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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Golf course design and onomatopoeia (larger)

Onomatopoeia (noun) - a literary device in which words are used as an imitation of the sounds to which they refer. E.g. "zoom" and "bang."

sarcasm (noun) - another of my favorite literary devices.

Too many rules and red pens lead to the suppression or erasure of the individual, passionate and observing voice. We have been hard-wired, indeed short-circuited to only like things we have seen before by a golf police state which created and enforce a free thinking-free zone. Elitist golf Nazis and uptight tradition nerds cluck away like broody old hens about “garble garble, blark blark, “integrity of the game,” bark bark, meow meow, gobble gobble, “tradition,” yikkety yakkety, Donald Ross Robert Trent Jones, drivel dribble drool drone, “classic parkland test,” gibber jabber, fumble shamble, “every amenity, no expense spared,” blither blather, choke chuck, “maybe the best course I have ever seen.” Translation: We’re preconditioned, lazy and afraid of change.

Great architects want to experiment. The great neo-classics - Pete Dye, Ken Dye, Strantz, Engh, Silva, Nugent, Maples, Spann to name a few- take the old for a canvas and boldly brushing it with new strokes. As such, they are both reflective upon the old and spontaneous, challenging us in two ways. First, we grow accept novel or revived design features. Second, by learning about golf design, we can play better. Moreover, they have a unique, highly personal voices…important and well respected ones.

Geoff Shackelford and Prairie Club - see a golf course design evolve before your eyes

Geoff Shackelford is building the new Prairie Club near Valentine, Nebraska. Geoff writes the following on his website:

"The design will mark a reunion of the Rustic Canyon team, headed by Gil Hanse with support from Geoff Shackelford and Jim Wagner. The private club and retreat is being developed with the goal of building a land-based design incorporating the site's natural dunescape and scenic canyon-rim views while preserving this remarkable property as a nature sanctuary. The Prairie Club will offer a pure Nebraska sandhills golf experience for those who appreciate the sport as it was meant to be played."

Best of all Geoff has pictures of the primal landscape, pre construction, so you can see what the architect sees as he visualizes the routing...a unique opportunity. Pix are here.

If you look at the picture of the third hole, you'll see Geoff is putting in a punchbowl green. This is a perfect example of how the architect uses the natural features of the land and employs interesting architectural features to fit with the natural contours. This is golf course architecture at its highest level. "You see that?! Now, THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!"

Also see www.prairieclub.com.

Travel Tips for Scotland Golf during the British Open - The Southeast

Scotland can be conveniently divided into four parts by the discerning golf traveler. First, there is the St. Andrew's area which occupies the middle one-third latitudes of Scotland on the eastern half of the country. The will be plenty of coverage at this site and at my future site on this year's British Open venue and the birthplace of the game, so we will get to St. A's later. Excellent choices besides St. Andrews include Carnoustie, the fantastic course at Kingbarns and Gleneagles.

But there is great golf in the other quadrants of Scotland as well. The southeast/Edinburgh region has Rota courses and hidden gems. The west showcases Rota Courses, great seaside links and other terrific golf in the Ayrshire region and the islands. Finally, the northern third of the country features golf along the Whiskey Trail and the highlands.

The southeast portion of the country (Edinburgh and East Lothian) features not only Muirfield (also called the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers"), which Peter Alliss calls "a stunning links golf course" but such other legendary designs as Gullane, and North Berwick. Muirfield is regarded by many as the oldest club in the world (oldest CLUB...not course). Muirfield may require the greatest effort to make a tee time. As of this writing, outside times are offered only on Tuesday and Thursday. Muirfield is unique among Rota Courses for its unusual routing. Two loops of nine holes are set within one another. As a result, no more than three consecutives holes play in the same direction. This makes judging and factoring the wind a constant exercise in precision.

Muirfield is also a departure from the many Scottish courses that feature blind shots and massive dunes. Normally, I love the challenge presented by a blind shot, but here many holes have discernable shortcuts over bunker guarding dog-legs. Big hitters have a chance to cash in on a risk-reward option, but the dangerous challenge lies in picking the right line as the bunkers are large and penal. Most visitors stay at Greywalls hotel, a small pension adjacent to the course, but staying in the town of Gullane or Edinburgh are options.

As for other golf options, connessoirs will recognize North Berwick as the site of the original Redan hole. Musselburgh is actually not a French restaurant, but was is a nine-hole course skirting a racetrack and was part of the British Open Rota early in the Championship's history.
From 1872 up to 1892 the Open Championship was played alternately on St. Andrews, Prestwick, and Musselburgh Links Old Course. The competition was played over 36 holes which meant playing 2 rounds of 18 holes at St Andrews, 3 rounds of 12 holes at Prestwick (it only had twelve holes at the time) and 4 rounds of 9 holes at Musselburgh.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The US Open, T.C. Chen, and Architects Jim Engh and The Nugents

The year was 1985 - perhaps the most uninspiring US Open of our generation. An unknown Taiwanese named T.C.Chen had dominated the leader board at Oakland Hills for three days and had a five shot lead four holes into Sunday.

Then disaster struck. Deep in greenside rough at the fifth, Chen double-hit his wedge for a two-stroke penalty and an eight. Chen collapsed and Andy North backed into a one-shot win over such superstars as Dave Barr, Chip Beck and "Two-chip" Chen as he now is known to history. Good thing North won - watching those four guys in a Monday playoff would have been right up there getting dragged over carpet tacks and dipped in rubbing alcohol.

As usual at the Open, the course was the real star - an aspect I do like about the controversial setup...just sometimes the course they pick fails to live up to the hype. (See "Fields, Olympia") Since the USGA and Pinehurst kept Tournament set-up director Tom Meeks' dark side locked in the trunk of his car, we were fine this year.

BY the way, the now infamous divot was picked up by two young teens...who later grew up to be legendary golf course architects. Hats off to Jim Engh and Tim Nugent for grabbing Chen's divot.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

My letter to travel golf

Early yesterday afternoon, I conversed with Tim McD and publisher Robert Lewis about the strong feelings I've been having that Travel Golf's role in my career had run it's course and that I'd like to part ways and move to my new golf writing team while it was still on a high note.

While it is obvious from posts from Tim and Robert (and that means Rebel and "Heather") try to show differently, I am confident that we part ways with a feeling of mutual respect and pride in the work we achieved collectively and that they, in truth, will take pride in my work for them and in the future successes I will announce at http://jayflemma.blogspot.com and at the new company I will work for in the very near future. I am proud and honored to have done some of my best work for and with the TG team.

So yesterday was my last day at TG. I look forward to sharing new pieces with everyone at my new endeavors and at old well established print periodicals we all have enjoyed for decades which it is my honor to now serve.

All the best,

Moving on to a new magazine and Internet site

Yesterday I told the Travel Golf team thanks so much for all their input and support but I was moving on to a different site and magazine with other, full fledged golf writers. Actually it's TWO new sites with golf writers and sportswriters you all know and like. The detailed announcement is coming soon, so you'll have two new sites to read. Unfortunately, their response to my moving my career forward was less than diplomatic. Their false and disparaging comments and "quotes" should not be taken seriously, especially since two of the commentators are fictitious entities and not real people.

I still wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
I actually did learn alot in the last few months, had a great time, covered my first major, and got plenty of work done on my first book. Plus I have print pieces coming out soon in magazines and newspapers. In the meantime, there is plenty more golf writing coming so as my "butt buddy" Rob Thompson says "Back to golf." Tomorrow I'll have more of my interview with Brian Silva.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Tom Fazio slump, Atunyote, architectural echo and the 21st century

All year a debate has raged among the best golf writers in the world - is Tom Fazio in a slump? Golf Digest's Ron Whitten wrote in the May 2005 issue, "Is Tom Fazio good for the game? Golf's leading designer is beloved by many, yet his courses have lifted expectations -- and costs -- to troubling levels." Ron is the gold standard of golf writers. This is one of the most critical stories in golf this year. Read it.

Geoff Shackelford and Rob Thompson echoed the sentimment. In his terrific piece "It's Nothing a Little Ambience can't fix" Shack supports Whitten's view that "Fazio's strategy-light, budget-bursting designs" should not be be the enduring standard for golf design into the future. "hope not, if you're one who believes that golf should still be a test of thought and skill rather than just a walk on the beach where you never get sand in your shoes." Rob Thompson agreed. Shack has published nine books. Read him.

The New York Times even picked up that there is a teutonic shift since the mid '90s to resurrecting architectural design features from UK courses and bringing them here. Why do you think Dye, Strantz and Doak went to the UK and played 200 courses? Why do you think they have the most interesting and loved designs?

I stuck up for Fazio here. I love World Woods, Barton Creek, Pine Hill, PGA, TPC-MB, Ventana...lots of Tom. Then I played Atunyote in Utica and was underwhelmed. There was nothing of interest except two good risk reward par-5s, 5 and 12, and 9, 11 and 18 were good. The rest was nothing I had not seen before. This is $175. Casino Golf - nuff said. The design was muted, the natural setting was ordinary farmland and the price was twice what it's worth. It's time Tom did the work again not the shapers. players are paying for him, not watered down stand ins. That's why architectural echo is an important factor in rating a golf course. It offers a way to compare courses to the greats.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

New changes to Pinehurst is worth the money chapter

Click here to see why Pinehurst is worth every penny and to learn some really interesting things by our country's best golf writers.

Some changes to two posts - Brian Silva and Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes

I have made some changes I like to two pieces. First, the first part of the Brian Silva interview is here. I love it. I got to use the word "pterodactyl" in a sentence - that was fun. Let's see you do that. And I dont mean something flippant like "so and so is a smelly old pterodactyl." Next, I revamped part one of my Bandon Dunes piece. That's here and it's a big improvement. hat's off to Sal Johnson and the crew at Golf Observer for linking to me and giving me props. Those guys are A+ list. Read them as often as possible.

Also wanna plug three other sites today. Geoff Shackelford is one of our game's brightest minds. Read him early and often. Next, Tom Kirkendall is one of texas' brightest political and legal minds. His blog, Houston's Clear Thinkers is taking the blogsphere by storm. Its required reading for all movers and shakers, not just Texans. Finally, Bogey Lounge has been really breaking ground with great analysis of the tours.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My first gold record

Share the joy with me! I just found out I will get my first gold record. It's Bowling For Soup. www.bowlingforsoup.com

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Jay Flemma, Golf Writer - Desk I-33, 2005 U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2

Jay and the plaque from his desk in the media tent, Jen Maples and Darren from Ohio, 2005 U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2. Posted by Hello

Jay Flemma (and others) interview with Retief Goosen at the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst

The post round interview with Retief that was broadcast on GolfChannel features three of my questions. Here are my snippets:

JF: retief with all the chipping areas and collection areas and the variety of chip shots you have to hit around the greens and with the three excellent days you had previously, do you think you laid good groundwork for the British Open coning up?

Goose: Yeah, we're going to see the same thing. I'm looking forward to the Open and this was good practice this week, especially since St. Andrews has similar fall-offs and hopefully we can be up for it going into Sunday.

JF: Was it a tough ball striking day or was the problem that you found yourself in some strange places with tough angles into the pins.

Goose: If you were on the wrong side of the flag, it always feels like you can putt it off the green on the other side or chip it over the other side so it was very difficult to commit yourself to hit it hard enough at places and that's where every time I chipped up the hill I chipped it short or when I putted up the hill I putted short so I couldn't get the pace right today.

JF: What have you done in the past to overcome disappointing defeats and how are you going to draw on those experiences as you move forward to the British and PGA?

Goose: I played well this week, it's just today. The same thinig happened to Ernie last year. He played well for three days and then everything went sideways all of a sudden. I'm just gonna come back tomorrow and tee it up again and keep trying. its only a game at the end of the day and we carry on with life.

Jay Flemma interview with Fred Funk at Pinehurst, 2005 U.S. Open

JF: Do you think that with all the varied recovery shots you have to play here - bump and run here, pitch and check there, putt from off the green somewhere else - that Pinehurst has helped you when it comes time for St. Andrew's?

FF: Yeah. It sure doesn't hurt. Absolutely with the tight lies and the kind of shots you have to hit with the little elevations over there.

JF: How was the greens speed and how were the pin placements?

FF: The greens were a little slower than they were all week. They were a little sticky today. They had a little stickiness to 'em. The USGA did a great job. I thought today good shots got rewarded. If you hit a good shot or hit the shot you were required to hit you got rewarded. Granted the greens are very difficult and the pin positions were pretty tough, but some of them were very accessible. I don't know if I just played a little better today, but alot of them on the back were easier than yesterday. I think a low number might be out there today among the leaders. Yesterday, no, alot of them were pretty tough, but they dialed it back to where it was the first two days. I really don't think there's too many tough putts. There's a really good one on 2,3 and 4, then after that 7 and 8, but alot of the others were pretty good. If you hit it in the right spot you have a legitimate birdie putt. On the back nine I thought 11, 12, and 13 were very accessible. 17 is very accessible. If you hit the right spot it'll feed right in there. 18's very accessible. So I think there's some birdies to be out there.

JF: Sawgrass holds a special place for you since your win at the TPC this spring, is it your favorite public golf course?

FF: Oh Sawgrass is terrific for so many reasons, but if I could only play one public course for the rest of my life, it would be Pebble Beach because of the scenery and the beauty of it. Those holes along the water. Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite golf course I say Pebble. Sawgrass is great too because of 17 and 18. But if I could only play one place and was stuck there the rest of my life, Pebble would be it.

JF: What other great public courses would you recommend to our readers?

FF: Well I didn't play Bethpage, but that looked real good. I hear Bandon Dunes is phenomenal. Whistling Straits is right up there as far as an experience. When you go out there it's something unique and different. Bandon Dunes is like that I guess. Is Prairie Dunes public?

JF: That one's private, but it's nice. What is it about Pinehurst that resonates so well with the golfing community?

FF: The thing about Pinehurst is that it's just golf. Strictly golf. I mean, you come to Pinehurst to live, you gotta love golf. There's nothing else to do. You can play some tennis a little bit. But it's designed for the golfers and there's such a variety of golf and the courses around here are spectacular. There's alot of golf here. Isn't it the most per square mile in the world or the country? I mean it's gotta be one of 'em.

Jay Flemma interview with Lee Janzen at Pinehurst No. 2 2005 U.S. Open

My interview with Lee, where he discusses both Pinehurst and Baltusrol, site of his 1993 U.S. Open victory and site of this year's PGA is below.

JF: Lee, the PGA returns to baltusrol, sight of your 1993 Open victory. What can you tell us about the architectural design features that make baltusrol great?

LJ: Baltusrol has terrific greens with alot of breaks. The rough is really tough, although it might be a bit of a different setup. It ends with back to back par fives. It's a tough golf course, but a great golf course. it'll be a great host to a great tournament.

JF: What part of Pinehurst did you find more challenging this week, the rough or the devilish greens and chipping areas?

LJ: I had more trouble with the rough. I hit it in some spots that were tough.

JF: Did you have trouble keeping the ball out of areas from which it was tough to get up and down?

LJ: Not really I had good luck getting the ball to places where it was manageable. Even coming out of the rough I did a good job of getting it to where I could get up and down...if I got it out. It was thick in some places. but I didn't hit into much greenside trouble.

JF: Olin Browne said the worst thing for him about the rough was he had not practiced the angles of approach to pins from those spots so he had difficulty being confident with his line. Did you find that to be the same in your case.

LJ: It was more the lies for me. If I had a good lie, I got it to a safe place. If I didn't, well I didn;t score as well.

JF: Thanks Lee, good luck at Baltusrol.

LJ: I hope I'm there. Thanks.

Sunday Hole locations at Pinehurst, 2005 U. S. Open

click here.

How to win the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst

As I pulled into the parking lot today, the license plate of the car in front of me read "ALL PARZ." That is the order of the day. Damage control. Grinding.

A great golf course is really a puzzle. The key is to figure out a game plan and execute it. One of the greatest blights ever imposed upon the game is that it became "normal" to dumb down the game to it's least intelligent level. Hit it high and soft and between the trouble which is all on the sides. Lather rinse repeat.

No. A great golf course - like a Sawgrass - constantly makes you think...makes you analyze...makes you be creative...and keeps changing up on you all round with a wide variety of design features and shot shaping requirements.

Pinehurst does that. These greens are unusual, but they are a puzzle to be decoded by the very best. That's why Retief Goosen has been successful. Like Shinnecock, the course has linksy featurs around the greens...bump and run here, pitch and check there, putt somewhere else. It makes sense that a guy like Retief, who grew up playing links courses and has a varied short game would have an advantage over his American counterparts who were preconditioned to only have most of the greenside shots in the bag, but maybe not all.

Nevertheless, at a U.S. Open the course is the star. Pinehurst wore that mantle proudly. That is one of the features I like very much about the U.S. Open - the course is the star. This year's star is now about to come on for the encore. Retief may have ice water in his veins but it won't be easy. Pinehurst has one more surprise...one more thrill left in store for us. Let it roll, I say, as high as it can go.

Yes, Pinehurst No. 2 is worth the money

While covering the 2005 U.S. Open for Travel Golf Magazine, I kept an open mind all week as the world debate raged on whether $375 is too much for a round of golf at Pinehurst No. 2, or whether $240 is too much for Nos. 4, 7, and 8. I listened to the good points raised on either side - and there are plenty to go around. Even I struggled with the analysis. It's a tough and close debate.

The natural setting is not Pebble. Or Bandon Dunes. Or Whistling Straits. Or even Kiawah Island. But that's OK. Look at Sawgrass or Bethpage. They don't tip the scales for natural setting, but are two of the most quintessential tracks in the nation.

It’s not the course design either. The design is so subtle that the nuances escape most golfers. A.W. Tillinghast wrote of his classic Winged Foot, “The holes are like men, all rather similar from foot to neck, but with the greens showing the same varying characters as human faces.” The same is true of Pinehurst. Pinehurst’s greatest weapon is its benign nature tee to green as well as its intricate green complexes. The wide fairways, devoid of stunning vistas lull the player to sleep when he should be on high alert. One mistake approaching the devilish greens and the ball is in a place where the player cannot get close to the hole to save par. No less a personage than preeminent architect Tom Doak called No. 2’s green complexes “the best in America.” But over time, the greens morphed into something different from what Ross intended. Ron Whitten wrote an insightful piece, Donald Ross wouldnt recognize these greens, in the June 2005 issue of Golf Digest. His undressing the myth of the greens severe contours as a mountain of topdressing over decades, not Ross design fills in a vital piece of history. Moreover, the USGA took advantage of the increased height of the greens by cutting off sharp slopes so as to create false fronts and sheer side drop-offs to make for crazy bounces at unpredictable angles.

With two such analytic geniuses jousting, the debate is surely valid on both sides. Either way, Pinehurst is a tricky pickpocket, an Artful Dodger which steals strokes right from under your nose…except when the USGA comes to town for the Open – then it becomes an axe murderer and a serial one at that. Still, there are seven other courses as of this writing.

It's not the price either. $375 is half a month's rent, a luxury car payment, two dinners for two at the glitziest NYC restaurant, tickets for four to a Broadway show, or tickets for a family of six to a major league baseball game (or tix form two to a three game series). Only Pebble Beach, Cascata and Shadow Creek are more expensive in the U.S. Sawgrass is half the price and Bethpage is 1/4 or less.

It's not Donald Ross either. Ross is a seminal designer. But I don't drink the Donald Ross Kool-aid and genuflect on command. I study golf course architecture as a science not a religion. Pinehurst No. 2 may not even be Ross’ best work – Oakland Hills is a much more interesting track tee to green for its more varied design features and for the more sane and reasonable green complexes. (I know the Donald Ross Society will want to grill me alive for saying that. I’ll take a medallion of my loin medium rare, please.)

But there is a reason why Pinehurst is the St. Andrew's of America - and I am not handing out that mantle lightly and it's not just because of the unique and wonderful golf course. It's the people. It's the Pinehurst locals and the North Carolinians. Pinehurst is EXACTLY like Ireland or St. Andrew's in one critical way. The magic of Pinehurst is in meeting the locals. The apres golf is unparalleled. Maybe only Oregonians can match North Carolinians for warmth and hospitality. It even tops Pebble Beach - where you stay at the resort, but don't interact with the natives. Instead, here even your waitress or counter clerk will discuss golf history or swing mechanics or travel with you. Golf is embedded in every level of the local's lives. In Pinehurst, the locals have golf in their DNA. They truly live and breathe golf. You lose out on so much if you just play golf and leave - or play golf and go crash in your resort suite. Instead, if you delve deeply into Pinehurst's greatest treasures, its people, you will be rewarded in return tenfold. Come to play golf, but leave with ten friends.

If you love Pinehurst, Pinehurst will love you back. Many who do this, soon have a bumper sticker on their car that reads "PINEHURST - I wasn't born here, but I moved here as fast as I could."

Payne Stewart pins passed out at 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and an observation

As we walked in the gate, everyone received a brass pin with the outlined image of Payne in his now famous victory pose.

Look for them on the broadcast.

One other note. Pardon me while I dislocate my own shoulder patting myself on the back, but in the last year I have been to Pebble, Pinehurst, Bandon and Pacific Dunes, Sawgrass and Bethpage.

I also played, among many others, some courses I think just as amazing at Tobacco Road, Royal New Kent, and World Woods. Just as St. Andrews, Troon and Ballybunion are preeminent, travellers also play Muirfield, Lahinch, Old Head and others. I call these "first and a half tier." You can quickly get to the American "first and a half tier," the ones I list above and play dirt cheap. (Email me for others.)

Go out and travel. It broadens the mind and helps the golf game.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Retief's legacy if he wins the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst

Retief Goosen has shared or held the lead after the third round three times previously and walked away with two majors. He led the 2001 and 2004 US Open after three rounds and won both. He was tied with Eldrick T. Woods after three rounds of the 2002 Masters, but lost to Woods.

In other notes, Vijay Singh failed to card a birdie in a PGA tour round of golf for the first time since the final round of the 2004 PGA (excluding his winning birdie on ten in the three hole playoff). He shot 73 and was tied with Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard.

There were no bogey free rounds for the second time in three rounds of this Open. Aaron Oberholser has the only bogey free round which came during Friday's second round of play.

In the 104 year history of the Open, 47 players holding at least a share of the lead through 54 holes have won including the last six - Stewart, Woods, Goosen, Woods, Furyk and Goosen from 1999-2004 respectively. A win by Goosen would make him the sixth player to win three US Opens. he would also be the seventh player to win back to back titles. If he wins, he would be the only other person besides Hale Irwin to win his first three majors at the US Open.

A look at tomorrow's pin placements for the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst

The caddies are concerned about the devilish pin placements for Sunday. "They are evil" one remarked. "Most are four or five paces from the fringe. They are not the most accessible." When asked if players, when faced with difficult chips might play to a point five or six feet from the hole he replied "That's the game plan. You saw alot of that today and you'll see alot tomorrow. Defensive golf."

Another caddie noted "The worst ones are 7 and 8. Seven is back right and its scary. Eight is back left and its scary." Eight is where john daly took an 11 after hitting a moving ball.

"The only holes you can attack are 1-4. That's it" he noted.

USGA Rules allow pins to be placed as close as four paces from the fringe and two paces from severe gradation changes. Such hole locations will require players to play to safe areas leaving 20-25 foot uphill putts which they will then lag to two or three feet short of the hole and try to save par.

Jay Flemma interview with Lee Westwood at the Pinehurst No.2 2005 U.S. Open

Lee Westwood agreed with Phil Mickelson's Friday observations after his +3 73 left him six back of leader retief Goosen.

"You have to be very defensive out there, you can't charge your putts. It's very difficult. If you miss the green, sometimes you have to treat the hole as a dogleg and play four or five feet away from the hole and hope to make the putt."

JF: How many holes can you attack out there and do you agree the only birdie holes are 1-4.

LW: Well I think four and ten are the only birdie holes. Basically you have to hope to hole a few 25 footers to get a birdie. If you miss the green it's very difficult to get up and down.

Nevertheless, Westwood was enamored with the course and the setup. "It's the fairest most draining golf course."

Yo, yo, yo rollin with the architects and the mad bling

Trip expert Jen maples and her architect dad, Dan, a third generation of Pinehurst area designers. His dad did No. 5 and his grandfather shaped No 2. among others. Posted by Hello

Jay and fourth generation architect Brad maples. The apple is close to the tree, luckily for golf. Posted by Hello

Surprise, Jay. Yo, Yo, Yo...rollin in the architect's mad wheels. Posted by Hello

Jay and Payne. We miss you. Posted by Hello

Remembering Payne - an interview with the sculptor of Payne's statue

Meet Zenos Frudakis, one of America's premier visual artists. Golfers everywhere marvel at his bronze masterpieces - Payne Stewart, Dinah Shore, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, and many more, some of which grace the clubhouse at Augusta National. But this Philadelphia native and son of a Cretan immigrant has devised bronze statues of baseball players, ordinary steelworkers and captains of industry as well. I caught up with Zenos next to Payne's statue doing what everyone else does, using it as a meeting place and a shrine of remembrance.

JF: Tell us about how you got commissioned to immortalize Payne.

Zenos: Well the club commissioned me to do the piece after he died. I did it from around three or four snapshots of his famous pose after he made the putt to win the Open here in '99. Payne's wife Tracey gave a great deal of input as well. The club wanted a remembrance and Tracey was touched by the thought.

JF: Walk us through the bronzing process. First, how does he stand there in that pose?

Zenos: Well he's a little over life size...about 6'6" and the bone structure may be a drop thicker, although he looks life size. There is a stainless steel rod in the leg which goes beneath the ground into a concrete block under the ground. That's how he stands there.

JF: How is he put together?

Zenos: Well first I make a smaller model as a dry run and for basic outline. Then I make a larger one a rubber mold which is set over clay, then plaster is poured over the clay. The plaster holds the rubber like a mother holds her child so it's called a mother mold. Then you pull the clay out. Interestingly, I reuse the clay. So the clay for Payne was used in other golf statues. So you might say Payne now is Arnold Palmer and Bobby Jones and even Dinah Shore. As the Buddhists say, Payne has had many lives.

JF: What happens next?

Zenos: Well next the hollow rubber is sort of a negative impression. We put in wax and heat it [called a "lost wax process"] then cover that in ceramic. Then we take the wax out and insert molten bronze. It looks just like making steel and is very exciting. Then we take a hammer and smash the ceramic like breaking eggs. What's left is the bronze.

JF: Then what finishing touches do you add?

Zenos: Then we shine up the bronze and use a wood tool to shape the eyes and ears and give it depth. We use heated acid to color the bronze, then a thin coat of wax to make it shine...like when a prizefighter oils himself up or a weightlifter. It shows the highlights.

JF: How was it received at the unveiling?

Zenos: I remember Tracey and the children were there when I unveiled it. When he saw it, Payne's son looked at me and said, "Yeah...that's my dad."

Since then, many have made the pilgrimage to stand next to Payne. One was Eric Booker, who met Payne as a rookie Tour player through the PGA Tour's big brother program. New tour players get an experienced mentor to guide them through the tumultuous life of starting out on tour. Eric was Payne's little brother.

"He meant the world to me" he recalls. "I first met him when I was eating a sandwich. Suddenly, these huge biceps come from around me and grab the sandwich off my plate. It's Payne. He stuffs it in his mouth, eats two huge bites and says, with his mouth dripping sandwich pieces, 'Heymmmff. I'mmmm myour mbig mbrover!!!' I miss him terribly.

Payne touched so many that the tributes this week were innumerable. Perhaps the greatest testiment to his legacy is the way he overcame adversity while maintaining his individuality. When Payne burst on the seen, his excess of personality was grating to many. Life was rough for a while. but Payne worked hard to smooth his rough edges while still being a unique voice and a positive energy. Over time, he became respected, admired and loved.

Payne Stewart - now forever young in our hearts and at the site of his greatest victory, our national championship at the St. Andrews of America.

Zenos' work can be seen at www.zenosfrudakis.com.

Jay Flemma interview with Adam Scott at the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst

JF: I'm here with Adam Scott who is +1 and only three of the pace. Adam, you're right in the thick of things, what aspects of your game plan have worked so far and what do you want to improve?

Adam: Well I want to hit more fairways off the tee. It starts there. I have got to be in play to have a chance to even get close to these hole locations.

JF: What about hitting the ball into the so-called "blue areas" where it's impossible to get up and down?

Adam: Ah! Good segue, because that's the part of my game plan that has worked. I've hit it in one bad place over the two days and that was yesterday on eight.

JF: How do you feel you have been in judging when to get aggressive and when to lay back?

Adam: Pretty good, Jay. I mean I've been making good decisions and the course sets up well for me, but it also calls for patience and I've been really steady.

JF: Both your swing and in terms of keeping your emotions in check?

Adam: Yeah both actually. You need both here. At an Open, you know?

Scott tees off at 2:20 PM with England's Lee Westwood.

Click here for my interview with Thomas Levet and travel tips for golf in France.

The tenth at Monterey Peninsula CC Shore Course Posted by Hello

The 15th at Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Country Club) Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

Jay Flemma interviews with Olin Browne and Shigeki Maruyama at the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst

I caught up with Olin Browne and Shigeki Maruyama out in the parking lot post round and they shared their thoughts on the setup at Pinehurst.

JF: Olin, did you have more trouble with the rough today or the pronounced swales and chipping areas around the green?

OB: Today I drove it poorly. Jay you know what the big problem is when you're in the rough here? You usually have a tough angle to the green or possibly an angle to the hole you have not practiced and you can't get comfortable with your line.

JF: Did the firmer greens and tricky pin placements compound the problem?

OB: Absolutely. Good point. If you're coming in from a tough angle, its tough to fire at the pin. Also in some places the lies are dusty.

In his general press interview earlier, Browne noted that "I had a great ball striking day yesterday and a poor ball striking day today." Browne is a surprise co-leader with two time winner and defending champion Retief Goosen at -2, along with Pepperdine grad and former california state amateur Jason Gore. Gore participated in one previous Open in 1998 at Olympic Club. He missed the cut. Gore had three Nationwide Tour victories. He played on the PGA Tour in 2001 and 2003 entering 30 tourneys each year. He made 12 cuts each year and his best finishes were 18th at the 2001 Las vegas Classic and 20th at the 2003 Sony Open and Greater milwaukee Open.

Shigeki also answered questions about hitting into the deadly "blue areas."

Shigeki: I marked my yardage book pre-tournament with areas around the greens to aviod. I only fired at three pins on both days...10, 17 and 18. i did a good job of staying away from the dangerous areas."

JF: can you list some excellent courses in Asia that are public access that Americans should play when visiting.

Shigeki: I like Taiheiyo Gotemba and Phoenix Country Club. Also any course by Jack Nicklaus is nice. I actually don't get to play much golf in Japan except for tournaments. Many of the best courses are private.

Jay Flemma interviews with Ian Poulter and Shingo Katayama at the 2005 US Open at Pinehurst

I caught up with Ian Poulter and his caddie Mike Donagh pre-round. "For a great course outside London try Woburn Sands. It's my home course and I play it all the time" Ian noted with a smile. Ian looked good in his pink and purple outfit today. Mike, who began caddying for Ian two and a half years ago when "we had some drinks together and he needed a caddie noted "Yeah we also love Torrey Pines. Cypress Point is great too, if you can get on it."

Poulter carded a rugged 77 yesterday, but smiled with some conviction and added "66 is the number I'm gunning for today. Bring me some luck laddie!"

Meanwhile I also chatted with Japan's Shingo Katayama's post-round, whose 74-75 left him +9 and in danger of missing the cut.

JF: There was alot of talk about making sure not to hit the ball in places around the greens where it was exceptionally difficult to get up and down. How did you fare keeping the ball out of the so called "blue areas?"

SK: Not as well as I would have liked. The big problem was I practiced all week playing a 3-wood out of the greenside rough, but never got to use that shot because I hit into thicker rough. I also put myself in trouble off the tee. I also missed too many fairways.

JF: How were playing conditions out there?

SK: They were tough. The fairways and greens were firm and the ball just kept rolling. The ball just didn't stop.

JF: What public courses in Japan would you recommend American visitors go play.

SK: Kawana C.C. in Shizuoka by Mt. Fuji is terrific.

Boston's James Driscoll offers Boston Golf Travel Tips at 2005 U.S. Open

Swinging a "speed stick" in the parking lot to gauge his swing speed, Boston pro James Driscoll took the time to offer public golf travel tips.

"I played Red Tail in the New England Amateur one year and all the players loved it. It's more modern than many of the old Donald Ross courses and it's in great condition. I especially liked its cool design features. It has great character."

Driscoll shot a +6 76 yesterday carding two birdies at 4 and 11, but a stretch of bogeys from 12 through 16 hurt him late.

Weird first round leaders no stranger to U.S. Open

Remember 1980 and 1982 and 1983...Bill Rogers led and everybody wanted to know if he was going to run a marathon, then Jim Thorpe led and everybody wanted to see him do sprints, then George Burns led and everybody wondered if he handed out free cigars and told jokes.

Click here for my TravelGolf site. Lots of great content there too.

Hard at work, Jay at the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Jay Flemma interviews with Sergio Garcia and Brandt Jobe at the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2

I caught up with Sergio Garcia and Brandt Jobe outside the locker room after the round. Here are some excerpts:

JF: How were the playing conditions out there?

Sergio: Conditions were terrific for scoring. The rough could get tougher and the greens could get quicker. They can't start too tough because then it's hard to control, but they have control now.

JF: What was the key to your posting a good score today?

Sergio: The biggest key was distance. It's crucial to get the right distance and my caddy and I did a great job all day getting the right yardage to the hole because one mistake on these greens and your in a tough position.

JF: With all the talk going into the tournament about the big five having the best chance of doing well here, what's your reaction to today's leaderboard?

Sergio: I was really happy to see Olin [Browne]and Steve [Jones] and Brandt [Jobe] play well. Give alot of credit to those guys. They are experienced and they played great.

JF: Do you think Sawgrass would be a good site to hold a major?

Sergio: Absolutely. I love Sawgrass it's a great course. I would love to play a major there.

JF: How good were you at sticking to the pre-tournament game plan and not hitting the ball into places where you could not get up and down?

B. Jobe: My misses were decent. The rough was tough. Like on 12 I was three inches off the fairway and I was only between 80-100 yards away and had not shot. I had birdies early and had trouble keeping some wedges on the greens, but for the most part, I'm happy with the results.

JF: Tell us what happened on 16 when the ball seemed to squirt away from you on your approach?

B. Jobe: Well I had a 7-iron in and my back was to 18 tee and we all thought they had teed off and they hadn't. On my backswing the gallery clapped. Also, those last four holes took forever. We had a great flow going for fourteen holes and then the last four holes took almost an hour and a half.

The U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2 and some house keeping

Very quickly, tune into my travel golf site for up to the minute reports from the media tent and interviews live from the U.S. Open.

Next, blogger had some trouble with the rest of my Brian Silva interview, so its to be continued soon. Please read that here.

Last, before he passed away, Bunker Mulligan and I discussed the idea of a blog entry here about what its like in the media tent. Initially, I was unsure, but anothe rperson thought it would be fun. So I'm putting to a vote. What do you the readers think? Would you like me to do a post on bloggin from the media tent as a final interesting trinute to Bunker?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Andy North says conditions great, in USGA's hands at 2005 US Open

Tune in to my Travel Golf site for this update on my talk with ESPN's Andy North and other USGA officials about play conditions. I also posted my tourney preview and some random thoughts on the eve of the Open. The talk in the media tent is actually to watch out for Retief Goosen, who is a favorite of Jen Mario. Today's practice round has been gorgeous.

Pictures from the U.S. Open at Pinehurst

Ian Poulter is his own head cover. Photo courtesy of AP. Posted by Hello

Architect Brian Silva Interview Part 1 - Artichokes never tasted so good

He’s never at a loss for words, never wanting for a laugh, never lacking a story and never ceases to berate himself with self-deprecating humor. Boston golf course architect Brian Silva calls himself a “golf artichoke.” If he means infinite layers, depth, complexity and great taste, then the analogy is perfect.

Silva is only 5’7” in spikes. He stridently laments that “my courses are not designed for short, old fat guys like me,” but don’t let him fool you. He bicycles 25 miles every day, walks the course with the energy of a college student and rarely misses a fairway. He quotes Caddyshack with the vigor and delight of a cart boy. In fact, a round with Silva is a steady stream of witty observations, banter, and jokes. One could momentarily forget he was the celebrated favorite son of
New England golf, a multiple award winning designer, a renovator of U.S.G.A. sites, a professor of golf history and a genius of strategic design. But despite the humility of a blue-collar Bostonian and the humor of a teasing college buddy, Silva takes golf course architecture to its most complex level, challenging golfers to think their way around courses filled with strategic options and nuanced design features.

Silva designs are a refreshing and inimitable blend of design concepts of old masters like Seth Raynor and C.B. Macdonald. Using random geometric shaped bunkers, hazards turned perpendicular to the line of play, and varied green complexes such as Biarritzes and punchbowls mixed with modern twists he invented such as vertically stacked bunkers, he sends straightforward, parkland-style golf-loving traditionalists into apoplectic confusion. It's needed. For too long, American golfers have thought a "redan" was a pterodactyl that fought Godzilla and that a "Biarritz" was a '79 Oldsmobile. Yet Silva designs are not just an artistic exercise, but a history lesson, an architecture lesson, a non-stop run of surprises and perhaps the most fun one can have in four and a half hours while vertical.

The road to a landmark career was a lifelong journey. Silva first rode the bulldozers building a golf course at age three on his father’s lap while Silva, Sr. shaped courses for Boston architect Geoffrey Cornish. At Cornish’s recommendation, Silva got a degree in turf management from Stockbridge School of Agriculture and a Masters in Plant and Soil Sciences from UMass, then taught agronomy at a community college in Florida before returning to Massachusetts to work for the USGA Green Section.

Closing one of life’s circles, Cornish hired Silva as his partner in 1983. Cornish’s trust proved prophetic as Silva quickly won Golf Digest’s coveted best New Public Award in 1985 for the Captain’s Golf Course on Cape Cod. High profile job after high profile job followed. Silva’s renovation list alone looks like a ticklist of the best courses in the nation – Seminole, Cherry Hill, Olympia Fields, Rolling Rock, The Broadmoor. But Silva believed he could do better. And soon thereafter a sea change occurred in his views of architecture.

“I began to think that golf holes were becoming too narrow, including my own,” he said. “Target style golf limited playing options and had resulted in cookie cutter, predictable courses. It’s easy to defend par by simply making a hole narrow and trouble-lined on both sides. But it also takes strategic options out of the player’s arsenal. You want all the trouble on the sides? Go bowling!”

Silva had his epiphany while looking at a flyover picture of the fifth hole at PGA West’s Stadium Course. “I was inspired by a centerfold, but don’t get the wrong idea,” he quips puckishly. “Looking at that color picture of #5 the light bulb went on. PGA West is all about the angles and risk-reward options. Plus Dye is great with alternating shot requirements.” (So is Silva – see the first hole at Red Tail for an illustration)

Silva’s thoughts have been echoed by any number of designers, but effectuating change is difficult. Many architect’s long for the chance to incorporate more advanced features, but owners and players have been so preconditioned as to their notion of acceptable course design that they fear to ask for anything radical…plus everybody wants “a course that could host the U.S. Open.” Yeah...right…sure.
Luckily for golf, Silva got a chance to show everyone how wonderful getting retro could be in the mid-90’s when he designed Waverly Oaks and Cape Cod National.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Remembering Architect Mike Strantz 1955 - 2005

I shed a tear as I typed the lead for this piece. It was a tear for a gifted man taken from us far too young and in the prime of an extraordinary career. It was a tear of sadness for a family’s loss of a devoted husband and father. It was a tear for his design partners, business associates and golf course design colleagues who sorrow for their collective loss of a man who lived a golf life less ordinary and who was a faithful friend. And it was a tear for our golf community’s loss of voice far more intrepid, visionary and wise than his mere years. It is a dark day for the game. A great light has gone out.

As I stood on the 11th tee at Monterey Peninsula Golf Club’s Shore Course, the last hole Mike ever designed, my thoughts turned to Mike’s family and closest associates. I thought of Forrest Fezler, Mike’s long time design partner telling me the heartbreaking story of Mike looking at him here on what would become Mike’s last tee box and saying “Forrest, the problem is we’re running out of golf holes fast.” As I walked up the 18th fairway, I thought of Heidi Strantz, Mike’s wife. I took an instant liking to Heidi the moment I met her. Beneath her jaunty cowboy hat and sky-blue eyes and warm smile I could sense the conviction and strength of tempered steel. “Heidi is a rock” Forrest once told me. He was right. Heidi handled extensive management duties for Mike’s design company even before his cancer struck. After the worst was confirmed by Mike’s doctors - at the same time he landed the Monterey job - she took on even more responsibility, caring for both the company and for her husband. Courage is the ability to be brave in the face of adversity. But valor is being courageous in the face of insurmountable odds. Heidi was tireless in her courage and valor in helping Mike battle to the end. If all families had the white-hot devotion to each other the Strantz’s had, this would be such a happier world.

I felt one last twinge in my heart as I took a farewell look at the gorgeous union of sea and sky from the clubhouse when I recalled that when the American Society of Golf Course Architects met at Monterey Peninsula in April, they were so overwhelmed by the course they made Mike an honorary member. Sadly, in his final days, Mike was too weak to be able to acknowledge the honor personally.

Author John Gunther’s book Death Be Not Proud tells the story of a gifted young scholar who succumbed to cancer just as he finished his illustrious career at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and just before his matriculation to Harvard University. I echo Gunther’s sentiments. Neither death nor cancer can proudly claim the life of anyone so gifted in his profession, so universally liked, so widely respected and who harbored not even the slightest glimpse of professional envy to his colleagues.

Nevertheless, the golf world can be proud of Mike Strantz. We sorrow now, but if we remember to celebrate Mike’s life and vision of our great game as we move forward, we will transform this fleeting sad moment into a watershed moment for the game. This is not an end, but a beginning. The bold vision that Mike championed in life – to elevate our knowledge of the game and our acceptance of truly great golf course design - will grow even stronger in us as a golf community. In the short time we celebrated life with Mike, he was luminescent. But now he belongs to the ages. He joins the pantheon of epic architects who changed the way we think about the game and made both the game and golfers better for knowing them.

My priest will forgive my simplistic view of Heaven, but I know that Mike has earned his wings, along with whatever excellent standard issue fourteen clubs are handed out at the pearly gates. Happily, Mike can stride to the first tee and proudly join his new eternal foursome and enjoy his great reward. Earned it, he has. Alistair, Old Tom and Seth Raynor are waiting there to greet him. And they embrace him warmly, welcome him and say “You did great, Mike. You did just great.”

Saturday, June 11, 2005

"Heaven eleven" - The amzing 11th hole at MPCC - Pebble Beach, CA Posted by Hello

Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: There will be a longer piece forthcoming, but I owe it to you to satiate your appetite and to share this treasure with you.

I'm in Pebble Beach, CA, but even in this mecca of superlative golf, both public and private, the golf takes a back seat for now. There are many wonderful human interest stories to tell about this small patch of Heaven on Earth upon which it seems God himself smiled. Monterey is best known for pricey resorts, pretentiousness and California attitude. I prepared myself for some semblence of that.

Boy, was I wrong.

This may be a private club and there may be strict rules...no cell phones, period...no short pants period, men or women...act civilly to each other at all times...(shouldn't these rules be in place everywhere?) But the warmth, sincerity, accomodatingness and humanity of these people - privileged to live in the heart of one of American Golf's most blessed plot - rivaled even the hospitality of Oregonians and North Carolinians. On this trip, I saw Cypress Point, Pebble and Spanish Bay, but the members and staff here not only have beauty and challenge in their golf course to match, it's as though all your nicest friends somehow hit the lottery, moved here, formed a club and live in harmony.

As we sit here today, MPCC is the latest and last masterpiece of Mike Strantz, who passed away yesterday. As many of you know, his cancer has been cruel and ruthless. At the exact same time God smiled on him and gave him the chance to add his name to the great pantheon of designers who make Monterey Golf one of the world's gold standards, he was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue. Mike did not smoke, chew or have any other vice that would have been an intuitive cause. To this day, the source of his cancer remains a mystery.

Through chemo and radiation, he kept working at this site. He believed in his heart, it kept him alive. You have seen Pebble, Cypress and Spyglass on TV or other video or pictures. MPCC is just as beautiful. Now you can understand how the land worked its magic on Mike to inspire him. Well Mike worked his magic back to the land and responded with what may be his greatest work.

"I wanted to shape the course to sweep with the natural terrain...the rocks...the trees and grasses...the ocean. I dreamt that the course would appear to dance among the cypress trees on this coastline forever. I wanted to players to feel a sense of wonderful discovery." Mission accomplished.

While working the project, Mike underwent radiation to battle the cancer. Luck was not kind - the radiation reflected off his dental work and destroyed his salivary glands. He could no longer eat or drink for his sustinence as we can. Later, doctors removed 90% of Mike's tongue, but still he worked, designed, sketched and granted interviews. When I met last summer with Mike, his wife Heidi sat with us offering to interpret any answers to my questions that might be difficult to understand. Happily, our mutual love of the game and understanding of architecture made his answers easy to follow and the interview flowed as well as a Tom Brady operated New England Patriot offense. Despite all the treatments and medication, Mike never took me up on my offer of a break or a rescheduling. His love of golf energizes him at all times.

KInd, sincere, warm Mike was the perfect person both for the job and for the kind, warm and sincere members and staff. This is an ultra private club, but the members are welcoming and inviting. My visit occurred during their co-ed member tournament, but there was never a question of my visit being an inconvenience. Head pro David Vivolo could be the PGA Professional's poster boy for Mr. Congeniality. Members eagerly vied with each other in their offers to play with me, so I took the oppurtunity to play with as many as I could. I started my round with a few holes with Glenn, a marshal whose "aw shucks" warmth and witty banter helped celebrate my birdies and comfort my stinker shots. Then a few holes with a foursome of ladies. Then three holes with Idaho transplant Mike and his 14 y/o son Bryson, a solid stick and a wide receiver and free safety on his high school football team. "I love tackling guys," he confessed as he pitched one over a patch of lethal brush and scrub and onto the back of the second green. Even the lady whose roof I belted with a wayward drive came out to smile and say, "No harm no foul...and keep those wrists turned over." (Don't worry purists...houses only line three holes and they are well recessed...I tried to bite off way too much of the corner...Darn Taylor Made driver...)

I played the coastline holes in poignant solitude. just me, the ocean, the deer (dozens), the crashing surf and the course. Not a soul in sight, even on tourney day. It moved my to the depths of my golf soul as only bandon Dunes had before.

And then there is Pinnacle Peak...The magnificent 11th hole. A par-3 downhill to a sweeping green framed by fragrant Cypress. The tee boxes are set high on rugged rocky outcroppings with commanding, staggering views of the majestic coastline. This was the last hole Mike designed at the course. Talk about "finish with a flourish." It is unparalleled beauty. I sat here in solitude for twenty minutes and remembered Mike iwth a grateful, but heavy heart. It was the most sad moment of my golf career to be here at such a hard moment for his family, but I am ever so grateful for their generousity at setting up my visit weeks ago.

In typical Strantz fashion, typical routing requirement go out the window. There is no "36-36 two loops of nine holes with two par-3s and two par-5s" to rein in his vision. instead the 35-37 = 72 course has FIVE par-5s and FIVE par-3s because as Mike would say..."that's what the land told me to put there."

To be continued

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Golf Course Architecture - Architectural Echo

So as I sit here getting organized for my trips to Cali and Pinehurst, I came up with a new term of art in describing golf course design that I think is important. I call it "architectural echo."

"Architectural Echo" means two different but equally important elements of a golf course.

First, its the ability of a course or designer to take strategic or tactical design elements (biarritz greens, redan holes, punchbowls, alternating shot requirements, etc.) and incorporate them into the course, making them relevant to the twenty-first century.

E.g. Brian Silva's Black Rock in Boston has a great sense of architectural echo because not only does it feature a true redan, biarritz greens, and a punchbowl green, making it true to the design concepts of the great masters, but these features flow beautifully with the land so that the course resonates with players in the present. Links at Erie Village in Syracuse has very little architectural echo because every single hole is so narrow you have to walk down them single file, there are no strategic options... (you hit this target, then that target, then the next target...hit it where I tell you only), and it has no stylized features such as qa biarritz green or a redan or anything to make the design more interesting or playable.

Second, it is the ability of a course to maintain a higfh level of player and critic popularity over time. E.G. Caledonia has an a amazing sense of architectural echo since it was infinitely popular when it opened and it has grown even more in popularity since. sawgrass has an enormous sense of architectural echo since (even a few touring pros didnt like it at first) it resonated strongly from its opening abnd has gathered unstoppable momentum since.

Here is the article I posted at a former site:

Two architectural notes today. I coined a term that seems to be catching on. I call it architectural echo. Its the ability of a golf course to resonate over time on two important ways. First, the course takes old architectural design features and brings them forward into the present so that they diversify the course design and make them relevant and enjoyable. Second, the course becomes more respected and revered over time. I got the idea from some one saying that great ideas and people echo in eternity. Its true of golf design too.

Example: Brian Silva courses have a great sense of architectural echo in that they feature saddle greens, punchbowls, redans, biarritzes, etc., and they are enjoyed and respected in the present.

Also, Coeur D'Alene in Idaho does not have old school features, but still has great architectural echo in that is been widely popular since opening and has grown in respect in popularity ever since.

By contrast, lets examine an RTJ course - Kaluyihat in Utica. Kaluyihat opened with a $125 price tag and industry wide praise, then in one mere year, plummeted in rankings so as to be off the radar screen. Its has no palpable old style features to make in more interesting than any other "bowling alley" course. Hence its sense of echo has proven to be minimal.

Lastly, with apologies to Dan Maples (you're excluded here and I'll buy you a drink!):

Hating blind shots is for chumps. There is nothing to fear or be lazy about. Trust your swing and your target, swing smooth and hit it. You'll have a huge advantage over your lazy, frightened and preconditioned buddies. Besides, how much fun is it to stand on a tee box and have Dye, Strantz, Engh or any other great designer pointing you at a church steeple, clock tower or other distant landmark and screaming at you to "Hit it here." Golf is not a game of perfect, but its also not a game of easy. Challenge yourself and you will get better.

Nobody has a problem at all with the blind shots at Lahinch, ballybunion, Prestwick, The Old Course...but bring them to the US and the designer better have earplugs and a bulletproof ego. Instead of crying like Nancy Kerrigan, get tough and swing smooth. You will surprise yourself.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Tour Journal Vol. 4 - Monterey Peninsula and the U.S. Open at Pinehurst

It will be a busy two weeks for the A Walk in the Park team. First, from Thursday to Sunday I will be in Northern California to play Mike Strantz's latest two courses, Silver Creek and Monterey Peninsula GC, both of which are private. The golf world has been quick to hail MPGC as a candidate for a major championship in the near future. As many of you know, Mike has been fiercely battling oral cancer for several years. MPGC was built right as he began his battle, so it will be a poignant trip.

Next, it's a good thing sleep is for tortoises because the minute I land in LaGuardia Sunday night, I turn around the next day and drive to NC for the Open to cover the tournament for Travel Golf and for my golf book. I'll be interviewing architects, playing courses, offering travel tips and reporting from the media tent.

Expect two articles a day every day except travel days...one here and one at my Travel Golf site.

In Memoriam: Bunker Mulligan, 1953-2005

Golf and politics blogger and foreign war veteran Mike Reed died Saturday at his home in Texas after a massive heart attack. He was 52 years old.

Known to bloggers as "Bunker Mulligan," Mike was renowned for his patriotism, his service to his country, his fierce loyalty to his home state of Texas, his concise and poignant political writing and his extensive knowledge of golf history and golf design. He was an excellent player, honing his handicap to single digits in recent weeks.

Regardless of what people thought of his politics, Mike was well liked and well respected by supporters of either side of the aisle. He was passionate with his views without being unfair, obstreperous, or dismissive of others. He was thoughtful and supportive to red and blue alike, and he loved his country with a patriotism that would have impressed even the founding fathers. Always willing to chat with golf bloggers, Mike provided thoughtful commentary across a wide range of the game's issues. Thoughts and tributes can be left at Bunker Mulligan. The family asks for donations to be made to Homes for our troops.