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Adam Clayman

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #50 on: October 09, 2010, 10:30:23 AM »
Seems like these notions of improving on nature are akin to the impetus that has disfigured most of the great classic era courses. Take Wakonda Club as an example. Somebody, who loves his golf course, gets the notion that it needs to be modernized. All he had to do was look at the beautiful drawing L&M gave to the club and perhaps re-establish some green space, build back up some bunkers. But NO. They hire a modern guy who goes in, spends a shit load of cash and wipes out any resemblance to the original architects marvelous work. Flattening bunkers and greens to leave what is not even a shadow of it's former self.

"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing your whole life." - Mickey Mantle

Carl Rogers

Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #51 on: October 09, 2010, 11:00:42 AM »
I think Whitten has it mostly wrong. ...

* In Michigan, A fellow named Mike Devries built a boomerang green on the par 3 9th hole.  The hole is so innovative, that players will stand by the clubhouse and just stare at it in awe. And then groupof 8 or 9 of them will be so intrigued that they will try to hit the green from 3 or 4 different tee boxes.
People are coming-up with new ideas all the time. I can't wait for what's next.
I think Whitten has it somewhat right ... the game is fairly sclerotic ... who will be the one to take the leap?
I would like to see an entire course created along the same line as the ninth hole quoted above.  Each round would be a very dynamic experience ... a hole  could be a 350 yard straight away hole one day, and the same hole could be a 550 yard double degleg the next day.

David Stamm

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #52 on: October 09, 2010, 11:05:09 AM »
I think Whitten has it mostly wrong. ...

* In Michigan, A fellow named Mike Devries built a boomerang green on the par 3 9th hole.  The hole is so innovative, that players will stand by the clubhouse and just stare at it in awe. And then groupof 8 or 9 of them will be so intrigued that they will try to hit the green from 3 or 4 different tee boxes.
People are coming-up with new ideas all the time. I can't wait for what's next.
I think Whitten has it somewhat right ... the game is fairly sclerotic ... who will be the one to take the leap?
I would like to see an entire course created along the same line as the ninth hole quoted above.  Each round would be a very dynamic experience ... a hole  could be a 350 yard straight away hole one day, and the same hole could be a 550 yard double degleg the next day.

This has sort of been done before by George Thomas in the twenties with his "course within a course concept" at LACC North.
"The object of golf architecture is to give an intelligent purpose to the striking of a golf ball."- Max Behr

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #53 on: October 09, 2010, 12:00:46 PM »
I think Mike Young has a decent point.

Of course, design-bid and design-build and in house construction have all been around forever.  Design-bid was prevalent for many years but the trend now in golf is design-build or in house (owner or contractor).  The design-build guys have done a better job of convincing the owner that they are the ones getting it done.  Of course, that presumes that design isn't that important, that artistry isn't that important, etc. 

And, for that low budget public course in Omaha (which almost certainly is  a Landscapes Unlimited Design-Build-Own project) it probably isn't.  If the $30 customers come out to play, having spent another $200-400K on a gca would not have provided any value.  (I do think LU used a cheap, unknow gca for some of the work, but it was probably a limited services contract, btw)

Right now, some (not all) cities are still riding the 90's wave of trying to act more like private enterprize, and not using a low bid process but selecting on qualifications.  And there are some advantages to that.  At the same time, if the age of more regulation and watchdogging on at least Wall Street by the Feds filters down to lower levels, the design-bid-gca as watchdog process may again become a greater force. 

The basics are still in place. If you are building a $7-10Mil public project, do you know you got the lowest possible price if you go design-build?  How do you know if the funds are accounted for properly if the spender is also the reporter of spending?

I believe gca's have kind of shot themselves in the foot.  For years, we offloaded many services we used to do - irrigation design, greens mix, full time on site reps, etc. in favor of other consultants and full time independent project managers (which some also reasonably favor to keep the reporting separate from the design)  We have left control of the projects to others in the name of reducing liability and are now just responsible for the artwork, as it were.  As per above, there are many projects where the cost of artwork is deemed too expensive, and we SHOULD be thinking in terms of reduced fees for reduced responsibility and as being part of a team rather than the leader of the team.

And, its hard to be too innovative if you aren't the leader of the pack on a team.  Having a builder being the head guy automatically means that construction expediency, budget, etc. are the prime drivers over "pure design" whatever that is.  Now, for the top end projects that think they need a signature, the architect led design build also works fine, because those projects have a budget, but if you choose the gca to lead, then design nearly automatically (perhaps within limits) leads the process.  At the mid range, I have seen more resistance to architect led design-build.  But where its accepted, its a factor of seemingly reducing design fees as part of the process.

Sorry to go a little OT on this one.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Tim Nugent

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #54 on: October 09, 2010, 12:49:31 PM »
Garland, have you been to a classic old stadiums like Fenway, Wrigley, and now deceased Tiger Stadium and Yakees stadium? Compare those stadiums to the new modern marvels like Coors Field, Safeco Field, and New Yankees Stadium and tell me there have been no innovations.

The new stadiums have the same charm and ambiance of the old classics but with better sight-lines, NO BLIND HOLESbetter food, 19TH HOLE, better access, Highend Daily Fee - CCFAD, comfortable seats, CLUB CAR, better traffic flow, CART PATHS, better bathrooms, COMFORT STATIONS, suites, HOT BEVERAGE Cart GIRL and countless other improvements, FASTER GREENS, TIGHTER FAIRWAYS, MULTIPLE TEES, IRRIGATION, DRAINAGE, NO DESEASED TURF, ETC, that makes going to the ballgame a real pleasure. There is a reason why a team that lost o,er 100 games can still draw over 2 million people....HMMMM
Coasting is a downhill process

George Pazin

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #55 on: October 09, 2010, 04:50:56 PM »
If the economy does not get a lot better, Ron is right that the middleman is mostly gone.

This has little to do with golf, or golf course architecture, or the economy, this is merely the way of the world. As communications and information flow improve, more and more middlemen find themselves in the position of having little to offer.

Having said that, calling a golf course architect a middleman is not accurate in the least. You can build functional homes without an architect, and you could probably build a passable golf course without, but not likely anything that anyone on this site - or Mr. Whitten, for that matter - would seek out.
Big drivers and hot balls are the product of golf course design that rewards the hit one far then hit one high strategy.  Shinny showed everyone how to take care of this whole technology dilemma. - Pat Brockwell, 6/24/04

Sean_A

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #56 on: October 09, 2010, 07:23:12 PM »
Many many courses will eliminate the middleman....
Mike

Not in the least personal about the matter, but is this a bad thing and if so, why?  

Ciao

Sean, probably depends on the situation. There are occasions where an architect is collecting a high fee for doing little. This is particularly evident when they base their fee on a % of construction. In this case a considerable amount of the fee they collect could be based upon construction work that really does not involve them. As Jud said you can drive up and down the block of any American suburb and see the results of eliminating the "middleman". Not only really bad architecture but the landscaping is almost without exception horrific at every suburban home because the middleman was eliminated.

Kelly

I can see the results of architects as well.  While I don't care for Whitten's tone, I get his message - too much bland work is produced and often in the name of this is what the punters want.  I see that sosrt of attitude on here as well.  The strength of an archie is his imagination and the experience to figure out ways to let his ideas come to fruition - sooo, archies should be driving the field.  Instead, what I see a lot of is formulaic, lets try to please all golfers, take a poll type architecture.  If that is what an archie wants to do then I just as soon cut him out.    

I also raise the question merely to ask what sort of work is considered architecture and who qualifies as an archie?  I think its an open ended situation where at least some guys are talented and more than capable of carrying out architectural work even if they don't consider themselves as such.  In any case, the shop isn't anywhere near closed enough to talk about cutting out the middle man and it really meaning anything.   

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 09, 2010, 07:30:00 PM by Sean Arble »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Carl Rogers

Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #57 on: October 09, 2010, 07:47:16 PM »


I believe gca's have kind of shot themselves in the foot.  For years, we offloaded many services we used to do - irrigation design, greens mix, full time on site reps, etc. in favor of other consultants and full time independent project managers (which some also reasonably favor to keep the reporting separate from the design)  We have left control of the projects to others in the name of reducing liability and are now just responsible for the artwork, as it were.  As per above, there are many projects where the cost of artwork is deemed too expensive, and we SHOULD be thinking in terms of reduced fees for reduced responsibility and as being part of a team rather than the leader of the team.

And, its hard to be too innovative if you aren't the leader of the pack on a team.  Having a builder being the head guy automatically means that construction expediency, budget, etc. are the prime drivers over "pure design" whatever that is.  Now, for the top end projects that think they need a signature, the architect led design build also works fine, because those projects have a budget, but if you choose the gca to lead, then design nearly automatically (perhaps within limits) leads the process.  At the mid range, I have seen more resistance to architect led design-build.  But where its accepted, its a factor of seemingly reducing design fees as part of the process.

Sorry to go a little OT on this one.
The world of buildings have the same range of issues.

Carl Rogers

Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #58 on: October 09, 2010, 07:51:11 PM »
Why hasn't anyone discussed the late Mike Strantz yet?

Did he push the envelope as an innovator or was he just a bit bored with the same old same old? ... and as a way to differentiate himself from the rest of the field.

Tim Bert

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #59 on: October 09, 2010, 08:27:03 PM »
I stopped paying attention to anything and everything this dude published after his article making the case that Gillette Ridge was a better golf course than Wintonbury Hills. I'm usually all for opinion, but  a few comparisons are so clear cut that there really isn't room for disagreement.   ;D

Jim_Kennedy

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #60 on: October 09, 2010, 09:08:34 PM »
No one other than I.M. Pei could have ever come up with a glass pyramid for the Louvre. 

No one lasts long if "the past is the only thing you bring to the drawing table" .
"I never beat a well man in my life" - Harry Vardon

Jud_T

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #61 on: October 09, 2010, 09:24:24 PM »
The last 20 years have been the most exciting in GCA since the Golden Age.  To dismiss it as so much retro is a cop out.
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Mike_Young

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #62 on: October 10, 2010, 12:26:55 AM »
Mike,

I donít really like the premise of your posts that somehow drawing and plans are to be dismissed. I think drawing, sketching, etc. are an integral part of the design process that is ever bit as worthy as riding on a dozer. It is absolutely silly the comments on here that dismiss that part of the creative process. This DG in particular has a favor for certain architects who have drawn and sketched extensively. I think the problem with the ďmiddlemanĒ as you like to call some architects is their inflated sense of their monetary value to a project. You hear talk all the time about fees and it is astounding what some architects think they are worth and I can understand why some clubs cut them out eventually; it is insulting to every one else involved in the project. I think an architect who has a keen sense for integrating drawing within their design process will have a difficult time making a living and will be forced to participate in the construction process in some way in order to increase their value to the project and make a decent living. Still, that does not mean they are less valuable than the architect who solely designs from the seat of a dozer.

Diminishing the value of drawing is a ridiculous way to look at these issues. It is amazing how these difficult times have caused people in the business to act unethically on a grand scale and on how people here can be so backward in their thinking as to diminish such a valuable form of the design process.

Kelly,
Middleman was the term RW used..I just quoted it....I agree with you on the majority of your post....I did not say you needed no drawings....I think sketching is critical but I think for some there is an abundance of drawings that may never be of value all because the drawing is the main justification some architects have for billing the client....I never said one could design completely from the seat of a dozer....it's much better if one will just climb on top of the cab..much better view ;D ;D
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Jim Colton

Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #63 on: October 10, 2010, 12:47:47 AM »
So how does one explain the success of Old Mac then?  If the golfing public is clamoring for something different, why are we trekking to the middle of nowhere Oregon and having so much fun playing a course with a bunch of tired ideas?  Will Old Mac ultimately be considered innovative and/or a 'game changer' for getting us away from the soulless courses built during the boom times and back to the game's roots?

Is Ron taking the loss of his pet Dell and Biarritz holes at Erin Hills the wrong way?


Melvyn Morrow

Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #64 on: October 10, 2010, 06:45:07 AM »

Tell me again how many courses can Ron play in the US alone?   I find the 600 of so in Scotland more than enough and boy are there some great little known courses among them.

Melvyn

TEPaul

Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #65 on: October 10, 2010, 09:58:36 AM »
Ron Whitten certainly seems to disagree with one of C.B. Macdonald's most important philosophical dictates on golf course architecture---eg "It would seem that in striving after "novelty and innovation," many builders of golf courses believe they are elevating the game. But what a sad contemplation!"

I would not necessarily disagree with Ron Whitten on his point about innovation in golf course architecture but of course the real question is what exactly can be done innovatively in the future with golf course architecture?

Golf and golf course architecture is certainly not particularly analogous to telephone technology or innovation in film or music which Whitten used as an example of something that has improved massively from novelty and innovation, and that therefore logically golf architecture should too!

Has Ron Whitten bothered to consider that golf and its architecture is a sport that inherently is supposed to mimic to some extent Nature itself and various component parts of Nature?

The same certainly cannot be said about telephones, films or music!    ;)
« Last Edit: October 10, 2010, 10:04:49 AM by TEPaul »

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #66 on: October 10, 2010, 10:21:48 AM »
Has Ron Whitten bothered to consider that golf and its architecture is a sport that inherently is supposed to mimic to some extent Nature itself and various component parts of Nature?

TePaul,

That is unknowable and a huge assumption!  I know you think landscape architecture and golf architecture are completely different fields, but I think they are related.  One famous LA, Sasaki, is famous for saying "the land is putty."  In all of landscape design, its really the art of arranging the landscape for its intended human use.

Early efforts in gca were hampered by construction tech and money (starting in frugal Scotland, that was probably a given!)  In truth, the history of gca is one of expanding the architecting of courses with new technology to get the "right" result.  Even the minimalists will move a million yards of earth to get their look, according to TD.

Bunkers are the best example.  Natural blowouts in Scotland, they migrated to everywhere. If its nature we were to emulate, few courses would have bunkers.  If its the playing fields we are emulating, and those happened to have had sand bunkers, then that better explains why courses on any kind of soil get the bunker treatment, and bunkers that are highly abstract versions of the original sand blowouts in Scotland.

A highly philosophical question, to be sure.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Phil McDade

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #67 on: October 10, 2010, 10:34:13 AM »

Is Ron taking the loss of his pet Dell and Biarritz holes at Erin Hills the wrong way?



Jim:

I think this has a lot to do with the rant. Whitten I sense thought he was involved in something pretty unique at Erin Hills -- a truly minimalist work that could hold up to the best players in the world in US Open conditions/set-up. Erin Hills hasn't been radically altered, I'd suggest, but it has been changed in some significant ways, and although not wholly conventional, it's a more conventional course than originally built, or conceived. Whitten is well-known to be irked at some of these changes, notably the loss of the Dell hole, to the extent that (I read somewhere) he doesn't really want his name associated with the course anymore.

Andy Shulman

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #68 on: October 10, 2010, 10:37:39 AM »
Following up on Jim's point about golfers trekking to Oregon to play Old MacDonald, they're undoubtedly doing so for the same reasons that baseball fans planned trips to Baltimore in the mid-90s to attend a game at Camden Yards.  That ballpark and it's brethren, is the Polo Grounds with skyboxes, crab cakes and cupholders, in the same way that Old MacDonald is, say, North Berwick with a yardage book and a bag tag.

To quote James Earl Jones from Field of Dreams, which seems apropos - "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But, baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and could be again." ;)

TEPaul

Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #69 on: October 10, 2010, 11:01:15 AM »
"I know you think landscape architecture and golf architecture are completely different fields, but I think they are related."



Jeffrey:

Unfortunately you seem to be getting a bit like Moriarty and MacWood on here-----ascribing thoughts and remarks to people they never said and do not think.

I never said that I don't think golf course architecture and landscape architecture are not related fields; of course they are and I most certainly am aware they have been for well over a century.

All I've ever said about landscape architecture's relationship to golf course architecture is that I do not believe that the LA "art principle" of "Emphasis" (to draw one's eye to the most important part) is a particularly good idea if it always means to draw the eye to the part of the presentation where one SHOULD hit the ball. I happen to believe that visual deception is a very large part of Nature and consequently should also be used in golf course architecture to some extent!
« Last Edit: October 10, 2010, 11:04:52 AM by TEPaul »

JC Jones

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #70 on: October 10, 2010, 11:18:36 AM »


Early efforts in gca were hampered by construction tech and money (starting in frugal Scotland, that was probably a given!)  In truth, the history of gca is one of expanding the architecting of courses with new technology to get the "right" result.  Even the minimalists will move a million yards of earth to get their look, according to TD.


What does it say then that a majority of the best courses are from a time when the "architect" was hampered by construction tech and money where the "architecting" was at a minimum?
I get it, you are mad at the world because you are an adult caddie and few people take you seriously.

Excellent spellers usually lack any vision or common sense.

I know plenty of courses that are in the red, and they are killing it.

David Stamm

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #71 on: October 10, 2010, 11:21:19 AM »
No one other than I.M. Pei could have ever come up with a glass pyramid for the Louvre. 

 

"A scar on the face of Paris." - Jean Reno, Da Vinci Code
"The object of golf architecture is to give an intelligent purpose to the striking of a golf ball."- Max Behr

Garland Bayley

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #72 on: October 10, 2010, 11:56:03 AM »
...
Has Ron Whitten bothered to consider that golf and its architecture is a sport that inherently is supposed to mimic to some extent Nature itself and various component parts of Nature?
...

What exactly did you think Melvyn's point was in his reply #3?

Is the reason you seem to be repelled by his posts that you are so much alike?
 ???
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Melvyn Morrow

Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #73 on: October 10, 2010, 01:50:07 PM »


Garland

Wash your mouth out with soap, Tom P feels superior to me in every way, he looks down upon me - but thatís only because he is taller. If this is his way of supporting called friend then God Help us All, expect more Friendly Fire casualties in the future. :'(

One day Tom may actually read what he has written and remember that Merion is not the centre of the golfing universe, just another club and not that old a one either. Although reading comments from others its a rather good club and very good courses. Yet its seems to have been based upon ideas copied from other courses which I feel is fine but itís no thoroughbred then. ;)

Melvyn

Garland Bayley

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Re: A critics rant from Ron Whitten
« Reply #74 on: October 10, 2010, 10:12:35 PM »


Garland

Wash your mouth out with soap, Tom P feels superior to me in every way, he looks down upon me - but thatís only because he is taller. If this is his way of supporting called friend then God Help us All, expect more Friendly Fire casualties in the future. :'(
...
Melvyn


Unfortunately, you came to late to the website to see the old Tom Paul, with the great sense of humor. He used to make me laugh a lot like you can.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

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