Proper Golf

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:

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