The Canadian Sand Hills


Last year around this time I posted a photo blog about the coastal sand dunes I had seen in Newfoundland and how spectacular that island's coast is for golf.  Whether such an endeavour is practical or not, it is always fun to explore and exercise the imagination regarding the possibilities.  This blog is along the same thread but takes us inland, away from the ocean, and into the heart of North America.

Located at the bottom of an ancient inland lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago lies the spectacular sand hills of Canada.   A vestige from the glacial period, what remains is nothing short of pure, sandy, inland linksland.  Unknown to many, this deposit of sandy soil is massive and stretches from one horizon of the landscape to the next, seemingly endless and inexhaustible.  In many areas the steep dunes are taller than the surrounding forest lending themselves to amazing canopy vistas and a unique 'boreal plateau' sensation.  I can only imagine what the place looks like on a clear starry night, or even better, during a display Northern Lights!

Endless waves of dunes in the Canadian sand hills.

Check out this natural par 3 hole elevated above the canopy below.

Imagine a topography with rolling dunes, meandering valleys, hidden lakes, and intersecting ridgelines intermingling with native grasslands and boreal forest as far as the eye can see.   In many areas the vegetation has a low-lying, stunted alpine feel to it which is rich in both colors and textures.  Isolated from much of the world, the Canadian sand hills is natures version of inland links and an ideal place for the game of golf - minus the cold winters of course!

Rich in vegetation and interesting topography, these dunes are full of natural variety.

Associate Dan Philcox and I had an opportunity to explore but a small sliver of this amazing landscape last Fall.  We were in awe of the sheer vastness of the place and could have explored it for days, even weeks.  Every dune we crested and every corner we turned had the potential for golf - and amazing golf at that.  The amount of natural variety in this place was astounding and something I had not seen with any of the other dune-scapes visited in my travels. 

Not unlike the sand hills in Nebraska to the south, the business feasibility for golf here is undeniably the biggest limiting factor.  However, one has to look no further than existing golf developments with similar isolation factors: Sandhills, Ballyneal, Dismal River, Sand Valley, etc.  That said, destination golf is becoming more and more popular among the hardcore and you just never know what the future might hold for Canada's sand hills....Boreal Dunes Golf Club,  Aurora Dunes Club.....

Nonetheless, enjoy the photos we took of our adventure through the Canadian sand hills.  Put on your golf course architecture spectacles and let the mind wander!

All the best in 2017,

Riley & Dan

A Lookback at 2016


2016 was another fantastic year for Integrative Golf Design.  The success of Winter Park would have been enough for us, but then we got an opportunity to work on our favorite restoration project at the Elmhurst Golf and Country Club in Manitoba. 

However, instead of focusing this "years-end" blog on our work and projects, I thought it would be more interesting to do a photo journal of the courses we studied and played.   Part of this profession is going out to different golf courses and playing and experiencing them first hand.  It is a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

Experiencing different golf courses and speaking with the professionals behind them is a great way to learn and expand ones awareness of what great golf actually is.  I enjoy playing courses and trying to figure out what makes them good, bad, fun, difficult, quirky, unique...and so forth.   It helps give me perspective and provides inspiration I can draw from for my own work.

That said, here are my favorite golf courses I played and studied during 2016. 

Happy New Year to all our golfing friends!

-Riley

 

2016 Golf Photo Journal

Winter Park 9 - The Public's Links


"In considering the democratic side of golf we are forced to remember that all the original links were common soil over which every man, woman or child had free access -- as free as the expanse of ice in the Dutch pictures where small boys are to be seen pottering about with putters tucked under their arms.  It seems a pity that the boundaries of the popular links should ever be closed - even in the interests of gate money.  People may be inconvenient in their numbers, but barriers are worse.  The perfect course, will, I think, always be as free as the air."

- H.N. Wethered

The Winter Park Golf Course master plan - Canvas prints available for purchase in pro shop

After 3 months of construction and almost 4 months of growing-in, Winter Park Golf Course has finally re-opened for play.  While attending the grand opening celebrations this weekend, I was amazed at the local buzz and positive feedback we received regarding the newly designed 9-hole course.  Local residents, news channels, and golf enthusiasts alike came out in droves to welcome their beloved golf course back into the community.  And at the end of the day, that's exactly what this was all about:  returning quality golf back into the public realm.

The sun rises on the 5th hole on opening day.

The sun rises on the 5th hole on opening day.

Golfers eagerly await to play on opening day.

Golfers eagerly await to play on opening day.

In 2015, Keith Rhebb and myself were asked to redesign, reinvent, and reinvigorate the 100 year old dilapidated golf course.  The course we toured back then was severely overgrown with trees, the turf was diseased and spotty at best, the ground no longer drained due to 12 inches of impenetrable thatch build up, and the irrigation system was reduced to nothing more than a constant leak ready to give up on life at a moment's notice.  The design of the old course was awkward, lacklustre, void of any strategic charm, and just plain wrong in so many different ways.  As for the site constraints, we inherited a completely flat site surrounded by roadways, housing, and a labyrinth of city infrastructure zigzagging every which way underneath the property.  And if that wasn't enough, we also had a cemetery, a church, a wedding venue, and a railroad to deal with!  It was truly a bizarre piece of property with a list of challenges too long to list.

 

SLIDESHOW: Before photos of the Golf Course

 

All that being said, we accepted the challenge, but under two conditions: we had to be the ones in complete control of the daily shaping/construction activities, and that the City of Winter Park had to be an active partner.  This would require a great deal of trust on the City's behalf and a leap of faith.  However, at the end of the day, this close working relationship proved to be the perfect recipe for success.  The City focused their energies on purchase orders and providing us with the necessary equipment, materials, and labour;  and we focused on golf course creation and daily construction logistics.

 

SLIDESHOW: Some original hole concepts

 

The beauty of this partnership is we didn't have to deal with any cumbersome contractors, change orders, focus groups, or committee meetings -- all which inevitably breed decision making paralysis and cause the cost of golf projects to balloon out of control.  Instead, we were able to focus on design implementation, creative and quality craftsmanship, and daily site management.  Our goal was to bring the project within budget and within schedule, and in order to achieve this we needed full control of both.   

 

SLIDESHOW: Construction photos of renovation

 

After my visit this week for the grand reopening, I would have to say the proof is now in the pudding.  Not only did we bring the project in on time, we brought it in under budget.  In fact, with the money we saved the City,  we were then able to build an 18 hole family putting course.  This is how we hoped for the project to play out, and the big winner at the end of the day is community golf.

 

Kids putting around on the new family putting course.

Using only a D3 dozer, a mini excavator, and a track skid-loader, I am very proud of what the team created and the end result.  The new course is reminiscent of a Scottish links courses with tight, rolling, contoured fairways and slightly pushed up green's complexes.  The wall-to-wall short cut Bermuda grass is growing-in nicely and is already starting to firm up, lending itself to interesting ground game shot-making options.   Like Pinehurst #2, the putting surfaces have a slight crown to many of them and bleed off into tight lies in-and-around the greens presenting fun shot recovery options. 

Hole No.9 during grow-in

Hole No.9 during grow-in

Hole No.2 during grow-in

Hole No.2 during grow-in

Hole No.1 during grow-in.

Hole No.1 during grow-in.

The bunkers, built by the talented Blake Conant, are unique to Winter Park and the style fits beautifully into the parkland setting.  Strategically placed to challenge both the aggressive player and help steer golfing traffic away from "real" traffic, the bunkers function on two separate levels.   Tees are none descript, many joined into the previous green and flow seamlessly into the next fairway.  The state-of-the-art irrigation system designed by Don Mahaffey is so lean and mean, he was able to irrigate the entire golf course with 50% less irrigation heads as a normal course would have installed - that's value engineering at its best!

The view of the 6th hole tucked behind the infamous Sherwood Forest.

The view of the 6th hole tucked behind the infamous Sherwood Forest.

Only at Winter Park do you face shots like this! Urban golf.

Only at Winter Park do you face shots like this! Urban golf.

View of the course as seen from the street.

View of the course as seen from the street.

Hole No.5 in the morning on opening day.

Hole No.5 in the morning on opening day.

Having played multiple back-to-back rounds on the weekend, I am very excited for the public to enjoy the new Winter Park Golf Course.  I think we struck a balance between making the course fun and enjoyable for beginners, yet still offering a fun challenge for accomplished players.  It is exciting to see the Rollins College golf team practicing right next to a family of four enjoying a playful round of golf.  I believe we created 9 unique, and distinct golf holes that offer a variety of interesting and memorable shot options.  The golf course exudes charm and beauty and has become the pride of Winter Park again.  Like the timeless courses that inspired us to build the new Winter Park 9, we hope the next 100 years offers endless enjoyment for golfers and inspires even more people to take up the game. 

Long live Community Golf!

- Riley

PS. Below is a construction video we made during the renovation and some Golf Channel segments aired during Architects Week on Morning Drive....enjoy.

VIDEO: Winter Park Construction Clips


Hole 6 green seen from 7 tees

Hole 6 green seen from 7 tees

Newfoundland or Newfound-LINKS-land?


Newfoundland, Canada : Where dunes, ocean, and mountains meet.

On the heels of Cabot Cliffs debuting into the top 20 world rankings last month, I thought it would be fun to look at another serious East Coast contender for a future destination golf course - Canada's very own Newfoundland. 

While working on the Cabot Cliffs project, I had the opportunity to travel around this stunning island province with my wife and do some exploring.  I was pleasantly surprised at what I found - dunes, dunes, and more dunes.  That's right, Newfoundland is full of sand dunes!  There were areas along that coastline that had beautiful low-lying dunes that meander through dwarf, scraggily pine barrens.  Then there were areas that had massive towering blow-out dunes that offered both ocean views and snow-capped mountain views. 

This is what a virgin golf course looks like.



A perfect Sahara Bunker tee ball.

The place is surreal and has a landscape as unique as the local culture itself. Just imagine playing links golf through a beautiful dunescape and having snow capped mountains on one side of your shoulder, and on the other side is an open ocean with icebergs and whales passing by! Yup, Newfoundland has that.

A view across to even more dunes!


Transition into a more mellow part of the property.....


....Then back into the steeper blowouts.


Towering blowout dune from a distance.  Can you say "St Enodoc"?


As a part of my education in golf course architecture, I have seen, studied, and visited many dune landscapes around the world.  Inch dunes of Ireland, Machrihanish dunes in Scotland, Great Bear dunes in Michigan, Farwell Spit dunes in New Zealand, Mui Ne dunes in Vietnam, the dunes in central Oregon...and so on and so forth, but I think Canada has some of the best-least discovered dunes anywhere. 

If you think about it, we have a low population density coupled with the longest coastline in the world, plus an ideal climate for fescue turf.  And who knows, with climate change affecting the northern latitudes the most dramatically, the season may continue to extend longer and longer into the shoulder seasons.  And like golfing in Iceland, the summer equinox has a profound influence on the amount of rounds possible in a 24 hour period during the summer months. Is Canada ripe for links golf!?

It seems like people are willing to travel further and further afield to play unique, isolated, yet world-class golf courses.  It seems like the isolation factor is even part of the appeal now.  One has to look no further than places like Cabot in the north, or Barnbougle in the south to see that destination golf in far flung parts of the globe is the real deal and here to stay.  Being only a few hour's flight from both the U.K. and New York, I am curious to see if Newfoundland is the next place in Canada where golf will be discovered.

Until then, lets drool over some photos and let the imagination run wild with it.  Enjoy the Pictures!

- Riley



2015 Year in Review + 2016 Preview


Well, 2015 started off as good as one could wish for with a golf trip to Scotland.  I had a last minute opportunity to go see and play some great Links courses across the pond with fellow Canadian and golf enthusiast Josh Mcfadden.  We started the trip in St. Andrews and golfed our way up to Brora in the north.  From there we headed all the way south to Machrihanish and the Prestwick area, and then back up to St. Andrews via Elie.  As mentioned in a previous blog post, we had absolutely unreal weather the entire time, and my two favorite tracks on the trip were between Brora and Machrihanish.

Machrihanish...does it get any better than this?

Then it was back to Cabot Cliffs to finish the work being done there.  It wasn't long after I arrived before I was joined by my associate Dan Philcox and also Keith Cutten of Cutten Golf.  With the team in place, we had our sights set on getting the golf course ready for preview play and at the same time building the new practice green and driving range facilities.  With the weather cooperating, and a great team working together, we were able to achieve our goals and the course is now really starting to mature nicely.

With the soft opening of Cabot Cliffs this summer, everyone involved in the project was curious to see how it would be received by the general public and the critics.  Well, as we now know, the golf course is an overwhelming success story in Canadian golf receiving accolades and Best New Course Awards from every corner of the globe.  As mentioned in an article I did for the OSGA, (http://issuu.com/blenheim/docs/ogsa_gisb_fall2015_fin/1) the golf course is a product of a team effort, one that was lead by the multi talented Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.  That said, my theory has yet to be disproven regarding golf course creation: the more fun the guys have creating the golf course, the more fun the course ultimately plays.

Testing a few holes at Cabot Cliffs after work....tough gig but someone has to do it!

As my role at Cabot Cliffs came to an end, my role at another exciting Canadian project was just firing up:  Mickelson National.  Just a 35 min drive from my home in Canmore and the Integrative Golf Design office, this project was a welcome change from the typical airports/hotel room routine.  Being home for dinner every night and spending time with friends/family is always something to cherish in this industry, and I know my wife appreciates it too!

Early glimpse of the views and shaping at Mickelson National.

Hints of Links golf begin to emerge.

Once again, associate Dan Philcox has joined the efforts alongside the multi talented Matt Flint (ex Fazio shaper out of the States)  and the team is clicking on all cylinders.  Even though the projected started later than anticipated, we currently have half the golf course at Mickelson National shaped thanks to an unusually warm and dry fall.  Without spilling the beans too much, lets just say this course is going to turn some heads!  Phil is very hands on with his ideas and is really lending his expertise when it comes to short game options in-and-around the greens.  It is going to be nothing like what people expect from a "Signature" design (and people who know me know my thoughts on "Signature" design) and everyone involved in the project is getting excited at what's evolving out of the ground.  With great routing and a wide variety of hole types, the Phil Mickelson Design group (Phil Mickelson, Rick Smith, Mike Angus) have done an exceptional job at laying the ground work for us to take it to the next level.  Drawing inspiration from places like Lahinch and Ballybunion in Ireland, we are excited to offer a distinct golf experience to the Calgary area...and who knows, one day we might see a Canadian Open or Presidents Cup played there.

Standing with Phil on what will be the 11th green at Mickelson National.

On the more international side of things, Integrative Golf is currently involved with two projects - one just finishing up and another in the design phase.  Associate Trevor Dormer has been in Japan for the past year helping the Coore & Crenshaw group renovate the Yokahama Golf Club.  As that project comes to an end, Trevor will come meet up with us on our first U.S. project in Winter Park,  Florida.

The year long renovation at Yokahama Golf Club in Japan comes to an end.

Co-designing with Keith Rhebb (Coore & Crenshaw associate), I am excited to be working on such an interesting project (and in a warm climate!).  Cabot Cliffs was a 'supernatural' project full of natural beauty and wonder, Mickelson National is a big earthmoving, heavy lifting/ heavy shaping type project where we will create everything ourselves, and Winter Park is going to be a quaint, boutique, 9 hole renovation project that focuses on community golf and fun golf.  I think 2015 has officially covered the full spectrum of golf projects?

As 2015 comes to an end we are honoured and privileged to have worked with so many great individuals/golf Clubs  who share our passion for great golf.  The Integrative Golf Design  office is quickly becoming a hub of activity and the phone is ringing more steadily with inquiries.  We are receiving interest from all across the country (and international) and beginning to take on more design/consulting projects.  Our goal has always been to take our international golf knowledge and experiences and help elevate the standard of golf in our own country - Canada.  We are careful not to become over saturated and over stretched with too many projects as our focus is always, and always be, personal, creative, and quality craftsmanship.  

2016 is looking very busy for both Dan and Trevor, and myself.  Between Winter Park Country Club and the Mickelson National project, are schedules are pretty much full.  That being said, we also have a few potential design jobs on the horizon, a consulting opportunity, and one really interesting restoration project....so stay tuned!

On behalf of everyone at Integrative Golf Co., we would like to thank all our friends around the world for their support and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

 

Riley Johns      Dan Philcox      Trevor Dormer

 

*Below is a preview sketch of the par 5 9th hole - Biarritz green complex - at Mickelson National....a very cool golf hole full of options.

Winter Park Country Club Renovation

 

Concept Plan for the Golf Course

We are excited to announce that we have been commissioned by the City of Winter Park, Florida, to redesign and rebuild their iconic 9-hole community golf course.  Joining forces with Keith Rhebb of Coore & Crenshaw, and Don Mahaffey of Greenscape Methods, we plan on breaking ground on March 1st, 2016.

Celebrating over 100 years of golf, Winter Park Country Club has a unique and enviable history.  Not only is it considered the second oldest golf club in Central Florida, but it has even seen the likes of Hogan, Snead, Sarazen and Hagen play its corridors.  Understanding and respecting this historical significance, our intention is to provide the next chapter in the course’s legacy.

In our opinion, Winter Park Country Club is the epitome of quaint community golf.  It is fun and inclusive, has simple yet interesting routing, is very affordable, and a relaxing round with friends takes less than two hours to complete.  In keeping with these core ideals, our plan is two-fold: to enhance the strategic charm and conditioning of the golf course, and to create a landscape of beauty that the community can be proud of.  It is all about growing the game and giving back to municipal golf.

At the end of the day, we want to leave behind a high quality 'golf-park' that everyone can enjoy for next 100 years to come.  Working closely with the City on this endeavour, we are confident that Winter Park Country Club will be a creative successes and become a future model for other municipal golf courses to follow.

Currently we are finishing up the design phase of the project, construction of the golf course is slated to begin in March and be ready for debut play in the Fall of 2016.  For updates on the progress, follow us on Twitter/Instagram and the Integrative Golf Blog.

 

Keith Rhebb-  @KeithRhebb

Riley Johns-  @IntegrativeGolf

Trevor Dormer - @GolfIntegrative

Don Mahaffey -  @grassdude

Hole 9 Concept Rendering

Golfing in Scotland

Every year I try to plan at least one trip somewhere in the world and go play and study great golf.  I find it's a good way to go explore the many different types of golf courses that exist in the world and add to my "idea bank" for future golf projects.   I also find it very useful when designing or shaping golf holes, especially when "stuck", to pull ideas from various golf holes I have seen/played elsewhere.

The Machrihanish Golf Club in all her glory.

A few years back I toured New Zealand, then United States, then Iceland and Scotland, and last year it was Ireland.  This year I had yet to make any real plans but a trip to Scotland just happened to fall on my lap.  I was originally planning on going to Cabot Cliffs starting April 1st to begin building the practice facilities and help get the course ready for preview play.  However, due to the abnormally cold and snowy Atlantic winter, that plan got pushed back well over a month.

Winter finally begins to give way to Spring at Cabot Cliffs.

Luckily for me, fellow industry colleague Josh McFadden had a turn-key trip to Scotland all planned and organized.   His travel partner backed out last minute and he was looking for someone to fill in -- twist my rubber arm!  After the initial phone call from Josh, and after seeing the line-up of courses he had on his itinerary, it took no time at all to book my flight and meet him over there.

As an added bonus, Josh had worked a season on the turf crew at St. Andrews and had many industry friends and contacts in that part of the world - one of which was Director of Greenkeeping at St. Andrews, Gordon Moir.  Gordon was kind enough to open his doors and let us stay at his house for a few nights  while we played The Old Course et al., and of course a few times out on the town. 

The Jubilee Course - St. Andrews Links

After a couple of days playing and acclimatizing in St. Andrews, it was off to the races as we had a serious itinerary of golf ahead of us....  St. Andrews (as many as possible) - Trump International Links - Fraserburgh - Moray Old - Nairn - Castle Stuart - Tain - Royal Dornoch - Brora - Machrihanish - Prestwick - Western Gailes - Elie

The Dunes at Trump Aberdeen

Trump International Links

First on the list, Trump International Links.  The weather that day was absolutely beauty and it seemed like we had the place to ourselves.  For being mid April, we sure did luck out in the weather department for the entire trip! 

My initial thoughts on Trump's course was that it was situated in some of the most spectacular dunes I have ever seen.  From what I have seen on my past travels, only the Inch Dunes of Ireland, Great Bear Dunes in Michigan, and the Farewell Spit Dunes in New Zealand rival the grandeur of these Trump Aberdeen dunes.  My second initial thought was "how much time and money do they spend on maintaining those turfed walking paths?"  As much as I enjoy walking on lush turf rather than a hard surface, I found the ultra-green walking paths a little distracting and artificial looking; especially when juxtaposed against the dry brown fescue fairways.  But put that small detail aside, the golf was very enjoyable.  Mr. Hawtree did an excellent job at routing the golf course through what must have been a very challenging site to navigate golf holes through.  The course tours the dune system thoroughly and offers some of the most amazing views of Scottish coastline anywhere.  The course was fair (perhaps a little too narrow), had a great variety of hole types, heaps of interest, and impeccable conditioning.  The only drawback would be the labyrinth-like climbs to every teeing deck.   It seemed like every tee deck had to be elevated up on a tall dune somehow and the walks became somewhat monotonous and predictable.  But all in all, Trump International Links deserves to be in the conversation for most spectacular golf setting in Scotland.

 

Fraserburgh

Next stop was to a lesser known track called Fraserburgh.  Established in 1777, Fraserburgh lays claim to being one of the oldest golf clubs in the world.  James Braid made the most substantial improvements to the course in 1922, and other than that, it is relatively unaltered compared to other golf courses  with similar historical longevity.  We played a match against the Club champion and another member who were both very informative about the Club's history.  They even showed us the Club's history book, loosely organized in a binder, which had tons of great historic photos and old plans.

The Club is very laid-back and unpretentious, and that's the same vibe we got playing the track too.  There are some very interesting golf holes out there - especially as one gets into the back nine amongst some steeper dunes.  The green complex's in particular where great fun and it's the type of course that one could play over-and-over without getting bored.  The only knock I have on the track is the opening hole and home hole, both were quite pedestrian and didn't fit the character of the other 16 holes.

 

Moray Old

The next morning for the first tee time of the day, we played Moray Old - an Old Tom Morris track.  This was an interesting links course lined by blooming gorse and boasting some really cool grassy hollows/grass bunkers.  I am still not sure if they were built on purpose of are remnants of overgrown bunkers?  In particular, I really enjoyed the undulating fairways and contouring of a relatively flat site which popped during the morning light.  The routing was fun with a great blend of par 3's, 4's, and 5's.  Another memorable feature about Moray Old is the RAF base located adjacent to the course.  Listening to the roar of F-16 fighter jets take off and buzz by at low altitudes was pretty cool.  A good test of ones concentration ability!

 

Nairn

That afternoon we stopped in to Nairn Golf Club for a quick match.  Another blue bird day and some great playing conditions, especially for April.  The greens in particular were running fast and true.  Nairn was a fun, fair track located along the coast with snow capped mountain highlands and ocean always in the background.  Some really interesting holes at Nairn, and two great holes in particular on the back nine that dart inland (a par 5 uphill followed by a downhill par 3).  The 18th home hole, a long strategic par 5 that ends just a few meters way from the clubhouse patio also stands out.

 

Castle Stuart

The following day we met up with a Gil Hanse shaper Neil Cameron and played Castle Stuart.  Once again, another blue bird day and minimal breeze to be had!  Neil was great to golf with and provided all kinds of stories regarding the building of Castle Stuart- which he was a part of.  Gil Hanse and his team did an outstanding job with the detailing on this golf course.  Everything from the strategic placement of the heather to the spreading of marram grasses throughout the course added to the course's character and texture.  In particular, I enjoyed how the golf course navigates the landscape and has only one true hill climb that is noticeable - between the 12th and 13th.  The bunkering in particular I found was very artistic and well crafted, the conditioning was superb and the golf fun - a definite must for anyone golfing in the area.

 

Tain

Then it was off too Royal Dornoch, but first a stop off at Tain Golf Club and a quick match there.  We had this Old Tom Morris track to ourselves which made it fun to play around on and try different shots on some interesting golf holes.  The conditioning of the track wasn't as good as the other courses we played, but it definitely had some memorable golf holes.  In particular, hole 9 with its two giant mounds (see slide sequence below) completely blocking the view into the putting green on the approach shot, and hole 16 with a meandering double creek crossing par 3.  If one has the time and wants to play a fun round without the pressures of people in front or behind them, this is a course I would recommend trying.

 

Royal Dornoch

Being an admirer of Donald Ross and his portfolio of work, Royal Dornoch has been a golf course near the top of my bucket list for a long time.  Then, to have first tee time in the morning, not a cloud in the sky, slight breeze and gorse in the most vibrant bloom I've ever seen was very special indeed.  The course was simply awesome.  The wild greens complexes are a work of art and some of the most interesting I've seen - they are certainly what defends that golf course.  The fairways rolled along the seaside landscape harmoniously and the variety in golf holes and golf shots was outstanding.  I used every club in the bag and almost wish I had a few different ones to choose from. Not only is the golf great, but the town is really cool too.  The birth place of Donald Ross is a great pace to grab a pint and hang out with the locals after a round of golf.  Royal Dornoch was everything and more than I expected.

 

Brora

After an awesome morning playing Dornoch, we then played Brora - which is without a doubt the most surprising golf course thus far on the trip.  Brora was ten times better than I had ever imagined.  It is one of the most natural feeling golf courses I have ever played. Everything from the random contouring of the landscape, to the charming character of the burns, to the grass and conditioning was completely natural feeling.  This 1923 James Braid masterpiece is nothing but fun.  The variety of golf holes is all over the map and one can't help feel like this course has been untouched since the pin flags where first raised.  A definite play for anyone in the area.

 

Machrihanish

After some of the most enjoyable 36 holes of golf in Dornoch, it was time for the long drive South to Machrihanish Golf Club.  Unfortunately David McLay Kidd's Machrihanish Dunes happened to be closed due to some Spring drainage issues, but all that meant was it freed up more time to play Mach Old twice!  The first go around was completely socked-in by fog.  We could barely see our golf ball and entire experience felt like golf-by-brail.  The entire time I felt like I was looking through a magnifying glass at a piece of artwork without actually seeing the context of the entire piece of art.  The second go around the fog had lifted and unveiled what was an absolute masterpiece of a golf course architecture.  The contours on this property were undoubtedly made for the game of golf.  The variety and quirky interest of golf holes combined with the ever present wind factor made for a super fun golf match.  The approach shots combined with fantastic green complexes made this course very exciting and it quickly turned into my favorite course on the trip thus far.  I would go back to Machrihanish Golf Club in a heartbeat and easily play 36 holes a day for multiple days - I think it was that good!

 

Prestwick

As the trip draws closer to an end, we start making our way back closer to Edinburgh. We stayed in Prestwick for the night, ate some good food, and walked the famous Prestwick Golf Club.  Unfortunately for us there was a tournament both days and we couldn't play.  Nonetheless, walking the famous golf holes that inspired so many great golf course architects was a must.  It felt like walking a museum piece - and how cool is the Alps hole!

That day we also checked out Turnberry.  It was cold, rainy, and busy, so we just had a super expensive breakfast at Trump's newest acquisition and left.  I'll check back once the renovations are complete.

 

Western Gailes

The next day we played Western Gailes.  Probably the most underwhelming golf course on our itinerary, but only because of the company it shared.  Western Gailes was a fun and fair track with lots of interesting golf shots to be had.  I could see it being more challenging and interesting with a strong onshore wind.  Nothing spectacular but certainly a solid golf course.

 

Elie

The final course we played was Elie, or as it is officially known - Golf House Club Elie.  We met up with Gordon Moir and the head greenkeeper of the Elie club.  Naturally a Canada verses Scotland match was established and off we went.  Elie is a very neat golf track with some superb golf holes.  The ones along the coast on the back nine stick out as some of the best on this layout.  In particular the blind par 4 10th called Lundar Law, and the 13th's green complex.   Team Canada ended up winning the match, and despite Gordon insisting we are sandbaggers,  a few pints were enjoyed at the 19th Hole pub regardless - a great way to finish the trip!

 

All in all, an amazing trip was had and hats off to Josh for organizing everything.   My 3 top picks for this trip are:   #1 The Machrihanish Golf Club, #2 Brora, #3 Dornoch.  I plan on infusing some ideas gathered from this trip into the current project I am working at - Mickelson National Golf Club in Calgary.  Stay tuned on pictures from this project.

Riley

Yokohama Country Club - Japan

My first impressions of the Yokohama Country Club was quite refreshing. It felt like a classic old course and was set into its natural surroundings quite well, a stark contrast to my original views of Japanese golf, that’s for sure. Up until now the only courses that sparked my interest in Japanese golf architecture was any course designed and built by C.H. Allison.

Original construction pictured; notice the space for the two green system common in Japan.

Takeo Aiyama founded, designed and built 36 holes at the Yokohama Country Club from 1960-65. Every time new land was acquired, new greens were built, holes were extended, and other changes were made in order to create an ideal golf course.

Old aerial photograph

 The club quickly gained popularity and started hosting tournaments such as the 1978 Japan Open, which Seve Ballesteros won. It has also hosted a number of TV matches featuring Jack Nicklaus in 1973, Trevor Immelman in 08, Tiger Woods in 2010 and Rory McIlroy in 2011.

Seve Ballesteros - 1978 Japan Open

When the YCC asked the Coore & Crenshaw group to renovate the west course, Bill and Ben accepted and expressed their fondness of the West course saying they wouldn't need to do much to enhance it. The YCC formed an ingenious plan to make the project sustainable by informing civil excavating projects in the surrounding area that they would be able to take unwanted fill dirt for a price. The routing will remain virtually untouched with changes to a few holes like the old 600 yard 18th turning it into the new part 4 8th, and the par 3 9th, and also changing the old 13th and 14th holes into the new 4th hole. The primary focus for the Coore & Crenshaw team is to take the incoming dirt to create interesting golf corridors while retaining the character of the old course peripherals, fitting them seamlessly together as one cohesive unit.

Shaping #15 tees

New #8 Green

New #9 Green

With YCC's ability to step outside the norm and the possibility of hosting the 2018 Japan open, I think the west course will stand out amongst the estimated 2500 courses in Japan.  More pictures to come later this summer!

- Trev

Cabot Cliffs - A year in Review

When Trevor and I were asked to come help build Cabot Cliffs in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the response was an easy "yes"!  Working with the Coore & Crenshaw group on their epic-looking Canadian debut project would be a huge honour for us personally and for our company, and we were certainly excited to become a part of it all. Myself had just finished working for Tom Doak on his new Forest Dunes project in Michigan, and Trevor had just finished helping Gil Hanse with his Donald Trump project in Dubai.  The timing was perfect, and an opportunity to now work with Coore & Crenshaw on Canadian soil seemed to good to pass up!

A birds eye view of Cabot Cliffs

A birds eye view of Cabot Cliffs

Nonetheless, we packed-up and moved shop 5,000 km east to Inverness, Nova Scotia;  the town nearest to Cabot Cliffs and the home to the widely acclaimed Rod Whitman-designed gem, Cabot Links.  The house we were set up in was situated along the ocean and overlooking the Links' long par 3 7th with the iconic Biarritz green.  Golfing and BBQ's after work became a routine activity and a great way to unwind after a day up at the Cliffs.  Campfires, fireworks, and lobster also became a routine activity - but that's another story!

The view of Cabot Links from our deck

The view of Cabot Links from our deck

East coast dinner time

East coast dinner time

The after-work fire pit located above the 14th green at Cabot Cliffs

The after-work fire pit located above the 14th green at Cabot Cliffs

The first day we arrived on-site it became immediately apparent what kind of golf course this had the potential to become  -- "one for the ages".  The cliff top setting, the views, the scale and extraordinary variety in the landscape, and the out-of-this-world sunsets were all 10 out of 10's.  The place had it all.  The landscape is basically a patchwork of sand dunes, wetlands, rivers, rock outcroppings, forests, and all knitted  together by acres upon acres of cliff-top linksland.  On top of all that, Mr. Bill Coore and Mr. Ben Crenshaw did an absolute masterful job at routing the golf course through the site taking full advantage of all the natural beauty and vistas.  In short, Cabot Cliffs offers a phenomenal setting for golf and boasts golf holes and putting greens totally unique and unseen before in the golf world.   People are undoubtedly going to be awestruck by the sheer beauty of this place.

Bill Coore looking over what will become Hole 18,11,1, and 10

Bill Coore looking over what will become Hole 18,11,1, and 10

Those same holes after construction and growing-in (the 12th green is in the forefront)

Those same holes after construction and growing-in (the 12th green is in the forefront)

Some of the sand dunes before construction

Some of the sand dunes before construction

The 13th green, one of the few treed holes on the property...a semi-blind punchbowl.

The 13th green, one of the few treed holes on the property...a semi-blind punchbowl.

On that same first day, it also became clear on how much work needed to happen for the course to be completely finished and seeded by fall.  Luckily, Mr. Coore and his lead associate for the project and our fearless leader, Keith Rhebb, assembled an amazing team to carry out the time-constrained work.  Keith Rhebb, Dave Axland, and Andrew Littlefield made up team America while Rod Whitman, Riley Johns, and Trevor Dormer made up team Canada.  We even had a guest appearance by our very own Dan Philcox, the third member of Integrative Golf Co., who came out for a month to help during the summer push.  This was the first time all three members of the Integrative Golf team have been working on the same project together since the Elmhurst restoration in Winnipeg.  As always, good times were had!

From left to right - Rod Whitman, Riley Johns, Bill Coore, Andrew Littlefield, Trevor Dormer, Keith Rhebb

Trev, Riley, and Bill on #2 tee

Trev, Riley, and Bill on #2 tee

Cabot Cliffs became a labour of love for many of us involved.  We spent countless hours on-site in all kinds of weather ensuring what we were doing was nothing but the best and highest quality.  There were countless evenings we would work until the sun sank behind the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and sometimes even continued into the dark with the lights on!  The site deserved nothing less.   

It was also an amazing experience to work alongside and learn from modern-masters of their craft - Bill Coore, Rod Whitman, and Dave Axland on such an amazing piece of property.  I think the product and the pure fun golfers will have on this course is reflected in how much fun we had building it, and the team effort that was involved.

We will be returning in the early spring to finish Cabot Cliffs, build the practice facilities, and get things ready for a soft opening in mid-July.   Please enjoy a hole-by-hole sneak peek of the new Cabot Cliffs golf course and all the best in 2015 from the Integrative Golf crew.

- Riley

-- Staring from hole 1 through 18 --


Cochrane Golf Club - Mini Putt

The idea of building a mini putt course may at first seem somewhat lacking in the challenge department.  However, after my first sight visit to the Cochrane Golf Club and seeing the plans, I knew that there was enough artistic merit and construction difficulty to intrigue my senses. The Club asked for an 18 hole routing that meandered through and around ponds, creeks, and swales in between all the holes.

 

The site was an old gravel pit that had been backfilled over the years with a topsoil and pit run mix. As a result, the construction profile called for a woven geotextile, 40cm of pit run base, and 5cm of road crush, which would then be paved with 8cm of asphalt. We had to complete compaction testing on two lifts for the sub-base and a final test on the crush. The perimeter had to have a minimum 1 meter tall berm to provide screening for the surrounding housing.

 

With the help of the maintenance crew, we were able to bring ourselves to about 90% completion in 8 weeks -- not a small feat for such new territory.  There is still topsoil to spread, pond liners to be installed, trees to be planted and  mulch and gravel to be spread between the holes.  The early Alberta winter shut things down for the season but all-in-all, everyone is happy with the progress to date. 

 

Stay tuned for completed pics in the early spring!

 

- Dan

Sweetens Cove Grand Opening

Sweetens Cove is a 9 hole golf course nestled in a valley near South Pittsburg, Tennessee.  When I first visited the course back in 2012, I was extremely excited to see what my good friend Rob Collins had been working on. Little did I know that what I was about to see was going to blow me away and change my opinion on golf course architecture.

4th green front view

I remember walking up to the first tee at Sweetens Cove and being overwhelmed by the golf landscape. At this elevation I had a great view of the neighboring greens, bunkers and sandy waste areas, as well as the surrounding hills. The preservation of the towering trees was especially pleasing and in my mind the perfect tie-in of golf and natural landscape.

Hole 8

As we walked the site I was impressed with the undulating fairways and how the bold contours promote a ground game to the green, while providing a variety of stances and shot making decisions. The tightly mown fairway cut and the absence of rough are a great facilitator for fast and firm playing conditions and it starts to set the theme.

Throughout the course, I could not help but notice the individualized detail given to each bunker. In this day and age it’s rare to see so much attention given to bunker detailing. These hazards have a very natural style and character, taking the fullest advantage of all that the local landscape has to offer. I enjoyed the timber bunker shoring that adds variety and gives the bunkers that rugged and classic look, reminiscent of the old courses of the British Isles. I couldn’t help but notice the thoroughly thought out placement of each bunker, serving a strategic purpose in the play of each hole.

The 9th Green

As I approached each greensite, I was captivated by the contours of the green surfaces. The greens have many pinable areas that provide enjoyable putting challenges and are perfectly receptive to a variety of shot types. They reminded me of greens designed by Donald Ross and Alister MacKenzie, which is a feat in itself. The chipping areas surrounding the greens give a multitude of short game options, as I wouldn’t hesitate to use my putter out of these areas in certain situations. I was also intrigued by the number of different classic style greens, especially the Biarritz  #8 and the Redan #9. The par three 4th hole with its massive 20,000 sqft green protected by savior bunkers and its amphitheater tee complex is the epitome of infinite variety, something that every golf course architect strives for.

At 20,000 sqft, the 4th is a monster of a green

Sweetens Cove has solid strategy infused within its core. Rob and his partner Tad King have given the golfer several alternate routes to the green, while creating lines of charm for the bold golfer. Sweetens attains an optimum balance by avoiding a repetitive string of holes, following a similar pattern. They have created a course that is enjoyable for all ages and skill levels, while at the same time challenging any level of play. This course with keep the individual challenged and wanting to come back to uncover its hidden subtleties. When it comes down to it, this course will charm you.

Trev and architect Rob Collins

So, from Dan, Riley and I,  we wish Rob and Tad all the best leading up to the grand opening of Sweetens Cove Golf Club on October 17th!

- Trev

Golf on the Emerald Island

Driving through the Irish countryside.

A few weeks ago I was hosted by the Alister MacKenzie Society at the Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland for winning this year's annual Lido Prize.  I would like to extend a thank you to everyone involved with this year's Lido Prize and for the warm welcome I received at the Lahinch Golf Club.  To win the prize exactly one hundred years after Dr. MacKenzie is a true honour and a very humbling feather to have in my cap.  The whole experience was amazing to say the least, and for someone like myself who studies, plays,  and builds golf it was truly a dream come true.

While in Ireland I had the chance to study and play some great golf courses.  Not only was I lucky enough to play Lahinch several times, but also Royal County Down, County Louth, Ballybunion, and Tralee.  Lahinch and County Down were my favorite tracks followed by County Louth, Ballybunion, and Tralee.  The weather for my trip was incredible and probably the most surprising and interesting aspects of my trip was a visit to the Inch peninsula dunes.

 

The Inch Dunes....

View of only a small portion of the peninsula

Located close to Dingle on the West side of Ireland's coast lies the Inch peninsula.  This peninsula has some of the most massive and wild dune structures I have ever seen (bigger than the Cape Farewell dunes in New Zealand!).  Some of these dunes must have been close to 100 feet tall and the variety in dune types was really incredible to study.  There was everything from old marram covered dunes, rolling foothill dunes, and huge sandy peaks with blowout dunes.

Massive blowout features are  present everywhere

I spent two days in total at the Inch dunes walking and taking pictures, but one could easily spend weeks walking the site - it's 5 km long by 1.5 km wide!  There were golf holes to be found everywhere and if anyone could get permission to build a course on this site it would be tough to build anything that wasn't amazing.   Enjoy the photo tour, the pictures don't do justice in depicting the true scale!

 -Riley

Golfing In Iceland

On my way to the Renaissance Cup this year in Scotland, I had a chance to stopover in Iceland and play some golf.  It happened to be during the summer solstice which means it stays light until 3am!  Arriving to Reykjavík airport at 5am, this meant I pretty much had 24 hrs of exploring to do and so decided to make the most of it.

Westman Island Golf Club

On my way to the Renaissance Cup this year in Scotland, I had a chance to stopover in Iceland and play some golf.  It happened to be during the summer solstice which means it stays light until 3am!  Arriving to Reykjavík airport at 5am, this meant I pretty much had 24 hrs of exploring to do and so decided to make the most of it.

Local golf architect Edwin Roald suggested I go straight to the Westman Islands where one of Iceland's best kept golf secrets is.  After an hours' drive and a half hour ferry crossing I arrived to 'the Westmans'; a quaint fishing village set amongst a series of small volcanic islands jutting out of the water.  The golf course was incredible.  Established back in 1939, it inhabits an old dormant volcano crater on the edge of the ocean.  The views are spectacular and the golf was pure fun.  Weaving in and out of lava formations and alongside ocean side cliffs n crags, this links course had an amazing variety of golf holes with tons of quirky features to play around on.  It played fast and firm, and the locals I played with were a blast too.

After almost missing my ferry back to the main land (I had to literally run from the 18th green to the ferry terminal golf bag and all!) I then headed to Brautarholt Golf Course near Reykjavík.  This is a fairly new golf track designed by Edwin Roald who I ended up meeting up with at the club.  This course was really neat with several holes along cliffs/bluffs and views towards Reykjavík.  Although only 9 holes at present, Edwin has done a wonderful job at routing the course on the tricky volcanic terrain and I look forward to seeing  the course in the future with more holes to come.

Brautarholt Golf Course

Brautarholt Golf Course

The third and last course I played on this Icelandic golf marathon was called the Keilir Golf Club.  This course was surprising in how different the two nines where.  Teeing off at midnight, the front nine navigates through an ancient lava field and has no bunkers to speak of -- and nor does it need bunkers -- the landforms and shot variety was enough to keep my interest.  The back nine was a throwback to Scottish links golf complete with deep pot bunkers, large rolling fairways, and the odd rock wall reminiscent of North Berwick.  After finishing up my round at 2:30 in the morning and watching the sun finally set into the ocean, I was ready to pass out!

Keilir Golf Club

Keilir Golf Club

Surprisingly, Iceland has a huge golfing population because of the midnight sun during the summer months and the amount usable links land.  Anyone thinking of checking out Iceland should definitely bring their sticks as the golfing options are plentiful and unique (check out the golf club with the geyser!).  I look forward to returning sometime in the near future.

-Riley

Elmhurst Golf and Country Club

A Donald Ross restoration

Restored Hole #10

Restored Hole #10

There is no greater privilege than to work on the grounds of one of the absolute greats in golf course architecture.  In Winnipeg, Manitoba lies one of the most northerly Donald Ross designs in the world - Elmhurst Golf and Country Club.  The 18 hole track was originally built in 1914 but then redesigned by Donald Ross in 1919. It was soon after this redesign, that Elmhurst became dubbed “ The Champions Course”. As with many older courses, the face had changed over the years. In 2009 we started the 18 hole restoration, with golf course architect and Ross Restoration specialist, Ron Prichard.  We completed four holes, with Integrative Golf Co. doing all of the bunker work, and the superintendent Dan Ciekiewicz and his crew looking after the expansion of the green surfaces.

Restored hole #1

Restored hole #1

I was contacted this spring by superintendent Dan to help out with some general renovation type projects.  Although not true 'restoration' work I was once again honored to be involved with such a historic piece of property.  The club is hosting the Canadian Amateur Championship and wanted to replace the bunker sand in all of their green side bunkers, and build a new pro tee on their thirteenth hole, which would push the hole to 625 yards.  There was also tree stump removal from tree clearing in the fall, and some hedge removal to open up views of the golf course that had been lost over the years.  The old bunker sand had already been removed by a local contractor, so each bunker needed the bases to be fine graded, re-edged, and in some cases, faces brought down to recapture a more classic look.  I received very positive feedback from the membership, the board, and the club manager and look forward to returning this fall to continue the work. 

Restored fairway bunker

Restored fairway bunker

My two week stay also allowed me to see how our previous work had sustained and matured over the years (see photos).  When I look at and play the restored holes, I get excited to return one day and continue to uncover this northern masterpiece of Donald Ross -- Elmhurst Golf and Country Club.

to be continued.....

 - Dan

Restored Hole #5

Restored Hole #5

The Lido Prize

Thank you to everyone for your kind words and congratulations regarding me winning this years' Lido Prize.  To say I am humbled and honored to have been chosen --  especially100 years after Dr. Alister MacKenzie --  would be an understatement.   Many people have asked to see the complete entry so I have decided to post a blog with a few images of the design process, the final entry, and the short write up that accompanied it.  Enjoy!

- Riley

Lido Prize.jpg

The Lost Hole:

While searching for lost golf balls along the coast of the famed Cypress Point Club, a few intrepid members stumbled upon what appeared to be the remains of an old abandoned putting green.  Letting curiosity take over, the group began to investigate their findings into more depth and started sifting through the club's old archived Alister MacKenzie notes, minutes, sketches, and plans.  To their amazement, they quickly realized they had discovered a little known forgotten par 3 that was originally going to be used as a 19th tie-breaking hole -- similar the one Dr. MacKenzie designed at Augusta National! 

Under  the guidance of MacKenzie experts and the Cypress Point Club, a full-fledged effort began to resurrect the lost par 3.  Using sophisticated archeological precision and delicate construction techniques, the lost hole has been fully restored back to its original glory, and for the first time revealed to the public......

Lido entry ready to mail.

Lido entry ready to mail.

 

"Situated alongside the dramatic coastal cliffs of the Monterrey Peninsula, this exciting short par 3 is full of natural artistry and strategic  character.  But don't let the short distance fool you, this tricky one-shotter is  alive with swirling winds, intimidating cliffs, and nasty bunkers -- perfect for settling a tied score at the end of a round! 

Heavily guarding the front portion of the green are two massive blow-out scab bunkers and two smaller pot bunkers that are sure to rattle some nerves.  But don't panic, the hole looks far more daunting than it actually is!  Riddled with subtle undulations but bold contouring, the putting surface is no walk in the park either.  This large 8,000sqft. green looks deceptively small in comparison to the scale and size of the dominant bunkers.  Perched seamlessly in its surroundings and the ocean horizon backdrop, the playful green surface boasts three distinct and totally different putting zones.  Landing ones ball on the correct zone is crucial if a birdie is to be achieved.  Or, if you are feeling lucky, you might even get a favorable kick off one of the many slopes and hillocks flanking the green site!

With five different tee boxes to choose from -- each with varying distances, angles, and elevations -- this one shot hole can be played numerous ways.  Depending on the days pin placement, some tee shots even require a blind/semi-blind approach to a punchbowl feature on the green concealed by a huge flared bunker face.  It is fair to say that each tee box, paired with a certain pin placement, offers a unique challenge to negotiate for all skill levels whether that be wind, illusion, deception,  risk, or intimidation.

Full of natural beauty, strategic charm, and unexpected subtleties, the 'Lost Hole' at Cypress Point fits right in with the existing holes on the course.  This short yet tricky one-shotter will test all types of players and abilities and will surely remain an interesting and memorable golf hole for many years to come."

 

Original sketches.....

Akoya Golf Club - Hanse Golf Design

 The spring of 2014 started out with a bang for Integrative! Early this year Riley and I were invited to help out the Coore Crenshaw team at Cabot Cliffs in Inverness, Nova Scotia.  If that wasn’t exciting enough, about 3 days after I locked in to a season at Cabot, I was contacted by Jim Wagner  of Hanse Golf Course Design. He invited me to help out with the shaping at their Akoya Golf Club project in Dubai, UAE. Next thing I knew I was on a plane heading east. The last time I was in Dubai was for the Desert Classic of 2008. I watched Ells and Tiger go toe to toe, with Tiger pulling ahead in the last round.

I arrived early in the morning after delayed flights and a lost bag, to meet up with Rodney Cole who is the Design Rep for HGCD. We went straight to the site to walk the holes that they have been working on. I was amazed to see the work that had been done from a completely flat piece of ground. The holes the team had built were pumped full of strategy, artistic flare, and a natural feel. The inspiration for the course was the natural dunes that start on the outskirts of Dubai and go as far as the eye can see into the “Empty Quarter”. The next day Bard Reynolds (Earthmoving Manager) brought myself and the other shapers out to study the dunes. It was fun to bounce ideas off each other while walking up and down dunes of various sizes.   

Most of my time on site was spent working on the opening hole and the 9th. They were side by side separated by a huge sandy waste area. The vision looking off the first tee was a sea of tight mow fairway with undulations reminiscent of the 1st and 18th of St Andrews.  Rodney and Bard were great mentors on this project. As I would be pushing dirt on the holes, they would come by once or twice a day to see the progress and to give me their opinions and thoughts. It was great to draw from their wealth of knowledge.

On one of my days off, Rodney and I decided to take a drive to Abu Dhabi to take a look at Yas Links and Saadiat Beach Golf Club. It was great to see a few good courses in the region and explore a bit of the country. Also, with my free time I was able to meet up with a number of close friends, most of which are superintendents and golf professionals living and working in Dubai. I got to see a number of tourist attractions that live up to the reputation of Dubai. BIG AND RICH!

In the few days before I left, Jim Wagner was on site assessing the progress the team had made since he was last there. He worked with me on a few ideas he wanted to implement on the 9th hole and took the time explain and teach me the reason why he felt the hole should play in a certain way. The short time I spent in Dubai was well worth it!  I learned a lot from the team of shapers and the management. I am very hopeful to work with Hanse Golf Design again in the future!

- Trev

Cougar Creek Construction

After the devastating floods in Alberta last June, the province is still scrambling to get the affected rivers and creeks back to shape before the return of this year's spring flood.  My home town of Canmore was especially hit hard, check out this link showing Cougar Creek during the flood - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xjqnfRcZkg.  I wasn't even home to see the events unfold with my own eyes as I was working on a golf project in China at the time. It was extremely frustrating to get any kind of information on what was actually going on as news media is filtered in that country.  Luckily everything was okay and no one was hurt.

Now Canmore is picking up the pieces.  After consulting with a host of international experts, the province decided it wants  to rebuild Cougar Creek and armour the banks with Articulating Concrete Mats so that future 'debris flows' could be mitigated and more "controlled".  In addition to the installation of the mats, a large debris net is being installed in the narrowest part of Cougar Creek canyon to stop uprooted trees from clogging culverts and bridges downstream.  The net will be like a giant spider web of cables and is only supposed to be temporary. I don't think anyone really knows what to do about this whole situation.

While waiting for the winter months to end so I could get back to golf course work, I joined the efforts in rebuilding Cougar Creek.  Working for a local engineering firm, I was hired to help reshape and re-establish the newly designed creek.  Even though I was in a brand new 700k dozer, the work was taxing on the body.  For those who operate dozer would know, pushing frozen creek boulders the size of suitcases in -30 degree temperatures all day is tough on the back and neck!  Nonetheless, things started to take shape and I have posted a few pictures of the amazing morning sunrises in Canmore and the views from the project.  Spring is now around the corner, let's see how things hold up!

If interested in seeing local photographer Kelly Schovanek's pictures of the flood, check out the link and purchase his book.... http://atriacollective.com/product/book-water-under-the-bridge/

- Riley