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Forrest Richardson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Iím about to get my wish
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2003, 02:45:57 AM »
A golf course takes a few years of planning, usually. Sometimes even more. This is not all plans or drawing. It involves site visits, walking the land, making tough decisions, meetings to push ideas and envelopes. It involves personality, tenacity and psychology. It involves reading: not only maps, but people and the tone of the project.

Then you must decide who will build the course -- and how. These also are not drawing or plans issues.

Then there is presenting the idea and getting that final buy-off of cost and approach. Still not drawing or plans -- and still not construction.

(I have left out entitlements: permits, environmental, zoning, etc., as have I left out the site selection and routing. Often these last two tasks take a year or more.)

There is engineering. Although most courses won't fall down, I did once heard about one that did. Drainage, safety and other logistics are crucial (usually).

Magic happens in the above. It also happens in drawing plans and sketches. And, yes of course, it happens in the field once the people who will convene to build the course show up with equipment.

But if you add it up -- all the decisions, touch choices, flowing rivers of wisdom, questioning, tweaking, engineering, creativity, and muster -- you will see that most (not all) golf courses have been influenced mostly by the happenings that are not construction, per se.

Please gentlemen -- get no idea that I de-value ideas and happenstance in the field. They are magic, to be sure. But to rely on them so heavily, and to believe this is where (most) great golf courses are born, is not reality.

Perhaps this will help: For every minute Jonathan spends on a dozer or watching a dozer, several minutes will have been spent well before these moments determining where, how and when the dozer even came to be at that spot. I think Jonathan knows this as he has obviously spent a lot of time in the field already and construction hasn't even begun. Of course, he also knows the fours years of approvals has been part of the picture.

And, yes also, greens and their surrounds are heavily directed and influenced in the field. But consider a green for a moment. Again, it is not just the surface or the elevational differences of building that has made it so. The green has been routed to be there, at the end of a par-3, -4, or -5 (or for a few who have posted on this site, a -6). It's backdrop is a vista, a canopy of trees, or a territorial view across some other part of the course. It has already been sited to take advantage of the terrain and the slopes and it has also been drained on paper by a series of decisions that will make it live a long life, hopefully.

Then it is shaped -- after making sure the soils being used are acceptable. The shaping happens in a few days. Perhaps 2-3. In hours? About 20. How much of that 20 is the "magic" of dozer change and field-arm waving? Depends. Maybe half, but I doubt it. Probably more like 25%, or just 5-6 hours. Again, not all courses are brought into the world equal. And, to be sure, some architects DO rely heavily on the field work, placing it not only above some other decisions, but in the greatest category of all.

All the points Tony makes are good. Shaping work and the magic thereupon is a terrific part of what we do -- but it pales in percentage to all the other stars that must line up for a course to be truly great.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
ó Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
    www.golfgroupltd.com
    www.golframes.com

Jonathan Cummings

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Iím about to get my wish
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2003, 06:34:01 AM »
Good posts both Tony and Forrest.  Forrest - your field-to-planning ratios are intriguing and probably useful in costing out a job.  My sense from the Cd'A project is that a fair amount of the time is spent just jumping hurtles not related to the design rather than spending energy in architectural and engineering planning.  And these hurtles are jumped at a maddening snail's pace!  Mike's project wanted an adjoining piece of land that Dana said would enhance the plan.  It was a farm owned by an older gentleman who didn't want to sell.  They literally waited for the guy to go into a retirement home and bought the farm from the farmer's children who gained power-of-attorney!

Forrest, my sense is that you represent a breed of younger architects forced by today's course building environment to confront many more issues than were once necessary.  This requires you put in much more time on the front end for all the reasons you cite.  Some of this is forced on you, but some of it is also your professional approach.  I've talked to Pete Dye and Brad Klein has told me stories of working with Pete.  I'll bet his planning-to-field rations are the inverse of yours, although I'll admit that Pete's team does much of his planning behind the scenes without him knowing it.  Pete once started a talk I attended by saying, "I'm just a farmer".  That speaks volumes as to his focus when building a course.

JC
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Iím about to get my wish
« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2003, 07:13:18 AM »
A lot of discussion for people who basically agree, no?

To second Forrest's opinion, those magic happenstances usually happen after the bulk of the decisions have been made via routing, (to me, moving a green 50 feet to use a feature doesn't constitute a routing change) engineering, (before moving that green to build a Punchbowl Green, double check whether the valley you are using drains 7000 acres) and surveying - Are we even on the property?, or environmental reasons, "That area is a no touch zone, as it is potential habitat".

I'm not knocking field work, but you could be in the field all job, and not realize SOME of the things you can realize on plan.  Sooner or later, you have to look at big picture stuff, like off site drainage entering your property, and calculate, not go by feel, the size of drains, etc.

Perhaps some architects let engineers do that, but doesn't that constitute leaving some of the design to others as much as not showing up in the field?

I agree the final artistry and strategy come only in the field, and as time goes on, do less plans, as permit conditions allow, leaving more detail - especially around the greens - to the field.  

Jonathan,  Don't believe everything Pete says in a speech.  In truth, he is a good golf course engineer.  He is self effacing and a great marketeer.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Forrest Richardson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Iím about to get my wish
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2003, 07:21:31 AM »
Jonathan -- Very few golf courses are designed by just one person. "Design", of course, being a broad term that encompasses all of the things that are so crucial to the final product.

Although I much rather focus on just the "design" you and I and everyone appreciates in the skin of the finished product, that is not the way it usually happens. Nor, would it generate projects that could live.

Here is the distinction: Golf used to happen where it occurred naturally and was destined to belong. Now that rarely occurs and the hurdles to get it to live and grow and work in these new landspaces is part of the game (double meaning). It would be nice if sites were all natural and conducive -- but they are not any longer. Bandon was the old way. It's terrific. Rustic Canyon was mostly the old way. Also terrific. But there are loads of really interesting courses that have brought golf to parts of the world where golf was not before and where golf serves the population. The resort you are involved with is one such example. Not linksland, dunesland or wind swept coast --I assume.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
ó Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
    www.golfgroupltd.com
    www.golframes.com

TEPaul

Re: Iím about to get my wish
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2003, 08:00:40 AM »
Forrest:

It seems to me given all this discussion about how anyone goes about building a golf course is that there are many ways to go about it and many different end results.

None of us on here should believe there is some basically pat formula involved in every project although certainly there're basically a number of standard problems to solve in the building of any golf course.

A company such as Coore and Crenshaw believe their modus operandi is quite different than other companies and certainly don't mind saying so to potential clients. They have said in no uncertain terms that interpreting on the land is what they prefer to do as much as they possibly can given some of the limitations today.

They've said if the limitations, permitting, planning drawing etc, etc becomes too extenisive they prefer not to get into that type of project. They've said they really aren't very good at that super upfront detailed modus operandi and don't like it.

Even some companies such as Fream have said that this kind of modus operandi proves that a company such as C&C are really no more than course designer and not really architects. I couldn't believe when I was told that by a Fream representative. One of the most bullshit and unprofessional remarks I've ever heard in golf course building!

Companies such as Fazio, probably Rees Jones, Nicklaus, Palmer and definitley Hurzdan and Fry offer their clients far more soup to nuts planning and control on everything one could think of apparently.

The latter very much appears to appeal to some clients probably for obvious reasons and to other clients the more "in the field" type of creation obviously appeals to other types of clients given various sites, visions, whatever. Coore talks about these basic distinctions all the time from a variety of angles, so he clearly isn't blowing smoke on the subject.

This entire subject which to me very much includes restorations, only proves to me the very real truism that some people oddly believe which is if you hire any architect and tell him what you want they'll produce the same product. A greater fallacy I cannot imagine!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Iím about to get my wish
« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2003, 08:28:10 AM »
TEPaul -- There is definately no "pat formula", but there is indeed a formula that involves, most always, the many tasks/phases I brought up in my very long post above. Your points are very good. Restoration/rennovation is a definate exception. Here almost all great decisions can be made in the field with only nominal paper plans...usually.

One follow-up: I doubt there are any golf architects who would not embrace the C&C philosophy of working with the land and doing on-site shaping along with whatever was done on paper. The factors involved with this approach are: (1) site complexity (those some may not want to pursue due to its complexity); (2) physical factors (drainage, engineering, environmental); and (3) budget.

Budget may need some explanation. At Rustic Canyon, for example, the architects literally built the course and it was, for the most part, a very "easy" site -- no major hurdles or complexities. This worked great, and I believe the budget was quite low and efficient. We are about to start a project in Mexico that is similar -- at least in the fact that there will be minimal drawings and lots of hand work and brainpower pushing sand around the existing dunes. BUT...at a site or project type where it is NOT condicive to make most of the shaping decisions in the field (which is likely 95% of the courses being built today) there is a budget line item required to work in such a manner. Good? Bad? makes no difference. It's simply a budget matter and one the project needs to support.

I sometimes get the feeling that a lot, not all -- but a lot -- of comparisons and perceptions on GCA are looked at up against the classic and masterful work of the past. This is fine. We need to embrace our roots in golf. But we also need to embrace the change in golf that is not all about the past, but finding portholes through which the young can be brought into the game -- still with a link to the past -- and through which they can become as obsessed as we were when we first picked up a club. Not all ourses can or should be built where they may have only been considered in 1926. This is because kids in the Colorado pines need a course. And in the tropics, deserts, etc.

There are good and bad versions of each of these types of shaping, whether they occured in the field, or on paper:

1. Nearly-natural occurring holes, found in nature
2. Minimal shaping efforts using what exists as a platform
3. Carving and scuplting from uninteresting land
3. Morphism of land by massive or nearly massive efforts

In 1 and 2 you can do most of the work in the field and "get away with it", so to speak.

In 3 you can do most of the work in the field, but someone will pay if there is no scheme or plan.

In 4 you really can't do most of the work in the field. I suppose you might try, but good luck to all!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
ó Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
    www.golfgroupltd.com
    www.golframes.com

Tony Ristola

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Iím about to get my wish
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2003, 09:32:23 AM »
Forrest:  But in any of these methods...wouldn't it be best to have someone calling the shots in the field?  Someone with authority following construction closely?  You never know when opportunities will arise as they don't present themselves according to a schedule...or specifically during a rare visit by the architect to the site.  Perhaps it's not cost effective for some, but isn't close monitoring beneficial for the end product?  

Sure a heavily graded and engineered project would have to stick closely to design solutions (some are set in stone) but with all the grading...aren't there decisions to be made and opportunities to be found...strategic...aesthetic?  The same with a site which requires minimal engineering and grading?  Opportunities arise for both and if plans are left to the contractor with little input from someone withthe authority to make alterations in the field...the project could be missing out on opportunities to better the project.  

I just think that time on-site by someone with authority to call shots during construction can yield a better project, regardless of method. This enables...seeking and filtering ideas and opportunities...monitoring and communicating the design intent.  The more of this the better.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

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