2015 Year in Review
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 links 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.
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 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, build the new practice green and driving range facilities. With the weather cooperating, and a great team working together having fun, we were able to achieve our goals and the course is really starting to mature nicely in its new skin.
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 wrote for the OSGA here, (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.
As my role at Cabot Cliffs came to an end, my role at another exciting Canadian project was just firing up: Mickelson National (ya I know, I'm not a fan of the name either!). 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/car rental 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!
Once again, associate Dan-the-man Philcox has joined the efforts alongside the multi talented Matt Flint (ex Fazio shaper out of the States) and the team is already 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 if this course continues in this current trajectory, the course is going to turn some heads! Phil is very hands-on with his ideas when on site and is really lending his expertise when it comes to short game options in-and-around the greens. If things continue, 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). Everyone involved in the project is getting excited at what's evolving out of the ground. With decent 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 try a different type of golf experience to the Calgary area...and who knows, one day we might see a Canadian Open or Presidents Cup played here.
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 hopefully come meet up with us on our first U.S. project in Winter Park, Florida.
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 Design, 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.