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December 6, 2011 | 10:33 a.m.

Klein: Crash course in great architecture

Bradley S. Klein
No. 16 at Pasatiempo Golf Club
No. 16 at Pasatiempo Golf Club

There’s a misconception about golf architecture, that it’s somehow an obscure, elite field, and one that gets in the way of playing. Far from it. Experiencing quality design can be fun and readily accessible. It’s also inspirational, because the more you see in a golf course, the more creative you’ll be in shotmaking. Your game will travel better, you’ll get more out of each round, and even if you don’t play well at a given course, you’ll come away appreciating each layout more.

The 10 courses listed here represent a sample of some ...

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Categories: Travel, Architecture
November 14, 2011 | 12:18 p.m.

Wonder Down Under

Bradley S. Klein
No. 18 on Royal Melbourne's East Course, a hole that will play as No. 16 on the Composite Course for the Presidents Cup.
No. 18 on Royal Melbourne's East Course, a hole that will play as No. 16 on the Composite Course for the Presidents Cup.

For all the emphasis upon quality of play, sometimes it’s the track that merits attention as well.

This week’s Presidents Cup at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Golf Club provides a rare look at the enduring vision of one of the game’s most innovative designers. Eighty-five years ago, Alister MacKenzie ventured across the Pacific Ocean to impart his sense of golf on the Australian continent. During a seven-week whirlwind visit in October-November 1926, he transformed the face of golf and created a legacy that continues to inspire and challenge golfers. And he didn’t do it alone.

MacKenzie ...

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September 30, 2011 | 2:03 p.m.

Men on a mission

Adam Schupak
Brian Curley (left) and Lee Schmidt
Brian Curley (left) and Lee Schmidt

Haikou, China – With U.S. golf-course development virtually nonexistent, many American golf architects have been piling up frequent-flier miles. These days, Brian Curley, principal in the Schmidt-Curley design firm, spends so much time in Asia that he’s now barking in Chinese to his dog when he’s ready for a walk. Such is the life of the modern-day golf architect that Curley and his business partner, Lee Schmidt, spend more than half their time in China, alternating three weeks on, two weeks off. 

“I don’t get my mail in China yet,” Curley said during a round at one ...

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Categories: Architecture
July 10, 2011 | 4:44 p.m.

Skills test

Bradley S. Klein
The ninth hole at Royal St. George's
The ninth hole at Royal St. George's

SANDWICH, England – Royal St. George’s is everything that Congressional Country Club is not.

This charming gem of an English links, located on the Kent Coast along the North Sea, is a windswept, rollicking and occasionally maddening gathering of golf holes that defies aerial control.

In an era of target golf in which players are asked to parachute the ball onto carefully engineered segments of greens, Royal St. George’s requires an entirely different set of demands. The task here is to thrust and parry and work with the ground contours in hopes of keeping the ball in play. It ...

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Bradley S. Klein
A man pauses to look at the damage from a tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa, Ala., near the University of Alabama, on Wednesday.
A man pauses to look at the damage from a tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa, Ala., near the University of Alabama, on Wednesday.

For all the tornadic devastation loosed on Alabama last week, golf courses seem to have been spared the worst of the impact.

Of the 11 facilities operated under the umbrella of the statewide Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, only Silver Lakes Golf Course was knocked out of commission when tornadoes raked the Southeast on April 27. The 27-hole facility, in Gadsden, 75 miles northeast of Birmingham, was closed through at least last weekend, with unspecified damage.

Amid the horrific destruction – at least 342 dead and thousands injured – the golf business emerged surprisingly intact.

Shoal Creek, site of this week’s ...

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May 2, 2011 | 11:21 a.m.

Polishing a gem

Bradley S. Klein
View of the 6th green at North Shore Country Club.
View of the 6th green at North Shore Country Club.

GLEN HEAD, N.Y. – Consider it a healthy sign of the times. The old card-room bar, where out-of-shape members wiled away the hours with drink in hand, has been converted into a high-tech golf and fitness center.

North Shore Country Club is back, thanks to a bold and risky plan by the club’s new, visionary owner, Don Zucker. A veteran of the high-stakes New York real-estate market, Zucker, 80, has built, by his own account, “4,000 apartments in Manhattan alone.” He’s also an avid golfer, playing to a handicap in the midteens at three tony Long Island ...

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April 21, 2011 | 10:14 a.m.

Open for play

Bradley S. Klein
No. 5 Carnoustie in Scotland.
No. 5 Carnoustie in Scotland.

Golfweek’s Best: Tour Courses You Can Play (2010-11)

The world’s best players might play a game with which we recreational amateurs are unfamiliar, but they often play courses with which we’re quite familiar.

Our annual list of Golfweek’s Best Tour Courses You Can Play reveals that far from being elitist undertakings, the pro circuits – PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Nationwide Tour and LPGA – are surprisingly public and accessible 
in terms of venues.

Of the 50 layouts highlighted on our list, 26 are regular PGA Tour stops – starting with No. 1 on the roster, Pebble Beach Golf Links ...

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April 14, 2011 | 12:04 p.m.

Northern Stars

Martin Kaufmann
Highlands Links in Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia.
Highlands Links in Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia.

Golfweek’s Best Canadian: Classic Courses (pre-1960)

Golfweek’s Best Canadian: Modern Courses

Anyone who has spent time with Canadian golfers knows that they love to sing the praises of the late architect Stanley Thompson, who built golf courses across Canada during the first half of the 20th 
century. Golfweek’s Best course raters also have 
taken a shine to Thompson. He is responsible for 
10 of the top 30 courses on the Classic list (pre-1960) of Golfweek’s Best Canadian Courses, including four 
of the top five. Nine are solo designs, and on one 
he shares the credit.

Thompson ...

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April 11, 2011 | 6:36 p.m.

Refresher course

Bradley S. Klein
The 13th hole at Pinehurst No. 2
The 13th hole at Pinehurst No. 2

PINEHURST, N.C. – Every once in a while you find a place that reminds you why golf is so special and why golf courses are the most beautiful of all sports fields. Pinehurst No. 2 used to be one of those places, back in the 1920s through the late 1950s.

But it hasn’t been for a while. The village center always has been enchanting, but the course itself lacked a certain appeal. It wasn’t scenic. The holes looked too similar. The fairway bunkers hardly were a factor. And the demanding greens were more hard work than charming. It ...

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March 14, 2011 | 3:43 p.m.

Breaking down the design playbook

Bradley S. Klein
No. 8 at We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
No. 8 at We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

Too much of the discussion about golf courses is dominated by scratch players. Sit around the 19th hole at your average course long enough and you’d think that most opinions about course design concern yardage from the back tees and making holes tougher. Yet there’s little correlation between how well someone plays golf and how perceptive he is about the character and features of a hole or a course.

I’m reminded of the time I visited a solid, well-established Midwest private club that measured about 6,500 yards and was a par 71. The green chairman was ...

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March 14, 2011 | 2:55 p.m.

In harmony with nature

Bradley S. Klein
The seventh hole at Old Macdonald in Bandon, Ore., which makes its debut at No. 3 on the Modern Courses list.
The seventh hole at Old Macdonald in Bandon, Ore., which makes its debut at No. 3 on the Modern Courses list.

Click here for a list of Golfweek's Best Modern Courses

Click here for a list of Golfweek's Best Classic Courses

In search of golf heaven, some architects move the earth. Others just scratch the ground. If there’s a right way or a wrong way to get there, you wouldn’t know it based upon the golf courses featured in the latest Golfweek’s Best lists. Both paths seem to bring us to the game’s Promised Land.

Welcome to the 15th annual list of Golfweek’s Best Top 100 Classic and Top 100 Modern courses in the ...

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Categories: Architecture
March 2, 2011 | 3:03 p.m.

Straight & narrow

Bradley S. Klein
The par-3 11th hole at Waldorf Astoria Golf Club
The par-3 11th hole at Waldorf Astoria Golf Club


Click here for Bradley S. Klein’s rater's notebook on Waldorf Astoria GC



ORLANDO, Fla. – Building interesting holes on a dead-flat site is among the toughest assignments in golf design. The traditional Florida solution, championed in the 1950s by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Dick Wilson, was to dig out ponds and use the excavated material to build up tees, fairways and greens. The result generally had all of the charm of highway grading.

It took Pete Dye to devise a new strategy for dealing with featureless land, using sharp vertical separation by digging 1 foot down, flipping the ...

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Categories: Travel, Architecture
January 25, 2011 | 3:06 p.m.

Recovery shot

Bradley S. Klein
No. 6 at Harbor Shores.
No. 6 at Harbor Shores.


Click here for a Rater's Notebook on The Golf Club at Harbor Shores



Golf is a game, not a social policy. Efforts to justify a golf-course project because of the good it will achieve in a community go for naught if the layout itself falls flat.

With that in mind, there is much to admire about The Golf Club at Harbor Shores, a key component of a larger development plan undertaken with the best of intentions, aimed at reviving what was a popular Midwest resort destination. The project is part of a widespread downtown effort to breathe new life ...

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November 1, 2010 | 2:51 p.m.

‘How do I get my course nationally rated?’

Bradley S. Klein
Ballyhack, ranked 15th on Golfweek's Best New list
Ballyhack, ranked 15th on Golfweek's Best New list

‘How do I get my course nationally rated?’

I get that question a lot. What follows are some of the pointers I give when people ask me the secrets to ratings success.

1.) Avoid overzealous staff

I want to see the course, not be assaulted by hordes of beaming staffers. There’s no need for the security guard at the gate house to engage me in a friendly chat while traffic backs up.

And please, spare me the attack of the swarming bag rats, the car park staffers who surround your vehicle as you approach and want to “assist you ...

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Categories: Architecture
October 26, 2010 | 10:56 a.m.

2010 Golfweek’s Best New Courses

No. 12 at Shooting Star
No. 12 at Shooting Star


Click here to read about the 2010 Golfweek's Best New Courses list



2010 Golfweek’s Best: New Courses

1) Old Macdonald 8.90

Bandon, Ore.

2010, Tom Doak, Jim Urbina


2) Huntsman Springs 7.77

Driggs, Idaho

2009, David McLay Kidd


3) Shooting Star 7.75

Teton Village, Wyo.

2009, Tom Fazio


4) The Patriot 7.65

Owasso, Okla.

2010, Robert Trent Jones Jr.


5. Clear Creek 7.33

Tahoe, Nev.

2009, Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw


6. The Wilderness Club of Montana 7.13

Eureka, Mont.

2009, Nick Faldo


7. Red Ledges 6.90

Heber City, Utah

2009, Jack ...

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Categories: New Courses, Architecture

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