Some months again, a good friend advised me a couple of dialog he’d lately had with David Normoyle, golf historian and now my fellow Golfweek’s Finest course-rating panelist. The pair have been discussing the structure of the postwar interval. They hypothesized that for a lot of programs, acquiring the honorific “basic” typically means passing by way of a interval the place these programs should not on the top of style.
To make sure, there are many counterexamples of prompt classics (Cypress Level jumps to thoughts), however it’s an attention-grabbing speculation in contemplating towering mid-century figures equivalent to Dick Wilson and Robert Trent Jones Sr., whose works are going by way of this course of proper now.
As artworks topic to pure forces, all golf programs have to be revitalized every now and then – their bunkers and greens rebuilt, their hazards analyzed in mild of contemporary play. Jones Sr. was well-known for producing (and making a marketplace for) championship programs. As his designs move the half-century and three-quarter-century mark, their present consulting architects play a considerable position in figuring out the relative cachet they may preserve inside the Jones Sr. canon within the a long time to return – whether or not they draw nearer to consensus classics equivalent to Peachtree in Atlanta and Spyglass Hill in Pebble Seashore, Calif., or drift towards the center of the pack.
The 2 main caretakers are in fact his sons, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Rees Jones, each fierce defenders of their father’s legacy. The place it will get attention-grabbing is in seeing how their shoppers’ differing targets have formed their architectural responses.
Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, N.C., is finest referred to as the stage for Lee Trevino’s first PGA Championship title in 1974. In October it reopened after a five-month Jones Jr. refresh that ticked a number of containers within the course’s long-range grasp plan.
The greens, which “have a little bit little bit of all the pieces from (Jones Sr.),” in keeping with Bruce Charlton, the corporate’s chief design officer, have been “restored in place” or utterly re-turfed after a drainage check-up. Fairway bunker positioning was reconsidered, a standard apply in Jones Sr. restorations, as the middle of his touchdown areas typically fell at about 250 yards whereas at present’s is nearer to 280 yards. In some circumstances, Charlton mentioned, “What was initially the again fringe of the bunker now turns into the entrance,” as his shapers basically simply flip the hazard over like a pancake.
‘Nonetheless an ideal take a look at’
Although Tanglewood had a repute as a bear in its day, it’s price noting that Forsyth County, which owns and operates the course, was not motivated primarily by attracting future championships in enterprise the work.
“The course remains to be an ideal take a look at,” Charlton mentioned, “However the actual factor was to provide the residents a flagship . The strikes we made have been primarily based on enjoyable.”
With that in thoughts, the up to date Tanglewood additionally options widened fairways and broader entrances to greens, taking a little bit of emphasis off the aerial sport.
Rees Jones, for his half, has generally discovered himself within the place of “ending” his father’s programs.
“My dad’s technology had the good thing about working with nice land,” he mentioned. “One of many causes Peachtree turned out in addition to it did is that Bobby Jones and my dad checked out 11 completely different properties earlier than selecting the one which was perfect.”
The draw back, he defined, was that their budgets have been generally tighter. At Duke College Golf Membership in Durham, N.C., for instance, Rees Jones discovered himself including fairway bunkers that existed on the unique grasp plan however by no means have been constructed.
In different conditions, although, ending a course has much less to do with funds and extra to do with know-how – a response to fashionable tools know-how, sure, but in addition the flexibility to make use of an architectural device package that didn’t exist in Jones Sr.’s day.
The Gold Course on the Golden Horseshoe in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., for instance, had the good thing about Rockefeller patronage and a rolling website well-suited for the sport. Lengthy thought-about certainly one of Jones Sr.’s most interesting designs, the Gold has hosted quite a few U.S. Golf Affiliation, NCAA and state-level championships.
In a renovation accomplished in 2017, Rees Jones and affiliate Greg Muirhead directed a slew of alterations towards offering improved, cost-efficient conditioning for the Gold. Selective tree clearing enhanced playability, as did rebuilding bunkers utilizing the Higher Billy system, which improved drainage and allowed the workforce so as to add flashed faces for a brand new degree of visible distinction. Fairways and roughs have been regrassed with Northbridge Bermuda, a contemporary hybrid turfgrass that’s cold-tolerant, greens up shortly within the spring and is well-suited to Virginia’s transition-zone local weather. Greens have been moved to 007 bentgrass.
Enhancing all-around presentation is an efficient technique for safeguarding the Gold’s legacy as an ideal resort course, however Rees Jones additionally seized the chance to tune his father’s structure a bit extra to the trendy sport. One instance may be seen on the second gap, a brief par 5 that presents the resort golfer with the same second-shot proposition because the 15th at Augusta Nationwide. Rees Jones, having lamented that “front-hole areas aren’t as harmful as they as soon as have been,” nudged the inexperienced a bit nearer to its defending pond. The workforce additionally expanded the inexperienced to the wings so as to add new gap areas and created a short-grass trough to reinforce restoration choices for approaches that fly lengthy.
As a extremely lively championship venue, Rees Jones’ work at Bellerive has been extra aggressive in an try to fight bomb-and-gouge. In his whole rebuild of the 2018 PGA Championship venue, Rees Jones straightened out a number of doglegs to regain a few of their tooth.
“Doglegs don’t play the way in which they did in my father’s time,” he mentioned. “He constructed them in order that holes would play longer, however now they typically play shorter,” citing John Daly’s dismantling of Crooked Stick within the 1991 PGA as a seminal second within the corner-cutting period.
At Hazeltine Nationwide in Minneapolis, constructed simply two years after Bellerive, Jones Jr. defined that this was a part of his father’s arms race along with his archrival.
“I performed the course whereas I used to be at Yale, and I used to be analyzing the design like an attacker reasonably than an architect,” Jones Jr. mentioned. “I mentioned, ‘Dad, why do you have got so many doglegs?’ And he mentioned, ‘Bobby, I need to out-dogleg Dick Wilson right here.’”
Whereas the sons deal with the lion’s share of their father’s renovations, often an outsider is introduced on board.
In 2016, Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco employed longtime Invoice Coore-Ben Crenshaw affiliate James Duncan to shine up the Crimson Course at Royal Dar es Salam Golf Membership. Routed by way of a cork oak forest, the 1970 structure within the capital of Rabat serves because the nation’s host venue on the European Tour, so the work could be scrutinized carefully.
Decorative fruit and flowering bushes
“That is all tied to the legacy of King Hassan II and Robert Trent Jones Sr.,” Duncan mentioned. “Various things have been in style in golf at the moment,” mentioning that few individuals at present construct the sort of smooth bulldozer mounds that may be discovered greenside at Dar es Salam.
“However I spotted,” he continued, “that I needed to recognize the Moroccan aesthetic. For instance, the king needed decorative fruit bushes and flowering bushes, and Jones was comfortable to oblige. Once I first obtained there, I frankly didn’t care a lot for them, however I’ve to concede they’ve grown on me.”
Duncan identified that institutional information runs deep at Dar es Salam. He was in a position to attract on the elder Jones’ unique inexperienced sketches and the lengthy reminiscences of the pinnacle professional and superintendent, each of whom have been at their posts for the reason that course opened. Measuring over 7,300 yards with enjoying corridors which might be pretty tight by at present’s requirements, Dar es Salam at all times has had the tooth to problem the most effective. Duncan centered on inexperienced expansions, cleansing up sight strains by way of choose tree elimination — the island-green par-Three ninth now actually pops — and rebuilding bunkers.
In a few locations, the architect departed from the script in hopes of ramping up European Tour pleasure. Dar es Salam lacked a half-par “swing gap”; in Duncan’s renovation, the brutal, lengthy par-3 17th has gained a brand new tee and grow to be a brief par 4, including setup flexibility.
“A part of what golf course architects do is have a way of when to interrupt the principles,” Duncan mentioned. “Jones might not have completed that, but it surely felt like the proper factor to do, each for membership play and for the match.”
4 championship-pedigree golf programs, 4 distinct approaches. It’s doable all will succeed on their very own phrases. As with all renovations of programs constructed by nice architects, historical past would be the decide. Gwk