Proper Golf

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quaker Ridge Renovation Photos

Yesterday I went up to Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, NY to check out the renovation that Gil Hanse is working on (construction also by Hanse and Hawk Shaw). The renovation focusing on green expansion, going back to the original Tillinghast size and shapes, a complete bunker renovation, tree removal, restoration of the 17th green complex, and restoring some of the intended Tillinghast shot values to holes that have been altered over time, most notably the double dogleg 14th. With the majority of the holes already receiving attention over the last few years, holes #2, 3, 6, 14, 15 mostly at the Northern end of the property were the focus of the last part of the renovation plan... [photos marked (2010) were taken yesterday, but renovated last year]

#1 Tee (2010)

#1 Fairway Bunker (new 2010)

#3 Approach, Green expanded back and right. Bunkers Rebuilt.

#3 Right greenside bunker reshaped with flashed faces and deeper

#3 Right Greenside Bunker

#6 Restored both the fairway bunkers, expanded the left greenside bunker
and eliminate the right

#6 Left fairway bunker w liner installed

#6 Restored right fairway bunker had been grassed over for years

#6 Approach with temp pin

#6 Left greenside bunker, now the only greenside bunker, has been
expanded back into the approach

Turning the corner on #7 with green cover still on (2010)

#8 Approach Renovated 2010

#9 was mostly restored in 2010, but the left side of the hole has been changed again with the alteration of the mounding on left. I'd bet fescues will be planted soon.

#11 is a great example of a thoughtful tree removal program (2010)

#12 Left fairway bunker restored (2010)

#12 Approach (2010)

#13 Reef Hole strategy restored (2010)

#14 Double Dogleg has the most significant changes

#14 New Tees

#14 Haven't counted all the new bunkers yet

#14 Bunkers looking back

#14 Upper fairway has been regraded on the right... club up

#14 Reshaped blind bunker

#15 Restoration of fairway bunker and fairway shifted right

#15 A much nicer look without all the pine trees

#15's new bunker will significantly impact this hole for shorter hitters

#16 Green (2010)

Quaker Ridge #18 had the fairway bunker restored and fairway
shifted in 2010

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Mantra of Modernism

"Decoration is a Sin"
The Mantra of Modernism

The decorative flowers, hedges and sculpture at Florida's Isleworth,
do not belong on a golf course.

"Decoration is a sin," claims Frank Gehry, the most famous active living architect, in his Mantra of Modernism. Gehry, architect of The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and Disney Concert Hall in California, is very expressive with his highly sculptural materials. Gehry uses what is already there and existing on site as the driving force behind his work. The Canadian-American architect may be one of the best at all time in terms of how he uses his building materials to influence form and function; he is able to find a higher power, almost emotional states through the simple beauty in his use of materials that relate back to the site. Gehry's theories about decoration and material sound very much like minimalist golf in its purest form; let the land define the design.

At Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the sculpted metal material needs no
additional decoration. The metal works both for form and function,
but it is the relationship the building has had on the overall landscape
of the city that makes it a modern masterpiece.

There are many golf courses and greens committees that have taken it upon themselves to plant flower beds, hedges, trees and other ornamental species to "make their course more beautiful," whatever that means. Normally these kinds of decorative plantings may introduce some wild colors and species that one wouldn't normally see during a round of golf, but that is precisely why they don't work. Not only are these supplementary landscaping plans difficult to sustain, as hugely expensive draws on maintenance budgets, but introducing non-native species also distracts from the natural beauty a site may already possess.

Ballyneal Golf and Hunt Club, in Colorado, uses naturally existing sand on property and nearly all the bunkers are touched by naturally tall grasses and Yucca plants, creating a naturally beautiful landscape that looks like its existed for years.

As The Masters is just over a week away, don't get sucked into the look at Augusta National. While I still dream about making a trip to Magnolia Lane myself one day to one of the most important golf courses of all time, it must be pointed out that they do not subscribe to any normal sustainability formula in their design or maintenance practice. That is their choice and it should be respected, but seldom repeated.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Required Reading List: Favorite Golf Course Architecture Books

Having recently made some important additions to my personal library of books on the subject of golf courses, I figured it was time to put together a list, from my favorites, of mandatory volumes for anyone interested in learning about golf course architecture. Many books claiming to be about golf courses turn out to be more about the pictures, rather than the architecture itself, getting dubbed "coffee table books", of which I have plenty. The books listed bellow collectively contain: the history of golf architecture, biographies of important architects, modern and classical architecture theory, and descriptions of the games best courses, along with plenty of beautiful and historic pictures, plans, and drawings that we all dream about experiencing for ourselves.

I have divided my list alphabetically into groupings of 5 since its to hard to
combine bio's, theory and more into a straight #1-10 ranking:
#'s 1-5:
The Anatomy of a Golf Course: The Art of Golf Architecture, by Tom Doak
The Evangelist of Golf: The Story of Charles Blair Macdonald, by George Bahto
The Golf Course, by Geoffry Cornish and Ronald Whitten
Golf Has Never Failed Me, by Donald Ross
Scotland's Gift: Golf, by Charles Blair Macdonald

#'s 6-10:
The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, by Tom Doak
The Course Beautiful, by A.W. Tillinghast
The Golden Age of Golf Design, by Geoff Shackelford
The Spirit of St. Andrews, by Aliser MacKenzie
The World Atlas of Golf: The Great Courses and How They are Played, by Pat Ward-Thomas, Herbert Warren Wind, Charles Price, and Peter Thomson

While I would say there are three notable works absent from my list (Discovering Donald Ross, by Brad Klein, The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie, by Tom Doak, and Golf Architecture in America, by George Thomas), many of these books, on and off my list, can be extremely expensive due to limited printings and take time to collect over time... the MacKenzie book is in the mail... I'm also not the biggest fan of Herbert Warren Wind or Bernard Darwin, chalk that up to growing up in the age of ESPN The Magazine, and I blog!

If anyone is interested in purchasing copies of:
A brand new copy of George Bahto's extremely rare The Evangelist of Golf
Dr. MacKenzie and Harry Colt's Golf Architecture: Economy in Course Construction and Green Keeping
...or... Golf Has Never Failed Me from Donald Ross's writings, send me an email at,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review: Atlantic City Country Club

Atlantic City Country Club, 1897
Archs: John Reid, Willie Park, Jr., Howard Toomey and William Flynn, Leo Fraser, and Tom Doak
Northfield, NJ

Full Review now posted at:

#14 Tee shot at Atlantic City Country Club

Sometimes missed between the mix of great courses in the Philadelphia and New York Metropolitan areas, lays the sandy marshes in the shadow of Nucky Thompson's Atlantic City. The coast of South Jersey is a great little stretch for golf courses and playable virtually year round. Some of the games most historic figures have spent time at Atlantic City Country Club, one of many solid courses in the area. Although ACCC has a long list of architects who have impacted the evolution of the course (A.W. Tillinghast and George Crump were often visitors although no actual design credit is given), and is sometimes mentioned on Top-100 lists. The present day design is a clear leader among public courses in New Jersey.

Continue reading at...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pinehurst No. 2 Restoration Movie

Tom Dunne, fellow poster and former Sr. Editor for Travel + Leisure Golf (NLE), who now runs a popular golf architecture and travel site, has put together a great little video piece on the restoration at Pinehurst #2. I was lucky enough to be invited to help by contributing some of my restoration photos to the cause of highlighting the brilliant work done by the Coore and Crenshaw crew.

Now back open, Tom, along with C and C shaper Kyle Franz provide some great insight into the focus of the work, as well as providing beautiful images of the newly reopen American Classic. Please check out his video, its a fabulous example that many classic courses could learn from, although they may not have the luxury of naturally sandy subsoil and wiregresses, their is much we can all learn about returning our greats to the way they were intended to be enjoyed.

#18 late in the afternoon

My pre-restoration photos from Fall 2010 include shots from #8, 18 and more than didn't make final cut. More of my pre-restoration photos have been contributed to the USGA Architecture Archives and may also appearing in an upcoming issues of Golf Digest with some of Dunlop White III's work on the restoration. Thanks Tom for letting me help!

Monday, March 14, 2011


#16 at Queenwood

Tavistock Cup starts today (, and currently under play. With at least 6 full 18-hole rounds at the club that is being featured in the green shirts today, I'm routing for Queenwood. Unfortunately I had to turn down an invitation to attend due to shoulder surgery, but here is a link into my Queenwood Photo tour at Golfmeister Productions...

#3 Queenwood

#13 Queenwood

More photos of Queenwood and other great courses at:

Friday, March 11, 2011

2011 Golfweek Top 100 List Released

Golfweek, home of the separate Classic v Modern lists (thumbs up!) released their new lists over the course of the week. While nothing changed at the #1 spots with Pine Valley and Sand Hills repeating as champions, the biggest stories in my mind are: Old Macdonald (Doak and Urbina) which joins the list for the first time at #3, and the release of the next 100 lists, #'s 101-200 in both categories.

Old Macdonald will always be a special golf course for me. I played Old Mac, which was still the unofficial name at the time, in early Spring 2009, and about 60% complete. Still months before the 10 preview holes would even open to the public, I teed it up with three other college aged wanna be's and Mr. Doak himself, yes... a 5-some! We played dirt golf on the holes still under construction, teed it up wherever we pleased, putted on greens with pins, but no cups, and walked the holes that were just starting to take shape. This day on the links has only been matched by a very few other life altering experiences I've had on my journey through the world of golf course architecture. Unfortunately none of us budding architects would be selected that day as Renaissance Golf Summer Intern; while originally slated to work on the Renaissance design of Black Mesa's second course in New Mexico, the economy had just turned and led to a gap in the 2009 version of Mr. Doak's internship program which has produced some of todays best architects.

The course itself blew me away from my first tee shot. We teed it up somewhere in the sand behind #2 green, and I nailed it straight over the tree and Sahara bunker on #3, where it went tumbling out of sight towards the green. Pure fun from that first shot, and it only got better once the scale of the place is discovered for the first time as you climb atop the dune. I had never imagined that it was possible to pack so much fun, excitement, history and artistry into any landscape, let alone one as big and dramatic as this. Old Mac instantly became one of the 2 best modern golf courses I had ever played while, along with Friars Head (Ballyneal would be added to make it a top-3 in 2010, no plays of Pacific Dunes or Sand Hills yet), and it only need 10 grassed and 4-5 more dirt holes to prove it. The team of Doak, Urbina, George Bhatto, Brad Klein, and Mike Keiser who have all been mentioned to various degrees as co-designers absolutely nailed it with their renditions of classic MacDonald and Raynor templates from the ideal golf course that have been adapted and rediscovered along Oregon's coast. While some of the templates rival the best of CBM Raynor or Banks, the overall collection is truly a world class piece of original design and is no surprise to me that we find the raters at Golfweek have generally agreed.

As I see it, the second big winner is me, The Architecture Nerd! Yes, there is plenty more for the "Sickos" and "Beard Pullers" like myself to argue about and debate, but thats not what makes this a real bonus for me. Hopefully the publication of these lists create more interest in historical restorations and renovations among the classic golf courses around the country, but also create an even bigger interest in more of what quality architecture is from the general golfing public by throwing more names into the mix. At a time when golf courses in general are suffering, its nice to see many of the better ones getting some much needed attention, especially from my vantage point, buckled into the operator's seat working golf course construction, or at the drafting table as an architect again in the future.

Other big stories...

  • Rock Creek Cattle Company (Doak) debuts @ #15. Some die-hard Doak fans claim this one is better than Old Mac.
  • The Dormie Club (Coore and Crenshaw) debuts @ #101. Slightly shocking to me, but don't be surprised if it moves up in the future.
  • Wild Horse drops 25 spots
  • Lots of shuffling around the 90-105 range in Classics, Westchester Country Club West drops out... thank you!

Info on the Renaissance Golf internship program can be found at:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Geoff Ogilvy Interview

Remember This! Tiger, missed his first cut, Phil hits it off the tent,
an Aussie Wins, and the only day I wasn't there was Sunday!

Geoff sat down for nearly 30 min to discus what he would do if PGA commissioner for a day, some cool things about his home course Whisper Rock in Scottsdale, the Top-5 in the world and in the last few minutes his new architecture ventures with Michael Clayton... No, not with me, but's Alan Bastable.

Geoff Oglivy, who famously won after the infamous Mickleson disaster on #18 in the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot, has become one of my favorites on tour, not just for his good play, but for his opinions on golf courses. Unlike most +7's Mr. Ogilvy just seems to get it. If you can get past the ever annoying questions about the cut on his finger, which you can tell he is just being polite, his thoughts on slow play and what it means to play on tour are worth it... Lets just say if Ogilvy Clayton Golf and Tiger Woods Design, both newly established GCA firms without a had offers on the table, it would be real difficult to decision, which is saying a lot considering the possibilities.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Golfmeister has contributed 2 photos to The USGA Architecture Archives

Golfmeister's 2009 photo of Pinehusrt No. 2 hole #13 (above)
alongside Dunlop White III's from Feb 2011

2 Golfmeister pictures are soon going to be included as part of a before/after transition series by Dunlop White III at The USGA Arch Archives and architects Coore and Crenshaw's page for the Pinehurst No.2 renovation/restoration. Dunlop is involved with The Donald Ross Society and still serves on the board, along with serving on the USGA Architect Archive Committee assigned to Pinehurst No. 2. He did all the work, I just supplied 2 images to complete the set from my archive.

Links to articles will be posted once published!!! Its pretty great stuff and sure to be "Renovation of the year" before hosting the 2014 Mens and Womens US OPENS.

... for now...

Dunlop White's Website:
USGA Museum:

Good work Dunlop, thanks for letting me help!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tavistock Cup - Albany Bahamas Resort?

A younger Golfmeister on Queenwood's #18 Tee

Someone invited me down to the Tavistock Cup in March 14-15 at Isleworth (Tiger's old home course). For the first time there are now 4 clubs involved instead of the same 2, Isleworth and Lake Nona. Queenwood the DMK design in Surrey, England and the brand new Albany Bahamas are bringing teams loaded with stars.

Having never heard anything about Albany before 2 weeks ago, how did a golf course with Ernie Els and Tiger Woods' names attached to the super luxury resort fly under the radar?... Bellow is some info I found on the tournament website.

Albany is a new luxury resort community created by Tavistock Group, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. Nestled among approximately 600 oceanfront acres on the southwestern end of New Providence in The Bahamas, Albany is conveniently located seven minutes and five miles from Nassau’s international airport. Albany features an array of residential offerings and amenities for all members of the family, including a well- appointed boutique hotel, a 71-slip mega-yacht marina, an Ernie Els-designed golf course, a fitness center and spa, an adult pool and bar, a family water park, a kids’ clubhouse and casual and fine dining restaurants. Albany's deep-water marina is being designed and built to aesthetically rival the great resort ports of the world. For information about Albany, visit

... I will be routing for Queenwood!