Proper Golf

Friday, December 31, 2010

Golf and Skiing

One of my favorite sayings I use while caddying actually comes from a good friend of mine who is a ski instructor at Vail/Beaver Creek in Colorado. "Improvement, not perfection," Frank says to his clients who are trying to rip down the slopes, but aren't quite ready yet.

Vail 2009, The Golfmeister is lounging in the middle.

I find this line also translates well to caddying. "Improvement, not perfection." I tell my golfers after a bad swing or two. In golf, clearly nobody, not even Tiger, is able to hit every shot perfectly. And clearly in amateur golf, everybody hits poor shots, which is why I explain to my players, the goal is not to hit every shot perfectly, but to improve slightly every time you tee it up, and every time you swing. If amateur golfers would focus on trying to hit each shot just a little bit better than the last, rather than focusing on the imperfections in their swings, everyone would have more fun and I'm sure scores would go down as people would stop trying to pull 3-wood from 5 inch rough, and instead find a way to get the ball back in the fairway and improve their chances of hitting it in on the next shot.

On my most recent trip to Beaver Creek to ski with Frankie (today was actually my last of 7 days on the mountain with him) I taught him a new line... Known as the first 3 rules of caddying: "Show up. Keep up. And shut up!" He is already using it to heard groups of skiers around the mountain in search of fresh powder!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Build Golf Courses.

I've heard him tell this story before, its one of my favorites.

Ballyneal 15

"... when people ask me what I do, I tell them 'I build golf courses,' Mr. Dye always said that labeling yourself an architect sounded like it could get you into more trouble."

The Golfers Guide

Since I entered the biz, all of 9 months ago now, I've been using the same phrase the answer the question, "What do you do?" I like it better than golf course construction, I'm not currently designing, and it always leads to further questioning...

Monday, December 20, 2010


Visualization is one of the most important things in golf. Its involved in pretty much every swing tip you have ever heard, obviously involved in playing the game (half the game requires putts to be read!), and obviously its an everyday occurrence in architecture and construction. Some thoughts I shared on yesterday. Visualization ...

I'm very good at being able to visualize whatever I'm trying to create. I don't really know how to explain it, but I can see final products in my head.

However this skill is completely useless unless you have the problem solving abilities to actually figure out the process to create what you see in your mind. This is what I go to work everyday to practice, so when I get my next chance, I have every tool possible to translate idea into something solid.

The ability to breakdown the image of a final product into all of its steps towards creation and having faith that your vision will only be achieved by following a long process start to finish is a miracle of the human mind. Through the beginning stages of my golf course building career, the absolute hardest thing for me to do is to let my vision of the finished product go a let the process take of it and build up to it.

It took me thousands of hours in the printmaking studio to master the process of photo silkscreen, a flat 2-dimensional medium. Golf courses are a much more complicated animal that only a handful of people have probably ever really tamed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The List

Golf Courses I have worked at this year.


Battleground Country Club, Manalapan, NJ
Canoe Brook Country Club, Summit, NJ (Rees Jones)
Cherry Valley Country Club, Skillman, NJ (Rees Jones)
Darien Country Club, Darien, CT (Dr. Michael Hurzdan)
Eagle Ridge Golf Club, Lakewood, NJ
Heritage Creek, Warwick, PA (Kelly Blake Moran)
Knickerbocker Country Club, Tenefly, NJ
Mendam Golf and Tennis Club, Mendam, NJ (Robert McNeil)
Mountain Ridge Country Club, West Caldwell, NJ
Montclair Golf Club, West Orange, NJ (Rees Jones)
Richmond County Country Club, Staten Island, NY

Custom Sand and Soil Blending:

Jersey Soil Blending, Woodmancie, NJ


Quaker Ridge Golf Club, Scarsdale, NY (Tillinghast)
Fenway Golf Club, Scarsdale, NY (Tillinghast)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My new bit


Grab your g-string bikinis and your dancing shoes, golf looks like its going salsa dancing... 60 minutes just got me all pumped up!

Look at all the coastline

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Contest

Mission Hills Hainan, the Chinese version of golfers disney land part deux, has decided to hold an open design contest for 3 holes on their new Icon Course. They have like 3 zillion courses already,! and decided to try something a little different on this "Icon" course where each hole's design is inspired by, well anything. They are asking people to design 3 golf holes, based on anything you want (objects, things, creatures, etc) and then they will choose the best par 3, 4, and 5 of the lot. From what I've read, more out of the box the ideas are what they are looking for.

Their examples included, chopsticks, fireworks and the birdsnest stadium used during the olympics.

Obviously this sort of architectural thinking isn't exactly in line with purist thinking, and many view this as the opposite direction that the game of golf and architecture needs to be headed in. Others don't really have a problem with it, seeing it as a fun alternative to all the other courses in the development, and will have no problem hoping in the cart with fully automated gps tracking devices and slap it around for a few hours.

Personally, this idea doesn't bother me. If there is one platform for the type of course, its Mission Hills. Not that I have ever been there, but due to what I've read, seen and the sheer volume of golf they already have, its not a bad idea I don't think. Also one must consider the marketing strategies being employed here. If you go on the site and click through, you start to get a sense of the demographic their aiming this at, not the same group that makes annual pilgrimages to Bandon.

I already have a few ideas for my submission. One of which involves a natural disaster. Good luck.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Drainage, Drainage

My first day on the grounds crew at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, NY I was riding around in a golf cart with the superintendent. I don't remember if the course closed that day, but it was raining really hard. We had full rain gear on, but I was soaked through my pants.

Since it was my first my first day we got to talking about my interests in architecture and why I wanted to spend some time on his crew. He suggested a few books, and then told me the 2 most important things on a golf course. "Number one," he said "is drainage. And number two, is drainage."

Section A
Section B

Basic Stone Drain - What I'm calling the slight variation on a French drain, used normally in lateral patterns to collect ground a surface water. Found on virtually all tees, fairways, greens and bunkers, they use gravity to carry water downhill to a low area on the golf course. Depending on existing sub-soils, variations of pipe size, trench depth, width and angle, stone type, and finish material are required.

Pea Gravel - Small rounded stones that provide easy passage of water through the small air-pockets surrounding them. Direct water to specified area by providing a path of least resistance for ground and surface water towards a desired low spot. Protects against roots and other particles that clog pipes.

Perforated Pipe - Commonly black and corrugated. Helps move water through the gravel, stone or sand, at a faster rate.

Mix / Topsoil - A well draining material that will be compacted to finish grade and grassed over. Mix is more expensive but is preferred because the sand base will drain better than a soil. Even compaction is a must in order to properly tie into to grade so the drain will not settle into a hollow over time.