|Design Variety||vs.||Conditioning (Correlation: .4433)|
|Fishers Island ||1||The Quarry at La Quinta |
|Pebble Beach ||2||Diamond Creek Golf Club |
|TPC Sawgrass (Players) ||3||Double Eagle |
|Pacific Dunes ||4||Baltusrol (Lower) |
|Cypress Point ||5||The Alotian Club |
|Pete Dye Golf Club ||6||Aronimink |
|Bethpage Black ||7||Eagle Point |
|Maidstone Club ||8||Canyata |
|Somerset Hills ||9||Baltusrol (Upper) |
|Pine Valley ||10||Butler National |
"Changing the world one divot at a time..."
4 for 40
Pinehurst. Ballyneal. Cabot Links. St. Andrews. A trip of a lifetime for a worthy cause.
Welcome to Husker Dunes Golf Club, my foray into fake golf course design.
The Ben Cox 108+
Photos and recap on a great day at Ballyneal, raising money for a great cause...
Never thought I'd see the day...
Can you guess how I fared on this U.S. Open test?
The Definitive Guide to Chicago's Best Public Golf Courses
Check out our ranking of the best Chicago public golf courses...
Jim connects with his roots during three days in beautiful Northern California...
The Ballynizzle Cup
Check out Part One of the Ryder Cup showdown between Team Coltrain and Team Jefe...
The Bucket List
The Triumvirate checks off one of the courses they've been dying to play in a truly once in a lifetime experience...
The Kingsley Club
Check out the triumvirates visit to Mike Devries incredible course in Northern Michigan...
Tang vs. Tang: One for the Ages
Check out the (extremely) detailed hole-by-hole action of the 2008 Shell's Wonderful World of Golf, a truly epic match between the brothers Tang...
|Routing, as of 12/28/2014|
|Initial Routing, as of 12/24/2014|
I was floored. That's when the wave of emotions hit me. Walking up the fairway, I thought about how this almost didn't happen. I thought about about the brain HAD conquered the pain. I thought about how this little grassroots golf marathon idea has raised $1.4 million in four years and has made a real impact on people in need. Most of all, I thought about the hug I was about to get from three rugrats and the kiss from one beautiful, supportive woman.
#hackgolf The game has shrunk because carts wiped out a generation of future die-hards. Need to support young caddie programs. @hackgolforgFour months later, my stance hasn't changed. I caddied one summer at St. Charles Country Club outside of Chicago. My love of the game was cemented on Monday mornings that year. Many of my best golfing friends were introduced to the game in the same way. Some of these guys didn't have parents who played and never would've been exposed to the game otherwise.
— J Colton (@jcolton31) January 22, 2014
More subtly and perhaps more importantly, caddying at a private club exposed me to a world that I was completely unfamiliar with. St. Charles CC was by far the nicest place I had ever set foot on in my life. Suddenly, I was faced with having to interact and have semi-intelligent conversation with successful adults on a regular basis. Some of that must've had an impact on me. That last point is probably even more important today, considering a 13-year old kid could go a whole week without making eye contact with anybody.
The truth was, I was a miserable caddy. I was hooked on playing the game to such an extreme that watching others play golf for four hours was torture. Especially getting up at 5:30 AM to do it. I only lasted one summer, but I was hooked with the game for life. But I can look back at caddying that summer and say it was a life-altering experience that in many ways shaped who I am today.
Over the past two years, I had been thinking quite a bit about how to grow the game and wondering if there was a way to use my One Divot charity to support these growth efforts. Last winter, we sponsored an auction fundraiser and raised over $18,000 for the Midnight Golf program in Detroit. I continue to seek out those types of opportunities to partner with junior golf programs. Personally, I am also looking to start a junior golf club at the middle school in town, something that received an enthusiastic response from the faculty members that I brought the idea to. Hopefully we can get that up and running next fall.
Still, the majority of my recent grow the game thoughts have centered on the caddies. If the rise of carts and the decline of caddies is a root cause of the decline of the game, is there a way to reverse that trend? Is the horse already out of the proverbial cart barn (sorry)? Are U.S. golfers so far gone the proverbial cart path (last time, I swear) that there's no turning back? Are courses today so overwatered and expensive to maintain that they absolutely need the cart revenue to survive? Is anybody in the golf industry willing to invest in an initiative that might take 15 years before it starts paying off?
I am fortunate to live in Chicago, the epicenter of caddie golf in the U.S. Thanks to the work of the Western Golf Association and the Evans Scholarship Foundation, the caddie-club culture is still going strong here. I was thrilled to do my four Hundred Hole Hikes last summer for both the Evans Scholars here and the Solich Caddie and Leadership Academy in Denver last year, and I'm planning to hike for the same two causes again this summer (see http://hundredholehike.com/golfers/jim-colton for more information).
Last summer, I got to spend some time with members of the WGA and meet some prospective Evans Scholars at Cantigny Golf Course in my hometown. I got to see the great work that the WGA is doing and how it is literally changing the lives of those who get the scholarship. I knew I wanted to hike for the Evans Scholarship and help in any way that I could.
There was one other thought that I came away with that day: what about the caddies that don't get the Evans Scholarships? What happens to them?
That might seems like a negative take on the WGA, but I don't intend it to be. They have limited spots and go through a rigorous process to select the most deserving candidates. I'm sure there are young men and women that they agonize over having to turn down. I couldn't help but think about the kid whose only real hopes for college were pinned to getting the Evans Scholarship. What if he or she felt short? Was there a way to help someone like that, or more generally, help caddies save money for college?
That is when I landed on my idea for #hackgolf: Caddie529
As its name suggests, Caddie529 would be a 529 college savings plan geared for caddies. Essentially, it is a way for caddies to decide to set aside a portion of their caddie fees to go directly into a 529 savings plan. A few key points:
- For the caddie, it is a public declaration that the he or she is serious about investing the future.
- Golfers/members can request a "529" caddie for loops and know that they are likely getting someone who is responsible and committed, as well as knowing that some or all of the fee that they are paying will go directly into a college savings fund. Maybe knowing the money is going to a good cause leads a golfer to try walking with a caddie instead of automatically taking a cart. Maybe that golfer realizes that he can, in fact, walk 18 holes and enjoy it. Anything that could lead to more golfers walking is a plus in my book.
- The program would have to start at the club level -- club's could differentiate their caddie programs and attract responsible young caddies by being a part of the caddie529 network.
- Some percentage of funds set aside by the caddies would ideally by matched by the caddie's home club, One Divot and corporate sponsors, offering return on investment right off the bat. The club could set aside a fundraising day geared towards raising money for matching funds for its caddies -- either a Hundred Hole Hike, charity outing, auction, or other fundraising method. 100% of the money raised by a given club would be distributed to its caddies. Centrally-raised funds would be distributed to all caddies on a pro-rata basis.
- The program would not compete with the Evans Scholars, as someone who is awarded an Evans Scholars could use funds for a 5th year in college or for graduate school studies. 529 funds can also be transferred to other beneficiaries.
- One key aspect of 529 plans is they can be used for a wide range of post high-school education programs, such as trade schools or technical schools. Similarly, Caddie529 could be used by anyone looking to invest in his or her future.
- I'm a firm believer in a good logo. This is what I scratched together -- the 5,2,9 is meant to represent the look of blade irons as a caddy is presenting them to his golfer (though no caddie worth his salt would have those three clubs next to each other). The caddie part would look like that old cursive script you'd see stamped on irons from the 60's and 70's.
- Is it caddie529 or caddy529?
One big draw that I see with caddying is that it offers one of the earliest opportunities for young people to work, with most starting at or around 13 years of age. With respect to college savings, obviously the earlier someone starts the better. Hopefully families are already saving for their kid's education, but for some caddie529 participants, it could be their first foray into investing and financial management. There would seem to be a good opportunity to partner with organizations or financial institutions to teach these young men and women about financial literacy.
If the club and corporate matches are significant, I could envision a big push (perhaps by parents, but that's okay) into caddying as an employment option. Some portion of those new caddies are going to fall in love with the game. Some may be future members of the clubs that they caddie at. Hopefully clubs can take the long-view and get behind this concept.
The idea is admittedly still in its infancy and there are questions about how it would work logistically and how to structure it in order to take advantage of the tax benefits already inherent with 529 plans. I honestly do not have the expertise or the resources to take this idea to the next level. One aspect of the #hackgolf initiative that I did enjoy is the open-source format of it. Instead of sitting on this idea and trying to find time to make progress on it, I'm hoping that brainstorming about it here might lead to someone running with the idea and bringing it to fruition. I'm happy to discuss any thoughts on this idea -- you can comment below or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.
|Final routing, 8/21 Update|
|12/3 Update: David McLay Kidd was selected to design the second course at Sand Valley. The northern section of his course cuts across the middle of my propose routing.|
|Routing 2.0, 4/29 Update|
|Original Routing 4/26|
It has been one long, long winter in Chicago. Usually the Masters signals the unofficial kick-off to the golf season in Illinois. This year...not so much. Snow on April 14th and 15th. Lovely.
Despite a relatively lackluster Masters tournament this year, the juices were still flowing. What does a golf addict do when it's too cold to play outside? Work out? Maybe tomorrow. Post on golfclubatlas? Lurking gets old fast. How about scoring Google Earth for hypothetical golf holes? Bingo!
Over the course of the last year, I've been enamored with a plot of land in the Chop Hills south of Ballyneal. Over the summer, I carved out a little test plot, created a crude topo map and tried to find some golf holes. I slapped something together (see below), but ended up reaching a dead end. I felt that I had to go scour the actual land to get a better feel for the size of the hills and what was golfable land vs. too choppy to be of much use.
So early one morning last May, I borrowed my buddy Brandon's car, drove a couple miles south of the Ballyneal gate, turned off on a sandy road, realized I was in the wrong spot, tried to turn around and...like I mentioned last year, five minutes into my design career and it was over before it even started.
Any time I get the design bug, Brandon is quick to remind me what happened last time. This past week, in an act of golf desperation, I took a fresh look at putting together another 18 holes at Ballyneal. Armed with some better topo information, I quickly realized that a lot of what I put on paper last time wouldn't work. It was back to the drawing board for at least two-thirds of the course.
As silly as it sounds, routing a hypothetical golf course is tough! It can be an all-encompassing exercise. I couldn't sleep. I stared at a small version of the topo on my phone until I got too frustrated that you couldn't zoom in past a certain point, borrowed my wife's iPad and stared at it for hours on end. Somehow I managed a work trip to New York and coherently presented to bank regulators. On the plane, I used a sketch app to draw lots of criss-crossing lines representing potential routing options.
Eventually, I landed on something. Originally I purposely staked out land that avoided a proposed course that Bruce Hepner did for Ballyneal a few years back. I envisioned my course as a third course for the club. However, as I started to think about different options, I gravitated towards using a combination of holes between my original routing and Bruce's proposed routing. With his blessing, I started exploring that as a viable options. Then the pieces started to come together. In the version below, holes 4-11 are from Bruce's routing.
Counting golf club atlas design contests, this is the fourth full course that I've tried to route on paper (I'm sure it shows). I highly recommend any golf course architect fan to give it a shot, because through the process you'll gain a heightened respect for the guys who actually do it for a living (and think about other things like water, costs, environmental concerns, construction, etc). At a minimum, you'll get a glimpse at some of the trade-offs involved when trying to piece together a 18-hole golf course. There's been a lot of talk about golf course architecture "ideals" lately, and you won't get very far until you're faced with making a compromise. For example, in the latest iteration of the routing below, I ended up scrapping a potential par 5 that would've been the best hole on the property. I just couldn't get to that spot and finish with 18 holes or without making a sacrifice somewhere else. I'll keep thinking on that one, for sure, as well as making other changes to the course over time.
So below is where I'm at right now. Over time, I'll add to this post hole-by-hole details and any iterative changes. Feel free to reach out to me with feedback or suggestions. In the meantime, does anybody have a few million dollars to spare?
UPDATE: A new addition to the property. Introducing Cattle Ranch: the 7-hole, multiple configuration golf course with an 18-hole putting course.
5/4 Update: Made changes to the 6th and 14th Holes
1: 6th at Old Mac (5)
2: 7th at OM (4)
3: 14th at Pacific Dunes (3)
4: 15th at PD (5)
5: 16th at PD (4)
6: 2nd at PD (4)
7: 7th at PD (4)
8: 8th at Bandon Dunes (4)
9: 4th at BD (4)
10: 5th at BD (4)
11: 6th at BD (3)
12: 11th at PD (3)
13: 12th at PD (5)
14: 4th at PD (4)
15: 5th at PD (3)
16: 6th at PD (4)
17: 3rd at PD (5)
18: 13th at PD (4)
Part One: Pinehurst
Part Two: Ballyneal
Part Three: Cabot Links
Part Four: St. Andrews
Hopefully this will help generate interest in the event and drum up more future Hundred Hole Hikers. We are off to a great start in 2014 with 21 golfers hiking at 13th Beach in Australia on January 23. And there are many other exciting possibilities that I hope to announce soon. If you're interested in learning more about the HHHike, please go to http://www.hundredholehike.com/get-involved or email me at email@example.com.
Here is the screen grab from the digital issue of the magazine. Have fun determining which guy has the biggest forehead:
Hundred Hole Hike
|The Hundred Hole Hike (HHH) is a national-network of golf marathons where participants plan to walk 100 or more holes of golf in one day in order to raise money for various worthwhile charitable causes. Please go to http://www.hundredholehike.com/ for more details.|
Chicago Public Course Rankings
My Course Rankings
2. National Golf Links of America
3. St. Andrews (Old)
4. Cypress Point
6. Shinnecock Hills
7. Royal Dornoch
9. Merion (East)
10. Pacific Dunes
One Divot at a Time...
My Blog List
[Note: Rankings have been updated September 12, 2011 with feedback from an expert panel of a dozen fellow Chicago golf addicts.] We've...
The only time "Jim Colton" and "Ivy League" have been used in the same sentence. A quick detour from My Summer of ...
Last updated: February 5, 2011 Click links to find relevant blog posts. Rank JIM JEFE JIMBO 1. Ballyneal Pacific Dunes Royal County Do...
Here are some pics from Wednesday's golf marathon. It was a fun and memorable day. I didn't really know what to expect, but I k...
Watching the bloodbath that was Saturday at Augusta this year, I couldn't help but ask myself the same question that was going through m...
Below is a copy of a press release that our friends at Ballyneal sent out about The Ben Cox 108: HOLYOKE, CO -- On June 20...
Wegoblogger31 is a proud contributor to the new Golf Blog 100, which just launched its site and its ranking of the Top 100 golf courses in t...
Even now that the Ben Cox 108+ hole marathon is over, you can still donate now and get into the July 9th raffle. You just need to get you...
Warning: Wegoblogger Is An Extremely Difficult Blog Which I Recommend Only for Highly-Skilled Readers A promise to all of my loyal blo...
I'm going back to Bandon, To Bandon, To Bandon, I'm going back to Bandon... I don't think so. Two days ago, I had managed...
Golf Blog 100
The Ben Cox 108-Hole Golf Marathon
What: A 108-golf marathon to raise money for Ben Cox, a Ballyneal caddie who was paralyzed from a severe skiing accident in March.
When: June 22, 2011 (update)
Where: Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club - Holyoke, CO
How to Give:
Send a check payable to: Prairie Home Baptist Church (memo: Ballyneal fundraiser)
P.O. Box 271
Haxtun, CO 80731
- Holyoke Enterprise: "Ballyneal member aims to help Cox family"
- Cybergolf: "Ballyneal Member Invites Others to Join 108-Hole Fundraiser"
- Omaha World Herald: Golf Notes (5/31)
- Radio interview on 104.3 The Fan in Denver (6/18)
- Colorado Avid Golfer: "Golfer's Charitable Marathon Could Get You on Riviera" (6/24)
- Golf Channel: "W18: Patience and Perspective" (6/27)
- Golf World Monday: "Marathon Man" (6/27)
- Holyoke Enterprise: "The Ben Cox 108 (give or take 47) climbs beyond $77,000" (6/30)
- Chicago Tribune: "All-day golf event raises more than $100,000 for paralyzed caddie" (7/8)