twofold: the course's greens and Bermuda fairways were deteriorating and a muddy mess in wet weather, and its existing layout and maximum yardage of 6,300 yards rendered it obsolete and no longer able to attract serious players or the type of United States Golf Association events it had in the past.

A redesign by local golf-course architect Kyle Phillips incorporated 15 previously undeveloped acres and more yardage options, ranging from 5,300 to 7,000.

It was the decision to remove so many trees that he heard about most. Players will now be able to see the clubhouse from the far corners of the property, something unheard of before.

"We're basically bringing post-World War II tree coverage back," Phillips said. The original site had only about a dozen trees, he said, a planting binge in the 1950s responsible for trees such as walnut and crab apple that added little and were counterproductive to the course's overall health and hid some elegant cork oaks and the creek that meanders through the property.

"What I'm finding is that the people who've never been out there think it's pretty neat, but the people who've played it before, especially the members, they're over the moon," Phillips said. "And that includes several who came out with every intention of not liking it."

An estimated 700 new trees will be planted before the project's completion, Phillips said, many along the new sound walls that moved the property line in 18 feet parallel to Watt and Marconi avenues.

The $9.45 million budgeted for the project will be within a percent or two, Hutchinson said. No assessments were made to members, the repayment stream for the money borrowed to come through new initiations.

It's money well spent on the first Sacramento-area course to feature planted grass - in 1922.

"Every older club in the country is going to face, at some point in time, the issues that we did. All golf courses have a life cycle. It was time."

John Kirk

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2006, 04:08:53 PM »
I respect those here who hate to see the work of a fine architect, whose work can be reviewed here through Ran's fine essays on Westward Ho!, Eastward Ho!, and Cruden Bay, become past history.

However, isn't it a problem that the course is only 6300 yards long?  I find it difficult to believe a course that short can provide a  complete examination of a talented player's skill.  What would the restorationists do about that?  Would you extend the course length where possible and reposition facsimiles of the original hazards?

I'm intrigued by this thread.  I spent 5 years of my life in the Central Valley.  Sacramento is a wonderful place.

Tommy_Naccarato

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2006, 05:14:07 PM »
Tom,
First off, liking Kyle Phillips has nothing to do with it. I've never played a single one of his courses (unless it was an RTJII I wasn't aware he worked on) nor have I ever met him in person. I know Mark Thawley, thanks to being introduced to him at one of your Renaissance Cups; furthering a somewhat friendship in further phone calls. When he did in fact go to work for Kyle, I congratulated him with one request--never sell out. Because at the time, Mark had always wished he could work for you. In fact I remember him clearly telling me it was his greatest wish.

Instead he went to work for Kyle Phillips and then destroyed a Fowler course. To me that is a sell out if there ever was one, and I promised him in an email if he ever did, I was never going to let him forget it. Mark and Kyle worked fervently to oppose any sort of restoration. They wanted meat & potatoes, while convering their bases. The only person doing the research was Mindy Bazelin who called notice to what reason there would be behind destroying a classically built golf course by a classic architect for a course by an architect that had already over-built private clubs in that particualr area. Clubs that were having trouble attracting members and that were also costly to maintain. (This is how it was explained to myself and I'm sure Patrick and Tom MacWood will reiterate)

At that time, Mindy had taken notice to how the course was in severe neglect because a faction of the membership (and I think you know what kind of faction I'm talking about--most every club in America has one.) wanted to rebuild and found this to be the easist way--neglect the main foundation of the club itself thus promoting change. They had very little money to do so even though Del Paso is one of the more affluent and historical clubs in Sacramento. She was opposed at every angle by that faction even when she presented historical research and evidence that the possibility of restoration should be researched and discussed, and only then did Kyle Phillips and his associate research some material--which much of it had been provided by Mindy, only to be used against the possibility of restoration. They only provided the negatives and showed no positives. Meanwhile the maintenance of the club languished to win support of the membership for a complete remodel. I could go on further to some of the instances in which Restoration was surely slighted by a faction more intent on getting what they wanted, then what was right-but its their club.

And what way made Kyle Phillips and Associates the most money? Because I do think that is what the bottom line is here.

But to answer your question, yes. Absolutely. There are many architects today that would surely pimp restoration, yet have not one iota of a clue what to look for, nor where to look for it. They even have their own traveling road show called, Remodel University!  ;)

Quote
And what is artistic integrity?  Who decides?  I consider myself a preservationist, but I still think the preservationists here ought to document a list of important courses and not just add them one at a time.

Artistic integrity may not be the best word, but at the very least it's an apt one--as in certain parties dont have it. Who decides it? Well quite obviously it should start at the club level, realizing what they've got. Recently I played an old Billy Bell Sr. private club I've played more then a dozen times in my life, unfortunately I had never had the opportunty to see it since 1988. (I've learned a lot since then) Little did I realize that a course less then 1000 feet from where I went to high school had a really sensational recreation, albeit somewhat evolved into a Ted Robsinson/David Rainville state "Quarry Hole." I as completely amazed, and much like Del Paso, the club has fallen on hard times as far as membership, mostly tripping over themselves. They are being choked to death by trees, much of it installed in an effort to block out a busy thoroughfare and somewhat crowded site. It too like Del Paso, is a very short golf course. However it is also a tough one that doesn't need a whole lot more added length. It needs more arbor relief with-in the perimeter fo the course itself, while doing it intelligently and thoughtfully in regards to the safety of the course itself. If a Kyle Phillips or a John Harbottle come in there, they are going to demolish, because that's what they do, all while agreeing with the upper-crust of green committee. They are good at doing that and Herbert Fowler nor Billy Bell are going to stand in the way without being bulldozed down.

So no, that doesn't sound like artistic license to me--not in my my world, be it as small and unrealistic as most like to judge it.

About you being a preservationist, well Tom if that's how you see yourself, then by all means yes go ahead and call yourself tht. I don't even know what title to give myself other then casual but overly-opinionated observer! I do agree that a list be made-up of what courses should be restored. Start with public courses like Sharp Park and Griffith Park or Eastmorland or if it had been accomplished properly with-in a somewhat decent budget--Harding Park. God forbid that would have been done for 4 million let alone $24 Million or whatever amount it came out as.

ed_getka

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2006, 05:30:56 PM »
John,
   How long does a course need to be to be a complete examination? Are Pasatiempo or Crystal Downs complete examinations, neither of which are much over 6500 yards?

How is the land at Del Paso, flat, rolling, or what?
"Perimeter-weighted fairways", The best euphemism for containment mounding I've ever heard.

Smokey_Pot_Bunker

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2006, 07:05:21 PM »
In reading this I wonder what all this negativity towards the architects is for.  The vote by the membership was 277 to 128 for the new course, that's over two thirds of the membership voting for the change.  Its their choice, they decided to move forward and update the property they hold to keep up with the times.  Is that so Wrong? Democracy works, but sometimes its painful.

IMHO,in terms of redesign keeping as many natural features, creeks, specimen trees, ponds, etc... as possible from the old to the new course would be a paramount concern followed by creating a course that serves to make the membership feel as if they reached all the golf course goals they set from the beginning of the project.

Now this course by the articles listed above won't be getting it's first play until this summer so who knows how this will all play out.  Certainly it's sad to see something people enjoyed go but that doesn't mean they can't possibly enjoy the new course and if they don't drop they can drop the membership and join somewhere else.

To relate it to baseball Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium are a part of the history of baseball and I don't ever want to see them go, but two of the three stadiums listed above have had some talk around them about being replaced. Time moves on and so did the membership of Del Paso.

Just one man's opinion.



 

Patrick_Mucci

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2006, 11:51:46 PM »

In reading this I wonder what all this negativity towards the architects is for.  

The vote by the membership was 277 to 128 for the new course, that's over two thirds of the membership voting for the change.  

Votes tend to be a product of organization rather than merit.
[/color]

Its their choice,

That's true.
[/color]

they decided to move forward and update the property they hold to keep up with the times.  

That position represents your point of view, others felt the golf course was worth preserving.
[/color]

Is that so Wrong? Democracy works, but sometimes its painful.

Wrong ?   Right ?  Time will tell.
Democracy rarely works well at golf clubs.
I'm curious, what caused members to want to join Del Paso in the first place, and then rip it up and replace it with a strange golf course ?
[/color]

IMHO,in terms of redesign keeping as many natural features, creeks, specimen trees, ponds, etc... as possible from the old to the new course would be a paramount concern followed by creating a course that serves to make the membership feel as if they reached all the golf course goals they set from the beginning of the project.

Keeping natural features seems like a worthy pursuit.
But, I thought Del Paso removed thousands of trees.
[/color]

Now this course by the articles listed above won't be getting it's first play until this summer so who knows how this will all play out.  

Certainly, the lost revenues are painful, but, you're right, only time will tell.
[/color]

Certainly it's sad to see something people enjoyed go but that doesn't mean they can't possibly enjoy the new course

That's true.
[/color]

and if they don't drop they can drop their membership and join somewhere else.

Ah, the old gangplank theory.

The framers of the constitution understood the dangers of democracy, fads and the repudiation of prior values, that's why they made provisions to prevent sudden changes, like a 277 to 128 referendum.
[/color]

To relate it to baseball Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium are a part of the history of baseball and I don't ever want to see them go, but two of the three stadiums listed above have had some talk around them about being replaced.

Time moves on and so did the membership of Del Paso.

You're right.
We should modernize the Mona Lisa, retro-fit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and other great treasures that once disfigured can never be reclaimed.

Your's is nothing more then the convenient mentality of the disposable society.

You may have had something that couldn't be replaced.

Time will tell what you accomplished by eradicating it.
[/color]

Just one man's opinion.



 

« Last Edit: January 15, 2006, 11:52:57 PM by Patrick_Mucci »

Jim Nugent

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2006, 02:43:20 AM »
A few questions.  Has anyone who posted here seen the new course or walked it?  Have you seen the new design?  If not, maybe it's premature to judge the final result.

Pat -- was the old Del Paso really comparable to the Mona Lisa?  That would make it one of the several top classic courses in the world.  Also, doesn't the club have a set of rules that determine how/if the course can be changed?  It is the responsibility of anyone joining to know those rules.  If a 2/3rds majority vote is not a valid in your mind, what is?    

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2006, 03:24:48 AM »
I respect those here who hate to see the work of a fine architect, whose work can be reviewed here through Ran's fine essays on Westward Ho!, Eastward Ho!, and Cruden Bay, become past history.

However, isn't it a problem that the course is only 6300 yards long?  I find it difficult to believe a course that short can provide a  complete examination of a talented player's skill.  What would the restorationists do about that?  Would you extend the course length where possible and reposition facsimiles of the original hazards?

I'm intrigued by this thread.  I spent 5 years of my life in the Central Valley.  Sacramento is a wonderful place.

John

Why do you think a 6300 yard course can't be a complete examination of skill?  

Ciao

Sean  
New plays planned for 2024: Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Blackmoor, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend & Alnmouth

ForkaB

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2006, 04:10:50 AM »

The framers of the constitution understood the dangers of democracy, fads and the repudiation of prior values, that's why they made provisions to prevent sudden changes, like a 277 to 128 referendum

Pat

The framers allowed the constituion to be changed through democracy--it's called the amendment process.  I would be very surprised if Del Paso did not have such a provision in their constituion--all the golf clubs I have belonged to have.  Usually they have a 2/3 majority provision.  Del Paso met this criterion with its 277-128 vote.

The whole purpose of this sort of process is to allow for "the repudiation of prior values."  Sometimes the result is good (e.g. the abolition of slavery) sometimes maybe not (Prohibition).  As Thomas Jefferson once said, in effect:  "'Prior values' sometimes suck."

If you were on the committee at Muirfield in the early 20th century and some young whippersnapper had come to you and said, in effect:

"Lord Mucci, Sir.  I think we should bulldoze our links and hire this Colt fellow from London to create a completely new course.  Yes, I know we have had many successful championships here and I know that our current track is one of Old Tom Morris' best works, but times have changed, My Lord......"

What would you have responded, and to what effect if your view had prevailed?

Thanks in advance. :)

Tommy_Naccarato

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2006, 05:27:51 AM »
Carmen,
Sounds like you may have had something to do with Kyle on this. Why don't you come clean if that's the case. And while your at it, why not explain to us a little bit about Herbert Fowler architecture. Heck, you may have learned a thing or two while out there shaping it for Kyle and I'm sure he's an authority on Fowleras well. You both probably know more about him then me!

Jim,
The question isn't about the quality of Kyle Phillip's work. It was the intent of what Kyle Phillips and his associate were doing. As I have said before and if you read it clearly, I have NOT seen the course, but have come acoss a lot of articles on the course without hardly even looking. It was a Herbert Fowler design. That fact along with the history of it being one of the more affluent classic clubs in Northern-Central California is reason enough to explore all avenues. Those avenues were for the most part ignored.

This is the last I'm going to post on Del Paso. It's dead and gone to me, if it ever even really existed. I'm sure the course had evolved into a horrible mess. Especially in the last years before Kyle and his associate directed the first blade. That's how they got it done and that's the way many manufacturers of golf courses do it. They get it done, get out and go on to the next one.

But never confuse these people with what a Bill Coore and his Boys, Gil Hanse & Jim Wagner, Tom Doak and the entire Ren Team, Mike DeVries and many others who make it a passion, that is anything but a product.

Smokey_Pot_Bunker

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2006, 10:03:44 AM »
Tommy,

While I have worked with (not for) Kyle in the past (Morgan Creek) I never moved a a cubic yard of dirt at Del Paso.  I had the privilege of being able to walk this course back in early November with my friend Mark Thawley.  Without getting into a heated argument I will spell out a couple of facts about me.  I don't know much if anything about Mr. Fowler's work and I never stated that I did.  I never have played a Fowler course so I could not begin to feel one way or another about his work.

I'm sure the course before the membership voted to redesign had a number of fantastic features and I would loved to have played it but, I think Kyle and Mark's work at Del Paso will be looked on positvely by the people who play it in the future.

Tommy, It upset's me that a person who has an incredible passion for the game of golf that you certainly have can assume that they (Kyle and Mark) have no passion for golf, the history of it, and that all they are concerned about is getting done with one so they can move onto the next one.

In what Mark described to me when we walked the site the trees that sat on the site they removed for a number of reasons. Maintenance, non-native, and the hiding of better looking specimen trees.  The Bunkers will have high sand flashes and a number of fairways will be connected to one another and the green complexes as far as Mark told me will be tightly mowed in making interesting recovery shots.

By the way the Leaning Tower of Pisa would NOT be standing today if it wasn't for modern engineering.  
   
I have a couple of pictures from the site and I'll try and figure out how to post them.  

Tommy_Naccarato

Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2006, 12:44:37 PM »
Carmen,
I said I was not going to post more, so I'm breaking my word.

Once again, I once considered Mark and myself to be friendly. I've partied with him at a Renaissance Cup once with Uncle George Bahto, Kye Goalby, Bruce Hepner, Jim Urbina, Brian Schneider and a host of others until around 4:00am, each of us taking our turns on top of our proverbial soap boxes talking about how much the game was being dumbed down; how certain courses and clubs thoughout the country treated their classic courses with incessant tree planting, removing features that dictated some of the best shapings in the game. I consider it one of the best, most interesting and fun discussions in my golfing lifetime. Ask Mark yourself. He'll remember it clearly. He knows EXACTLY how he has changed since then. I just can't think of a better term then the word, "selling out." I warned him about it when he went to work for Kyle and I haven't heard from him since. Do you see any pattern there?

I ask: Look what George Bahto, Bruce Hepner, Brian Schneider, Kye Goalby and Jim Urbina have done with their careers. They have PRESERVED (a DOAK word) more courses, re-establishing their original intent and providing a glimsp of just how GREAT that type of golf once was. It has further helped them become EXCEPTIONAL golf designers, builders in their own right.

That was what Mark once aspired to be. He told me this himself back in the days when he was hungry to go to work--fresh out of college. But my how things change when the you lose your principles and your golfing soul. I don't discount Mark's abilities one iota. He had his chance to learn. Del Paso would have probably been the best opportunity, and I'm sure Cal Club will further his design resume--but lets see how he handles a pretty   good MacKenzie which I do in fact know a lot about. I'll have my magnifying glass on for this one because I do know the course and there is plenty of material from the past from which to judge it by.

I can only hope for the best--but am bracing myself for the loss of more MacKezie features from that course. I'm sure a whole slew of others will be looking just the same as me.

John Kirk

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Fowler's Del Paso - update
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2006, 01:12:58 PM »
Both Ed and Sean asked me why I thought 6300 yards is too short for a complete examination.  Ed used Pasatiempo and Crystal Downs as examples of universally recognized great 6500 yard courses.  Pacific Dunes is 6600 yards.  I find all three difficult to score well on.

The old adage states "The course makes you use every club in the bag."  Thinking along those lines, a complete examination of one's skills should include long, medium, and short approach shots.  If I'm hitting too many short irons and too few long irons into greens, then it's too short.

I remember my round at Crystal Downs last August well.  I was hitting it great that day, putted horribly and fell apart at the end.  Here were my approach shots that day:

10 - PW
11 - 4-iron
12 - 8-iron ? (? means not sure)
13 - 5-iron ?
14 - 9-iron
15 - PW (laid back)
16 - PW
17 - PW
18 - 8-iron
 1 - 3-iron
 2 - 7-iron
 3 - 5-iron
 4 - 5-iron
 5 - PW
 6 - gap wedge
 7 - gap wedge
 8 - 8-iron (miss-hit drive, though)
 9 - 6-iron

I hit every iron in the bag, except the sand wedge.  I used wedge 7 times.  I'm surprised by this exercise.  At the time, my admiration for the course was growing, but I still felt I had a lot of short approaches.  It's short alright, but the course compelled me to use my mid-irons and long-irons frequently.  Brilliant.

Back to the subject.  I still think 6300 yards is very short for a complete examination.  However, if you look at the aerial, the original design is tree-lined, and may have forced the player to lay back on several drives, thus adding length to the approaches.  Not my favorite method, but effective nonetheless.

The pre-existing Fowler design was par-72, rating 70.6/122.  To generalize, the only way I think a course that short would offer enough mid- and long-iron approaches would be to have some long par-3s and reachable par-4s and par-5s.

The other big difference, when comparing Del Paso to Pasatiempo or Crystal Downs is the topography.  Pasa and Crystal are hilly, and Del Paso is on the valley floor.  I think it would be a lot easier to make a course "play long" if the hilly terrain can be exploited to do so.

That's an awful long answer.

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