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Behold Ballysnoop

3/24/2009

Pete Dye. Tom Doak. Coore & Crenshaw. Jim Colton?

Yours truly dipped his pinkie toe into the shark-infested waters of golf course architecture with the next great American golf course, called Ballysnoop. Not really, but I did enter an 'armchair architecture' contest on golfclubatlas.com and designed an 18-hole routing on a topographical map of a real course (the course was not announced at the time of the contest). There were 8 entries and each was evaluated on routing and strategic elements by a panel of judges, most of whom are actual golf course designers. The entire experience was a worthwhile exercise, in that it forced me to think about a lot of things that we simply take for granted, from simple things like walks from greens to the next tee to complex things like 'what makes a golf course fun and interesting?' I don't know how these guys do the real thing for a living.

You can check out my routing with a hole-by-hole tour at http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,38988.0.html. I had a respectable third place showing, second if you throw out the high and low scores (one guy inexplicably voted me 7th!) So, let's just say that I finished 2nd. Doak had a collaborative effort with another contestant and he finished 4th. Take a suck of that, Tommy Deez! And I can safely lay claim to having the only golf course with each hole named after a Snoop Dogg song.

The real course was Erin Hills, which was a great choice for the contest because a) the land used for the course has a lot of interesting and varied natural features (co-designer Ron Whitten gushed that it was 'one of the five best golf properties he had ever seen') and b) the actual course is an abomination that could easily be improved upon. I'm obviously biased but I much rather play my design than the real thing. And I can say the same thing about at least three of the entries. The Doak entry actually incorporated some holes that he had routed out for a previous owner of the land about ten years ago. All I can say is it's too bad he didn't get the job.





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