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Bradley S. Klein
A view of hole No. 5 from a little less than 300 yards out on Pinehurst's No. 2 course, host of the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open in 2014.
A view of hole No. 5 from a little less than 300 yards out on Pinehurst's No. 2 course, host of the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open in 2014.

PINEHURST, N.C. – Enough talk of unprecedented doubleheaders. It's time to start the U.S. Open. For all the wondering about whether the course will stand up to two weeks of play, the only thing that counts is that 156 men will have to deal with confounding greens, scruffy sandy waste areas and all manner of ground game. The church bell that tolls hourly as golfers play the first hole isn’t playing a funeral dirge. It’s one of those reminders, along with the wind and the occasional toot of a railroad, that golfers are playing one of ...

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Bradley S. Klein
The new green at the Blue Monster's par-3 15th hole, with the redesigned short par-4 16th in the background
The new green at the Blue Monster's par-3 15th hole, with the redesigned short par-4 16th in the background

Act II of Kaskel’s Folly turns out to be a whole lot better than the original ever was.

Just over a half-century ago, aspiring hoteliers Doris and Al Kaskel hired architect Dick Wilson, brought him 13 miles northwest of downtown Miami, and asked him to turn a field of muck into paradise.

When he was sober, Wilson was among the country’s finest golf course designers – a master of diagonal greens, placing hazards close to the ideal line, and building fairways with the dirt scooped out of what would become lakes. There was a lot of strategic ingenuity in ...

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Bradley S. Klein
La Costa Resort and Spa
La Costa Resort and Spa

Somewhere along the line, golf stopped being designed around fun. Perhaps more down-to-earth renovations such as the one done at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa’s Legends Course will get golf back to what it’s supposed to be: interesting and enjoyable, rather than a chore.

Steve Pate calls it the difference between recreational golf and competitive golf. Back in the late 1980s, when he was beginning a successful PGA Tour career (six victories, a member of winning Ryder Cup teams in 1991 and '99), Pate noticed a big gap between how his peers played and how everyday golfers fared.

“We’d be playing pro-ams on TPC courses,” Pate said, “where our winning scores were 18 under and yet the amateurs couldn’t finish a round.”

Nowadays, Pate, 52, straddles both worlds. He competes on the Champions Tour and also maintains a design practice with veteran architect Damian Pascuzzo that focuses on everyday playability. At La Costa, the two teamed with designer Jeff Brauer (a legendary geek on matters of drainage and construction specifications) on a $13 million upgrade of the 36-hole resort, with construction by Aspen Golf.

Dick Wilson designed the original 18-hole La Costa course in 1964. It subsequently was split up and expanded into two adjoining 18-hole layouts. The original (recombined) routing was the staging ground for the many PGA Tour events from 1969 to 2006.

It’s not an ideal site because of heavy, poorly draining soils that underlay the two courses. La Costa sits in a huge natural drainage basin for what seems like half of northern San Diego County. Two creeks feed through the property and drain (ostensibly) into the Batiquitos Lagoon. This, in turn, empties into the Pacific Ocean three miles west of the resort. But when heavy rains come and the high tide backs up into the lagoon, storm water cascading down the surrounding hills has no place to go but onto the golf grounds. That explains the recurring images during tournament play of golf balls plugging in soaked fairways and greens.

Much of that has now been alleviated. Work on the Champions Course, completed in 2011, included all new bunkers, expanded drainage and sand capping of fairways. Renovation on the Legends Course, finished in November, entailed reconstruction of bunkers and greens and regrading to steer more excess water into low-lying peripheral native areas.

Along the way, the two courses were dramatically differentiated. The Champions (whose holes 1-3 and 13-18 are part of the original Wilson design) received deeper, more punitive bunkers and more carefully segmented landing areas. The Legends, whose back nine was part of Wilson’s 1964 design, got more ground-game access into greens and diverse surrounds, with more short-game recovery options. With its expanded fairways and improved sight lines, The Legends also became something else: more fun.

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the Jan. 31 issue of Golfweek magazine; click here to subscribe.

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January 30, 2014 | 4:03 p.m.

Golf architect Larry Packard, 101, dies

Martin Kaufmann
Larry Packard, one of the most prolific golf course architects of the post-World War II era, died Jan. 28. He was 101.
Larry Packard, one of the most prolific golf course architects of the post-World War II era, died Jan. 28. He was 101.

Larry Packard, one of the most prolific golf course architects of the post-World War II era, died Jan. 28 at his home at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla. Packard was 101.

Packard was proud to design courses for the common man, but with an aesthetic flair. He typically made the first five holes of his courses among the easiest of each routing so that players could ease their way into their rounds.

“He represented the average golfer rather than being worried about the low handicapper,” Dick Phelps, a retired architect and longtime friend of Packard’s, told ...

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January 12, 2014 | 4:33 p.m.

Royal Troon renovates with '16 Open in mind

Alex Miceli
Renovation work at Royal Troon in 2014, advancing its hosting of the 2016 British Open championship.
Renovation work at Royal Troon in 2014, advancing its hosting of the 2016 British Open championship.

When the Open Championship returns to Royal Troon in 2016, the Scottish course will look a little different than the course where Todd Hamilton defeated Ernie Els in a playoff in 2004.

Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert is making changes to a venue that has hosted eight Open Championships dating to 1923.

The R&A has precipitated the changes, as they have at most other courses on the Open Championship rota, and has used Mackenzie & Ebert to perform the work.

The changes at Royal Troon touch almost every hole but are not intended to lengthen the course.

The modifications include:

  • Restoration of the size of the greens on the second, fourth, eighth, 13th, 16th and 17th holes;
  • Movement of fairway bunkers, addition of low dunes and an approach bunker on the fourth hole;
  • Enlargement of tees on the fifth, sixth, 12th and 13th holes;
  • Enlargement of tees and reshaping of green surrounds on the sixth hole;
  • Restoration of an old fairway bunker to add some risk to attempting to drive the green on the seventh hole;
  • Removal of trees behind the ...
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Golf-course architect Lloyd M. Clifton Sr., died Dec. 10, 2013 at the age of 89 years old.

Clifton belonged to the American Society of Golf Course Architects and was a founding member of the CEC Design Group, which has offices based in DeLand, Fla., and Wildwood, Fla. He is perhaps best known for his design work at The Villages, a retirement community in Central Florida.

Clifton's group is responsible for developing 603 of the 630 golf holes at The Villages. His other layouts include: Grey Oaks, Naples, Fla.; Hunters Creek, Orlando, Fla.; Highland Creek, Charlotte, N.C.; Debary Plantation ...

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Martin Kaufmann
No. 16 at Bandon Dunes
No. 16 at Bandon Dunes

The first course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort made Golfweek’s cover even before it opened in 1999. Owner Mike Keiser had swung for the fences and hit a tape-measure shot. Now home to 85 holes on the remote southern Oregon coast, Bandon Dunes has become a rite of passage for serious golfers and an homage to Keiser’s love of classical golf architecture. It also has inspired imitators in other remote destinations.

Keiser currently is developing a second course at Cabot Links in Canada, and is contemplating a multicourse resort project in Wisconsin. In a Q&A with Golfweek, Keiser shares his thoughts on how to build greens, his tendency to go against the grain, and the similarities between golf and greeting cards.

GW: How involved are you in the design of your courses?

MK: I’m extremely involved. (The architects) all know that before we seed anything, I need to approve it. I don’t actually see every last inch before they plant seed, but I have a pretty good idea of the general contours and shapes of the hole-by-hole progression of things. In particular I’m looking at greens, because greens are the soul of a golf course. I feel strongly that between St. Andrews and National Golf Links and Chicago Golf (Club) and some of Pine Valley’s greens, I would like most of my greens to fit into those four courses – especially the flatter National Golf Links and Chicago Golf greens. There’s always a debate. I want flat, they want contoured, and we end up somewhere in between.

GW: What is your handicap?

MK: Twelve and getting higher.

GW: I’m told by architects that you keep in mind the average golfer as you work on courses.

MK: I want the best tees for the retail golfer. That’s 5,800 to 6,300 yards. Those are the vast majority of golfers who pay me. . . . I’m interested in what we call the royal-blue tees, which measure 4,300 yards. I’m interested in the back tees, from 7,000 to 7,500 yards. But I’m especially interested in the 5,800- to 6,300-yard tees.

GW: Was Sand Hills (in Mullen, Neb.) a model to copy, or was it so unique that it was a model to avoid?

MK: I won’t say that it was a model to copy, but it was a model for (the idea that) remote can work. That opened in 1994, Bandon Dunes opened in 1999. . . . I knew what (Sand Hills owner Dick Youngscap) was doing. I was a little bit envious that he picked (Bill) Coore and (Ben) Crenshaw before I got to them, and I excluded Bill and Ben from the first course because Dick picked them. So instead I picked David Kidd, and that worked out great.

GW: Some of the remote courses that subsequently have been built have struggled. Why do you think that is?

MK: No ocean. I’m a fan, but have never been, to Sutton Bay, The Prairie Club. I have been to Dismal River; I have been ...

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Bradley S. Klein
Bradley S. Klein hits a tee ball at dusk at Bandon Preserve in Oregon.
Bradley S. Klein hits a tee ball at dusk at Bandon Preserve in Oregon.

Golfweek senior writer Bradley S. Klein recently penned the book, "Wide Open Fairways: A Journey Across The Landscapes Of Modern Golf," which shares his insights on golf course architecture – in regard to topics including new designs and course overhauls.

Klein also spoke recently with Golf Club Atlas in an interview that shed some light on his thoughts about a variety of golf architecture topics, including the Golfweek's Best course ratings of which Klein is an integral part.

Here are a couple of excerpts from "Wide Open Fairways":

• • •

Oregon: Bandon Charette

For all the drama and scale of Old Macdonald ...

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Steve Harmon
Matt Daniels, Sewanee's head professional, shares the legend of 'Shakerag Hollow' while admiring the view northward from the Gil Hanse-renovated course, which reopens in early June.
Matt Daniels, Sewanee's head professional, shares the legend of 'Shakerag Hollow' while admiring the view northward from the Gil Hanse-renovated course, which reopens in early June.

SEWANEE, Tenn. – As a retired Episcopal minister, King Oehmig has spent a lifetime delivering a message of salvation.

So when he talks about what architect Gil Hanse’s renovation of the University of the South’s golf course will mean to this 1,500-student liberal-arts school on Monteagle Mountain, Oehmig (pronounced EM-ig) takes on an air of a revivalist.

“It has turned out to be an incredible revamp,” said Oehmig, who earned a doctorate in divinity from the school popularly known as Sewanee after having played golf at Virginia in 1969-73. “It’s one of the great stories not only ...

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Alex Miceli
No. 6 at Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.
No. 6 at Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. - Nearly a century ago, Donald Ross applied the final touches to his new course at Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club.

Having spent much time in North Carolina’s Sandhills – notably for his work at nearby Pinehurst – Ross was familiar with the sandy ground, wiregrass and tall, slender pines that define golf courses in the region.

In the ensuing years, some of those features had lost their distinctiveness at Mid Pines. Thanks to a significant restoration started late last year, the course’s early 20th-century look is back.

Kyle Franz, a course architect and shaper, was brought ...

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December 12, 2012 | 6:08 p.m.

Dawson shocked by uproar over St. Andrews

Bradley S. Klein
The iconic Road Hole bunker on No. 17 is being slightly widened and the green recontoured to be more receptive to approach shots.
The iconic Road Hole bunker on No. 17 is being slightly widened and the green recontoured to be more receptive to approach shots.

The last time they added a bunker to the Old Course at St. Andrews, the only social media around to report the news were telegraph and radio. This time around, Twitter, Facebook and golf architecture websites lit up like switchboards.

Based on the scale of such renovations, the proposed work will be pretty low-key. But the surprise news struck more than a few observers as if someone were painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Or profaning sacred, previously untouched ground.

If not untouched, then not touched much. After all, the watercolor map that Alistair MacKenzie drew of the course ...

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July 12, 2012 | 3:07 p.m.

New charity event honors Geoffrey Cornish

Martin Kaufmann
The Pines Course will host the first annual Geoffrey Cornish Invitational Golf Tournament.
The Pines Course will host the first annual Geoffrey Cornish Invitational Golf Tournament.

BOLTON, Mass. – The International Golf Club & Resort’s Pines Course will host the inaugural Geoffrey Cornish Invitational Golf Tournament on Aug. 15.

The late Cornish, an architect, spent 70 years designing courses. He is credited with more than 200 original course designs and more than 100 renovations.

Cornish died at his home in Amherst, Mass., on Feb. 10. He was 97.

A native of Winnipeg in the Canadian province of Manitoba, Cornish began his golf career working as a soil scientist for Stanley Thompson, the Canadian architectural giant, in 1935. He is a past president of the American Society of ...

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Categories: Travel, Architecture
March 23, 2012 | 12:01 p.m.

Hidden gem

Martin Kaufmann
A waste area on No. 11, with the 13th green in the background at Pine Dunes.
A waste area on No. 11, with the 13th green in the background at Pine Dunes.

FRANKSTON, Texas - It would be reasonable to assume that, upon arriving in this tiny east Texas town, you would be greeted with a billboard bursting with civic pride. The billboard might read something like this: Welcome to Frankston, home of the best golf course in Texas.

But no, there’s no billboard. The closest thing you’ll find is a sign at Pandora’s Box advertising, with no hint of irony: “Outrageously cool junk.”

Even as you drive along State Highway 155, there’s little to suggest that you’re approaching a course that’s often compared to the great ...

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February 24, 2012 | 6:57 p.m.

Donald's Doral

Bradley S. Klein
The 18th hole at Doral Golf Resort & Spa
The 18th hole at Doral Golf Resort & Spa

Donald Trump is about to acquire the Blue Monster.

The New York real estate magnate and golf course entrepreneur is finalizing the purchase of the 50-year-old, 650-acre Doral Resort and Spa near Miami for $150 million, two sources close to the deal told Golfweek. The expected purchase follows foreclosure proceedings on the preceding owner, Morgan Stanley, which had bought the resort for $501 million in 2007.

Golfweek also has learned that Trump has hired golf course architect Gil Hanse to undertake a dramatic renovation of the Blue Monster, the most famous of the resort’s five courses and home to ...

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Golfweek Staff

AMHERST, Mass. - Geoffrey Cornish, reputed to have designed more golf courses in New England than any other architect, died Feb. 10, according to the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He was 97. No cause of death was disclosed.

Cornish, a past president of the ASGCA, had a role in designing 240 layouts in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Among his most notable designs were the Pines Course at The International in Bolton, Mass.; Center Valley (Pa.) Club; and the New Course at Ashburn Golf Club in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He remained active with Mungeam Cornish Golf Design.

Among ...

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