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Bill Gayne

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2013, 09:12:00 PM »
My experience with Strantz's courses is first play "wow, that is really cool and cutting edge" as many of the posts have indicated. The second time the "wow" factor is still high. After several plays, the "wow" factor has worn off and the whole experience becomes tedious. In other words it's great in moderation but not what I want day in day out.

Tom_Doak

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2013, 09:20:29 PM »
There really aren't other architects who are judged here exclusively by the first six or seven courses they ever designed.

I wish Mike Strantz were still with us.  I believe he would have continued to evolve his work and style and that his courses, especially Royal New Kent and Stonehouse, would have been better protected and kept up.

He would have added to the GCA conversation in ways that no one else does.

WW

This is exactly what I was going to say.  I wish we had more of his work to assess.

I have not seen all of his work, but the best (for me) were his first course (Caledonia) and his last (MPCC).  I saw the properties for both of them before he was hired, and I was amazed by the results.

Bruce Wellmon

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #27 on: July 18, 2013, 09:50:58 PM »
I have played every Strantz except Tot Hill and MPCC.
IMO I think it's all about visual intimidation. There is usually fairway out there, or green. You just cant see it.
 He was the master at putting negative thoughts in the golfers head.

Chris Oldham

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #28 on: July 18, 2013, 09:56:16 PM »
Each fall I travel to Myrtle Beach with friends and we always play True Blue and Caledonia back-to-back (always TB first as it has a driving range).  I'm always struck by the difference in the courses and I cannot imagine that the average person would know that they were designed by the same person.  For courses that sit only a couple of hundred yards apart, they may as well be on different coasts.  Only a couple of the par 3's and the 18th on each course (carries over water with very little bail out + a porch full of spectators above the green) seem to share any design thoughts.  Haven't played any of the others, but if they are as diverse as TB and Caledonia I imagine they would be wonderful tracks.

John Kavanaugh

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #29 on: July 18, 2013, 11:09:19 PM »

JoKa, which hole at Tobacco Road doesn't make your "finest 17 holes ever routed" list?


First of all, I am a dedicated cartballer but had zero issues walking Tobacco Road with the help of a caddie. I am shocked that anyone who has ever played the course sees the logic in the routing of the 17th. Any hole that must be fully backtracked from green to tee to play the next hole is inexcusable. Unless of course your name is Macdonald and made the effort to work in St. Louis.

Clarification. I never questioned Stranz's talent as an architect. I found the engineering of Tobacco Road to be lacking. That may not have even been in his scope of work. Many great architects are poor engineers.

Bob_Huntley

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2013, 11:29:59 PM »
The only Strantz course I have played is at my old MPCC. A brilliant design and a joy to play. Even today as an old codger I believe I could walk all eighteen holes without a problem, the only uphill feature is the poorest hole on the course, the eighteenth.

I remember talking to Mike shortly before his departure and thanked him for his brilliant work, he was unable to reply. I am sure there any number of golfers could find a blemish on the Shore,but when I remember his dedication to the building of the course it is a tribute to his vision.

Bob

Jay Mickle

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #31 on: September 17, 2014, 07:25:41 PM »
Today I played my 6th Stranz course, Stonehouse, I was not disappointed. I think that the pucker factor from the tees is probably higher here than at any of his other courses. Stranz does not take the pressure off there. Forced carries to many greens and only partial views can also.create anxiety. He gives back funneling wayward tee shots back to the fairway and providing very large greens that are not severe. Still not a venue for the high handicapper.
The course was in generally very good condition. I am looking forward to playing Royal New Kent tomorrow.
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Jon Cavalier

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #32 on: September 17, 2014, 09:41:30 PM »
Today I played my 6th Stranz course, Stonehouse, I was not disappointed. I think that the pucker factor from the tees is probably higher here than at any of his other courses. Stranz does not take the pressure off there. Forced carries to many greens and only partial views can also.create anxiety. He gives back funneling wayward tee shots back to the fairway and providing very large greens that are not severe. Still not a venue for the high handicapper.
The course was in generally very good condition. I am looking forward to playing Royal New Kent tomorrow.

Stonehouse is the only Strantz course I didn't like. I found some parts of it to be bordering on absurd. There was one par 5 in particular that I remember on which the approach was downhill to a green that I couldn't believe. It also had the longest green to tee distances I've ever seen. I played as a solo at the crack of dawn, but I can see how 4 18 handicappers could take 6 hours there. I just think the owner tried too hard to shove a course in where one didn't fit or belong.

That said, you'll love Royal New Kent. I really enjoyed that one.
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Tom_Doak

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #33 on: September 17, 2014, 09:57:55 PM »

Stonehouse is the only Strantz course I didn't like. I found some parts of it to be bordering on absurd. There was one par 5 in particular that I remember on which the approach was downhill to a green that I couldn't believe. It also had the longest green to tee distances I've ever seen. I played as a solo at the crack of dawn, but I can see how 4 18 handicappers could take 6 hours there. I just think the owner tried too hard to shove a course in where one didn't fit or belong.

I had the same reaction to Stonehouse when I first saw it.  I had really admired Mike's work at Caledonia, and Stonehouse seemed just outrageously over the top by comparison ... plus there were a couple of greens they couldn't keep grass on at all. 

That it had won the GOLF DIGEST Best New award with two dirt greens was deeply disturbing to me.  Honestly, I feared that the style of work I was doing was never going to get any recognition.

Dan_Callahan

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #34 on: September 18, 2014, 09:27:09 AM »
I agree about Stonehouse. My least favorite of his courses, and I've played all but MPCC. That said, there are a few really cool holes at Stonehouse. My biggest gripe was that there are too many very, very shallow greens with hazard short and trouble long (usually, the trouble is a bunker with no sand in it). I still had a good time there.

I think Tobacco Road is by far his best course. Royal New Kent, True Blue and Bulls Bay are very good. Caledonia and Tot Hill are fun in very different ways, and Stonehouse brings up the rear.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2014, 10:43:07 AM by Dan_Callahan »

David Federman

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #35 on: September 18, 2014, 10:36:11 AM »
Have played both Caledonia and True Blue. Except for the "find any available place to put it" par 3 9th, Caledonia is a fine, enjoyable  track. The she-crab soup at the turn almost makes up for the 9th. We played True Blue right after and the contrast between the two could not be more stark. True Blue is rugged, rough around the edges, and just plain tough - not for the faint of heart or anyone with a handicap over 16 ( and that is being generous). Did not know until after that both were designed by the same man. Would never have guessed it - the two are so very different in style. Would folks agree that True Blue belongs to the "penal" school of golf architecture? That being said, I do want to get to Tobacco Road and Royal New Kent and return to both Caledonia and TB.

Chris DeToro

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #36 on: September 18, 2014, 11:12:11 AM »
I've only played Stonehouse and Royal New Kent, so I don't really have a ton of experience with his work, but from what I remember, I thought RNK was pretty solid.  Very tough to play for the first time with all of the blind shots, but I thought it did a good job of trying to be a linksy type course until the 18th hole.  18 just didn't seem to fit and was a funky hole

But his courses are fun despite typically being incredibly difficult

cary lichtenstein

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #37 on: September 18, 2014, 03:25:10 PM »
Fun, brilliant, unique, creative, brilliant, out of the box, not everything works but wow, I love his courses.
Live Jupiter, Fl, was  4 handicap, played top 100 US, top 75 World. Great memories, no longer play, 4 back surgeries. I don't miss a lot of things about golf, life is simpler with out it. I miss my 60 degree wedge shots, don't miss nasty weather, icing, back spasms. Last course I played was Augusta

Michael Whitaker

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #38 on: September 18, 2014, 04:35:10 PM »
Are any Stranz courses walker friendly?

Jeffrey...I haven't found that to be the case.  Of course, they are all technically walkable*, but I don't get the feeling that he routes his courses for the walking golfer first and foremost.  Rather I get the feeling he strives for the picturesque holes and then pieces them together.  At least, that is how I feel when I've been playing his courses.


*For the record, I've played Tobacco Road, Royal New Kent, Stonehouse, Caledonia, and True Blue.

Caledonia is one of the most walker friendly courses I have ever played.

True Blue is very walkable (I've walked it several times)... if you know the shortcuts to take it is an easy walk.
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Michael Whitaker

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #39 on: September 18, 2014, 04:42:12 PM »
There really aren't other architects who are judged here exclusively by the first six or seven courses they ever designed.

I wish Mike Strantz were still with us.  I believe he would have continued to evolve his work and style and that his courses, especially Royal New Kent and Stonehouse, would have been better protected and kept up.

He would have added to the GCA conversation in ways that no one else does.

WW

This is exactly what I was going to say.  I wish we had more of his work to assess.

I have not seen all of his work, but the best (for me) were his first course (Caledonia) and his last (MPCC).  I saw the properties for both of them before he was hired, and I was amazed by the results.

Tom,

I am so glad to see your comments here. I know nothing about routing of a golf course, but Caledonia is genius in how the holes fit together and one never feels crowded or cramped on such a small piece of property. I've never seen a course that fits together so seamlessly.

Mike
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Michael Whitaker

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #40 on: September 18, 2014, 04:46:47 PM »
My experience with Strantz's courses is first play "wow, that is really cool and cutting edge" as many of the posts have indicated. The second time the "wow" factor is still high. After several plays, the "wow" factor has worn off and the whole experience becomes tedious. In other words it's great in moderation but not what I want day in day out.

Bill,

I can see your point with the Virginia and NC courses, but I think the SC courses are very playable on an ongoing basis. The variety of holes presented and the challenges presented never seem tiring to me. There is really nothing "over the top" on ant of the SC courses.
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Amol Yajnik

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #41 on: September 18, 2014, 11:20:47 PM »
Have played both Caledonia and True Blue. Except for the "find any available place to put it" par 3 9th, Caledonia is a fine, enjoyable  track. The she-crab soup at the turn almost makes up for the 9th. We played True Blue right after and the contrast between the two could not be more stark. True Blue is rugged, rough around the edges, and just plain tough - not for the faint of heart or anyone with a handicap over 16 ( and that is being generous). Did not know until after that both were designed by the same man. Would never have guessed it - the two are so very different in style. Would folks agree that True Blue belongs to the "penal" school of golf architecture? That being said, I do want to get to Tobacco Road and Royal New Kent and return to both Caledonia and TB.

Would disagree that True Blue is penal; for reference, I'm an erratic 8 handicap.  The width of the fairways makes it an easy driving course in my mind, especially compared to Caledonia across the street.  Some of the approach shots are challenging because of the angles or hazards around the green, but I think that it's a fair golf course.  That view is shared by my father, who is in his 70s and plays to about a 16 handicap or so.

Carl Rogers

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #42 on: September 19, 2014, 07:10:59 AM »
Have played Tobacco Road 4 rounds, Royal New Kent 4 rounds, Stonehouse 1 round, Caledonia 1 round & True Blue 1 round.  The common trait for me is that at first play is that they are frighteningly intimidating, difficult and penal.  Repeated plays and some study has allowed me to overcome that and now find them real fun.  The golfer needs to know what they can do and they can't do.
I decline to accept the end of man. ... William Faulkner

Keith Grande

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #43 on: September 19, 2014, 09:20:13 AM »
Uncertainty in the mind of the golfer, the struggle within, fighting emotion is one of the most controversial aspects of golf.  Executing shots under duress is an aspect of the game which some either crave, or avoid.  Visual deception intimidation, camouflaged hazards, "blind" shots often come under fire as "unfair".  Some would rather have everything laid out in front of them, the RTJ style of golf.  Cookie cutter point and shoot golf.  I think many of Stranz' best designs fall under the heroic style of conquering an obstacle. 

Was Mike Stranz similar to Pete Dye in these respects, but without the long legacy of work behind it?  Would there have been a Mike Stranz design without Pete Dye coming before him? 

Jay Mickle

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #44 on: September 20, 2014, 01:35:18 PM »
Having my DC weekend plans cancelled I headed home from Virginia a day early and opted to stop at Tobacco Road and check out their new greens and compare with Stonehouse and Royal New Kent which I had just played.
I am a walker and wasn’t easily convinced that I couldn’t walk Stonehouse, in the end I was very glad that I opted for a cart as it seemed that the distance between holes was at least as long as the holes themselves.  After the first five holes I was starting to wonder when I was going to start playing a golf course. So much is hidden from the tees that you might doubt that fairways really exist. They in fact do and are fairly generous, but forced carries from the tee and to the generous greens seemed to rule the day. It reminded me of my first experience at TR where it seemed like more of a funhouse experience, wherein you waited expectantly to see what would jump out at you around the next corner. I played alone late in the day and really didn’t have the time to take in the course as I would have liked. While I don’t like to ride, the paths through the woods were a treat unto themselves sometimes with almost the thrill of a roller coaster.
The next day RNK was also must ride course. But unlike Stonehouse it looked like a golf course from the start but the surprises were there still there. The ultimate risk reward hole was the 2nd, a horseshoe where there was no recovery from the great ravine that guarded the approaching fairway and green. It had for me the same almost feel as the 13th at The Dunes, however, The Dunes was beautiful and daunting this was just daunting.  At Stonehouse you seemed to be hitting down to every green RNK felt like you were hitting up to most.
I like this front nine as much as any his courses that I have played. The back nine was probably also as good but I had a hard time coming to grips with the awful little uninspired little tract houses that  were pushed up so close to the course.  I kept recalling a conversation with Bob Toll of Toll Brothers (largest builder of “luxury” housing in the US).  As we drove along a ridge overlooking the Delaware River Valley, he noted at a couple of recently built homes and said : Why would a builder build $250K houses on lots with million dollar views, don’t they know that 10% of $1,000,000 is more than 10% of $250,000? I think I object to the fact that the houses were so out of keeping with the quality of the course that they abutted.  I found the Williams burg colonials at Stonehouse quite pleasant, even the condos at True Blue were unassuming.
Yesterday I got to TR and was glad to be able to strap the bag on and play a course that I was familiar with. The new Miniverde Bermuda greens were in great condition and due to their newness were still receptive. Another big change was the removal of all the trees between the 12th tee and the clubhouse. The whole feel of the 12th tee shot is transformed, I believe for the better. While TR greens are perhaps as large in square footage as Stonehouse and RNK their hourglass, boomerang and finger shapes give you much less to shoot at.
I tend to play Stranz courses at well below my handicap. I think it is because he makes me focus on my target. Even knowing that a slightly wayward shot is likely to find a generous landing area does not take away from the feeling that that little sliver of green area that he shows you is all that is there.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2020, 01:41:58 PM by Jay Mickle »
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ed_getka

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #45 on: September 21, 2014, 12:57:08 AM »
I generally have liked the Strantz courses I have played (MPCC Shore and Tobacco Road) with the exception of Tot Hill that I thought was ridiculous save a few interesting holes. At TR I thought Mike went overboard with the number of skinny greens ( his Twiggy period?), but I will generally head down for a round any time the green fee is in the $30-40 range. I generally like  his par 5'a the best. I am wondering if he has any good short par 4's? The ones I have seen above the go for it option is too close to impossible and the lay up option is often too easy. The short 4's are particularly bad at TR, #5 is a good example. There is a flattish green that can't be held if a go for it driver lands on the green. Coming up short of the green there is very little chance your ball can roll up the steep 8 foot high slope fronting the green. If your ball doesn't get up the slope you have a pitching challenge that would have most mortal's nervous system twitching. On the other hand the lay up out to the right is an easy 4 iron to hybrid followed by a wedge from an angle that the green is more receptive from? #16 at TR is another example of a no chance to drive short 4, but in this case the lay up is no pushover as you have to fly over junk about 180yds, but less than 220yds or you are back in the junk. I do appreciate the challenge of the short iron approach, but hitting an approach blind uphill 2 stories to a 3 tier green seems a bit much.
     Overall I like most of what I have seen and Mike was great at visual deception and intimidation and I generally love the artistry of his courses.
"Perimeter-weighted fairways", The best euphemism for containment mounding I've ever heard.

Steve Green

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #46 on: September 25, 2014, 10:28:51 PM »
Just played Tobacco Road today.  Have played Caledonia and True Blue.  The difficulty for me is the fact I have exactly one round played on all three.  What I would say is that visually they look much more difficult than they actually play.  I loved the look of both Caledonia and Tobacco Road.  The comments about his artistry are right on in my mind.  The greens at Tobacco Road were terrific.  There are more than a few blind shots and some of these holes have 15 foot flagsticks to help you find your way.  That was too much for the guys I was playing with.  All in all I would say if you are going to Pinehurst you should play TR.  If you are in Myrtle Beach you should not miss Caledonia.  Good looking and fun works for me.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
Bertrand Russell

James Brown

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #47 on: September 26, 2014, 08:15:10 PM »
I think Stonehouse and Royal New Kent were vital in helping us get past the "artificial" phase of the mid-90s and into the current phase of much more natural courses like those at Streamsong, Bandon, and Cabot.    Strantz courses always seemed to have a few really holes that present a great aesthetic while also being good golf holes - and at least passing as natural.  The Par Five #2 at Royal New Kent was this way.   

Many if his courses also embodied a "theme" which was a  pretty new concept at the time, but which has now become something we appreciate . 

Steve Lang

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #48 on: September 26, 2014, 10:38:49 PM »
 8) Played Tot Hill Farm once on way to Aberdeen/So Pines and have played Tobacco Road I think 7 times after it first opened...

Those two NC courses will always stick in my mind as counterpoints  or juxta-positions to the usual Sand Hills offerings, worth the ride out to TR to spend the day and replay.  Stunning synoptics and fun challenging your game, what more could you ask for?

I always liked Mike's quote:"You aren't guaranteed your best score the first journey around The Road, but you will remember the ride."

p.s. i first heard the name Mike Strantz and saw his work with the Hinkle Tree planted at Inverness in '79... great to see a Toledo boy make history in more than one way!
Inverness (Toledo, OH) cathedral clock inscription: "God measures men by what they are. Not what they in wealth possess.  That vibrant message chimes afar.
The voice of Inverness"

David Ober

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Re: How do you assess the work of Mike Strantz?
« Reply #49 on: September 29, 2014, 06:49:50 PM »
Have only played MPCC, and I'm happy to see that others seem to be as enamored of it as I am. Truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, IMHO.

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