Mill Road Farm (The Albert Lasker Estate)- work-in-progress

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TaS

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« on: August 31, 2017, 02:25:12 AM »
I've been working on a course that is NLE (no longer in existence) called Mill Road Farm. 

This build will be very different than others and probably won't appeal to too many pure gamers.  It's more for golf nerds, history buffs, golden age architecture fans, and sim players/ no aids players. 

Some facts about it:
- Located in Lake Forest, IL, just south of where Conway Farms currently is
- Was the personal estate of Albert Lasker, the father of modern advertisting
- Designed by William Flynn- same architect as Shinne****
- Built in 1926
- As private as private gets.  It was basically Flynn and anyone that he personally allowed to play there.  If you were a member there, you got a little card and your membership number was #1. 
- It was an astonishing 7,000 yards and a par 70!  This was during the age of hickory when 6,300 yards was a brute. 
- There was only one set of tees.
- The course rating was the highest in Chicagoland at 76.32 (+6.32 over par). 
- Lasker had a standing offer that anyone that could break par at the course would receive $500. 
- Many celebrities and golf professionals were friends with Lasker and would stop by and play when in town.
- Tommy Armour became the first and only person to break par at Mill Road Farm when he posted a 69.  Reports are that he took 40 minutes to play the par 5 18th hole, which was into the wind that day.
- Bobby Jones played the course and commented that he believed that it was one of the 3 best courses in the country. 
- Lasker kept the course in immaculate condition with a crew of 50 men.  Each morning, they would even sweep the dew off the greens with long bamboo poles. 
- Besides the golf course, the estate consisted of a 55-room home with a 50-seat movie theatre, a 4,000 square foot pool, a sundial with 57 faces, a heard of cattle, a 12 car garage, and 97 acres of formal gardens and 6 miles of manicured hedges surrounding the property.  All of the houses were air conditioned, which was a rarity at that time. 
- Mr. Lasker's wife passed away, and he married a woman from New York.  They became very philanthropic and he donated the estate and course to the University of Chicago.  As history would have it, the University found it too costly to maintain and soon after sold it to be developed into housing (bastards!).

Overall, besides being brutally long, the style of the course was such that it was supposed to challenge the best players in the world while also being playable for weak players... from the single set of tees.  That was accomplished by providing extremely wide fairways and multiple lines of play.  The greens were reportedly very complex and undulating, which meant that knowledge of the course would allow a cerebral player to play different lines depending on the pin placements and the wind.  The course had 120 bunkers, all expertly placed to take into account this philosophy of challenging different levels of players.  While the fairways were generous, most of the course was tree lined from the start- not unlike Pine Valley in that respect. 

My efforts:
I have overlaid aerials from the late 30's into google earth and used the trace method to get the most accurate layout possible.  So, it is spot on from a 2-D standpoint.  For general elevation work, I am using GE elevation data and topographical surveys from the 30's.  Also, I have driven up to the property and walked it (using an overlay maps to see where the holes were compared to the current neighborhood).  I contacted a golf historian who has written extensively on William Flynn, and he sent me a handful of photos of the course that survived.  So, I'm trying to replicate all known data on those holes.  However, there is significant missing information- mainly the details regarding most of the greens.  I need to either use creative license for those or replicate other greens that Flynn has done so that they stay in the spirit of the architect.  I went so far as to contact the great grandson of Lasker to see if the family had any additional photographs, but he said that they did not.  He did comment that he has heard from the family's history that the greens were incredibly difficult and that Albert would set the pins in devlish locations when he knew that a real professional was visiting to try to break par. 

Anyways, I'm a very slow worker on this sort of thing because of kids, job, golf, etc.  But I'll post my progress to date and then hopefully some more as it develops.  My realistic goal is to finish this by the end of the year. 

My plan is to complete a few different versions: 1) scruffy replica, circa 1927 that mimics the conditioning then, 2) manicured replica, circa 1937 that cleans up the wilderness a bit, 3) modern version- with lengthened tees that allows us to play it on TGC2 and experience a similar level of difficulty as the they faced back then.  I doubt I can make 69 the low score... maybe 59 though. 

I'm a bit of a hack when it comes to using the designer, so I'm likely going to ask for some help at various points in this project.  I know what I want to do, but I find the elevation sculpting tools to be pretty frustrating sometimes. 

Some pics:

Approach into #1



Photo of #1



View of #1 green from the right side



View of site from the air.  Measured out the surrounding fields to get an accurate background. 



Pic of the overlay into Google Earth



« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 02:38:24 AM by TaS »

RockManDan

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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2017, 10:38:14 PM »
WOW !!!  I grew up not more than a 20 minute drive from there (1960's-70's) and had never heard of this before.    I did Caddy at a couple nearby courses which were all excellent so I'm sure that this must be the one that set the standard for the area. I love what I'm seeing so far and your attention to detail is impeccable.  I design fictional courses and don't know if I'd have the patience to do an RCR like this.
I'm REALLY looking forward to this !!!!  Keep us posted !
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TaS

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« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2017, 01:58:51 AM »
Where'd you caddy rockman?  So many great courses on the north shore.   

RockManDan

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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2017, 12:14:18 PM »
Mostly Twin Orchards in Long Grove, but also Hillside. 
Fun times.
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RussWest44

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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2017, 11:03:33 PM »
I've been doing some work on this with TaS' permission, here's the final version of hole #1 seen in the original post.

There's a lot of room to lengthen tees and make fairway bunkers relevant. Was able to extend this beast out to 490 yards. Will be hitting much lower, longer shots in to holes so it will play closer to how the designer intended.





« Last Edit: December 30, 2017, 11:11:13 PM by RussWest44 »
Wrong hole Kobe

McBogga

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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2017, 05:48:22 AM »
Looking good! And I like your thinking!

RussWest44

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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2018, 07:19:55 PM »






Wrong hole Kobe

RussWest44

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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2018, 05:03:34 PM »
Will anyone want to play the front while I work on the back? Just have hole 3 left.





Wrong hole Kobe

neilwilkes

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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 05:23:29 AM »
This looks beautiful!
Is there a playable version now, or are we still WIP?

RussWest44

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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 11:57:50 AM »
This looks beautiful!
Is there a playable version now, or are we still WIP?

you can play a few of the holes, I published a 6 hole version. I'll publish 9 when Im done with that.

I've made a bunch of changes since I published it and, search "mrf"

I'll probably give it to TaS for the full release.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 12:01:38 PM by RussWest44 »
Wrong hole Kobe

jeffbdvs

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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 04:22:03 PM »
Really nice work so far!
How did I make a twelve on a par five hole? It's simple - I missed a four foot putt for an eleven.
 - Arnold Palmer

RussWest44

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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2018, 08:43:21 PM »
https://imgur.com/a/L022A

here's a full album of what is finished, I'm taking a little break from it for a while.
Wrong hole Kobe

 

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