Each year, the American Society of Golf Course Architects conducts our annual meetings – always a different venue. In April, we held our event at The Woodlands in Houston. Each day is a mixture of business meetings, continuing education, formal dinners and….golf.
I was fortunate enough to have two, sizeable renovation construction projects going on simultaneously in Naples, Florida that commenced work in April, 2017. As we began the work, water levels in the lakes were at all-time lows.
Donald Ross’s Seminole Golf Course in Juno Beach, Florida, is universally recognized as one of the great architect’s true masterpieces, and is a fixture in every list of the world’s top courses. I first visited Seminole about two years ago and spent upwards of five hours walking and studying what is widely considered to be a perennial fit within the top 15 courses in the US. So when I returned again in May to actually play it for the first time, I was anxious to see how valid my initial impressions were.
Having nearly completed the back nine tour, MacKenzie was regaining his humor, at least somewhat, and seemed to be tiring a bit as they finished at #16.
When we last paused, Dr. MacKenzie was on his way to the 10th tee. The spirit amongst the group was strained at best as the architect’s criticisms continued to mount.
I had a dream last night. Alister MacKenzie is not dead. He’s been hiding away since 1934 and he is completely unaware of the state of our game much less his designs. During his 82-year absence, MacKenzie has never once taken notice of The Masters......until now.
Maybe the title got your attention… Just talking golf holes here - mainly the short-ish ones… especially the 4’s under 340 yards and the 3’s under 120 yards.
In an era where golf courses have fallen defenseless to the almighty length of touring professionals, we’ve seen fairways narrowed, bunkers added, trees planted, higher rough, conditions firmed up and green speeds lowered to the point that balls roll well beyond the tolerance of designed contours. Why? Because yes, “these guys are THAT good”.
If you’re living most anywhere in the Eastern US, chances are good the winter of 2014 has been a long, cold and entirely forgettable stretch.
As you might imagine, architects get pressed quite often to profess our opinions about what makes one golf course better than another. And while I think that is more an individual preference (or left to magazines), there are some courses that stand out among the rest.