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jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
After successfully highjacking the last few threads (Ohoopee, greens not visible from tees) and seeing the direction and excellent discussion the "lack of visibility" thread developed...


I'm curious-How often is a hole not built due to a fear of criticism of it not being fair?
How often are very cool features bulldozed or routed around because the architect believes the client or the user(or worse yet "good players") won't like it.


Should all complaints be considered equal?


Whay about the thoughtful golfer who would never complain, yet considers your course boring and quietly plays elsewhere---as opposed to the abnoxious golfer who complains about a low visbility, high anticipation shot or hole and management blows it up because they cater to the vocal minority-and end up with a membership full of such like minds while the adventurous/open minded migrate elsewhere.


Most any architect involved on this board is open minded and willing to share information and their work generally reflects that (and is one of the major reasons for the success and enlightenment on this board)


I will say it can't be easy having your work criticized but it's very dificult to see how something can be truly unique if not criticized by possibly even a majority of players until their tastes/education evolve and they are exposed to more interesting sophisticated golf (or golf played ON the land rather than through a blown up feature)
I can't tell you how many people I've taken on UK golf trips who hated raw, bsometimes blind links golf at first and now it's all they want to play and talk about.


I've often felt that the one Signature architect I know very well was hamstringed by previous criticism of the works of he others he respected and had all the adventure sucked out of him early in his career by the seduction of mass produced success with minimal surprises.


What holes/shots/courses do architects wish they could have over?
I know Mike Keiser has put a few restraints on Tom Doak's greens(please correct me if I'm wrong)


How often can an architect put artistic and creative success over(perceived)comercial success?
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2019, 07:45:40 AM »
In my small amount of work to date, Iíve been fortunate enough to not have had restrictions on me, in terms of boldness anyway.


I donít have a fear of criticism in the slightest because I believe in the choices I make but there are two important points:


- Even a small amount of criticism from ďgoodĒ golfers can lead to amendments and bastardisation of an initial design concept, implemented after the fact by someone else
- Not all bold is good bold. Good golf design is as much about good intuition and balance.


Iím in the midst of introducing a blind second shot at Strandhill where previously there was none. Iím sure there will be criticism.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2019, 07:58:43 AM »
Jeff:


This is a great topic and bad timing for me to give it a thorough answer as I'm about to get on a series of planes today, heading to Africa.


I think every architect has to be somewhat conscious of potential criticism of a hole, unless we are the actual developer and not just the architect.  Ultimately the course is going to be owned and operated by others, and if the criticism affects their view of the hole, it's going to get changed.  [Example:  14th at Bandon Trails]


Personally, though, I've never worried much or thought much about commercial success for myself; I am building the things I want to build, and hoping others appreciate them.  I just have to worry about it for my clients, to the extent they bring it up.


I generally know when I am building something controversial, and I do it much more often when I've got a client who will be accepting of it.  Two of my best courses - Barnbougle and Ballyneal - were for clients who didn't play golf much at all, and just encouraged me to build things that would be fun to play.  They didn't know enough to judge a hole as "unfair" and they weren't going to listen to someone else tell them.  That was incredibly freeing from an artistic standpoint.


The other thing is that I'm not afraid to build a "cult" course which some people will hate, but others will love, so long as there are enough of the latter to make it work.  That's a tough equation to sort out sometimes:  it worked for a while at Royal New Kent and Stonehouse, and they still have their fans, but where they are located is not a big enough market to sustain them once the one-time visitors stopped coming.


As for my deal with Mike Keiser . . . he was afraid of hiring me originally because he "likes flattish greens" and was afraid he couldn't get me to tone them down.  Luckily, multiple people he respects told him just to express his wishes to me, and for Pacific Dunes, I promised him that I would give him veto power if he thought a green was too severe.  I wouldn't have done that if I wasn't sure I could build 18 greens I was happy with that he wouldn't want to veto.  In the end, there was only one contour in one green that he was concerned about, and you would never in a million years guess which it is, but I learned a lot about his likes and dislikes from the experience.


The odd thing is that when I built Streamsong, for a client who was just fine with difficult greens, Mike went back to thinking I always built crazy greens, and it took him years to remember that I can do them either way.  He does tend to believe that every course should be built the way he likes them.

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2019, 08:16:25 AM »
A) The contour on the putting green? Safe travels, Tom.


B) In one of the recent articles about BaaBaaBaa, it is intimated that there was concern over what GH did at StreamsongB, and that might be why B3 ended up in the hands of C&C.


C) Is this where art and artifice collide? The great artists could not give even one sh!t about criticism. The ones who work for a living, do.


D) I am 32 years into my career as a teacher, and am fortunate to be able to go where I want to, in terms of pedagogy. Same goes for coaching varsity golf for two different teams. I also don't make nearly the money that changes hands with golf course architecture. That difference explains one thing over the other, I suspect.
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Hillview
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek
~Greenwood
~Shawnee
~Leroy
~

Peter Pallotta

Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2019, 10:11:25 AM »
Jeff W -
I think one lens through which to answer your questions is your own work, ie as a teacher/head pro and radio show host. Do you pick your topics and choose your guests and offer up drills and say/not say things etc because of a fear of criticism or client constraints? Or instead -- as I assume is the case for architects -- are you guided by your professionalism and years of experience in terms of what works best (for your pupils/members) and what will be accepted by and most resonate (with your radio audience)?
In other words: do you need a censor, or are you your own censor?

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2019, 12:01:48 PM »
Jeff W -
I think one lens through which to answer your questions is your own work, ie as a teacher/head pro and radio show host. Do you pick your topics and choose your guests and offer up drills and say/not say things etc because of a fear of criticism or client constraints? Or instead -- as I assume is the case for architects -- are you guided by your professionalism and years of experience in terms of what works best (for your pupils/members) and what will be accepted by and most resonate (with your radio audience)?
In other words: do you need a censor, or are you your own censor?


Apples to oranges
Radio talk is by and large forgotten moments after it's uttered.
I will say I'd prefer to air some of our off air conversations...
Golfers generally blame themselves when they don't improve, which may or may not be true.
interestingly, the more a teacher promotes a "formula" or method the more instant fame (and criticism) they can obtain.
Method teachers are criticized(Ballard, Leadbetter, Pelz) a lot, but they have been historically the most financially successful.


Golf courses are in the ground a long time, and an architect's reputation and livelihood are at stake so they definitely have to be confident a concept/hole will work-especially if a controversial hole.As Tom says they worry that their work may be changed later when they have no control, but by that standard many great holes would never have been built.


 Clearly a formulaic "brand" that takes few chances with a golf course can be financially successful,  same as method teachers.(who may well destroy a lot of natural talent)









"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2019, 01:05:07 PM »
Jeff:  one of the treats of my routing book will be discussing the occasional wild idea that we didnít pursue.


Honestly, with years of hindsight, Iím generally happy we didnít pursue them.


I agree with you that there are many architects whose work is disappointing because theyíre afraid to take chances.  However there are also many young architects who would benefit more from a friend telling them to simplify things a bit, and instead their friends keep telling them to jack it up.  (As I said a few weeks ago about the influence of Alice Dye on Pete.)


That said, fear of doing something wrong is a very poor motivator for any designer.

Kalen Braley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2019, 01:12:25 PM »
Funny you mention that Tom,


My dream scenario has always been to buy a nice piece of property and let the designer run wild with it....do some really out of the box things.  And you can always go back and tone things down if its too out there.  A few Jim Engh holes comes to mind as well as a few that you and Stranz have done...

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2019, 01:23:56 PM »
Funny you mention that Tom,


My dream scenario has always been to buy a nice piece of property and let the designer run wild with it....do some really out of the box things.  And you can always go back and tone things down if its too out there.  A few Jim Engh holes comes to mind as well as a few that you and Stranz have done...


Kalen:


I have a friend who keeps saying he wants to have me design a course with 18 quirky holes, a la North Berwick - and heís in a big enough golf market that the idea might succeed.  I will believe it when I see it, though; most guys would get cold feet when they had to put their money on it.


The Mulligan course at Ballyneal is the furthest weíve gone in that direction so far - it was easier to rationalize it because itís just a short course and you donít have to think about anyone ranking it.  So, it includes a blind par-3, and at least three wild greens I might never have built on a regulation course.  The fact that itís relatively easy, because so many of the greens sit in bowls and offer multiple ways to get to the hole, also creates room for the wild stuff.

Peter Pallotta

Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2019, 02:13:30 PM »
I think there are many people in creative industries for whom it is all too easy to 'project out' onto the public or would-be clients an unwillingness to accept the new & challenging, and then to suggest/believe that the criticism that is sure to follow is the main reason they tailor their work so that it is conventional & inside-the-box -- and in so doing they absolve themselves from having to question/blame their own goals and intentions and imagination and integrity and talent. Whether a writer working for a mainstream producer (as I was once) or an associate working for a signature architect, we'd like to imagine that it is the fear (or better, practical recognition) of the potential criticism that is stopping us from doing great work -- but the truth is, we shouldn't be pointing our finger outwards but instead turning it around and pointing to the one person who actually bears responsibility for the work. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves... 
P   

« Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 04:46:36 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: Is a "fear of criticism" a good reason not to build a hole
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2019, 09:44:08 PM »
The Tourís methods are refined:  they worry out loud that a feature might ďgenerate negative comments ď knowing that the sponsor doesnít want to offend key players, for fear they might not come back next year.  Big corporations usually prefer to shy away from controversy.

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