TERRE HAUTE — When you give an artist a bulldozer ...
If I were having a conversation with you about golf, and brought up the term “shaper” you would probably think I was talking about a “shot shaper” which is a golfer who is able to put different types of spin on the ball to make it do different things. Usually only the advanced golfers are considered shot-shapers, because they are able to make the ball do what they want it to, be it a high fade, a low hook, or a slight draw. Those of you with a major slice that you play for are just slicers, not shapers.
In golf there is another kind of shaper that is very important, that most of us would hardly ever think of. A “shaper” in golf course architecture is the artist that runs the bulldozer when constructing a golf course. The bulldozer operator is an artist because he takes the architect’s conceptualization on paper, and builds it into reality. It is more than just pushing some dirt around with a big Tonka truck.
Other than a shaper, just what does it take to design and build a golf course? First of all, a tract of land from 140 to 200 acres, preferably with gently rolling hills, soils that will drain well, and a place suitable for an irrigation lake. Of course, it also takes some person or group with funding and a desire and vision for making that tract of land into a golf course.
A golf course architect is needed to lay out the plan. Many golf course architects are big-name golfers, like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player. These men have had stellar careers playing golf, and use that experience when designing their courses. The people that hire them get the added benefit of having a household name in their brochure when marketing their newly designed course.
You don’t have to be a big-name golfer to design golf courses, but you pretty much do have to be a golfer. Pete Dye never graduated from high school. He went to a prep school in Ashville, N.C., and played hooky at a local golf course much of his senior year. Just weeks before graduation he enlisted in the Army, where he was assigned to a paratroop division, and eventually ended up being the greenskeeper at the officer’s club course at Fort Bragg. He went to Rollins College on the G.I. Bill and played on the golf team and met his future wife, Alice O’Neal, but never finished college. He moved to Indianapolis and sold life insurance, and continued his amateur golf career. In 1959 he quit the insurance business to design golf courses. He didn’t have a college degree, but he had a lot of experience playing golf. In 1966 he partnered with Jack Nicklaus as his design consultant. By then Jack was already a career Grand Slam winner, so that fame couldn’t have hurt.
Most golf course architects that are in business today, if not big-name golfers, seem to have an engineering degree, with Civil Engineering being the most prevalent. That is because so much of golf course design has to do with water distribution and drainage, that there at least needs to be a civil engineer on staff.
Once an architect is hired to lay out a golf course, he usually gets to know the terrain, and finds areas where the existing features can be left alone and used as part of the golf course. If he is building an 18-hole course, he usually tried to make a certain number of par 3s, par 4s and par 5s to make the course a par 72. It is not essential, but as a guideline a course might have four par 3s, four par 5s and 10 par 4s. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that would make for a par 72.
These are the distances recommended based on par for a scratch golfer. The pros must be a different story, because there have been many times over the past several years in professional tournaments where the course was changed by making a hole that is a par 5 for the members into a par 4 for the pros.
Another example of the criteria being different for the pro is on the 13th hole at Purgatory in Noblesville. From the “Purgatory tees,” No. 13 is a 741 or 624-yard par 5! I guess it depends on what the grounds crew had for breakfast that morning. Mike Nakai, the assistant pro at the Country Club of Terre Haute, has played it from the back tees, and he says that it’s a 300-yard carry just to reach the fairway on that hole. By the way, the given name of that hole is “Eternal Torment.” Sounds quite fitting!
n Quote of the week — “A well designed golf course will always challenge a player to learn how to play shots that are confronted during a round of golf that he is currently not able to execute. A great round of golf should require an effective strategy and execution on the part of the player, while enjoying the natural surroundings.” — From the web site of Ron Kern, ASGCA, architect of Purgatory Golf Club, Noblesville, Indiana. www.ronkerngolfarch.com
TERRE HAUTE — When you give an artist a bulldozer ...
- On & Off the Course
Death Notice: Feb. 7, 2013
• Gary R. Wright
Donna Lynn Strahla Bown
Donna Lynn Strahla Bown passed away early Friday morning, Jan. 25, 2013, with her children by her side.
‘The Match’ pitting amateurs vs. pros recalled 62 years later
Quote of the Day: “I play golf with friends sometimes, but there are never friendly games.” — Ben Hogan.
Bubba Watson has had a busy fall. Not only did he play all the way to the final round of the FedEx Championships, and in the Ryder Cup, he also played in an event commemorating a very famous match played at Cypress Point in 1956, pitting two of the greatest golf pros at the time against two of the best amateurs.
Come to think of it, all four were some of the best golfers of all time. This year’s event was celebrating The First Tee’s exceeding $100 million in pledges to reach 10 million new young people. It wasn’t televised and kept very quiet; only 225 people were in the gallery.
One of the people in the gallery was Mark Frost, the author of a book titled “The Match,” which is about that match played 62 years ago that was re-enacted in modern terms last week. The pros in 1956 were Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson and the amateurs were Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward. It was supposed to have been a private affair, built around a wager by two millionaires, George Coleman and Eddie Lowery.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Golf from the wrong side of the brain
Imagine this scenario: a woman, small in stature (possibly freckled), walks into a hospital emergency room and says, “I have an emergency, I need a doctor quickly!” The admitting nurse, ever trying to be helpful, asks what the emergency is.
Farmers looking at widely varying yields
Combines will roll through fields this weekend, bringing in the harvest from a summer with nearly no rain.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Golf debut in London would have been nice
As the Olympics get underway in London this weekend, I was thinking it’s too bad that the Olympic committee decided too late to add golf as one of the sports for this event; instead it will be added to the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Getting to Hoosier country’s best golfing venue part of the fun
If you are looking for Indiana’s premier golfing destination, then you should look no further than French Lick.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Indiana's Pete Dye courses worth the drive
You’ve probably heard of the Robert Trent Jones Golf trail throughout Alabama, but you might not be aware that Indiana has its own “Pete Dye Golf Trail” comprised of seven courses.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Fathers typically a big influence on golfing sons
Some events fall naturally into place around holidays. The Fourth of July always falls somewhere during Wimbledon, giving all of the Yanks in attendance something to be boisterous about, to the chagrin of their hosts; The Masters often, but not always, ends on Easter Sunday, which is fitting since golfers find it such a reverent occasion.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Memorial just one of many visions of Jack Nicklaus
When Jack Nicklaus was a young man, the golfer he most admired was Bob Jones.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: With some tricky rules, golf is not a walk in the park
Golf is not a casual sport, even though it has a term called “casual water.”
On and off the course: Sycamores seeded sixth heading into MVC golf tourney
It wasn’t too long ago that Indiana State University didn’t even have a women’s golf team.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: A hard ticket to come by
This is the weekend of the Masters Tournament, the first of the four major tournaments.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Some things on golf course are worse than steep putts
It’s not often that anything gets more scary on a golf course than a steep downhill putt, but on some courses around the world, things a little more on the supernatural side might give you a bigger fright!
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: The shot heard round the world
I don’t know if the Golf Channel will show a “Best Shots of 2011” highlight reel, much like ESPN does for baseball or football.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: The Red, White and Blue visits the Isle of Green
In 2006, the Ryder Cup was held in Ireland at The K Club in County Kildare.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Fall may be coming but golf season is far from over
Once the major tournaments are over with, what’s there to look forward to in the world of golf?
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Golf… simplified!
Golf is not a simple game. A golf course is made up of 18 holes, all different. There are par-3s, par-4s and par-5s; they all vary in length and elevation, and each has its own challenges. There can be water hazards, trees, sand bunkers, tall grass, hills, valleys — and then, if that’s not enough, there’s probably wind too.
On and Off the Course: Northern Ireland builds on golf history
Northern Ireland is only about 5,452 square miles in area and has a population about the same as West Virginia, which is about 1,880,344.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Women’s Open at the Broadmoor
This is the weekend of the U.S. Women’s Open, and this year it’s being played at The Broadmoor, East Course, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: The Fort Golf Course: A Walk in the Park…
Indiana has some pretty spectacular state parks, but one of them gives you the ability to “spoil a good walk” by chasing a little white ball.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Father’s Day is a good day for golfers
Most people consider the time around Christmas to be the gift-buying season.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Playing with lead a difficult task
As exciting as last week’s Masters was, with six players being tied for the lead at one point on Sunday, it was very difficult watching Rory McIlroy fall apart to shoot an 80.
ON AND OFF THE COURSE: Masters a rite of spring
This is Masters weekend, the grand kickoff to the golf season for a lot of golfers. Sure, there have been tournaments on TV, because the professionals have been playing in Hawaii, California, Texas, Dubai, and other areas not so affected by winter as we are here in the Midwest, but to me, watching The Masters is a rite of spring.
ON THE OFF THE COURSE: Some history on the Ryder Cup
I fell asleep in way too many history classes to ever qualify as a history buff. However, since I have grown up a bit (not much), I enjoy learning about all kinds of history. I often have questions about how something began, or how something came to be.
On and Off the Course: Purdue's Kampen Course a gem in Indiana's rough
About a month ago, Indiana was still heavily mired in heat and humidity, making outdoor activities such as golf less appealing than usual. At that time it felt like the repressive heat would never go away, it would never rain again, and all of the grass was just going to continue to wither and die. And the month prior to that we kept getting rained out of golf events!
On and Off the Course: Successful golfers know ... focus is the key
I have a good friend who coached his daughter’s basketball team for a number of years, and told me that his theme with the girls was always “focus”, until it was ingrained in their brains. Now when they play high school ball, if they hear “focus” yelled from the stands, they know the source.
On and Off the Course: Technology adds even more fun to the course
You’ve hit a drive into some brush in an area marked as a hazard, but you can’t find the ball to prove it is there. And no one actually witnessed it go in the hazard. You just think that’s where it probably is. What is the rule for this situation?
On and Off the Course: Anthony Gonzalez First Tee Classic a worthwhile charity event
On Monday, I worked as a volunteer for the Anthony Gonzalez First Tee Classic, Golf Tournament and Auction at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Indianapolis. It was an absolutely beautiful day, with clear blue skies, just a few wispy clouds here and there and a high temperature of about 76 degrees.
On and Off the Course: Trends show golf in decline
You don’t have to watch the news or read the paper to understand that America is struggling on the economic front. The evidence can be witnessed at the local golf course.
- More On & Off the Course Headlines
- Death Notice: Feb. 7, 2013