This discussion group is best enjoyed using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Steve_ Shaffer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« on: June 14, 2004, 02:47:59 PM »
Has he been in touch with Tom Paul and Wayne Morrison?
"Some of us worship in churches, some in synagogues, some on golf courses ... "  Adlai Stevenson
Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone: "We're bigger than US Steel."
Ben Hogan “The most important shot in golf is the next one”

Jimmy Muratt

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2004, 03:00:17 PM »
This is a great article and really details the history and evolution of the course.  Ron details the work done by Seth Raynor and what remains today.  Here is the text:

Course Critic

by:  Ron Whitten

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.

 One of the questions of golf design that had long nagged me was why William S. Flynn, when he totally remodeled Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in 1929-1930, retained its Redan hole, now the par-3 seventh. It's certainly a great one-shotter, with the green sloping from front to back and right to left. But it wasn't a hole in Flynn's usual repertoire. It was built in 1917 by Seth Raynor, who reproduced the trademark par 3 on nearly every design he and his mentor/partner C.B. Macdonald ever did. I can't think of another William Flynn course that features a Redan green. That didn't seem to be Flynn's style. So why did he keep it?

A quick history lesson is in order. The original 12-hole course of Shinnecock Hills was designed in 1891 by Willie Davis, a Brit who had emigrated to Montreal in 1890 and was summoned to Long Island by Shinnecock's founders. Shinnecock's club history, which credits the original design to young Willie Dunn, has it wrong. Willie Dunn was brought in after Davis moved on to lay out Newport (R.I.) Country Club in 1894. Dunn remodeled and expanded the original course to an 18-hole layout in 1895. (Dunn had previously added a nine-hole ladies course, called the Red Course.) As the New York Times reported on March 8, 1896, "After Willie Davis went to Newport, Willie Dunn, one of the most celebrated Scotch professionals that has ever come to America, was secured to take charge of the grounds, and a great deal of the excellence which they possess today, as well as some of their most characteristic features, are due to Willie Dunn's ideas."

(An aside here, relevant since Shinnecock Hills is hosting the 2004 U.S. Open. Dunn had won a four-man professional match-play event at New York's St. Andrews Golf Club in 1894, defeating, of all people, Willie Davis in the first round and Willie Campbell in the finals. Dunn always contended that made him America's first "national champion" and he had a gold medal from that victory proclaiming him as such. But the U.S. Golf Association wasn't formed until the following year, and it started the tournament to determine a national champion, the United States Open, that fall. Dunn finished second in that inaugural event, the closest he came to a real U.S. Open title. Shinnecock Hills hosted its first U.S. Open the very next year, on its Willie Dunn redesigned course. Dunn finished 12th, but he wasn't the first designer to play the U.S. Open on a course of his design. Willie Davis was, having played in the 1895 event on his own Newport Country Club design.)

Back to the evolution of Shinnecock. Charles Blair Macdonald unveiled his National Golf Links next door to Shinnecock in 1911, and the two clubs had a semi-comfortable relationship for a few years following that, even sharing a pro-greenkeeper during World War I. In 1916, Macdonald (a Shinnecock member) and his associate Seth Raynor were hired to remodel Shinnecock, but since C.B. doesn't list the course in his grand book, Scotland's Gift - Golf's, as one of the 17 courses he designed in his career, we can assume that Raynor did most, if not all, of the redesign. (Raynor, by the way, had been a 17-year-old grunt carrying rods and chains for his father David when the latter first surveyed Shinnecock during construction of its original 12 holes.)

Raynor's job was to realign the course to eliminate several holes bisected by the Long Island Railroad. He expanded the course to the northwest, closer still to National, and added his (and Macdonald's) four pet par 3s, the Short, Eden, Biarritz and Redan, as well as a version of St. Andrew's famous Road Hole, all holes they invariably installed on every one of their designs. The result was a quaint course of just 6,108 yards, par 70, a pleasant companion to National Golf Links across the fence.

But in 1928, Suffolk County announced it would route the new Sunshine Highway (now Route 27) right through the southern holes of Shinnecock. Faced with the prospect of holes bisected by a steady stream of automobiles, club president Lucien Tyng bought new land for replacement holes and hired William S. Flynn to design a new Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. That course opened July 1, 1931, on land still owned by Tyng. He didn't sell it to the club until 1948, for $20,000.

Flynn's design is the course that exists today, with a few modifications. He retained only three holes from the Raynor design, the present third, seventh and ninth. (He also followed existing corridors in designing the first, second and eighth, but made different holes of them.) The third is a fine, strong par 4, only slightly rebunkered by Flynn by the addition of carry-bunkers off the tee. The ninth, the least beloved hole on an otherwise universally-admired U.S. Open course, was a strange one to retain, with its roller coaster fairway and its half-blind green perched 40 feet above the landing area. But it was originally the 18th, on both the Raynor layout and the Flynn plan (the nines were switched in the early 1930s), so we can assume club members insisted the course finish right in the shadow of their 1893 Stanford White-designed clubhouse. The ninth, too, was rebunkered by Flynn. As for the Redan hole, he filled in a long strip bunker behind the green, but otherwise left the hole intact.

The proof is in Flynn's sixth hole at Shinnecock Hills, a long dogleg-right par 4 with alternate fairways and a pond in a hollow well short of the green. That hole is an unabashed imitation of the classic "Channel Hole" at Lido Golf Club, the ill-fated 1917 Macdonald & Raynor design that didn't survive World War II. Some say that course was their greatest effort. It certainly was a great engineering feat, built on sand dunes pumped from Reynolds Channel onto a barrier island of the Atlantic, and featuring a great combination of imitation holes and bold originals. The Channel, one of those originals, was the 505-yard par-5 fourth, proclaimed by Macdonald as "the greatest two-shot hole in the world." It had a boomerang fairway to the left, and an alternate, narrow, gambling fairway dead ahead, both guarded by tidal lagoons.

On Shinnecock's sixth, except for a retention pond well short of the green, Flynn substituted sand dunes for the lagoons of the original, but otherwise his design, and the options of play, are clearly copies of the Macdonald & Raynor Channel Hole, although he always intended it as a long par 4. Unfortunately, the dunes were subsequently grassed over (probably during World War II, when maintenance was minimal, since a 1938 aerial still shows the dunes), and more conventional bunkers now delineate the optional routes. But it's still a remarkable golf hole. (All the more remarkable: photos of Shinnecock's sixth taken soon after completion even show a beach bunker extending across the front of the pond, a design feature not seen again in American golf architecture until the 1980s.)

Until I closely studied Shinnecock Hills, I had no idea that Flynn admired Macdonald & Raynor. I can find nothing written by Flynn that praises their work. I can find no other course of his design where he consciously copied any their ideas. But he clearly did so at Shinnecock, perhaps because he was remodeling one of their courses and felt a slight obligation to honor their work. Whatever the reason, Shinnecock Hills is better for his decision to retain the Redan hole, and for his idea to fashion the sixth hole into a tribute to what may well be the most provocative Macdonald & Raynor's hole of all time.

(One last aside. The present Lido Golf Club is a Trent Jones design of the 1950s, on land near, but not atop, the original Lido. On that design, Trent also fashioned a version of the Channel Hole. It says a great deal about the esteem with which architects hold both C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor that both Flynn and Trent Jones would consciously copy an otherwise extinct Macdonald & Raynor concept.)


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2004, 03:14:10 PM »
A terrific piece by Whitten. Congrats Ron. I hope you will do more like it.

Makes me want to re-up my Golf Digest subscription.

Heck, it's so so good that about half way through I wondered if I wasn't reading a GCA post by Wayne or Tom. ;)



  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2004, 03:17:28 PM »
The wildest read on Golf Digest's web site is this whopper on
Trump and his desire to get a U.S. Open (check out the pic
of Tom Fazio mock-cutting Trump's infamous 'do):

egofest within

Dan Kelly

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2004, 03:21:46 PM »
The ninth, the least beloved hole on an otherwise universally-admired U.S. Open course, was a strange one to retain, with its roller coaster fairway and its half-blind green perched 40 feet above the landing area.

Really? The least beloved hole on an otherwise universally admired course?

If so: Why?
"There's no money in doing less." -- Joe Hancock, 11/25/2010
"Rankings are silly and subjective..." -- Tom Doak, 3/12/2016


Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2004, 03:57:28 PM »

Thank you for thinking of Tom and I while you were reading the Shinnecock piece by Ron Whitten.  But if Tommy and I wrote that piece, we would not have wondered so much about why Flynn kept a Redan.  I'm not at all certain it is an original M/R Redan, more likely Flynn's adaptation especially considering the Flynn tee that makes that hole play far superior--too bad the club went back to using the M/R tee.  In addition, the bunkering is a lot different than Mr. Whitten states. Flynn built a number of Redans as well as reverse Redans.  

I wouldn't call the 6th at Shinnecock a clear copy of the Channel Hole at Lido.  Unless all alternate fairway holes are considered clear copies.  Maybe Paul Turner, Tommy Naccarato, Tom MacWood, or someone knows when the first alternate fairway hole was built.  Flynn's design of the 6th at Shinnecock Hills postdates and reminds us of his design for a reverse channel hole long par 4 at Opa Locka in Florida (there's an airport on the site now) which was built for Curtiss (of aviation fame) but folded soon after completion as a result of the land bubble bursting in FL and the 1926 hurricane.  

Most everything else Mr. Whitten wrote was not only quite good but quite accurate--except the 9th hole comment--I agree with you Jimmy.  Maybe it is his least favorite hole but I don't think it comes close to universal agreement there.  I'm hard pressed to think of a least beloved hole.  I think there are 18 great holes in the golf course with a routing iteration that flows really well.  I know Jim Finegan thinks the approach shot into 9 a great one.  The Flynn bunkers built into the hillside on this hole are reminiscent of Flynn bunkers on other courses such as Brookline and Pine Valley and add great color and texture to the hole.  The M/R version had no bunkers near the green.


Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2004, 04:35:56 PM »

What does worthy of a U.S. Open mean?

Has Mr. Whitten cutback on his specualting this year?


Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2004, 10:29:41 AM »
Although William Flynn may've had real admiration for Macdonald and Raynor and some of their holes there's no real reason to think that was why he retained some of their holes at Shinnecock!

If one carefully reads David Goddard's excellent chronicle of the evolution of Shinnecock's course(s) in the 1927 to 1932 time period (Goddard took some of his facts from Hugh Alison's review for Shinnecock of Flynn's preconstruction design plans) it's fairly plain to see there was probably another very functional reason for the retention of some of the Macdonald/Raynor holes---but only for a time in their preexisting form.

Basically Flynn built 12 new and original holes on land that was purchased in 1927 by Lucien Tyng in three lots or sections that include what is now the entire back nine (with the exception of present #18 which was not a hole but was on the club's property) and holes #4,5,6.

Initially, the new Flynn plan called for three nines retaining some of the old Macdonald/Raynor holes basically as one of the nines south and west of the clubhouse. Flynn's initial Shinnecock design blueprint iterations show not an 18 hole course but three nine hole iterations that were color coded as "nines". (Some of the proposed holes on one iteration were on the land to the north and east of #12, #13 and #15) and were not used as that land was not purchased (Alison's report labeled those holes as not on the best land).

For whatever reason----Goddard speculates due to maintenance costs or perhaps the fact that Rte 27 was not built exactly where Tyng thought it might be---=most of those Macdonald/Raynor holes were let go in favor of only 18 holes at Shinnecock.

But the real reason those six Macdonald/Raynor holes (#1,2,3,7,8,9) were somewhat reused (in landform use and partial green-site reuse) was the club was trying to keep 18 holes in play continuously with Flynn's new original 12! That is until Flynn came back in 1931 and redesigned in one way or another those six Macd/Raynor holes. (As they were being redesigned the club may have used some of the other Macdonald/Raynor holes to the south of the clubhouse during that one year 1931-32 as those holes were given up in 1932 when Flynn's redesign of the Macd/Raynor holes #1,2,3,7,8,9 came back into play after redesign)!

So it looks to me like the retention and partial reuse of app. six of the Macd/Raynor holes (#1,2,3,7,8,9) had more to do with routing considerations that included a continuous use of 18 holes in play at all times at a reasonable place than anything else.

Otherwise, I think Ron Whitten did a excellent job of research and writing of that Shinnecock article with one glaring exception---Flynn redans!! Ron says he's not aware of Flynn doing any redan holes. Flynn redan holes are all over the place---although they're very much Flynn's interpretations of the redan. He did reverse redans, including a good downhill reverse redan at Lehigh, two at Philly C.C and an excellent one at HVGC. Even Lancaster's #8 is a high mild reverse redan iteration. Flynn's HVGC redan (#3) is actually quite similar to Shinnecock's #7, in one way, as it's pretty hard to get a ball running up properly on its front slope!

And I agree with what Wayne said about Shinnecock's #6 being a copy of the famous Lido Channel hole. If it is it's a sort of loose interpretation. But the channel hole he did at NLE Opa Locha in Florida was a very exact copy of the Lido Channel hole, only a mirror image with the high risk tee shot out to the left.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2004, 10:37:24 AM by TEPaul »


Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2004, 08:35:06 PM »
Wayne & TE
When it was first introduced in 1930, the Pond Hole (#6) was compared to the Channel Hole. What is interesting--especially within the discussion of  the relative merits of #9 and #18 as a home hole--the Pond Hole was at that time the 10th hole.

The current 10th was the 1st hole, followed by the remainder of the back nine (then the front) until you got to the current 17th (at that time the 8th). From there the routing changed to the current 5th (then the 9th), the 6th (10th), followed by the 4th (11th), the 18th (12th), 1st (13th), 2nd (14th), 3rd (15th), 7th (16th), 8th (17th) and finishing with the 9th--the Macdonald/Raynor finish.

Regarding the first alternate fairway....I'll have to think about that one. It may be Macdonald at Lido....I'd say the genesis of the alternate route can be traced back to the Old course.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2004, 06:56:00 AM by Tom MacWood »


Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2004, 04:54:52 AM »
Scott Burroughs,

Donald Trump is very bright, hard working, and a visionary of sorts, but, just because his pockets are lined with gold, doesn't mean he sings well in the shower too.

But, he's a known achiever, against all odds, so I wouldn't take his dream or vision off the tote boards yet.

Anything is possible.

TEPaul & Wayne Morrisson,

Your work on Flynn continues to be exceptional, keep it up.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2004, 04:55:53 AM by Patrick_Mucci »


Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2004, 07:44:48 AM »
Tom MacWood:

It's sort of early and so I'm not sure I'm following your post #8.

The present #6 hole was the 10th hole on Flynn's new 12 hole course (the Flynn original holes that when opened were considered a separate 12 hole course). Once you played those holes you could switch over to six of the old Macdonald/Raynor holes that were below the clubhouse to the south. For about a year 1930-1931 this was a "temporary" course (I have the card here). The final six holes on that temporary course were listed as;

13-Old 4th-356yd par 4-Eastward Ho
14-Old 5th-381yd par 4-Shinnecock
15-Old 6th-200yd par 3-Biarritz
16-old 7th-461yd par 5-Emabankment
17-old 10th-380 par 4-Lowlands
18-11th (Eden) tee to 2nd (Montauk) green-196yd par 3

This temporary course (routing) was obviously being used because at that time Flynn was redesigning present holes #1,2,3,7,8,9 from the old Macdonald/Raynor course (#1,12,13,14,15,18).
« Last Edit: June 16, 2004, 07:50:05 AM by TEPaul »


Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2004, 07:59:17 AM »
That makes perfect sense....allowing for the tweeking of the 6 Raynor/Macd holes without interupting play.


Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2004, 08:34:44 AM »
Tom MacWood;

1930-1931 must have been an interesting year for golfers at Shinnecock. Some were still playing the old Macdonald/Raynor course in its original configuration while other golfers coming off Flynn's new 12 hole course were stepping into those six Macdonald/Raynor holes used to make up the "Temporary" course. There were temporary club rules that anyone playing the "temporary" course had to give way to anyone playing the original Macdonad/Raynor configuration.

When you start to think about this you can begin to see that in that year 1930-1931 when Flynn was redesigning those six Macdonald/Raynor holes (he began in the fall of 1930) there was no necessary reason for him to leave them as they were unless he thought they worked well for his new Shinnecock course. This very much brings into question the way the redan is today. Did he leave that green as it was or did he redesign and rebuild it? It's sort of hard to say at this point (although we think we can figure it out)  but if the contour lines on the original topos Flynn was using (that might have included the elevations on the original MacD/Raynor redan) it sort of looks to us like he redesigned and rebuilt that green as the elevations on it today look higher than that original topo seem to show (with the Macd/Raynor redan)!

At this point it looks to me like the hole that may be the most retained in design was #3 (although it was rebunkered, reteed and the green was possibly worked with some). The same for present #9--the old #18. These whole course routing and design topo maps we have are really fascinating but what we don't have is Flynn's usual hole by hole drawings. If we had those (as we do with so many of his other courses) with the detailed "construction instructions" on them answering all this about what exactly was retained and what exactly was redesigned in detail would be a piece of cake!
« Last Edit: June 16, 2004, 08:40:36 AM by TEPaul »


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2004, 09:10:00 AM »
Tom M and Tom P, thank you for this great thread. lives up to its potential when the posts contribute this kind of insight. Fascinating stuff.

Matt Frey, PGA

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2015, 01:27:58 PM »
I just read this for the first time...very good, although it's an old post, I thought it would be good to share again.

I haven't played Shinnecock myself, but very much enjoy playing Raynor designs and Flynn designs (who doesn't?) and found this very interesting.


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2015, 02:03:10 PM »

Short answer, Yes.   

Although you asked the question originally over 10 years ago.  ;)

Shinnecock has recently restored to the original William Flynn plans and yes, the two of them were involved.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

Bill Brightly

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2015, 08:13:56 PM »
And Flynn did NOT retain the Redan. He dramatically changed it...

Carl Rogers

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2015, 08:56:46 PM »
On another note, the 4th at the Cascades COULD have been a Redan like hole, but probably would have been problematic.  However, it is a longish downhill par 3, green canted to the left, but with a pretty sharp back to front slope with a steep drop off the back, bunker left and a bail out landing area short right.  Going long on this hole risks OB on US Highway 220.

The 15th hole could have been a Redan, also.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 08:59:20 PM by Carl Rogers »
I decline to accept the end of man. ... William Faulkner

Jon Cavalier

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2015, 12:54:01 AM »

For point of reference, here's the 4th at Cascades.

Golf Photos via
Twitter: @linksgems
Instagram: @linksgems


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2015, 08:27:21 AM »
And Flynn did NOT retain the Redan. He dramatically changed it...


Are you talking about the recent changes?  Or back in 1930?

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2015, 10:33:10 AM »
From "The Lurker"

"This old thread is very interesting in its details of the transition in 1928-1931 to the present Flynn course from the Macdonald/Raynor Shinnecock course (1916-1917). I learned a lot reading it just now. I guess if one is my age, 10-11 years ago is enough time to forget some stuff.

I have heard recently from those Flynn historians, the remarkable golf architecture historian/Flynn biographer, Wayne Morrison, and his long time Flynn collaborator/analyst/consultant/appendage, the somewhat controversial and somewhat infamous TEPaul, that the golf course right now is amazing looking and playing what with the club has accomplished restoration-wise in the last 5-10 years. The latter fellow also met for the first time last week or so Shinnecock's superintendent, John Jennings, who moved from Chicago GC to Shinnecock GC 4-5 years ago, and was mightily impressed with him."


Flynn's Cascades #4 is a bit "Redanish." Cascades' #15 is actually very close in design to his #10 Rolling Green, as it (Cascades) #15's tee was originally considerably to the left and played to 240 yards or so. Rolling Green's original #10 was very similar and played to app. 250 yards. In my opinion, Philadelphia in those days pretty much stood out for those kinds of ultra long par 3 designs. Even for a crack player they were intended to require a driver. Of course, Flynn was "hired on" to finish off Pine Valley after Crump died so he was certainly familiar with the famous ultra long par 3 5th hole on that famous course.

Thus sayeth The Lurker
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

Matt Frey, PGA

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2015, 10:40:19 AM »
The comment about Flynn holes that could have easily been Redans makes me think about Philadelphia Country Club's seventh hole. It's a terribly wonderful par three, but the way the land lays, it could have easily been built as a Redan. I love Redans, but I am kind of glad this one isn't.


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2015, 10:44:38 AM »

Why isn't it?

How about if I told you the third at Merion was/is viewed as a version of the Redan...kind of broadens the scope a bit doesn't it?

Matt Frey, PGA

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2015, 10:53:54 AM »

You make a good point about broadening the scope of the definition, but I suppose meant that Philadelphia Country Club's No. 7 isn't the "typical" Redan with a large kick plate in front of the green.

I haven't played Merion...I'll have to take your word for it on No. 3  ;D

Jim Nugent

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ron Whitten on Shinnecock
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2015, 03:18:26 PM »

How about if I told you the third at Merion was/is viewed as a version of the Redan...kind of broadens the scope a bit doesn't it?

Jim, do you understand how/why #3 Merion was/is viewed as a Redan? 


An Error Has Occurred!

Call to undefined function theme_linktree()