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archie_struthers

  • Karma: +0/-0
Why an architect is really good
« on: May 27, 2022, 07:14:51 AM »
 8)


There's a lot to designing a golf course. There's the construction aspect . There is a logistical element. There is a need to get along with a variety of skilled and unskilled people who will be involved. At some point there is a public relations element few have been lucky enough to eschew.


But in the end what separates the architect from the  "great" architect is the ability to tie in the end product,  to make it flow, to have  the transition from hole to hole be seamless.


Lot's of us could design a great hole and maybe a bunch of great holes. But knowing when to throttle back and make a rich mixture of holes that ebb and flow is a real art.  The really good GCA's do this better than the rest!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2022, 08:20:19 AM by archie_struthers »

Tim Martin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2022, 07:50:49 AM »
Archie-I have always been enamored of the ability of a good/great architect to find the holes in the designated parcel. As you say many could design a great hole or even a few but to put eighteen together that flow using the natural features of the land is a next level skill.

Tommy Williamsen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2022, 08:24:24 AM »
It seems that the great courses tend to have a theme that flows throughout the course, yet each hole is distinctive. I played a course this week that has only one fairway bunker but many of the greens were perched on a little hill with extremely deep bunkers. Each hole had its own personality but the courses flow was pretty clear.
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

"Deep within your soul-space is a magnificent cathedral where you are sweet beyond telling." Rumi

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2022, 10:58:34 AM »
Archie,


Say What?  You mention everything under the sun, except for the ability to design, and translate design vision into a workable final product, realizing that design is not just art, it's even more about how it functions.  Even flow and seamless transitions are but one aspect of a complete and great design.


It amazes me that on a site like this, participants really, really, undervalue the value of design.  And maybe have virtully no clue what it is all about.


It is said the golf course architect must be conversant with about 100 things, from agronomy to environment, to strategy, etc., etc., etc.  Putting those constraints and turning them into opportunities is what separates good designers from all the rest - average designers and amateur designers, etc. :( :o ??? ::) :P :-X :'(



Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Peter Pallotta

Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2022, 11:33:20 AM »
Jimmy Caan says he helped Francis Coppola get The Godfather by telling producers that "he wasn't a Brooklyn Italian, he was a European Italian" -- by which Jimmy meant that while others saw pulp Francis saw poetry, and where others could manage trite Francis would aim for tragedy. Puzo had written the book to make money, as his previous attempts at art had left him broke and dispirited and he now wanted to write the trashiest potboiler he could instead. But what Puzo himself thought of as a sell-out Coppola thought of as Shakespearean. Which is to say: there were dozens of skilled, experienced and talented directors around back then, any one of whom had all the necessary craft and know-how to have efficiently and effectively made The Godfather a good film; it was Coppola's vision and intention that made it great.


 
« Last Edit: May 27, 2022, 07:09:55 PM by PPallotta »

Sean_A

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Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2022, 06:17:37 PM »
I would think many elements come together to make an archie great. Assuming it's possible, I know for me pulling together a good walk with the facilities well incorporated into the layout are important. I also think drainage is very important. Don't skimp on drainage if drainage is necessary. The actual design of the holes is important, but we all disagree on what great architecture is so there is more room for interpretation on that score. However, unless the reason a course exists is for top flight golfers, playability is a key element. Details of design are also important. You get the point, there are almost too many factors to name, including luck, which combine to make a great archie.

Ciao
« Last Edit: June 01, 2022, 03:24:58 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

archie_struthers

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2022, 07:03:51 PM »
 ;D     ??? ??? ???


Jeff , whats the beef.. no comprende? 


Obviously I articulated in brief but the design of a golf course is far more than pointing here and there and moving some dirt to build 18 greens. Don't see how you could construe what I said negatively at all.


 The best of the best are able to take all the difficult stuff and tie it together ! We had a great discussion on this a long time ago an felt it was ripe for a replay.




 ??? ??? ???
« Last Edit: May 27, 2022, 10:53:18 PM by archie_struthers »

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2022, 04:39:44 AM »
Archie,


Say What?  You mention everything under the sun, except for the ability to design, and translate design vision into a workable final product, realizing that design is not just art, it's even more about how it functions.  Even flow and seamless transitions are but one aspect of a complete and great design.


It amazes me that on a site like this, participants really, really, undervalue the value of design.  And maybe have virtully no clue what it is all about.


It is said the golf course architect must be conversant with about 100 things, from agronomy to environment, to strategy, etc., etc., etc.  Putting those constraints and turning them into opportunities is what separates good designers from all the rest - average designers and amateur designers, etc. :( :o ??? ::) :P :-X :'(
+1. It is only when two or more designers, submit different designs over the same piece of land with the same budget and constraits can your really understand who is good or not as good. Remember some architects won't take on poor land and perhaps the real skill is making a nice golf course out of a very average field. Not all pieces of land have ocean fronts or sandy soil.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

James Reader

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2022, 06:58:12 AM »
Archie,


Say What?  You mention everything under the sun, except for the ability to design, and translate design vision into a workable final product, realizing that design is not just art, it's even more about how it functions.  Even flow and seamless transitions are but one aspect of a complete and great design.


It amazes me that on a site like this, participants really, really, undervalue the value of design.  And maybe have virtully no clue what it is all about.


It is said the golf course architect must be conversant with about 100 things, from agronomy to environment, to strategy, etc., etc., etc.  Putting those constraints and turning them into opportunities is what separates good designers from all the rest - average designers and amateur designers, etc. :( :o ??? ::) :P :-X :'(
+1. It is only when two or more designers, submit different designs over the same piece of land with the same budget and constraits can your really understand who is good or not as good. Remember some architects won't take on poor land and perhaps the real skill is making a nice golf course out of a very average field. Not all pieces of land have ocean fronts or sandy soil.


Adrian


Coincidentally, Iím just back from playing your Stranahan course at the Players Club for the first time this morning.  As an example of just what can be achieved from what I imagine must have been a pretty unprepossessing site, I thought it was fantastic.  Iíve played a lot of courses on similar land around England over the years and I was asked to hit as many interesting shots (of every type, from drives to putts) today as in a dozen rounds on most of them. On many of those shots, I had a variety of different options as to how best to get the ball near the hole.  All in only 5,600 yards.


For me, that says that the architect is really good.




Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2022, 05:26:25 AM »
Thanks James, wish I knew you were here, I was there Saturday morning.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2022, 09:00:45 AM »


+1. It is only when two or more designers, submit different designs over the same piece of land with the same budget and constraits can your really understand who is good or not as good. Remember some architects won't take on poor land and perhaps the real skill is making a nice golf course out of a very average field. Not all pieces of land have ocean fronts or sandy soil.


I think you meant to say, remember some architects donít have to take on poor land. Iím pretty sure they could, but theyíre happy to leave it to better designers such as yourself.

Steve Lang

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2022, 12:08:27 PM »
 8)  I've known and met a couple handfuls of building, landscape, and golf course architects and whether its an office building, church, park or golf course, the take-away from the immersive experience of their good works is usually... of course they did that, it fits the needs, and is simply very pleasing on various levels and often others after the fact.  I think its those later thoughts about the experience that mark when an architect is good... the form and function or the function and form stuff are thought out.  Complexity reduced to simplicity is always appealing.


I will always think back to my 5 yr chem eng program at Univ of Cinti and the time spent freeloading at the DAA&P College building workshop and meeting folks... DAA&P stood for Design, Art, Architecture & Planning, with Architecture being a 6 yr program.  The archies, the ones that stuck it out, had very good appreciation of how to just get stuff done, from details to big picture.  Those that were a little more interested in only one of the DAAP facets, iF they couldn't integrate it all, they'd fall back to being art majors or drop out.   


So maybe being good at 2 or 3 out of the DAAP subjects is why a architect is really good.

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"

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2022, 01:22:33 PM »
Isnít there an old cliche something akin to ďan expert can do for $£10 what any idiot can do for $£100Ē?
Hiring or taking advice from someone with a good track record or good references will usually produce a successful outcome and probably save money in the long run. Beware of the boastful and snakeoil salesmen though!

Atb

Ira Fishman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2022, 05:15:28 PM »
It strikes me that comparing golf architects is more achievable than comparing artists and designers in other disciplines because building architects, landscape architects, painters and sculptors, novelists, composers and musicians have more freedom in choice of materials, forms, styles, composition, and colors. Yes, there are choices that gcas can and do make, but at the end of the day, the land and the need to have holes at the end of the stretch of land put boundaries around those choices. A long of way of saying that I do not know the components of what makes a architect ďreally goodĒ, but the conclusion is easier to reach than in other endeavors.


Ira

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2022, 10:15:41 AM »
;D     ??? ??? ???


Jeff , whats the beef.. no comprende? 


Obviously I articulated in brief but the design of a golf course is far more than pointing here and there and moving some dirt to build 18 greens. Don't see how you could construe what I said negatively at all.


 The best of the best are able to take all the difficult stuff and tie it together ! We had a great discussion on this a long time ago an felt it was ripe for a replay.




 ??? ??? ???


Archie,


Sorry to take off on you, but I recently saw another magazine photo of a GCA on a sand pro making minute changes to greens grades, but that is only a minute portion of what goes into golf design. Honestly, those 1/4 inch green contour changes might make a green greater, but only for a few select players who land in a specific spot when the pin is in a specific spot.


And your post starts with three of the smaller things to think about while emphasizing mostly construction aspects.  Not to mention, I think many architects haven't been great organizers on site, or got along well with people, or had any PR savvy.

Golf course design (meaning getting to a final product) is a really a complex job, requiring inside and outside work, which is why I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.  When you think about it, every sq. ft. of a golf course should have had the architect think of what should be put there (or left alone) and why.... and how it affects every other aspect of the course and golfers!  And, 80% of that, the golfer never sees, and if done really, really well, doesn't even think about, i.e., typically golfers only notice when something isn't quite right. Therein lies the real magic of good and great golf course architecture. 


Sometimes, this site seems devoted to giving amateurs hope that they could actually design a few great golf holes.  In the few cases I have seen in person over my four decades in architecture, none has come close, although my experience certainly isn't universal, LOL. But, hey, no real golf holes have been harmed in the making of this internet site, LOL.  And, for all the guys I have hired, I know I teach them a lot about architecture, but I couldn't teach them to be great architects. (I understand, that was part of your point)  They either were or weren't inherently good architects.


The short version is, while I understand none of us has the time to devote to making totally perfect posts on this site (including me.....) I felt your post really undervalued the value of architecture. :D
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Kalen Braley

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Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2022, 12:42:31 PM »
Jeff,

Outside of the usual suspects like Fownes and Crump, I guess I would disagree.

Exhibit A would be the now NLE Antler Springs.  A 5000 yard 18 hole gem just outside of Spokane, WA, built by a couple brothers a dentist and doctor, (now retired), on the family property, a rolling piece of land. It took em a decade but they had some of the most interesting and maddening holes you would ever play:

- One of the most intriguing holes I've ever played.  A sub 280 par 4 with a green in the shape of a crescent moon that was 7 paces across at its widest, and completely surrounded by sand.
- One of the most difficult par 4s I've ever played, and it was only about 250 yards.  Water left and right of the green, with a huge tree right in front of the green.  There was almost no place to hit the ball!  :D   I played it twice and happy to take bogey both times.
- The shortest par 5 i've ever played where a Tour Pro could drive the green with a high 320 yard high hook, but it was such an odd quirky hole with a crazy fairway configuration I can't even explain it.
- Another short par 5 with the most heaving, rumply, rolling fairway I've ever seen....like one of those far away places in the UK that Bonnar or Mayhugh would post about.
- And one of the greatest, and i mean that, par 4's I've ever played.  An uphill double dogleg hole with tons of strategy on each shot and one of the most beautiful greens I've seen, tucked in between a few pines at the top of the ridge.

The pro shop/clubhouse?  Small and unpretentious, with a honor box for early tee offs. The owners lived on property in a neat little A-frame house just off the 8th green. This course just screamed all the things we espouse on GCA.  Affordable, understated, minimalist, interesting, quirky, etc....my only regret is not organizing a GCA 36 hole event. 

But alas the brothers decided to move onto other things...

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/aug/17/jim-meehan-antler-springs-joining-sun-dance-on-gol/
« Last Edit: May 31, 2022, 12:44:18 PM by Kalen Braley »

Thomas Dai

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Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2022, 03:47:48 PM »
An opportunity to revisit this old thread on the hardest and most timing consuming aspects of being a golf course architect - https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,67141.msg1611769.html
Atb

archie_struthers

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Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2022, 05:30:20 PM »
 :'( :(




Jeff I'm not shy about saying that playing great golf or having some money allows one to become a talented architect. In fat I've been pretty vocal at times about how bad some great players have done in your field. I am proud of the 20 plus holes I've built with a different background than many architects. Wish I could tweak at least two of them tomorrow. :P :P :P  But then I see something really great and realize how much I missed, despite my best efforts.


I think that the premise of the post was intended to speak to the difficulty in making a course really , really great. It's a homage to architects in general and specifically as to great course design. My premise was that the very best designers have a " special" talent that others haven't tapped into.don't have. It's not just the mundane aspects, which we agree are numerous. I think there is some intuitive feel necessary to make golf better on a regular basis. There are a select few that stand out above the crowd.


It's not just being able to lay out 18 holes that fit on a piece of ground , or finding the right ground to build on. You hit the tree house a little but I'll take the hit for my statement that it's that special ability to tie in all the holes , mange the play ability of each as a whole the . hen there is the parking lot, the entrance road etc etc etc and make sure that a course will drain efficiently being a pre-requisite to an  success, and that just scratches the surface of items.

It's pretty much a given that the best players aren't the best golf course architects as a rule. Maybe they don't understand how hard it is for some of us. Maybe they just phone it in and take the cash. Gary Player's designs that I've seen are really pedestrian and at times silly. Palmer Design tends to be better but not in the upper pantheon of design by any means. That being said Arnie might be top ten all time human being in my estimation, a far more important yardstick of the man.


So, either I posed the postulate poorly or you didn't see my thought process. Pretty sure we agree as to how tough it is to be good let alone great in your field.


There's a lot more than that. But assuming someone can handle the basics, it's the detail that really matters in separating players in the field. Played Bala in Philly today for the first time, short and lots of quirk but Flynn's talent really shines thru. He was one of the very best in my opinion. Many wouldn't like it but I'm itching to give it another go now that it's not all new to me.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2022, 06:03:17 PM by archie_struthers »

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2022, 02:21:11 AM »
Archie, I think it was the statement ďlots of us could design a great hole or maybe a bunch of great holesĒ that Jeff picked up on.


I think thatís what sounded like it underplayed all of the work that gets it to finished product, even if you didnít mean it that way.

archie_struthers

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Re: Why an architect is really good New
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2022, 07:26:27 AM »
 8) 8)


Jeff just re-read your second post and we really agree as to the art of "design". Most importantly to do it really well you have to see everything the golfer encounters in his trip around the course, not just the obvious. That was my premise...poorly enumerated I suppose.


I would take exception to the idea that many here couldn't design a very good hole or even a bunch of them. They probably couldn't handle the very logistical processes originally mentioned that the trained architect knows so well. Like balancing the site , assuring that safety zones are inherent in design and of course knowing how drainage is so integral  to the process. ETC ETC ETC  In keeping with this line there are obvious examples all over the country of redo's by greens chairman that didn't work out so well.  I remember how much the  "redo'  of the 16th at Woodcrest CC  in Cherry Hill ( Flynn 1929) , NJ made such an impression on me. Hated it...my nascent  love of  GCA must have been sprouting .


Again the very best "architects' of all time have " it",  a special flair to make an angle just right, or build a lip on a bunker  so pleasing to the eye. It's everything he or she does that ties it together. Yesterday on a short , very quirky Flynn course( Bala in Philadelphia) I was struck by the beauty of the simple greens and how he set them into a site woefully short on room.  Much different that the
 sprawling sites at Lancaster CC or Lehigh .  That to me is the genius of a great designer.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2022, 07:17:51 AM by archie_struthers »

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Why an architect is really good
« Reply #20 on: June 01, 2022, 09:24:19 AM »
Ally,


Not sure it was even that, although my main point is that the post (and so many others here) was that it started on details, ignoring all the basics (which themselves aren't really that basic) that go into design.


Archie,


Yes, as you explain, we agree on a lot.  We'll go with the idea it wasn't the best formulated post, combined with the idea that I was trying to make a point, using your post as a foil.  Not to mention, a bit of a different way of thinking.  I think TD once said that I must be from a different planet based on the way I think about architecture......so it must be true, LOL. ;D
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

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