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Mark_Fine

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Re: Bethlehem GC muni in Bethlehem, PA news...
« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2020, 05:56:48 PM »
Jim,
Thanks for the comments.  Glad to see you got out to play and take in the golf course.  I only have a few minutes but here are some quick rushed comments.  Love to catch up live. 

The tree removal between the first and eighth greens is wonderful. Visually it looks great and really lets the amount of movement on and around the greens come to the fore Yes a ton of trees were removed to open up the 1st, 8th and 7th green areas.  Literally hundreds of other trees that cluttered the course and blocked long range views were removed through out the golf course.  On #15 for example we probably took down 30 large pine trees behind that green. It looks amazing.  On #1 the bunkers were redesigned (left one shifted back and the right brought in closer to the green).  Every green surfaced was altered in some way (some dramatically as sand build up over the years had changed them (on some holes we removed 3 feet of sand that had been tossed up on the green from out of the bunkers).  We added roll offs and pull ups trying to make all the surround changes look seamless and integrated.  We did not want it to look like "a bunker project" where nothing is connected.
  • The fairway bunkers between 2 and 3 were always an afterthought and never maintained in any decent way - the rebuild is very nice and given the length that guys hit the ball today the ones on the left side of 2 are definitely in play - the mound at the front right of the green was always the vertex that dictated everything on this hole The shared fairway bunker/mound complex was changed and completely redesigned so it works for both #2 and #3.  The three bunkers on #2 were reduced to one and the right side converted to low mow blue grass/one of many chipping areas added around the greens.  The green was expanded as well.Three is more changed than most holes - The right side of 3's fairway has been cleared out over the years - there were more pines and a couple of big bushes on the right side of the fairway as well as one big bush down the left side - the tee ball is definitely more forgiving in the current iteration - the left green-side bunker was removed and the area is now cut at fairway height - back in the day the two green-side bunkers were steeply flashed up to the collar and this was a very difficult green to hit - the left side is now a bailout but with the sand-splashed knob left in the fringe and bleeding into the green it is not an easy recovery from there - the changes are well done given the clientele Yes left bunker removed and the entire left area and back side of green regraded.  The right bunker was redesigned and the entire right side of the green altered to integrate with the bunker (as I said before, this was the case on almost every green as in some cases we removed 2-3 feet of sand build up on the greens from play out of the bunkers.The right miss on four is significantly more forgiving - Used to be a deep flashed bunker on the right that you would beg to get into because the turf was always very thin with a couple of bushes and some trees over to the right of the bunker that were much worse Left side bunker completely redesigned and the green lowered 2 1/2 feet on the left.  The right side of the green totally changed with removal of the bunker and adding of irregular mounding including one that bleeds into the green contours.  A half dozen or more trees removed beyond the green.5 is essentially unchanged other than the inside of the dog-leg becoming more and more grown in - did not remember the green being as dramatic as it is Green expanded and edges altered which is why it looks more dramatic.  Right greenside bunker shifted back and altered in shape while lowering the edge of the green by at least 2 feet 6 is essentially unchanged other than bunker work - the fairway bunker on the left was never maintained and losing it is no loss - the trees that have grown in behind 4's green on the left side 6 hurts the chance to get the angle along the green's long axis - Always was a tough green to hold from the right half of the fairway or right rough - filling in the left-rear bunker doesn't change the hole significantly and makes the recovery easier for average players Greensite/surrounds completed altered (four bunkers down to two bunkers with the green edges all altered to create roll offs and pull ups.  Beyond green all regraded to make things more integrated with the green surface.7 - cutting down the knob on the front of the green was necessary as it had become almost impossible to hold the green for any pin other than the front left placement - back in the day we used to try to blow our drives down to the right of the green if the pin was on that side of the green. As the trees and bushes grew in down there that play was taken out of play - the fairway bunker is a thing of beauty even if it should never come into play for longer players  Entire hole altered including the fairway bunkers, the green and surrounds.  Lots of tree removal yet again
  • 8 - effectively unchanged - bunkers rebuilt, tree removal and green shrinkage not withstanding Entire green surrounds changed and green edges altered to create roll offs.  Left bunker reduced in half an shifted back.  We went from 39 bunkers on the course to 30
  • 9 - fairway bunker put right where I would try to land my drives - definitely well placed and changes the hole significantly Approach altered to better integrate with the green surface and allow run up shots, two bunkers on left reduced to one10-11 no real changes Green surrounds completely altered on #10 and left side and right side of green surface lowered by 2+ feet.  Again Tree removal on every hole but extensive on this one and on #11.  Green surrounds on #11 converted to low mow blue and green expanded to create roll offs around entire green surface.12 - clearing out the right side of the fairway makes this hole significantly more forgiving off of the tee - moving the left green-side bunker forward was an interesting choice - I would like to hear the thinking on that Left bunker removed and brought forward and area regraded, right side bunker altered and slid back.  13 - fairway bunker makes an historically difficult hole tougher - With the wall of pines up the left this is now a very demanding driving hole Green surrounds/bunkers completely redone.14 - unchanged - the short bunker on the right never served much purpose other than added pain for a bad swing Left bunker removed and mound added that bleeds into shoulder in the green.  Right bunker shifted back and to the right to open up the approach to allow more run up shots15 - reclaiming the depressions behind the green as run-off areas is a plus from what was there - the original rear bunkers served the purpose but they had not been there for a long time - As the turf on the front right firms up it will be interesting to see how it plays - as on 3 leaving the sand-splash ridge line makes it a demanding chip/putt/pitch choice - moving the front left bunker forward adds risk to the old school method of trying to run the approach down the slope from short left onto the green A ton of trees removed on this hole, extensive drainage and regrading work to firm up the approach and eliminate standing water, left bunker redesigned, cart path shifted left out of play, right bunker removed and knob added on right side of green to add addition challenge to the closely mown surrounds on the right. 16 - effectively unchanged - the two short bunkers at the top of the hill were never maintained and nothing other than aesthetic Green side bunkers changed including shifting the one on the right to the back right side of the green opening up that area so a new forward tee can be added up on the top of the hill17 - effectively unchanged Ugly back left mound removed and left bunker rebuilt and shifted right, whole right side regraded (and all the way around the entire green) and the grass converted to low mow blue to create yet another chipping area 18 - Seemed more open off the tee than it had become over the years - the shaping on the left side of the green looked good - but I could not remember too clearly what was there - I remembered more of a knob but not sure  Countless trees removed that line the fairway (as we did on every hole), hideous mound left of green removed and entire left side regraded, right side bunker converted to two bunkers integrated with the greensite.  A bunch of forward tees will be added in the fall and many of the silly ones (mole hills in the middle of the fairways) that are three now will be removed.  Some limited cart path work that has to be done will be completed as well but only where it is a must.  More tree work will continue and some grassing lines altered and green expansion work will continue as well. All in all it was great to see Bethlehem get some sprucing up. The fact that the cart paths were still kind of crumbling made me believe that the money was well spent on things that mattered. 3, 4, 12 and 15 likely will play easier on average. I don't think anything was made to play more difficult. It is still a very good course that is on the more challenging end of the spectrum. Also, the course always was too hard for the average public golfer, so this is likely for the good of their business.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 09:25:20 PM by Mark_Fine »

Jim Sherma

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Re: Bethlehem GC muni in Bethlehem, PA news...
« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2020, 12:53:31 PM »

Mark - thanks for the comments back - the work you describe on the greens is why they looked more extreme I am sure. Memory is what it is when trying to compare things and I assumed that my memory was foggier than it might have been in retrospect.


I added some additional comments below in blue.

Bethlehem was always a strong course - the work should put it back on people's list to check out - it is still a Muni at heart and the amenities, or lack there of, is more than offset by reasonable pricing. I have a real soft spot for this type of facility and think that Bethlehem is once again back towards the better end of the spectrum.



Jim,
Thanks for the comments.  Glad to see you got out to play and take in the golf course.  I only have a few minutes but here are some quick rushed comments.  Love to catch up live. 

The tree removal between the first and eighth greens is wonderful. Visually it looks great and really lets the amount of movement on and around the greens come to the fore Yes a ton of trees were removed to open up the 1st, 8th and 7th green areas.  Literally hundreds of other trees that cluttered the course and blocked long range views were removed through out the golf course.  On #15 for example we probably took down 30 large pine trees behind that green. It looks amazing.  On #1 the bunkers were redesigned (left one shifted back and the right brought in closer to the green).  Every green surfaced was altered in some way (some dramatically as sand build up over the years had changed them (on some holes we removed 3 feet of sand that had been tossed up on the green from out of the bunkers) - I did not know this beforehand - I would have looked more closely if I had - a couple of places I questioned my memory and will comment at those spots.  We added roll offs and pull ups trying to make all the surround changes look seamless and integrated.  We did not want it to look like "a bunker project" where nothing is connected.
  • The fairway bunkers between 2 and 3 were always an afterthought and never maintained in any decent way - the rebuild is very nice and given the length that guys hit the ball today the ones on the left side of 2 are definitely in play - the mound at the front right of the green was always the vertex that dictated everything on this hole The shared fairway bunker/mound complex was changed and completely redesigned so it works for both #2 and #3.  The three bunkers on #2 were reduced to one and the right side converted to low mow blue grass/one of many chipping areas added around the greens.  The green was expanded as well.Three is more changed than most holes - The right side of 3's fairway has been cleared out over the years - there were more pines and a couple of big bushes on the right side of the fairway as well as one big bush down the left side - the tee ball is definitely more forgiving in the current iteration - the left green-side bunker was removed and the area is now cut at fairway height - back in the day the two green-side bunkers were steeply flashed up to the collar and this was a very difficult green to hit - the left side is now a bailout but with the sand-splashed knob left in the fringe and bleeding into the green it is not an easy recovery from there - the changes are well done given the clientele Yes left bunker removed and the entire left area and back side of green regraded.  The right bunker was redesigned and the entire right side of the green altered to integrate with the bunker (as I said before, this was the case on almost every green as in some cases we removed 2-3 feet of sand build up on the greens from play out of the bunkers.The right miss on four is significantly more forgiving - Used to be a deep flashed bunker on the right that you would beg to get into because the turf was always very thin with a couple of bushes and some trees over to the right of the bunker that were much worse Left side bunker completely redesigned and the green lowered 2 1/2 feet on the left.  The right side of the green totally changed with removal of the bunker and adding of irregular mounding including one that bleeds into the green contours.  A half dozen or more trees removed beyond the green.5 is essentially unchanged other than the inside of the dog-leg becoming more and more grown in - did not remember the green being as dramatic as it is Green expanded and edges altered which is why it looks more dramatic - my approach ended up just past the green to the right of the mound in the rear of the green (pin was middle left) - that hump was always there if I remember right but the steepness down to where my ball ended up seemed much more pronounced than I thought - definitely makes the approach shot more demanding and I had no chance to get my recovery close given the downslope to the pin.  Right greenside bunker shifted back and altered in shape while lowering the edge of the green by at least 2 feet 6 is essentially unchanged other than bunker work - the fairway bunker on the left was never maintained and losing it is no loss - the trees that have grown in behind 4's green on the left side 6 hurts the chance to get the angle along the green's long axis - Always was a tough green to hold from the right half of the fairway or right rough - filling in the left-rear bunker doesn't change the hole significantly and makes the recovery easier for average players Greensite/surrounds completed altered (four bunkers down to two bunkers with the green edges all altered to create roll offs and pull ups.  Beyond green all regraded to make things more integrated with the green surface This was one of the spots where I thought I notices the green altered - The pin on 6 was front middle and the false front seemed much more pronounced than I remembered - guessed that it was altered but did not seem to change the play of the hole all that much. 7 - cutting down the knob on the front of the green was necessary as it had become almost impossible to hold the green for any pin other than the front left placement - back in the day we used to try to blow our drives down to the right of the green if the pin was on that side of the green. As the trees and bushes grew in down there that play was taken out of play - the fairway bunker is a thing of beauty even if it should never come into play for longer players  Entire hole altered including the fairway bunkers, the green and surrounds.  Lots of tree removal yet again 7 was a hole that had gotten worse and worse through the years as the green became less and less accessible - the tree on the right also made the hole very one dimensional - hopefully the green will be able to hold wedges from the left side of the fairway again to make the hole have the strategic options returned
  • 8 - effectively unchanged - bunkers rebuilt, tree removal and green shrinkage not withstanding Entire green surrounds changed and green edges altered to create roll offs.  Left bunker reduced in half an shifted back.  We went from 39 bunkers on the course to 30
  • 9 - fairway bunker put right where I would try to land my drives - definitely well placed and changes the hole significantly Approach altered to better integrate with the green surface and allow run up shots I thought the swale looked changed but wasn't sure - will have to get back and take a closer look, two bunkers on left reduced to one10-11 no real changes Green surrounds completely altered on #10 and left side and right side of green surface lowered by 2+ feet.  Again Tree removal on every hole but extensive on this one and on #11.  Green surrounds on #11 converted to low mow blue and green expanded to create roll offs around entire green surface - 11's green was always a cool green at the end of a meh hole glad that the hole was pretty much left as it was.12 - clearing out the right side of the fairway makes this hole significantly more forgiving off of the tee - moving the left green-side bunker forward was an interesting choice - I would like to hear the thinking on that Left bunker removed and brought forward and area regraded, right side bunker altered and slid back.  13 - fairway bunker makes an historically difficult hole tougher - With the wall of pines up the left this is now a very demanding driving hole Green surrounds/bunkers completely redone.14 - unchanged - the short bunker on the right never served much purpose other than added pain for a bad swing Left bunker removed and mound added that bleeds into shoulder in the green.  Right bunker shifted back and to the right to open up the approach to allow more run up shots15 - reclaiming the depressions behind the green as run-off areas is a plus from what was there - the original rear bunkers served the purpose but they had not been there for a long time - As the turf on the front right firms up it will be interesting to see how it plays - as on 3 leaving the sand-splash ridge line makes it a demanding chip/putt/pitch choice - moving the front left bunker forward adds risk to the old school method of trying to run the approach down the slope from short left onto the green A ton of trees removed on this hole, extensive drainage and regrading work to firm up the approach and eliminate standing water, left bunker redesigned, cart path shifted left out of play, right bunker removed and knob added on right side of green to add addition challenge to the closely mown surrounds on the right. 16 - effectively unchanged - the two short bunkers at the top of the hill were never maintained and nothing other than aesthetic Green side bunkers changed including shifting the one on the right to the back right side of the green opening up that area so a new forward tee can be added up on the top of the hill17 - effectively unchanged Ugly back left mound removed and left bunker rebuilt and shifted right, whole right side regraded (and all the way around the entire green) and the grass converted to low mow blue to create yet another chipping area 18 - Seemed more open off the tee than it had become over the years - the shaping on the left side of the green looked good - but I could not remember too clearly what was there - I remembered more of a knob but not sure  Countless trees removed that line the fairway (as we did on every hole), hideous mound left of green removed and entire left side regraded, right side bunker converted to two bunkers integrated with the greensite.  A bunch of forward tees will be added in the fall and many of the silly ones (mole hills in the middle of the fairways) that are three now will be removed.  Some limited cart path work that has to be done will be completed as well but only where it is a must.  More tree work will continue and some grassing lines altered and green expansion work will continue as well. All in all it was great to see Bethlehem get some sprucing up. The fact that the cart paths were still kind of crumbling made me believe that the money was well spent on things that mattered. 3, 4, 12 and 15 likely will play easier on average. I don't think anything was made to play more difficult. It is still a very good course that is on the more challenging end of the spectrum. Also, the course always was too hard for the average public golfer, so this is likely for the good of their business.

Mark_Fine

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Bethlehem GC muni in Bethlehem, PA news...
« Reply #27 on: July 07, 2020, 08:08:52 PM »
Jim,
When I studied those greens a year or two ago at Bethlehem they were not showcased with how the surrounds/bunkers had changed/evolved over time.  During the renovation we did our best to enhance/better integrate all of those surrounds while at the same time minimizing/changing much of the formulaic bunkering that Gordon is known for.  Because there was so much change that extended into each of the green surfaces we had to tweak/modify them as well to make it all work.  As I said some of the green surfaces had as much as 3 feet of sand (that is how high the bunker edges had been raised).  If you take a closer look at the greens next time you are out, I think you will agree they are now one of the best sets around.  Everyone of them is special and displays the shapes/contours typical in Gordon/Flynnís best green designs. 

Mark_Fine

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Re: Bethlehem GC muni in Bethlehem, PA news...
« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2021, 06:53:05 PM »
Ira,
You wanted to discuss one of my courses.  What would you like to know?
Mark

Mark_Fine

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Bethlehem GC muni in Bethlehem, PA news...
« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2021, 05:44:15 AM »

I have gotten a lot of emails from people asking about Bethlehem.  See the article below.  If anyone wants to come play, let me know and I will arrange and try to join you.  Obviously I am a little biased but I have played A LOT of Gordon courses and these are now without question one of the best sets of Gordon greens I have ever seen.  They are just a great set of greens period.  I would love to hear thoughts from others but those I have taken over rave about them.  The course is getting record play from all over and I am happy for the local community.  That was my primary intent taking on this project. 


https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/course-care/green-section-record/59/09/restoring-bethlehem-golf-club-with-help-from-a-usga-agronomist.html#

Jim Sherma

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Re: Bethlehem GC muni in Bethlehem, PA news...
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2021, 02:33:40 PM »
I would be up for meeting up at Bethlehem for a round. Good excuse to come into town and visit my parents.

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