Old Courses Getting New Life
+ College golfers: 'Show me the money.'
ON THE TEE
🏌️ After so many excruciatingly close calls, Will Zalatoris finally won his first PGA Tour event. Are expectations now higher or lower?
🏌️ Zalatoris’ ball was lodged between a rock wall on the final playoff hole. He says he wants to go back and try the shot he wisely didn’t attempt. Is he willing to bet $2.7 million on pulling it off?
🏌️ Scott Fawcett, founder of the DECADE scoring system that Zalatoris used as an amateur, unleashed a profanity-laced Twitter rant at NBC’s Dan Hicks and Brad Faxon concerning Zalatoris’ putting. Can’t see how that’s good for Fawcett’s business.
🏌️ PGA Tour players — including Tiger Woods — held a meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, ahead of the BMW Championship. No one — no one — leaked details.
🏌️ Patrick Reed filed a defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel and Brandel Chamblee. If it goes to trial, the most intrigue will surround the witness list.
🏌️ Tiger is on the cover of the newest version of the PGA Tour video game 2K23. Wonder what his lowest score is on this one?
🏌️ Patrick Cantlay recently complained about the sameness of simply adding yardage to Tour courses as a defense against the players. Is he just now noticing?
🏌️ Lydia Ko became engaged this week to boyfriend Chung Jun. She says her family “want(s) me to finish my career well at the time I want to.”
🏌️ Club championship season is just around the corner. Better head to the range. Or better still, the short game area.
:: Mike Purkey
Rebuild it and they will come
What was once old is new again as the trend for golf course renovations continues, Florida's St. Johns County serving as an example
:: Ward Clayton | READ
Status rules: Top collegiates leveraging NIL deals
Over a year since the NCAA's name, likeness and image policy was initiated, a growing number of players are starting to ink deals
:: Michael Williams | READ
Reynolds Lake Oconee | Greensboro, Georgia
Listing: 1231 Big Water Circle
Stats: 6,387 square feet. 5 bedrooms, 5 baths.
About: Located inside the gates of The Landing at Reynolds Lake Oconee this home exudes charm with its open kitchen, keeping room, screened-in porch, covered deck, terrace level with family room, game area and dining area. With the primary suite on the main level, it features his and hers closets, separate vanities, a steam shower and a heated tub for relaxation time. The home includes a private dock where owners can enjoy watching the sun set. The golf experiences at Reynolds Lake Oconee combine variety, challenge and a rare collection of courses that reflects each architect’s character. Members have access to signature designs by Bob Cupp, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones and Jim Engh.
Good reads that are mainly about golf, but not always …
📖 The dark horse: Patrick Reed, 24, is the rare golfer who has the talent to be awesome and the edge to be interesting — provided he can control himself
:: Gary Van Sickle | Sports Illustrated | 06.15.2015
📖 The night that grasshoppers killed Texas League baseball
:: Jeff Miller | Texas Monthly | 07.28.2022
📖 Steve Martin on His Late Career Surge and Contemplating Retirement: “This Is, Weirdly, It”
:: Mikey O’Connell | Hollywood Reporter | 08.10.2022
📖 Sex, Scandal, and Sisterhood: Fifty Years of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
:: Sarah Hepola | Texas Monthly | 08.17.2022
MacKenzie vibe restored at Lake Merced
The latest news and notes in golf course architecture.
⛳️ Architect Gil Hanse and partner Jim Wagner have authored a string of hugely successful renovations and restorations that were unveiled to the world in 2022, including Southern Hills Country Club, site of the PGA Championship, and The Country Club, which hosted the U.S. Open.
Another set of their vast skills will be revealed this fall, following work at Lake Merced Golf Club, just south of San Francisco.
Started in October 2021, Hanse Golf Design collaborated with course builder Heritage Links on a comprehensive, hybrid restoration of the Alister MacKenzie layout, restoring many of the 18 holes but also creating several new ones in homage to what Wagner calls, “the MacKenzie vibe.” In all, Hanse Golf Design and Heritage Links rebuilt all 18 greens, created a 36,000 square foot Himalayas-style putting course, new short-game practice areas, turf nursery, refurbished 150,000 square feet of bunkering, restored then expanded all 18 tee complexes, moved the practice facility from one end of the property to the other, and installed a two-wire irrigation system using flexible, no-leak HDPE piping.
According to Heritage Links vice president Oscar Rodriguez, the final four greens were seeded on June 15, right on schedule, meaning the course will reopen on schedule in the middle of October.
"This job was a total blow up," said Wagner, though he acknowledged a substantial wrinkle. "The club wanted a restoration and we did have great photography from the 1930s. At one, four, five, 10 and 13, for example, we were able to put the holes back as MacKenzie created them. But we couldn’t do that everywhere. The property had undergone too much radical change through the years.”
Lake Merced’s first design dates to 1922, attributed to Willie Lock. MacKenzie arrived in 1929, with partner Robert Hunter, and completely revised the course. In the 1960s, construction of Interstate 280 resulted in Lake Merced losing portions of its property, a fate that similarly befell the A.W. Tillinghast design at San Francisco Golf Club around five city blocks to the north. Lake Merced responded by moving its clubhouse from the north end of the property to the southeast corner. It also authorized a major re-routing managed by architect Robert Muir Graves, resulting in many new holes that boast no MacKenzie lineage at all. Rees Jones enacted revisions to Lake Merced in 1996.
In short, during 2021-22, Hanse Golf Design and Heritage Links restored those holes that could be restored. Elsewhere, they substantially re-routed again, creating several new holes in the MacKenzie style that will be maintained by superintendent Matt Dachowski and team. Rodriguez reported that 75,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved at Lake Merced, and “that’s still a lot, for a renovation.” Of course, that total was inflated by the creation of two golf holes — the par-4 10th and par-3 16th holes— in the MacKenzie style.
"Sixteen was an attempt to achieve that vibe," Wagner said. "It plays over the beginning of a barranca, to a green on this little ridge that sits across the expanse. Very much like you would see at (MacKenzie’s) Pasatiempo. At the same time, that green is set right beside the green at 13, which is a hole we restored using great old photos that really showed everything, the unique green setting tucked into that hillside. So, that was daunting, to create a new green in the MacKenzie style that sits beside a restored original."
What does mimicking the MacKenzie style actually mean?
“It’s the size, scale, look and placement of the bunkering, mainly,” Wagner said, “with the edging that reminds a lot of people of cloud formations. But it’s also the way they sit in the landscape: down into the green, while some float above grade. When you put that look into a landscape with vegetation, like Cypress trees, it just screams MacKenzie. The greens here are actually sort of simple compared to some others, but they work well in this setting."
⛳️ Restoration specialist Tyler Rae will begin work next year on his master-planned restoration of the Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa. Designed in 1922 by Midwest masters William Langford and Theodore Moreau, Wakonda played host to the 1963 U.S. Amateur, won by Deane Beman, and is current host to the PGA Tour Champions’ Principal Charity Classic, where winners since 2013 have included Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Lehman and Jerry Kelly.
Rae’s plan is being implemented beginning in 2023 with groundbreaking scheduled for June. The plan’s driving force was to install a new irrigation system, which will make the club more sustainable environmentally and improve turf and tree conditions. Paying homage to Langford and Moreau’s original design intentions was another major aspect in creating this master plan. Restoring and reorienting tees, bunkers and greens, thinning and removing trees and adding new tees are among the highlights of the intended work.
In particular, Rae and his team will endeavor to bring back the imposing bunkers in place originally.
“The bunkers were angled and severe in particular circumstances,” Rae said. “The challenge will be replicating their style and making sure we nail the bold scale of the features.”
Work is expected to be completed by the end of spring 2024.
⛳️ Oxmoor Valley, a Robert Trent Jones Trail layout in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, is engineering a full makeover of its 18-hole par-3 course. Architect Clyde Johnston began work in spring 2022 to reimagine the very idea of what purpose the facility’s existing Short Course served.
In its original incarnation from 1992, designers Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Roger Rulewich crafted an 18-hole miniature version of their two championship designs, with strong shot values, muscular par-3s, cart paths and elevated greens. It was a great test for better players, but not so much for kids and beginning golfers. SunBelt Golf Corporation, which operates the Trail courses, decided it was time for a change.
Currently under construction, the new Oxmoor Valley Short Course will feature a much smaller footprint. Its nine holes will occupy only 14 acres, one-tenth of the size of the old 18-hole par-3 layout. It will be called The Back Yard, and its holes will range from 70 to 123 yards. It will be walkable, with only five bunkers. The bulk of the challenge will center on contouring on and around the greens. Expected opening of The Back Yard is mid-October 2022.
⛳️ Architects Blake Stirling and Marco Martin will design a new course in Castellon, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, with work expected to begin in September. The two architects have a long history with the site, being first approached about designing a course there in 2004. The project, known as St. Gregory Golf, stalled, but the architects were approached again in 2020 by a different developer, who sought to establish a community that included real estate, parks and sports academies, in addition to the golf. In the proposed environmental plan, a nature reservoir for native turtles will be created, as well as an overflow channel to divert rainwater during major storms.
Martin was especially pleased to unfold a routing that incorporates quality golf amid all of the environmental, engineering and land use restrictions.
"The final routing is a great example of what a golf course master plan should be when it relates to residential and tourist areas," said Martin. "The first, 15th, 16th and 17th holes all have excellent views toward the Mediterranean Sea. The golf course plays from 5,000 to 7,000 yards. This will offer golfers many different ways to plot their way around."
RELATED: Design Notes archive
NAMES | NEWS | NUMBERS
▪️GolfForever: Partners with Veteran Golfers Association and will sponsor tournaments and share golf fitness solutions with VGA members. … Golfinity: Opens new indoor golf performance club in Austin, Texas. … Malcolm DeMille: Inspired by the Wyoming Indian Paintbrush flower, the sculptor creates the trophy for The Wildflower, the women’s shootout event at Shooting Star Club in Teton Village, Wyoming. … Blue Tees Golf: SkyMax Sport, distributor of sports and golf equipment in the United Kingdom and Ireland, will represent the Blue Tees Golf brand of accessories and rangefinders in those respective markets.
COURSES / COMPETITION
▪️Pine Brook Country Club: Private Weston, Massachusetts, golf club, founded in 1924, retains Strawn & Sampson to publish its 100th anniversary book. … PGA National Resort: Champion Course will reopen on Sept. 2 following an extensive bunker renovation on the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout. Bunkers, which account for nearly 2 acres of the course that hosts the PGA Tour's Honda Classic, are now equipped with new subsurface drainage, Better Billy Bunker liners and G-Angle sand. … Rumbling Bald: 36-hole golf retreat on North Carolina’s Lake Lure releases late fall, early winter golf packages. … PointsBet Cup: PointsBet- and Troon-sponsored VIP event, set for Aug. 20, will feature NBA Hall of Famer Richard 'Rip' Hamilton and representatives from nonprofit Folds of Honor. … Go Golf Kauai: Collection of courses have been recognized in the publication’s 2022 rankings — Best Courses You Can Play In Hawaii, Top 100 Best Courses You Can Play and Top 200 Modern Courses.
▪️Ecco Golf: Two-time major champion Lydia Ko honors her South Korean and Kiwi heritage with a custom version of the BIOM G5 shoe as part of the brand’s autumn/winter 2022 collection. …
▪️Capstone Hospitality: Hires Sara Diaz as vice president of recruiting. Diaz will oversee all recruitment initiatives for the company that helps to drive membership sales at private clubs throughout North America. … GCSAA: COO Bob Randquist announces retirement. The former golf course superintendent served as the association’s president in 2011, spent nearly 50 years in the golf course management industry.