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archie_struthers

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 8)


It's been a while since I've started a post on one of my favorite places on earth and many miles under the hood since I first saw it in 1976 . However Pine Valley is one of those places that have stood the test of time and prospered! The inevitable changes that have come with the distance and conditioning improvements mandated change , or did it?   Let's opine on what this group thinks of the changes on the golf course and in my opinion the best architectural feat ever . Viva la Crump
« Last Edit: April 01, 2024, 02:24:52 PM by archie_struthers »

archie_struthers

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2024, 02:11:13 PM »
 :'( :'(


Just wrote for an hour and the internet ate it ...let's try again


The one thing about Pine Valley is that the more it changes the more it stays the same..there have only been five superintendents in the last 85 years and they have been great stewards of the golf course ...from Eb Steniger ...Craig Reinhardt...Dick Bator...Pat Gertner and for the last thirty Rick Christian PV has been blessed with great talented agronomists  so important


Eb Steiniger retired after 50 years as boss, ultimately it was Dick Bator who arrived in the early 80's  and made substantive changes to the scrub and overgrown vegetation. This impacted the golf course dramatically. In doing so he also made the underlying architecture all the better as the angles of play and greens were certainly enhanced. As good as his predecessor  Steiniger and his protege Rick Christian is, I've a strong opinion that the work of one Richard Bator showed just how good this place is and could be.




 Crump's creation flourished and it became the perennial #1 golf course in the world . While the rating process can always be questioned as to what is really "best" the hole after hole brilliance of the course is what is hard to beat.


There are lots of changes over time to a golf course, some so subtle no one notices.  Some good , some great some not so good. Here are the ones that stick out to me.


#1)   Little has changed here in fifty years , sure the rough is higher to the right of the driving area and the bunkers there have been             tweaked a little but this hole is basically the same as I saw it first in 1976.


#2)    Tons of small bunkers exposed on either side of the fairway and a new house was built in the left woods (good luck finding it ;D
          the huge bunker in front of the green was a wall of sand , lots of grass there now...Pat Mucci argued years ago that it wasn't
          necessary or a good change but the super might argue that point. I'm thinking the only  thing I miss was the two eyehole
          bunkers just in front of the green that mimicked the DA in difficulty , they were definitely softened  ( :-\ )
           The green was flattened and softened also in the late 80's but unless you really know it intimately one would never even
           notice the change.. a great great short par four


#3)     perhaps the huge wasteland surrounding the green was cleaned up but this hole remains almost identical to the 1980 version




#4)     A group of bunkers came first right of the fairway on the top shelf... they are seamless integrated but I hate them
           It was so much fun cutting the corner and waiting for the caddie to give you the safe sign here, and the new bunkers may
           reduced a lucky break but added an element of quirk that is missed    the new tee that stretches the hole to over 500 yards
           has no impact on us old guys as we would never play back there any more.  It's fine 


#5)      I'm not sure if I like the vast bunker field that replace the trees and mountain to the right  looking for help
            the front of the green has been flattened a little but seems a necessary adjustment clearing behind the green is great




#6)   Alec Ewings' house is gone and a new back tee replaced it . Given we can't bring him back ( :'( )  the new tee is fabulous . The                fairway when firm is easy to hit thru..new tee makes it a tougher shot
     
         The  green was expanded a few times but not a lot different, just bigger
 




#7)    Tiger tee to stretch the hole was a necessity as back in my youth it  was a lay up off the tee, hole pretty much the same 
           if memory serves the trees up towards the green used to jut out a little further , just thinking




#8)     A gem of a hole. Many Crump Cuppers might  take a par here first if offered one get out of jail free card in qualifying...I don't
            think many like the alternate green to the right that Tom Fazio built but they don't use it much



#9)     Lots has changed here. At about the same time they built bunkers on four number they removed hidden fairway to the right
            The work is good  but being a lousy driver I liked that you could flail one right and sometimes get lucky off the tee .                           I'm guessing Chairman Gordon Brewer might have been responsible as he could hit it so straight
         ... the big change that is awesome is taking out all the 100 year growth behind the green creating a skyline green ,                               spectacular   


back nine to come




           










 
« Last Edit: April 02, 2024, 08:29:52 PM by archie_struthers »

JMEvensky

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2024, 04:20:58 PM »
Thanks for taking the time to do this Archie--hope all is well.

Mark_Fine

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2024, 05:00:38 PM »
Archie,
Thanks for the hole by hole write up.  I sure donít have anywhere close to the knowledge you have about the golf course but I will offer a few thoughts.  I have played the course a dozen or more times dating back to the 90ís.  Having studied old photos of the course and knowing some of the history, clearly the trees and understory have grown up/in significantly but that had to be expected on what was a treed site to begin with (the course is called Pine Valley for a reason).  However, much of the sand was lost although some of it is starting to be restored. Many trees have been taken down over the last ten years and brush and understory cleared which is good exposing sight lines and lost hazards that had gotten hidden away.  I will say however I donít love the work on #5 or to the left of #12.  The thought was good and maybe it needs more study but it looks a bit forced and over the top to me.   I still think while it is not necessarily my favorite, PV is a 10.  It meets the Doak definition in that if you missed even one hole, you missed something special.  Hard to be too critical of something that good.

Tim Martin

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2024, 05:01:10 PM »
Great stuff Archie. Looking forward to the inward nine!

archie_struthers

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2024, 05:48:50 PM »
 ;D


10 ).  So easy yet so hard this little hole . When I first got there the Devils Asshole was even worse than it is today but that wasnít the main issue. The right front of the green was death ☠️ if you had any spin on your tee shot at all, it sucked back into the DA.  Worse yet a putt that was a little too bold found the bunker also. Bator hated that every storm would cause hours of work fixing the DA so he built an eyebrow 🤨 that deflected the water away. No more threat of putting into the aperture anymore.   


The two bunkers left of the green were almost unplayable also. You would have to chip back onto the 18th tee if you pulled one. Canít say for sure if they are the same today as I havenít been there lately.    It is far easier now , maybe the easiest hole on the course .

Tim_Weiman

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2024, 06:18:38 PM »
Archie,
Thanks for the hole by hole write up.  I sure donít have anywhere close to the knowledge you have about the golf course but I will offer a few thoughts.  I have played the course a dozen or more times dating back to the 90ís.  Having studied old photos of the course and knowing some of the history, clearly the trees and understory have grown up/in significantly but that had to be expected on what was a treed site to begin with (the course is called Pine Valley for a reason).  However, much of the sand was lost although some of it is starting to be restored. Many trees have been taken down over the last ten years and brush and understory cleared which is good exposing sight lines and lost hazards that had gotten hidden away.  I will say however I donít love the work on #5 or to the left of #12.  The thought was good and maybe it needs more study but it looks a bit forced and over the top to me.   I still think while it is not necessarily my favorite, PV is a 10.  It meets the Doak definition in that if you missed even one hole, you missed something special.  Hard to be too critical of something that good.
Mark,


I agree with your comment about #5. Wasnít necessary. Hole was fine the way it was.


Tim
Tim Weiman

MCirba

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2024, 06:22:29 PM »
Agree with Mark Fine about 5 & 12.   Just too, too, too....overwrought and out of character with original bunkers.


Thanks Archie.    Having holed out from the back bunker on #8 Fazio green I probably give it more love than it deserves.  ;)
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

archie_struthers

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2024, 09:21:29 PM »
 8) ;D


#11)  leaving all that chaos on ten we move to one of the favorites of Ernie Ransome and all the loopers. The hole is just beautiful in it's simplicity with a challenging tee shot that has to be fitted into the narrow (by Pine Valley standards) fairway. When you fore caddied on this hole there was nary a day when you didn't have a breeze here, where it came from I have no idea.


No real architectural changes that I can remember but some agronomy issues seem worth mentioning. The height of the rough on the hill side on the tee shot and the trees on the left have changed over time. Eb Steiniger experimented extensively with zoysia grasses at PV and this hole had a particularly pernicious stand right of the green and going back almost towards the center line bunker. The stuff was ferocious and even Bator had trouble killing the it. Rick Christian finally eradicated it completely and I dare not mention it to Dick LOL  ;D   As an aside this was the only green that I ever remember Ben Crenshaw struggling to read.


#12)   This great little hole is definitely the most controversial change in fifty years. The huge bunker project on the left just seems overdone. Had they just unearthed all the myriad tiny bunkers running all down the left side it most likely would have been way cool. As Mike CIrba already opined I'm in agreement that it's too much. Think they should have cleared the woods all the way to the hill exposing the green and tempting the player to take a shot at the green. Perhaps that may have been the idea all along but didn't need the dozers IMHO.


#13)  Great new tee that challenges the longer hitters was a great change. Previously it was a lay up shot for them and brings Holman's Hollow back into play for lots of golfers


#14)   What could make it better .....perhaps a sub air green   ;)   Wow how could I forget the new tee making the hole play over
          two hundred yards ....I for one think it was unnecessary and the shot looks so much prettier from the front of the box




#15) New back tee from a different angle over the lake and a myriad of bunkers much like number five up by the green to the right.
       This area was always hard to maintain and needed something done, but  ??




#16)     A back tee was added decades ago , works well

 
#17)   multitude of changes from tee to green here. New back tee challenges the player to fit the shot akin to eleven and that's real
           good!  It was the easiest tee shot by far previously.
             The sod growing around the green isn't as pretty as when I first saw it with sand everywhere.
          but Bator maintained was necessary as the green was failing as the undercarriage was being eaten away by water and he
           still scares me a little


#18)   Back  tee made the finish that much better.  It's forty yards back almost even with the 17th green but fits like a glove. Living
            GCA legend  TEP and the esteemed Pa Mucci remember the famous "pimple" but it's way before my time (that I like)



Sure I missed some good stuff and the playing options created by some changes need analysis but that was fun off the top of my head  ::)    Hope I keep remembering it for a few more years .....bless you all for letting me rave on
« Last Edit: April 01, 2024, 09:35:03 PM by archie_struthers »

MCirba

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2024, 09:42:15 PM »
Archie,


Sure well before your time but any thoughts on the loss/possible recovery of the abandoned right fairway above the tracks on #17?
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

archie_struthers

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2024, 09:54:50 PM »
 8)


I'm not a fan of split fairways in general. Not many work well and elevation change can accomplish the same thing without the fanfare. Talked about it a lot with TEP over the years and probably would lean towards some more discussion. Probably above my pay grade as this would be a tough decision. I'm not always of the opinion that a strict recreation of the original is better.


Now there is a vacuous answer if ever I saw one !

MCirba

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2024, 10:23:46 PM »
8)


I'm not a fan of split fairways in general. Not many work well and elevation change can accomplish the same thing without the fanfare. Talked about it a lot with TEP over the years and probably would lean towards some more discussion. Probably above my pay grade as this would be a tough decision. I'm not always of the opinion that a strict recreation of the original is better.


Now there is a vacuous answer if ever I saw one !


Archie,


Might be worth the investment in a short-term experiment?    Perhaps a dead issue, but a fascinating one, nonetheless.


Good vacuous answer, certainly.   ;D
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

archie_struthers

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2024, 08:11:38 PM »
 8)


Answering the question originally posed would be a good for me. Pine Valley's leaders from Ernie Ransome thru Jimmy Davis have done a fine job as stewards. The golf course is akin to the Mona Lisa so it's good that change has been minimal yet kept her up with the advance in technology.


The back tees , with the exception of number fourteen , are really good. I can't stand the bunkers on top of the hill on four but understand the argument and it's probably a personal thing for me. Kind of like the bunker left on Philadelphia CC #14. Maybe not that bad LOL :D  I'm in agreement with Mike about #12


The skyline green on #9 is a home run (grand slam)


At the end of the day the detail work by the superintendents over the years might be the most outstanding achievement , kudos to all of them

Alan FitzGerald CGCS MG

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Re: Fifty years of changes at Pine Valley ...good bad or indifferent
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2024, 10:10:55 AM »


At the end of the day the detail work by the superintendents over the years might be the most outstanding achievement , kudos to all of them



Archie, maybe I'm biased, but you are right and I think they have had the most influence in making/keeping PV what it is today, which I don't think it has been really recognized at all. The agronomics are one thing, but the way they have been stewards of the property and ensuring it keeps its Pine Valleyness is what makes it be as special as it is. Mr Steniger was the one who introduced the scotch brooms, the scrub pines and the islands in the waste areas, which defines the place (and influenced so may others) and it has adapted and changed as needed since.


Some of the revisions over the years were due to keeping the property there, especially in the earlier days as they needed to stabilize the hills and prevent erosion. Thankfully today we have better methods to stop erosion and better equipment to fix it when it does and that's the main reason I think we see a lot of the grassed faces returning to sand.


BTW you're welcome, I did those bunkers to the right of 9  ;D  and we did the right of 18 and the back tee on 18 that year too. As with everything there, it takes time to evolve. When we finished those bunkers it looked good but you could tell they weren't original, however after a few years as nature took over, eroding the areas a little and as the plants adapted and filled in you now can't tell that they were new. The bunkers on 4 came a year or so after I left so you can't blame me for any of them  :P


I remember Brian Schenider and I looked at that upper fairway on 17 numerous times when we were there, as we wanted to see if it would be possible to put back. We could never really find the location of it as the area is pretty small so I'm pretty sure that at some point the hill was regraded so the plateau is now smaller than it was back then. I don't think anyone knows but I wouldn't bet against an erosion event or the prevention of one had a hand in it. If it was as small back then as what is there now, then it was such a small target that no-one probably ever went for it!


You know that like you it holds a special place in my heart and it is just one of those special places on the planet.
Golf construction & maintenance are like creating a masterpiece; Da Vinci didn't paint the Mona Lisa's eyes first..... You start with the backdrop, layer on the detail and fine tune the finished product into a masterpiece

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