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Tommy Williamsen

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Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« on: May 04, 2022, 09:32:42 AM »
Most of the clubs where I was a member we built in the last sixty years. None of them needed to be restored but all of them could be improved.


Ballyhack is one such course. Number nine was an awkward hole. A bunker had been positioned in the middle of the fairway. Most everyone had to hit less than driver, which on a par five, was maddening. There was a sliver of a fairway left of the bunker but the terrain tilted toward the bunker so hitting it there is more than difficult, it is also lucky.






The bunker was moved to the right and farther from the tee. Now driver is the play. for the better (and younger) player the green is more reachable.



If you can stay left of the bunker and hit a good drive it will tumble down the hill giving a very good look at the green about 225 away.

I can't get there but many guys can. It is much more fun hole. No one would every want to restore this hole.

Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Mark_Fine

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2022, 10:20:38 AM »
Tommy,
I was having a chat the other day with another golf architect and he made any interesting and very thought provoking comment.  Actually I have always felt the same way.  He said, “It is all but impossible to get everything right the first time around on a golf course.”  I wonder how many architects would admit they would like to changes some things if they had the chance?  There are also sometimes (likely always) circumstances that force their hand and they have to do things they didn’t necessarily prefer to do.  As such, this leads to holes that are less than perfect and in some cases not ideal at all. 


I have told the story on this site before about a Tillinghast course I worked on that had two “original” holes that looked totally out of character with the rest of the golf course.  A total purist would likely say, “Hey they are original, leave them alone.”.  Turns out after doing a lot of research, the club had apparently run out of funds before the course was completed and those two holes were finished up “essentially in house” without Tillinghast.  But they were “original”.  There are many more examples I am sure we all can add.

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2022, 11:00:30 AM »
Mark, I belonged to Four Streams for twenty years. We had the architect, Steve Smyers, on retainer. He came every year. He'd ask, "How does this hole play?" "Are there any conditioning concerns?" Over the years he cut down a few trees, widened some fairways and enlarged s couple of greens. All the changes were greeted with great joy.
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Mark_Fine

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2022, 11:09:55 AM »
Tommy,
This is why doing “pure restoration” is so difficult.  People talk about selecting a high point for a course as the date to restore it to but even that is subjective.  Like Four Streams, most old courses were tinkered with over the years (many times by the original architect). 

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2022, 11:16:25 AM »
Hi Tommy
Thank you for sharing
The grass after and left of the bunker doesn't look like a fairway from above.
It's 8 yards wide, more like a walkway.
If it was all bunker and no fairway/walkway would that be better - similar to Hell's Half Acre?
Isn't it a valid tool to force the player's hand sometimes? Hitting a precise 240-yard shot or throttling back the Tiger.
It is hard for me to understand if the course is flawed due to that hole, maybe too many forced shots, but maybe that is what the architect/artist wanted there for pacing, balance, or interest.


Sometimes a painter is happy with the occasional brush stroke, if not they can keep painting.
Wanting to change something due to a flaw vs. being content with the idiosyncrasies of the course are different concepts to leave with a golf course.


Maintenance issues due to design flaws or growth or bad practices are different.
Peace
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil & Tiger.

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2022, 11:27:05 AM »
Hi Tommy
Thank you for sharing
The grass after and left of the bunker doesn't look like a fairway from above.
It's 8 yards wide, more like a walkway.
If it was all bunker and no fairway/walkway would that be better - similar to Hell's Half Acre?
Isn't it a valid tool to force the player's hand sometimes? Hitting a precise 240-yard shot or throttling back the Tiger.
It is hard for me to understand if the course is flawed due to that hole, maybe too many forced shots, but maybe that is what the architect/artist wanted there for pacing, balance, or interest.


Sometimes a painter is happy with the occasional brush stroke, if not they can keep painting.
Wanting to change something due to a flaw vs. being content with the idiosyncrasies of the course are different concepts to leave with a golf course.


Maintenance issues due to design flaws or growth or bad practices are different.
Peace


Mike, I checked Google Earth and it is an old picture. That is the way it formally was. The bunker was moved to the right and closer to the green.


These are overheads of the old hole.






The bunker was moved closer to the right rough and the fairway was widened to the left of the bunker and widened closer to the right rough. The tongue of fairway now meets up with the fairway by the bunker.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 11:36:57 AM by Tommy Williamsen »
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

PPallotta

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2022, 11:44:42 AM »
In his thread on Perry Maxwell at Augusta, Sven notes that many golden ages courses were changed early on. It's interesting the different standard we now hold architects and new courses to -- we expect them to get it perfect the first time, right off the bat. We celebrate Ross' care and dedication in 'constantly working on and improving PH2' for years, but criticize Nicklaus for 'having to go back and rework Dismal' not long after its opening. Mike N's point is a good one -- we should be willing to celebrate a new course's idiosyncrasies rather than complaining about its mistakes. But since we don't tend to do that (reserving our love for the idiosyncratic to 100 year old courses), I think we could instead stop expecting a golf course to be 'finished and complete' and 'at its best' immediately upon opening -- so that there'd be no stigma for or shame in the architect coming back a year later and making changes. If it was fine for Maxwell to fix Mackenzie at Augusta, it sure should be fine for any architect/course today.

« Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 12:04:39 PM by PPallotta »

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2022, 11:49:21 AM »
Did the changes make the hole more enjoyable for you?
Did they not go far enough?
How far do you hit your tee shots, and where do you play from?
Wasn't Ballyhack designed to be difficult?
Are there too many forced layups on the 18 holes?


Peace


Your quote reminds me of one of my favorites:
Find love
Then give it all away
- Eef Barzelay
« Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 11:51:29 AM by Mike Nuzzo »
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil & Tiger.

Mike Nuzzo

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2022, 11:54:08 AM »
Thank you Peter
Your description is a good process, but if I were a business I'd want the artist that gets much closer the first time while it is all just dirt.
Peace
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil & Tiger.

PPallotta

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2022, 12:32:02 PM »
Thank you Peter
Your description is a good process, but if I were a business I'd want the artist that gets much closer the first time while it is all just dirt.
Peace
Mike - I think you got to the heart of the matter there. Architects are artists-craftspeople who create work that their audience actually participates in, physically -- literally walking on and around and through the art. And it is an art-craft that is inherently changeable, and never 'fixed' as is art that is on celluloid or on a canvas or cd; the weather changes it day to day, natural forces change it over the years, and the people who own it can change it in so many ways any time they want. Which is to say: gca is an art in which the artist can indeed get it very close to great the first time, while it's all just dirt -- only to discover soon after opening that one too many of the participating audience members simply don't think it works for them as it is. The artist didn't necessarily make a mistake -- it's just that he works in a medium in which the idiosyncratic can quickly be smoothed over if the majority of the intended audience find that they can't or don't want to engage with it.


« Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 12:37:29 PM by PPallotta »

Mark_Fine

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2022, 12:44:21 PM »
Peter,
Good posts.  However, what I was trying to say is not whether some golfer or critic playing the course thinks something is out of whack but whether THE ARCHITECT himself who designed it thinks they could have and maybe should have done something different that would have made the finished product better.  Big difference. 


I will admit myself on some of my projects there are things I wish I had changed or tweaked after all is said and done.  But sometimes for example maybe you can’t get back to a job site in time and something is shaped out different then what you hoped or expected and time or money is of the essence and you have to go with it.  Most times few will ever notice - but you will. 
« Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 12:48:15 PM by Mark_Fine »

PPallotta

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2022, 01:40:29 PM »
Mark - understood and agree; but I think the same attitude can apply in both cases, i.e. we can all be willing to see it as a good thing (and not a negative) that, upon reflection, an architect goes back and does something different.

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2022, 02:18:27 PM »
Did the changes make the hole more enjoyable for you?
Yes. Previously even I had to lay up and my wife had to hit an iron off the tee. I can never go for the green in two (par five) but I can get within 100 yards now.

Did they not go far enough?
I think so.

How far do you hit your tee shots, and where do you play from?
I hit it 220 when it is a good one. I play the course from the third set of tees at just over 6100 yards. I play to a seven.


Wasn't Ballyhack designed to be difficult?
It is plenty difficult. The old hole didn't make it more difficult it just took driver out of you hands on a par five.

Are there too many forced layups on the 18 holes?
There are no layups for me. From the back tees I don't think there are any for 99% of the players. From the second set of tees there might be three for the very long hitters that I have seen.


Peace


Your quote reminds me of one of my favorites:
Find love
Then give it all away
- Eef Barzelay
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2022, 02:26:25 PM »
Here is an aerial of the par five ninth tee shot now.


Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Mike Nuzzo

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2022, 04:39:30 PM »
Thank you Tommy
Initially, I was looking at the hole from the back tees....
Yes if your wife had to lay up with an iron and still had 300 yards to the green, I would consider that a flaw and should be changed, unless they wanted it hard and didn't care about the forward player.
If your wife still lays up with the modifications, because the wider target is still too narrow due to the terrain, it seems still a flaw, if the intent was to be "playable" for everyone. And playable here implies not a forced or arbitrary layup, unless that was the intent.
peace


p.s. if "that" was the intent, then it is good as is, and the 17 other holes should balance this perceived flaw, for this player, assuming it is a well-designed course.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 04:45:39 PM by Mike Nuzzo »
Thinking of Bob, Rihc, Bill, George, Neil & Tiger.

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2022, 05:43:23 PM »
Thank you Tommy
Initially, I was looking at the hole from the back tees....
Yes if your wife had to lay up with an iron and still had 300 yards to the green, I would consider that a flaw and should be changed, unless they wanted it hard and didn't care about the forward player.
If your wife still lays up with the modifications, because the wider target is still too narrow due to the terrain, it seems still a flaw, if the intent was to be "playable" for everyone. And playable here implies not a forced or arbitrary layup, unless that was the intent.
peace


p.s. if "that" was the intent, then it is good as is, and the 17 other holes should balance this perceived flaw, for this player, assuming it is a well-designed course.


Mike, this might be true  but I could have it wrong. I think the tees initially were located back from where they are today, b[size=78%]ut the club found out it didn't own the land. My wife and I both hit drivers on the hole.[/size]
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Sven Nilsen

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2022, 10:52:18 AM »
Regarding the changes Ross made at Pinehurst over the years, it probably is important to keep in mind how much the game of golf changed from the late 1890's through the 1940's.  Many of the early courses evolved not so much because they weren't "right" when built, but because the game had moved on. 


The distance issue has always been there, and the greatest percentage jumps didn't take place in the last 40 years, but in the first 40 years of golf in this country. 


With respect to Mike Nuzzo's point on getting it "closer the first time" I'd surmise it is much easier to accomplish that goal today than it was in the Golden Age.  You can virtually build a course today before moving any dirt, and the ability to overcome unseen obstacles is that much greater once you do.  The architects of today should be held to a higher standard, as the tools at their disposal are that much better.


Sven
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

Sean_A

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2022, 02:00:51 AM »
Regarding the changes Ross made at Pinehurst over the years, it probably is important to keep in mind how much the game of golf changed from the late 1890's through the 1940's.  Many of the early courses evolved not so much because they weren't "right" when built, but because the game had moved on. 


The distance issue has always been there, and the greatest percentage jumps didn't take place in the last 40 years, but in the first 40 years of golf in this country. 


With respect to Mike Nuzzo's point on getting it "closer the first time" I'd surmise it is much easier to accomplish that goal today than it was in the Golden Age.  You can virtually build a course today before moving any dirt, and the ability to overcome unseen obstacles is that much greater once you do.  The architects of today should be held to a higher standard, as the tools at their disposal are that much better.


Sven

Sven

I agree 100%. You think of a place like Pinehurst, it didn't have grass greens until the mid 30s. Now days people argue over which highly specialised grass to use.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Bamburgh Castle, Erewash, Gullane 2, The Loop x2 & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2022, 02:40:53 AM »
.... and on old links and heathlands etc the fairway lines were more grazing animal patterns rather than mower lines.
atb

Carl Rogers

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2022, 12:41:58 PM »
I wish at some point Riverfront would call TD & Team for a review - consult.
I decline to accept the end of man. ... William Faulkner

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2022, 01:30:57 PM »
I wish at some point Riverfront would call TD & Team for a review - consult.


Carl, do have anything specific you'd like to see addressed?

Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2022, 11:31:35 AM »
Statistically, as far as courses go, I suspect the overall answer is "most of them."  While this group tends to focus on the best of the best - and even those have been constantly tweaked - most courses are built to budget and things are left out and perhaps need to be added.  Or, built as clubs and converted to public, and lots of hazards need to be removed.


Time should be a good teacher and even Ross would change things later in his career that might be different than what he did at the beginning.  Restoration required some guesses as to what the original gca would have done, anyway.


To be honest, the most sincere form of design is still "form follows function" and most courses should be designed looking forward and not back.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Mark_Fine

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Re: Courses or holes that need to be improved not restored
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2022, 05:49:25 PM »
Jeff,
If Tom Doak were still on this site I would get crucified if I said what you did  ;D

Restoration required some guesses as to what the original gca would have done, anyway.”





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