Some sources/tips for inspiration?

  • 18 Replies
  • 6538 Views

Ariel Atom

  • *
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 355
« on: January 27, 2015, 02:19:54 AM »
To start, Would this thread be better off in the Off Topic section or here? I'm not really sure, as I think it sort of fits into both.

Now for the real start of the post:

While I have not been working on designing courses, I have still been learning more and more about course design. Initially my pencil-and-paper designs were too easily influenced by either a specific architect or a course I had just played, for which I often sacrificed variety and individuality. It was not until after flooding my brain with too many courses to keep them all straight that I think approaching course design with a unique imagination may now be possible. I have yet to design a course for TGC, and because of time limitations while at school (and lack of familiarity with the GNCD), I doubt you will see a course from me any time within the next couple months.

There are a few specific things I have been thinking about and looking at both when I play golf and in my free time in front of a computer screen that can help a lot with this. This is really a discussion post, so feel free to comment on anything you like or offer your own ways of accomplishing this same goal.



1. When you play golf, consider walking instead of hopping in a buggy/golf cart. Unless you have serious physical limitations, or the course is as [un]walkable as Wolf Creek in Nevada, walking the land is the best way to get a feel for the courses you play. I find that riding in a cart distracts from the experience, as the little details whisk by way too quickly. Cart golf can turn make the game feel like what it is: nothing more than a game. When walking from shot to shot, your feet tell you a lot about the slope of the land you're walking on, and your eyes have more time to pick up on the subtleties of smaller course features, such as the land contours immediately surrounding bunkers and mounding. Perhaps the edges of the fairway meld into a hillside, or you could be walking down a raised shelf. If it's a nice day there's also the benefit of spending more time out in the sun.

Of course, walking a course does have its challenges. It can be physically exerting, and if one is not in decent physical condition walking can seriously impact scoring ability by the end of the round. I have actually noticed a pretty strong personal correlation between my bad rounds/rounds that I did not enjoy and rounds where I spent a lot of time in a golf cart. Walking the course and taking in the surroundings seems to make those inevitable bad rounds a lot more enjoyable. It's not that those rounds in a cart were not fun but rather that they no longer seem as fun, comparatively.



2. Consider the shot values and shot types a hole allows for your game. Being a player who on some days is good enough to work the ball and other days not even close, whether my game is "on" or not changes the way I approach a course. While most courses are designed to be played by people who can strike the ball well, what about when you just can't make it happen that day? What changes in your approach to the course when you lack control vs when you are in control?

Do you enjoy playing holes that allow for a variety of shots or ones that dictate a single best ball flight? That par 3 with a narrow green angled from left to right is probably best hit with a fade for a right handed player. What about greens with distinct sections? What about when the pin location in accordance with the greenside bunker locations dictates where the "easiest" approach shot is played from? How do different pin locations change the way the hole plays (we should still be catering to this question, even with the current one-pin system...)? Does it serve to make the approach shot harder, or on par 4s and 5s does it change the entire positional strategy of the hole? Ask yourself if you want to make the hole play a variety of different ways, possibly making it easier/harder for certain golfers depending on pin location and weather conditions, or do you want to test the player's ability to hit a particular shot type?



3. While the first two ideas were about taking in information, this one applies to our own virtual designs and real courses that we play: Variety is the name of the game. I'm sure most of us subconsciously realize that courses with more variation among holes tend to be more fun to play. Think about what kind of hole you want at a certain point in the round. Consider Leatherstocking GC in Cooperstown, NY. It has a few extremely memorable holes, while each hole is unique and presents a different challenge. It seems to have the perfect balance of challenge, strategy, and scoring opportunities. And then there's the signature 18th, teeing off from an island in the middle of the lake, reachable in two if you bite enough of the water and strike the tee shot solidly. So many holes are unique to this property, and despite coming in at a short 6400 yards from the back tees it remains the most enjoyable public course I have played.

If you're looking for somewhere to start, think about what you enjoy most about your favorite courses and try to incorporate some of those elements into your work.




4. Use everything you have to learn about golf courses.


 Isn't that a bit overboard? Well yes and no, it all depends on the person and design goals.

Reading books by famous architects is a great place to start, and although all I have read so far is Tom Doak's Anatomy of a Golf Course, and Tom Fazio's Golf Course Designs I can say that Doak's book is excellent, although they are both worth a read. Subsequently, I am a bit more schooled on modern architecture, although Doak's style is more a blend of old and new.

Next, we have the infamous Google Earth, an important tool. Some people will use lists, but I have been tediously been combing much of The U.S. and Canada (in addition to some other countries, although Europe will have to wait a long time...) for courses that appear to exemplify qualities of enjoyable golf courses. However, it goes without saying that looking at aerial photos of courses can only go so far in terms of helping us learn about courses. Over time, with completion of the whole process of examining a course, it has become easier to pick out courses that play well from those that look nice solely because they employ "interesting visual hazards."

This tedious google earth process has unearthed some gems that very few people know about. Anne Arundel Mannor, spelled just that way, is an under-the-radar private golf course in Harwood, MD. This exclusive Arthur Hills design has no website, and information about the course is limited to local newspaper articles (Polling House Road MD, go look at it, it's gorgeous and extremely unique).

Onto the rest of the process, this is where the rest of the Internet steps in to help us. Once we have that interesting course, we can examine it in the greatest detail possible. This level of detail varies greatly with the publicity of the course, the amount of external sources available, and, in many cases, the exclusivity of the course. Searching for reviews and blog articles can can help one find more information about how to play the holes and hopefully provide some pictures that can help to make sense of the aerial images. Most courses have some information about the course on their websites, but the amount of information made readily available varies greatly from course to course. Green contours, unfortunately, can only really be studied somewhat from photographs and mainly from playing on them. Aerial photos typically do not provide elevation data precise enough to study greens that way.

I started my course search with the NJ area (but somehow missed Pine Valley on the first go), but to give everyone an idea of what this process can provide, here is the beginning of the list that I have (I did drop The Ridge at Back Brook into another thread on a similar subject, just a heads up). It currently spans just over 7 pages of "confirmed as interesting" courses, with the goal of finding lots of courses besides the 'usual suspects' that we're already familiar with from either media publicity or video games. From looking at enough courses, you learn what you think works well and what you're not a fan of. Also, it's very easy to learn this way the right amount of moderation (or lack thereof) for certain design features, such as bottleneck landing areas. I'll leave some of that in the end of this message, but before that, I wanted to ask all of you: what do you do and where do you look for sources of inspiration?



Here's a start: You can see that the beginning of the list focused mainly on courses that were "visually appealing from the air," and because of this there may be a few courses on there that my not belong or some missing courses that should belong. I have the state next to each course, as duplicate names eventually started making things very hard. What else to do when you have 5 different Stonebridge GCs? 

All of these happen to be in New Jersey, but that is where I started geographically when forming this list. Funny, considering I don't live there, but for some reason that I cannot recall (maybe the allure of Pine Valley and Baltusrol) I began this project there. These are not all the courses I have for this area, so I don't want any "you missed this one, you missed that one, how could you?" There's a decent chance that course is 20 pages down, waiting to be looked at many months from now, and that's if I have not already looked at it in detail...




Metedeconk National GC NJ - Robert Trent Jones
Charleston Springs GC NJ – Mark Mungeam
Mercer Oaks Golf Course (mainly east course) NJ – Ault Clark Associates
TPC Jasna Polana NJ – Wallace Harrison
Due Process Stables Golf course NJ – Gene Bates
Navesink CC NJ – Hal Purdy
The Ridge at Back Brook NJ – Tom Fazio
Neshanic Valley GC NJ – Michael Hurdzan
Royce Brook GC NJ – Steven Smeyers
New Jersey National GC NJ – Roy Case
The Architects GC NJ – Stephen Kay
Hawk Pointe GC NJ – Kelly Blake Moran
Hamilton Farm GC NJ – Hurdzan/Fry
Somerset Hills CC NJ – A.W. Tillinghast
Mountain Ridge CC NJ – Donald Ross


In case you missed it, I'll add this again down here. I want to open up a discussion on this topic, sooo....what do you do and where do you look for sources of inspiration?
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 07:05:53 PM by Ariel Atom »

WindyCityWizard

  • *
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 831
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 11:11:08 AM »
I love everything about golf except actually playing it. 
Sounds silly, but it takes too much time and costs to much $ to be decent, IMO.
I love video game golf, I like it on TV, I like being around golf courses, like reading about it/hearing stories and LOVE architecture of courses.

I have 6-8 golf course books, love studying them. This game has been the greatest thing ever for my interest in golf course architecture.
This site has been an INCREDIBLE source of information for me, recommend to anyone who has interest on the topic.
http://golfclubatlas.com/

As for my own design, I am still working on my first course. It has taken over a month now. I have 2.5 holes to go. #1, #18, and have to finish #8.
My course has a huge crevice that runs the length of the plot and impacts 7 holes, and since that is a fixed thing, I have started with those holes and worked my way outwards.
My course is a combination of Pine Valley w/all the waste bunkers/forced carries & European heathland courses (Sunningdale, Hamburger) w/all the heather & tall grasses. One of the global plants is great for heather. The course also has a splash of Pebble Beach to it, as there are two holes that run along what's supposed to be the ocean (there's a ton of water on the unused side of the plot, but then there's the wall of trees again b/c it's boreal).
The theme of my course is that it runs through a pine forest that runs up to the ocean. The whole course is raised like 50 ft, so the two holes along the ocean are on a cliff. The beach at the bottom is very wide so you can't hit your ball into the ocean.
So really it's a combo of Pine Valley + heathland courses + splash of Pebble Beach.
When it's done, I will post pictures if I figure out how (following the ps4 instructions sharing thread).
There will be a second companion course, same premise, but w/4 or 5 cliffside ocean holes.
But basically, my inspiration was taking concepts I love, rugged/natural waste bunkers, heather and worked them all into something that looks really good. All the ideas mentioned above actually work really well with the routing I gave it. It was well thought out, which is worth mentioning b/c I know there's a lot of different ideas.
Lots of versions due to refurbishments.
Play the ones exactly how they're listed here:
Tulip Point CC-Queen's Course
Tulip Point-Prince Course
Tulip Point-Royal Forest
Tulip Pt.-King's Course
Tulip Pt.-Royal Meadow
*All courses above have B, C, D versions*

Also,
Timber Trails (RCR)

Ariel Atom

  • *
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 355
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 12:44:06 PM »

I have 6-8 golf course books, love studying them. This game has been the greatest thing ever for my interest in golf course architecture.
This site has been an INCREDIBLE source of information for me, recommend to anyone who has interest on the topic.
http://golfclubatlas.com/


Yes, amazing site, and I forgot to mention the "World Atlas of Golf" and similar books. they are good sources for sure.


BruceM

  • *
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 777
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2015, 12:08:02 PM »
This is another great one I found here that someone told me about:
http://course.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/course/course/directory.htm
 Golf Club atlas is a fantastic site and you can really look over a course before deciding If its a worthy project or not.
 But even still, without playing the course its really difficult coming up with an exact copy. Fairway and green undulations just aren't there and descriptions really only tell you so much..
 I did my local course (Fairview GC) sorry needs as many plugs as possible, and I think it came out fairly well, but its still not an exact copy. But I recognize it when I play.
 I'm doing a real course now, but thats only because I don't have enough imagination to come up with a really good imaginary course.

Reebdoog

  • *
  • GroupMember
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3940
  • needs new clubs...
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2015, 12:39:22 PM »
Never read a book. Never done any study.
I've simply played good courses and have an artistic eye and can see shot shapes easily.


It must be said...you can read all the books you want and study all you want...if you are designing a course from scratch and you simply don't have an EYE for it you'll never create a great course. You may create a course that PLAYS well...but it won't capture the imagination of the golfer.

Building in this game is about MORE than just making the course play well. You have to get the lighting right...you have to make the planting fit... it's just more about art than it is simply making a golf course.

Olafsen Skerries
Turu Wero
Warrior Ridge
Hyperion Fields
Old Tom's Ferry
Einstakt Foss Golfklubb
The Sonoma Sands Golf Club
Bandit Ridge
Bridges at Paradise Cove
Fenyard Keep

DAM stuff:
Ardoilean
Silver City Beach Club

Ariel Atom

  • *
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 355
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2015, 02:31:20 PM »
Some very good points. The only way to really get a feel for a course is to play it in person. In that sense I feel like for RCRs picking out the best/most enjoyable local courses is a good way to go.

On the artistic aspect, thank you for pointing that out, as it is something I neglected. I was making the assumption that someone who wants to design courses has a sixth sense for appealing visuals.

However, the lighting aspect is very TGC specific, as I expect a good course design to look appealing in all light scenarios. Of course on a gray day it lacks the same pop that it does on a sunny day, but the idea that "proper lighting" can make or break a course doesn't sound right to me. That does not mean a visually stunning course won't look better with a certain light angle, but I just don't see this being a major design factor. I would think of it as more of a "finishing touch" thing. Maybe that's just me?


Sometimes the charm of real courses is that there are "heavily planted" areas that exist to reduce environmental impact. These are commonly known to players as "sh*t" but can have a huge impact on the way a course looks. I think the planting should look like it belongs there rather than planted for the sake of "adding a look," as in many cases the architect's sole means of control over the planting is to pick a different plot of land. I'm not saying your plantings are bad, Reeb, although it is an area I have not looked at closely in TGC in general. I would assume that most of the top designers know what they're doing when it comes to planting.


On the note of Bluegolf, I have a couple issues with the site regarding things it does not really do. Firstly, I find it hard to "find" courses without having a specific name at hand or looking in a pre-configured list. Secondly, the flyovers often do not tell as much about the nature of the property as Google Earth can. Thirdly, what if the course in mind is not on Bluegolf or does not have a lot of data? Of course it is a good tool to use, but unless someone introduces me to a wildly exceptional source I will likely remain adamant that Google Earth remains the overall best way to discover courses and to give oneself a virtual tour. You may not find those little-known, under-the-radar courses on Bluegolf, but satellite imagery does not lie. Any course that exists can be seen from the air above.

However, Bluegolf is great as a tool and a site I frequent for scorecards/yardages and other information about specific courses. I just don't find it as useful for finding courses one does not already know about.

Just to give an idea, as it is generally too cold to play golf where I am this time of year, the internet may be my best source of inspiration. I have halted work on my Unity course, as I do not see a point in progressing without CF, considering I want to completely redesign around half of the holes. I'm just not sure about whether or not I want to learn to use the GNCD, as adding fairways and sculpting terrain seems cumbersome and counterintuitive, respectively.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2015, 02:35:16 PM by Ariel Atom »

Rtomboli

  • *
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 545
  • gamertag: WALKyourTALK
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 05:14:37 PM »
In for wisdom.
The Orchard at Haley's Estate
Eighteen at Prestige Valley - 4.75 on TGCT. Fav.
Blue Willow Club & Lodge- 5.0 on TGCT - Most played.
Eighteen at Majestic Pines-5.0 on TGCT - The best rated.
Cypress Pointe Golf Club -4.75 on TGCT- A challenge.
Royal Acres Country Club 4.0 on TGCT
Links at the Bay-4.0

Dr. Yeti

  • *
  • GroupMember
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 736
  • Handicap: 10
    • My 2014 Golf Stats (RL)
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 06:59:41 PM »
I actually take a point n shoot camera with me and take photographs of interesting holes and design elements that I then use as fuel in the designer.  Also, often times i jut take pictures because it is a beautiful location.
I'd be happy to share a library of photos that may spark inspiration in some.

Ariel Atom

  • *
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 355
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2015, 08:22:10 PM »
First thing, I have been having issues with my left hand, so playing Yeti's new course will have to wait :(

Please share! I'd love some tasty photos, and I feel most of us would too. Maybe just share a dozen or so first?


Chairman7w

  • *
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 423
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2015, 10:43:46 AM »
Fantastic post, OP - thanks for making it.  Now I can't stop looking at courses on Google Earth.

Thanks for ruining my life. 


 :P
"So I jump ship in Hong Kong, and I get on as a looper.  A jock, a caddy..."

Rtomboli

  • *
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 545
  • gamertag: WALKyourTALK
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2015, 01:58:44 PM »
Golf Atlas was down last night for a while but I got on it and man, am I ruined.  Lol
The Orchard at Haley's Estate
Eighteen at Prestige Valley - 4.75 on TGCT. Fav.
Blue Willow Club & Lodge- 5.0 on TGCT - Most played.
Eighteen at Majestic Pines-5.0 on TGCT - The best rated.
Cypress Pointe Golf Club -4.75 on TGCT- A challenge.
Royal Acres Country Club 4.0 on TGCT
Links at the Bay-4.0

Ariel Atom

  • *
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 355
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2015, 08:21:52 PM »
Glad you guys like the post, but I must admit ruining your lives was an unintended consequence.

Yeti, can you add some killer photos to this thread? :D I take some photos on occasion, but I usually just use my phone camera.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2015, 08:32:54 PM by Ariel Atom »

Dr. Yeti

  • *
  • GroupMember
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 736
  • Handicap: 10
    • My 2014 Golf Stats (RL)
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2015, 09:07:00 PM »
It took me some time, but I'll start adding some of my photos of courses I've played. I've used many for ideas so I hope these spark some creativity in you.  Most will be in Utah, but many others are from all over the place, outside of the USA as well.


A nice, short hole with no room for a duff off of the tee.   Nice rocks in front and a nicely shaped bunker to the front-left.
(Camas, Washington)


A tight, winding par 5 where if you don't land your drive in the perfect spot, getting there in 2 is out of the question.  Especially with all the trees, and the water completely blocking any short approaches.
(Camas, Washington, USA)




A short par 3 with a nasty bunker to the right.  I love the rockwork and the look of the bunker (shape and depth).
(Mesquite, Nevada, USA)


Great planting between the tee and the green,  the bunker on the hill behind the green is great too.
(Palm Desert, California, USA)

« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 06:14:46 PM by Dr. Yeti »

theclv24

  • *
  • Guest
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2015, 03:01:00 PM »
I love everything about golf except actually playing it. 
Sounds silly, but it takes too much time and costs to much $ to be decent, IMO.

I'm curious about this, as it is a major factor for trying to grow the game and is something that needs to be addressed.

My first question would be, if the pace of play was much quicker would you be more inclined to play in person?

My second question would be, do you think the emphasis on swing improvement, biomechanics, teaching aids, etc, seems to make you focus on your swing mechanics too much and keeps you from enjoying a round when you play bad?

The second question is something that I focus on and have been thinking about a lot lately, to the point that I am so anxious to get on the course right now, despite it being 10 degrees with 2 feet of snow on the ground in Chicago. It's kind of a strange, all-encompassing topic that I could write a lot about, but I will try to keep my thoughts brief.

I am currently reading the Geoff Shackelford book on course design, and I'm also following the Tiger Woods saga with his game falling apart, and I am seeing some overlapping themes and thinking about how it impacts my game. I have been playing the game for a long time, played on the golf team in HS, and I have done a lot of work on my swing at various times in my golfing life. I'm always amazed, though, that I swing my best very early in the season when I have almost zero swing thoughts from the previous year. I am strictly swinging off of instinct. As I take it to the course, and as I begin to work on swing thoughts throughout the season, my natural swing starts to deteriorate and I start having crazy misses all over the course. My relatively good driving range game never carries over to the course.

My mindset started to switch last week when I heard Rocco taking shots at Tiger's swing coach and talking about him jumping off of diving boards. As I researched the coach and watched a video or two, I just had an overwhelming feeling of overkill. When did it become so complicated to swing a golf club?

This tied into what I was reading in Geoff's book when he was talking about St. Andrews and other quirky courses, and how some people deem it unfair or don't like it (some Tour pros) because the element of luck and uncertainty is so prevalent. His theme touched on the fact that some people are so caught up in their swing thoughts that they never actually "play" the course. The pressure that results is to to build rigid, traditional looking courses where the emphasis is placed on hitting straight shots, rather than unique and original courses where luck comes into play and the original lay of the land plays a major factor.

These factors of the overemphasis on swing improvement and shooting low scores, as opposed to playing matches against opponents, or strategic maneuvering around a unique course, lead to slower play and less enjoyable rounds on the course, as well as excessive time spent at the driving range working on swing mechanics. In the same way that this negatively affects my game, I think it also affects golfers like you and drives some people away from playing and enjoying the game.

My goal for this season, then, is to place less focus on my swing and my score during rounds. I really want to try and focus on the course designer's intentions with the holes, and to spend more time trying to envision my shots and execute them, and less time taking practice swings. Or in other words, my goal is to have more fun on the course.

I think these themes also apply to trying to bring the game of golf to more people. Unfortunately, the money to be made in the golf improvement market is too great. It's an unfortunate cycle where the golf industry wants to bring more players to the game to make more money, but the emphasis on swing improvement (and the desire to make money off of it) might be what is keeping those very people away.

I know that's maybe like 4 different topics that I covered and tried to combine into one, so if you followed along and made it this far, I am both impressed and appreciative! Feel free to comment on any or all areas.

Ariel Atom

  • *
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 355
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2015, 04:52:59 PM »
I'm in total agreement. While I think short game proficiency tends to come more with practice/polish, my long game, particularly the driver, is best when I have no expectations and just swing. Suddenly I hit it longer and straighter, shrinking the course and covering up for my unpolished short game.

And what you said about tour pros seems so true. They care about hitting the best shots they can, because that's what they're paid to do.

In terms of the enjoyment thing I have three suggestions in this order of importance. Firstly, we're not out there to score well. I don't mark my score for any holes until I have finished at least 9 and usually 18. Secondly, I found I started to play BETTER after I stopped keeping a handicap. Thirdly, walking adds a lot to enjoyment. Who doesn't like to go on a long pretty walk, and who doesn't like to play golf [if score doesn't matter]? Combine the two and you have a winner. One needs to be able to enjoy success and accept failure to enjoy golf to its fullest. I think strategic maneuvering and creative short game play with some opportunities for long drives are the best parts of golf.

Just as a final note, if you can enjoy golf without being good at it, you have learned many keys to living a happy life.

 

space-cash