Thursday, January 03, 2008

What Might an Ian Andrew Course Have? - An All or Nothing Par 3

One swing to glory....or disaster

There will be no rhyme or reason to the subjects that I choose, and I’m sure that may make the series more fun for you and me. I have six images drawn currently and each is on random subjects, which confirms that the series will be all over the map as I go. One thing I that I know for sure is that I will have an “all or nothing”par three on every course I build.

There is no hole that is more anticipated in a round than a short par three. It provides all players with a realistic opportunity to make a birdie with one great swing. Even the weakest or shortest of player can look at the short par three knowing that only well placed shot will bring a certain birdie or at least a good chance. That’s the reason that the short par three is everyone’s favourite hole to play.

My short holes will generally be the “all or nothing” type. I still will create others like the Big Baby at Jasper where short grass is the key element but most will likely involve a ring of sand like the 10th at Pine Valley. I prefer the idea of a plateau green site or a carry over a great natural feature like a ravine to define the difficulty. One thing for sure is I will never build an island like the 17th at the TPC at Sawgrass and in fact you’ll likely find that my holes in general will try to avoid the all or nothing carry over water.

I believe that the Postage Stamp is a perfect hole. The second shot may be the hardest shot on the course, which most players find out after they miss! What I like about the Postage Stamp is if you miss there is still a possible par through a great recovery shot. I believe that the recovery shot is one of the most important parts of the game and the one shot that separates the great player from the good player.

As an architect the short three represents our greatest opportunity. While I may embrace the idea of width and playability as a generality, this is the opportunity to ratchet up the difficulty and tell the player to bring their very best. After all, the hole is short and the player begins on a perfect lie. There is so much opportunity to for the player to make a good score, therefore there must be equal risk or danger to keep the situation in balance. The short three is a chance to really ramp up the architecture, to push the envelope, to make a statement, to do something spectacular. I believe that the short par three should be the most memorable hole on the property, whether from selecting the ideal location on the site, or from some exceptional architecture used to place a premium. Even on a limited budget or poor site, this remains possible since the all you need to build is a clever green site. There are so many examples of great ones even built on nothing sites.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What Might an Ian Andrew Course Have? - Highly Contoured Greens

Not my best image, but one that shows rolls through a green creating compartments.

The question I get most is, what will an Ian Andrew Golf Course look like? My initial answer is that depends on the site because everything from the routing technique through to the architectural style will come as a response to the site. Golf course routings depend on everything from contour to soil type to wind to vegetation. When you throw in the different possibilities of public through to private from resort through to tournament play and each delivers some different conditions on what should be thought about.

I’ve decided to produce a series of sketches to explain what an Ian Andrew Golf Course will look like. Each day that I post will feature an image that will be used to explain the ideas that are likely to be consistent through my design style. Nothing is written in stone and a new course on a flat site may bring highly contoured greens where an extremely wild site may reduce the contour is response to the severity of other features. As I said before a good design must responds to the site rather than impose itself.

The first thing you will notice about all my original work will be the greens. I do not believe in flat greens and in fact I think that interesting green contours are one of the consistent qualities of the great courses. There are a few exceptions on great sites with lots of drama, but the courses on average sites all have one thing in common – interesting and complicated green contours.

In a day and age where many of the best known designers continue to push courses back looking for excessive length, they have forgotten that green contour is the great equalizer in the game. A more complicated green surface requires a player be more careful about position off the tee in order to access very complicated pin areas.

If you have more contour, not only do they now have to avoid certain positions or risk a three putt, but a miss around the green can be further complicated by getting on the wrong side of a feature like a prominent roll. The key to defense, the key to the pleasure of the game is found in the small contours, not in the big ones.