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Rich Thomas

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Commonground/Ballyneal
« on: April 18, 2024, 04:46:13 PM »
I will be playing my first Doak course in a little over a month at Ballyneal thanks to a very generous invitation. My travels will be taking me to live in Fort Collins until approximately October, and I don't think I can resist the temptation to see Commonground before playing Ballyneal.
I know these two courses are a million miles apart in what they were each commissioned for, but are there any similarities between them, having the same architect, that would help me understand Ballyneal by playing Commonground first?


Thanks....Rich

Ben Sims

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Re: Commonground/Ballyneal
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2024, 10:16:17 PM »
Rich,


Iíll take a stab. Iíve played one of the courses a half dozen times and the other several dozen. The courses are in some ways very similar but in most ways, very different. CG is a master class in leading the golfer toward the line of instinct and dissuading him from creating his own line of charm. Ballyneal also does this but not nearly to the extent that CG does. Or perhaps not nearly as overtly.


BN is a masterclass in compression and release in the routing, which CG lacks.


Around the green you will find yourself above the hole more often at BN. This is due mostly in part to the siting of greens amongst the dunes. At CG, no such dunes exist AND the greens need to be above the flood plain, so youíll be below the hole more often if youíre near the green.


CG uses blindness much more sparingly, mostly in part to the terrain and the fact thatís itís a public place vs a members course.


I think BN is regarded about where it should be collectively and CG to be outrageously underrated. In my opinion, CG is the best course in Denver.

Tim_Weiman

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Re: Commonground/Ballyneal
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2024, 02:00:03 AM »
I will be playing my first Doak course in a little over a month at Ballyneal thanks to a very generous invitation. My travels will be taking me to live in Fort Collins until approximately October, and I don't think I can resist the temptation to see Commonground before playing Ballyneal.
I know these two courses are a million miles apart in what they were each commissioned for, but are there any similarities between them, having the same architect, that would help me understand Ballyneal by playing Commonground first?


Thanks....Rich


Rich,


I have played many of Tomís courses and never felt there was a ďDoak courseĒ. Instead, IMO, Tom tries to do the best he can with each project and each stands on its own.


Iíve played both Common Ground and Ballyneal a couple times. I donít feel like playing one prepares you for the other. Just go play and enjoy each on its own.


If possible, it might not be bad to walk Ballyneal before playing it. That would probably offer more than playing Common Ground.


Tim


P.S. Iíve been to Fort Collins. Not a bad place.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2024, 08:49:54 AM by Tim_Weiman »
Tim Weiman

Tim Gallant

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Re: Commonground/Ballyneal
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2024, 04:39:40 AM »
Rich,


I always feel like taking time to study/admire the greens at Tom's courses will yield some interesting thoughts/learnings. Whether there are any commonalities between CG and BN might be a fun exercise! It would be for me, but mainly because I'm what they might call a nerd :)

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Commonground/Ballyneal
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2024, 06:09:38 AM »
One of the reasons CommonGround is a good study subject is because it is somewhat less "mine" than my other courses.


Three of my associates then [Eric, Jim and Don] had close ties in Colorado, and the first two lived in town, so I figured the project was important to them the same way that High Pointe had been important to me.  In fact, I tried to convince the Colorado Golf Association in our interview just to hire the three of them, but the CGA insisted that I be involved, and ultimately I was glad they did because it's been so rewarding to see everything they have done in the community around the place.


So, once Don and I got the routing together, I gave each of those guys three holes to design by themselves, and then I took the rest and worked with each of them on three of the remainder.  Eric ran the job, so ultimately he had some leeway to edit and tie things together.  I don't remember if I ever identified publicly which of them worked on which holes . . . it would be funny to have people here try to guess [as long as someone who knows the answers doesn't spill the beans].


This was not really that much different than how I've worked on other projects; most people outside of our little group don't really understand the level of collaboration that occurs on a great course, no matter how much I mention it.  For Ballyneal, Bruce Hepner and Brian Schneider and Kye Goalby were the three main guys, but Eric and Brian Slawnik were also responsible for a couple of greens.

Greg Hohman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Commonground/Ballyneal
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2024, 07:36:15 AM »
I was in the area in May 2019, a trip unlikely to be repeated. My goal was CommonGround. The convenience of the group landed me on Flatiron in Boulder. "Regrets, I've had a few..."
newmonumentsgc.com

Stewart Abramson

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Re: Commonground/Ballyneal
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2024, 08:37:11 AM »
Rich, My wife is from Denver and I played Common Ground on numerous visits there to visit family. I've only played three rounds at Ballyneal as a guest of a former poster on this site. The courses are very different. If you didn't know who created them you likely might not guess that they are related. Common Ground is fun, but Ballyneal is golf heaven. I don't know if you are one who likes to see photos before you play a course so I won't post any here, but if you do want to see them, here are links:


https://www.flickr.com/photos/golfcoursepix/albums/72157631924493031  Common Ground


https://www.flickr.com/photos/golfcoursepix/albums/72157631925736869/  Ballyneal






Rich Thomas

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Re: Commonground/Ballyneal
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2024, 10:09:01 AM »
Ben,


Thank you for those insights. After a conversation with my host last night, he was telling me that often times at BN the best way to get the ball close to the hole is to play away from it and use the slopes and creativity. That is one of the aspects that make me want to return to a course.


Tim W.,


I definitely plan on enjoying each course on their own merits. I was just wondering if anyone had seen any similarities that might prepare one for BN by playing CG first since I haven't ever set foot on one of Tom's courses except for some restoration work at Pasatiempo. I will be on site at BN with plenty of time to take a late afternoon stroll along the course to hopefully get some insight and some amazing sunset picture.


Tim G.


Looking at the similarities in the greens would be fun. I'll have to make sure I pay close attention.


Stewart,


Thank you for the pictures. I have seen plenty from BN, but not too many CG ones from ground level.


Tom,


Once I play both courses, I will see if I can pick out what holes Eric, Don, and Jim designed vs. yours at CG. I wouldn't hold my breath for me getting them right though.
As far as BN goes, I will have to go out and walk Bruce's restoration of Percy Warner here in Nashville. I'll have to settle for a walk without the clubs since it won't be open before I leave town. It will be interesting if I can find any similarities of his work on both sites. I am excited to see what he does with the restoration of Ross's work at Shelby Bottoms Golf Course as well, but that will require a return trip to Nashville.






Rich

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