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V. Kmetz

  • Karma: +0/-0
Just 36 Years Ago...
« on: May 06, 2020, 10:57:45 AM »
How different the character was portrayed...





Reading this work (which is clearly an honest labor of love and an unabashed statement of genuine pride), it is positively amazing how 180 degrees from today this effort is.  To be sure, this is no Theme-In-Name-Only; this is a detailed forensic examination of the worth, pedigree and sometimes strategic virtues of trees from the trunk out.  Every blessed tree on every blessed of the 36 holes, around the clubhouse and grounds are cataloged, profiled and (many times) adoringly cast.  If you think ANGC is a bit precious about their Fruitlands origins and arboreal accents, brother, you ain't seen nuttin' like 'dis.





Then there's the saturated descriptions and brochure-like appeals to Olympian sentiment:



An inverted world to be sure; yet in the many honest exchanges on renovation and tree mgt, there is one worthy contribution to such debate that comes from this book...on the subject of "natural in place." While decried as barren by this author, the first Tillinghast iteration of Winged Foot still had more--many more--specimen trees, than what has been left by the renovators/hands of the last 22 years. 


Not every tree taken down in these years was planted by the folly of the members in their ignorance; and if this book represents an extreme and outdated view of one way...so too do I believe the current version (SO denuded) represents an extreme in the other.... I ask all the archies of enough vintage here, to say what they thought of WF and trees in 1983, when they were cutting their own teeth and learning at the knee of their individual gurus and when did their sensibility evolve to the one they hold today.


Would Oakmont and Winged Foot (among others) have undertaken what they have in the late 1990s if it weren't for Elm disease?
« Last Edit: May 09, 2020, 09:52:08 AM by V. Kmetz »
"The tee shot must first be hit straight and long between a vast bunker on the left which whispers 'slice' in the player's ear, and a wilderness on the right which induces a hurried hook." -

David Harshbarger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2020, 05:10:55 PM »

Not every tree taken down in these years was planted by the folly of the members in their ignorance; and if this book represents an extreme and outdated view of one way...so too do I believe the current version (SO denuded) represents an extreme in the other.... I ask all the archies of enough vintage here, to say what they thought of WF and trees in 1983, when they were cutting their own teeth and learning at the knee of their individual gurus and when did their sensibility evolve to the one they hold today.



This is a really good question and I hope a bump will attract an answer either specific from archies or in general.


Is the treeless restoration the hairless cat of golf course esthetics?
The trouble with modern equipment and distance—and I don't see anyone pointing this out—is that it robs from the player's experience. - Mickey Wright

Pete_Pittock

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2020, 05:31:38 PM »
the bump is good, a different title would also be helpful

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2020, 06:35:15 PM »

Not every tree taken down in these years was planted by the folly of the members in their ignorance; and if this book represents an extreme and outdated view of one way...so too do I believe the current version (SO denuded) represents an extreme in the other.... I ask all the archies of enough vintage here, to say what they thought of WF and trees in 1983, when they were cutting their own teeth and learning at the knee of their individual gurus and when did their sensibility evolve to the one they hold today.



VK:


Obviously, I didn't think of Winged Foot West as being ruined by trees back in the '80s, when it was rated a 9 on the Doak Scale.  But it was clear there were too many trees then, and they were only getting bigger.


I have not been back there in 20 years, so I can't comment on the trees now.  ["No comment."]  Winged Foot is one of several former favorite courses where I dare not go back, because I'll be asked what I think of the changes, and if I say anything negative I'll be accused of plying a conflict of interest.


In general, I detest the black and white politics that taints everything in America today, including golf club politics.  There is a place for nice trees on golf courses, but most committees and many architects cannot seem to find a balance -- it is either chain yourself to the tree, or everything must go.


I could see that logic at Oakmont, which didn't have many trees to begin with, and does nicely with its hard-ass barren vibe.  Winged Foot, though, had trees from the beginning, and Tillinghast left some distinctly in play.  I hope there are still some trees in play there.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2020, 08:17:20 PM »
The ODGs and trees is a topic which I don't get.  The archies who actually left trees near fairways knew they would grow, yet it is obvious from old fairway lines that it was expected that trees would be far better managed than was usually the case.  Were these some cases of unrealistic expectations for tree management?  Are there any examples of ODGs who advocated future narrowing of fairways to encourage tree growth?  I don't know, maybe the same goes on today with architecture.  Trees not far off fairways are left when it is highly likely than not far down the road those trees will compromise the design.  Why isn't the element of trees given more thought?  If you can stick to original archie intent/plan rather than talk about tree planting programs of later years or sapling allowed to mature. 

The one club I know of in England that mentioned trees in a broad context was Beau Desert. When trees were planted by the forestry comm, they weren't meant to come within 30 yards of fairways. That plan didn't work out so well. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 01:03:44 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

Peter Pallotta

Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2020, 09:09:10 AM »
Thanks, Sean - you put that all very well. I've wondered often if even the experts among us aren't anachronistically projecting backwards their own ideas/intentions and values onto the ODGs. The latter understood as well as we do that trees grow, and that courses change with time -- and that (re: ongoing tree management and fairway widths-mowing lines) once they finished a design and got paid, their responsibilities were fulfilled and the course's future was out of their hands. While I can't think of an ODG who "advocated' for anything specific years down the road, I'm not sure that many of them had a lot of fixed 'expectations' either, ie about what the course would be & look like 30 years later or whether/not it would be 'compromised'. Which is to further complicate this question/topic by asking if maybe the 'original intent' of today's architects is of a markedly different quality/nature than that of yesterday's architects.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 09:10:41 AM by Peter Pallotta »

Tim Martin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2020, 02:19:34 PM »
Thanks, Sean - you put that all very well. I've wondered often if even the experts among us aren't anachronistically projecting backwards their own ideas/intentions and values onto the ODGs. The latter understood as well as we do that trees grow, and that courses change with time -- and that (re: ongoing tree management and fairway widths-mowing lines) once they finished a design and got paid, their responsibilities were fulfilled and the course's future was out of their hands. While I can't think of an ODG who "advocated' for anything specific years down the road, I'm not sure that many of them had a lot of fixed 'expectations' either, ie about what the course would be & look like 30 years later or whether/not it would be 'compromised'. Which is to further complicate this question/topic by asking if maybe the 'original intent' of today's architects is of a markedly different quality/nature than that of yesterday's architects.


Peter-I agree that the ODG’s weren’t that concerned with how the course would play thirty or fifty years in the future. Any sort of tree planting especially relating to “in memory of or for x” is impossible to plan for. I guess you know on certain designs that the architect was thinking about the future somewhat when leaving room behind tees to add yardage and create some elasticity.

Peter Pallotta

Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2020, 02:43:30 PM »
Tim -
I'm mostly just wondering and speculating and asking, and your last point is a good one to continue on, ie  some of the old greats did 'plan ahead' and build in future elasticity, but they did so in terms of *length*. Did many of them do or try to do the same in terms of width and playing corridors/trees? In their own minds, was the original intent of the courses they built more related to reaching Par 4s in two than it was fitting a tee shot within a 60 yard-wide target (instead of a 40 yard one)?

Tim Martin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2020, 03:15:29 PM »
Tim -
I'm mostly just wondering and speculating and asking, and your last point is a good one to continue on, ie  some of the old greats did 'plan ahead' and build in future elasticity, but they did so in terms of *length*. Did many of them do or try to do the same in terms of width and playing corridors/trees? In their own minds, was the original intent of the courses they built more related to reaching Par 4s in two than it was fitting a tee shot within a 60 yard-wide target (instead of a 40 yard one)?


Peter-I am wondering and speculating as well. When reading about different restoration efforts a common theme seems to be "expansion". Expansion of greens back to the dimensions of the original footpads and expansion of fairway corridors to reclaim width in an effort to replicate or closely resemble original mowing lines. Removing trees is inherent to reclaiming width and my hunch is that the ODGs would be onboard with same especially since most weren't there on opening day.




V. Kmetz

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2020, 10:01:26 PM »
... I ask all the archies of enough vintage here, to say what they thought of WF and trees in 1983, when they were cutting their own teeth and learning at the knee of their individual gurus and when did their sensibility evolve to the one they hold today.

VK:

Obviously, I didn't think of Winged Foot West as being ruined by trees back in the '80s, when it was rated a 9 on the Doak Scale. But it was clear there were too many trees then, and they were only getting bigger.


I was only 15 when I first experienced Winged Foot in that year...didn;t know everythign, but it sure felt that way.  (One of the most memorable pieces of overgrowth was the enormous hemlock?/spruce?/pine that abutted the 12th green and shut 2/3rds of the perspective of the 17th tee shot...ironically that was one of the last to go, surviving until the West remo-storation was completed in 2017)


I have not been back there in 20 years, so I can't comment on the trees now.  ["No comment."]  Winged Foot is one of several former favorite courses where I dare not go back, because I'll be asked what I think of the changes, and if I say anything negative I'll be accused of plying a conflict of interest.

Another unintended consequence of this info age...I can read t-shirts on Google Earth; I can make a grill in 10 minutes following a video; I can collect, develop and study national data to determine the impact of leaving the flag in on my golf in an afternoon... but you refrain from visiting an iconic course, one of the most historic in your field.

In general, I detest the black and white politics that taints everything in America today, including golf club politics.  There is a place for nice trees on golf courses, but most committees and many architects cannot seem to find a balance -- it is either chain yourself to the tree, or everything must go.


I'll save the opportunity to rant in my agreement for another time; but the simple matter is yes... individual trees, small copses and natural groves bordering play are frequently welcome... in their natural shade, their confounding perspective, their shelter or re-direct of the wind, their changes in light and shadow.

I could see that logic at Oakmont, which didn't have many trees to begin with, and does nicely with its hard-ass barren vibe. Winged Foot, though, had trees from the beginning, and Tillinghast left some distinctly in play.  I hope there are still some trees in play there.


The Winged Foot program is a great success in the main. Two important (factoring in play) green-side trees (#2 & #16) remain as do the risk-inside dogleg trees on the par 5's  #5 and #12 on the West. And the East thoughtfully retained a number of signature/iconic/factoring trees as well.  My brake-tapping is reserved almost entirely for individual/small groups of trees, many well out of play, several near tees that weren't hurting anyone... too small/individually insignificant to block sun, air or compete for water. While it is gorgeous, revitalized look...it can feel and play hot and barren in the summer, though the least wind now gets through. Taking down 7...8...9..10 thousand(?) trees in the last 22 years, they only went overboard by about 150, so with all the good, that;s gotta be a well-done.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 10:03:10 PM by V. Kmetz »
"The tee shot must first be hit straight and long between a vast bunker on the left which whispers 'slice' in the player's ear, and a wilderness on the right which induces a hurried hook." -

David Harshbarger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Just 36 Years Ago...
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2020, 10:08:07 PM »
The ODG probably didn’t experience trees-gone-wild in there lifetime.


IIRC the heathland expansion starts c. 1890.  Before that courses are exclusively (?) dunes land.


If tree encroachment is a 40 year process those early courses would just be getting cramped. 


Obviously the growth habits of trees were well known.  But the consistent repeated lived experience of narrowed courses may not have been.





The trouble with modern equipment and distance—and I don't see anyone pointing this out—is that it robs from the player's experience. - Mickey Wright

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