Thursday, 23 February 2017

Bunker Podcast and Article in Golf Course Industry Magazine

Last month I did a podcast and interview with Guy Cipriano of Golf Course Industry Magazine on bunkers. We touched on everything from design to maintenance in the podcast. The article addresses more maintenance issues and draws in a number of Golf Superintendents.

I think the podcast is worth a listen because a few thoughts question conventional thinking.

The article is here and is called; Bunker Mentality

The Podcast is here Tartan Talks #7 "Bunkers"

Sunday, 22 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - National Golf Links of America

I was asked by to pick 5 courses for the rest of my life.
Here is the piece:

  1. National Golf Links of America Southampton, NY. C.B. Macdonald
I’m a massive fan of golf architecture history and there is no better museum that the National Golf Links of America. Charles Blair Macdonald studied the classic holes of Great Britain extensively before creating his own adaptations of those holes at the National Golf Links of America. We know Macdonald famously said there are only four or five good holes in golf, but at The National he managed to create a magnificent collection where most of his templates exceed the quality of the original holes.

But what sets The National Golf Links of America apart from other great golf courses is it’s the ability to adapt. There are so many interesting and challenging pin positions on every green that a week spent playing the course will be a week playing entirely different approaches because of the intricacies of the greens. Some greens are so radically different, depending on pin locations that often players will need to come in from the opposite side of the fairway to have a sporting chance.

But the greatest joy lies in the style of play. Eventually we all begin to hit the ball shorter and lose the height from our shots. The joy of the National Golf Links of America is you can pretty much play along the ground all day and still do fine. In fact, I’d argue that you should on many holes regardless of skill that is a smarter play. No matter what skill level you have, the National accommodates all players and allows almost every playing option. For me, that equals fun.

If I could arrange one annual round anywhere, I'd fly to Long Island and play there over every course in the World. Yes before Cypress Point, Pine Valley, etc. It's that good and that much fun.

15th at NLGA, courtesy of Golf Tripper

Saturday, 21 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - Jasper Park

    2. Jasper Park, Alberta, Canada. Stanley Thompson, 1925
In Jasper, Stanley Thompson inherited a marvelous piece of land from the Canadian National Railway. The site had wonderful rolling terrain which got progressively stronger the closer you were to the mountains. The heart of the property contained a beautiful glacial lake that could be incorporated into the golf course, but the vast majority of its shoreline had to be left for the lodges. The routing stays mostly on the softer undulations, but it does venture down into a lower valley and right up to mountains a few times during the round for drama. What’s most memorable about the routing is the way Stanley managed to line up all 18 holes with 18 different mountain peaks.

What I enjoy the most at Jasper Park is the scale of the golf course. Stanley recognized that if he increased his clearing width, he would open up wider vistas out to the mountains, but it would also change how the course played. While it is hard to lose a golf ball, the golf course could have become insignificant within the setting. So Thompson added a lot of very large bunkers to match the scale of the site to bring the attention back down to the golf holes.

When you play there you are in awe of how the visual canvas works in harmony with the setting. You find out the scale provides you with so much more room that you hit more fairways. The elevation means you gain a few extra yards on each shot. As you play you will have likely made more pars or birdies than you’re used to. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the mountains than a fun filled round of golf at Jasper Park Lodge.
11tth hole - courtesy of Edmonton Journal

Friday, 20 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - The Old Course

3. The Old Course, St. Andrew’s, Scotland. Robertsom/Morris

St. Andrew’s is the well-spring for golf course architecture. Almost every great idea ever incorporated in golf design can be found on this immaculate links. The irony is many ideas were not planned by expert nor was the course built over outstanding terrain. The magic lies in the multitude of small details that when collected together deliver an incredible playing experience. It reminds us every time that golf is not about how a course looks, but how it plays on the ground.

After finishing a recent enjoyable round at St. Andrew’s Old, played in very aggressive winds, I had an epiphany about the experience. I realized that the style of the architecture at the Old Course had little to do with punishing poor shots and had much more to do with encouraging intelligent play. Its greatest attribute was the freedom to choose. I had always appreciated how the course provided me with the option to select an appropriate route and the opportunity to play a variety of shots. I’m still thrilled by the unlimited options throughout the round, but it took a round played under difficult conditions to drive home the importance of having the freedom to set your own path.

I played well that day despite the wind. While I was pleased with the results, I knew that to improve my score that I would need to take on much more risk the next time out. St. Andrew’s Old is one of the few courses I know where you can have this sort of experience regardless of weather.

Eden Hole Image courtesy of St. Andrew

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - Royal Melbourne (West)

4. Royal Melbourne (West) Melbourne, Australia. Mackenzie

Royal Melbourne is one of golf greatest collaborative efforts. It begins with Alister Mackenzie’s fantastic routing. His routing challenges the rolling terrain from so many different ways, mostly diagonally, but on occasion even straight up. The impact is tremendous variety of cants and fairway contours in play in landing areas. In fact, it’s one of the best driving courses in golf. The course also features a series of beautiful green sites, some on plateaus others within bowls, but each beautifully blended into the surrounding landscape. Russel and Morcom deserve much credit for getting Alister’s plan and details in the ground, but it’s Claude Crockford’s integration of native plant materials and course presentation that make this course sublime.

What I enjoy most is the epic scale of the site. Mackenzie added multitudes of dramatic bunkers that are very much in play. You are constantly asked whether you should carry a hazard in order to gain position or play safe and take on a longer tougher approach. But you know that if you’re going to get anywhere you must take on some of the trouble. This balance of playability and disaster engages you. Missing fairways or approaches comes with a price, but making the shot comes with a just reward.

I love the freedom to choose and think. I love the notion of taking on as much as I dare. I have all the safe options I would ever want, but just as many dangerous and compelling options that I can’t pass up. It’s all up to me.

6th Hole West by David Scaletti

Sunday, 15 January 2017

5 Courses For The Rest of My Life - Riviera CC

5. Riviera C.C. Pacific Palisades, CA. George Thomas

It’s so easy to underestimate the routing of Riviera. The site is a simple box canyon with not a lot of features, but Thomas incorporated the central barranca so effectively on six holes. He then utilizes the side slopes and elevations changes at the edges of the canyon to play a significant role on another six. But what takes Riviera to a whole other architectural level is the excellence in design details on remaining six holes that traverse over the lesser land of the property.

The 10th hole is the game’s greatest creation. Thomas’s used deception, strategic angles, pitch and the juxtaposition of grand and small scale to confuse and confound the player. It is also a testimony that a player’s ego can be used against them to reduce their chances of succeeding. In other holes he relied on dramatic bunkers and creative green contours to play an essential role in how the hole must be approached. In all cases he insists upon constant positional play, which means even when the land isn’t dramatic, the challenges still hold your attention.

There is no course that plays quite like Riviera. You are constantly asked to hit either a draw or fade off the tee. Thomas did this in a variety of ways, including the use of key trees, careful placement of bunkers, slopes of the green, and even the keen use of side slopes that require a tee shot to be shaped to remain on the fairway. The joy at Riviera is the constant flow back and forth between fade and draw, even alternating on the same hole at times (like the 3rd hole). It’s a course where skill and cunning is required to score, but on the occasion where find yourself well out of position, the ball is still easy to find and easy to put back in play. And that ensures it's fun too.

10th at Riviera - courtesy of Loe Turf

Thursday, 15 December 2016

2016 The Year in Review - Part 5 – Ian Andrew Golf Design

18th at Knollwood - what a golf hole!

So this is the final installment. Hope you enjoyed seeing the year through my eyes.


It was a great year for construction projects, but an unusually quiet year for planning. My work around New York City continues to grow and it’s become a major source of new work for me in the last two years. I do see signs of clubs becoming more confident and see projects beginning to start in other parts of Canada, but Ontario continues to be the laggard.

The Numbers


Miles Driven: 35,930 km. (not including rental car miles)
Flights Taken: 56 (similar to last year)
Total Miles Flown: 51,888 miles
Nights in Holiday Inn: 49
Rental Cars: 21

My Business

American Clients: 33%
American Income: 50% in 2016
Last 10 Clients: 9 of 10 are American Clubs
Interviews: 2
Clients from Interviews: 1
New clients: 4
Potential for 2017: 1

New Clients

  1. Ardsley CC, NYC – putting green project
  2. Edmonton G&CC, Alberta – Range project
  3. Pepper Pike Club, Cleveland – Restoration Master Plan
  4. East Aurora CC, Buffalo – Master Plan
18th at Laval

In the Field

Construction – Part One – Laval-sur-le-lac’s (Green Course)

I found some 1920’s aerials a few years ago and pitched my desire to take the Green Course back to its Willie Park Jr. roots. The club supported the approach and we began to return the grass faced bunkers and square green sites in 2015. We also rebuilt the 18th green, but I retained the steep pitch that was its primary defense. The work was finished in May and back in play for the Lesley Cup played at Laval this fall. Positive feedback from that esteemed group was appreciated. Work by NMP Golf

Construction – Part Two – Penn Hills Greens

The original nine is a compelling short course by Walter Travis featuring some very elaborate small greens. The back nine was done by Dick Wilson (much later) and does not have the same charm as the front nine. There were three greens that were too steep and we took the opportunity to use Walter Travis’s original green drawings for those holes to create three highly contoured Travis greens. The 17th might be the wildest green I’ve ever built. Work all done in August by Faery Landscaping

Construction – Part Three – Oakdale’s Thompson Nine Bunkers

I finally got a chance to finish the renovations on the Thompson Nine at Oakdale G&CC. The work involved rebuilding 7 tees and the remaining 21 bunkers. Some of the work was restorative, like the shared bunker between 2 and 8. But since the original course lacked the planned bunkers, most of the work was renovating the newer bunkers on the nine. The work was done by Flightline Golf and took place from September to the end of October.

11th Cedar Brae mid-construction

Construction – Part Four – Cedar Brae Bunkers

Like Oakdale, this was a chance to get the remaining bunkers renovated and finish what we started. Cedar Brae’s bunkering is grass faced and the work was done to create something much more sustainable and historically based for the long term. This is a good example where the bunker count was reduced and the maintenance eased in an attempt to prepare the club for the current economic environment. The work was done by KCM Construction and took place September till the end of October. The highlight was the change to the 11th hole.

Alison's 11th fairway bunker at Park CC

Construction – Part Five – Park CC Bunkers

The work at Park Country Club started in September and will continue into June of 2107. It was an opportunity to finish the restoration of Charles Alison’s Park CC. The upper holes were completed this fall and all the valley work will begin this spring. The work was done by Faery Landscaping. The highlights include the second landing on the 1st hole, the green side bunkering on the 7th and the restored carry bunker line on the 14th. 

Short 14th at Knollwood

Construction – Part Six – Knollwood CC Bunkers

I never thought you could restore all 19 holes worth of bunkers, build a new green, drain a fairway, add new tees and remove a hundred trees all in 10 weeks. The entire project got completed in the months of October and November and the credit goes the NMP Golf. I loved working on my first Seth Raynor course, having been such a huge admirer of his work, so I consider this one a special honour. The highlight for me was the work at the 8th green, which involved returning a serious kicker slope.

Construction – Part Seven – Wheatley Hills Bunkers

The club continues to plug along on an Emmet restoration. The bunkers were done on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 9th holes in this phase. The 3rd hole will become one of those transitions that you will need to see to believe. Work began in November and continues through into the spring of next year. Work was done by Geoff Porteus.

Construction – Part Eight – St. George’s 4th Green

The front of the 4th green was raised up on the left side to increase the available pin in the entire front of the green. Additionally, new bunkers Bunker were added into the major knoll short left of the green and on the left side of the green to replace the large Oak lost on that side. The work was done in early November by KCM Construction.


The Year Ahead – Part One – Sure Things

  1. Pepper Pike Club – finish up Legacy Plan this winter
  2. Park CC Bunkers – finish up the bunkers in April, May and June
  3. Pinegrove Bunkers - two greens to be bunkered this May
  4. Oakdale Homeniuk Nine – renovate bunkers & tees for remaining 8 holes
  5. Wheatley Hills – more bunker work on a few holes

Trump has alluded to the fact he may cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement. If he does, he will remove the way I permit to work in the US. This doesn’t necessarily end my work in the US, but it likely ends my ability to self-permit which kept my costs down for clubs I worked with.

Springdale by Flynn on the grounds of Princeton University

The Year Ahead – Part Two – Potential Projects

1.  Springdale, NJ – full bunker project
2.  Spring Brook, NJ – full bunker and green surrounds project
3.  Huntington Crescent – possible Master Plan

Final Thoughts

Ian Andrew@IanAndrewGolf Oct 28
The unsung heroes of all renovations are the ladies and gentlemen who spend their time on the smallest of details

I'm only as good as the people around me. To everyone I spent the year with ... THANK YOU