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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Heritage Creek golf course construction is underway.  Clearing has commenced, the dreaded storm water basins are being excavated.  This year we will probably get 6 holes completely built with a temporary seed on top for protection going into winter.  The Williard Group, Inc, Golf Course Builders will do the work.

I expect the greens and surrounds will be related to the Lederach greens, however as I work out some of the Heritage Creek green concepts it feels like something is a little different.  Certainly the open fronts and surrounding ground movement will be similar.  The uncertainty and surprise that results from broken ground around the greens at Lederach has heightened my awareness of how much this contrasts to the old way of thinking where bunkering dominated the green surrounds.  It seems much more interesting to watch a ball as it makes its way to the green and either finds a glorious path or a tortured path before it comes to rest, as opposed to watching your shot simply disappear into a bunker.  The reasons for bunkering a green can be worthy, but Heritage Creek may provide the opportunity to discover how broken ground can replace the typical bunkering schemes. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Work is progressing mainly on the sediment basins around the southern portion of the site.  Significant progress has been made on the tree clearing required to make holes 6 through 11.  Below are some pictures from my visit.  These shots give you some sense of the type of land the course will occupy, and a benchmark by which to judge the final results.

The tee shot for hole 9 plays through a wooded area out to open land. 


The site for the 9th green is depicted above. To the left is a preliminary sketch for the initial green design. The key to the design is the large fairway area in front of the green.  Along the best angle of approach the fairway is relatively flat and predictable as to how the ball will bounce toward the green.  From a right approach there is a large land form that is fairway, but much more unpredictable as to how the bouncing ball will react because of the character of the broken ground.

A narrow, serpentine bunker is formed in front of the land form further complicating the more difficult angle of approach.  The uncertainty that comes from having fairway in front of the green, a portion of which is undulating, is a very exciting design feature that provides many more interesting scenarios as compared to simply spotting bunkers around a green.  It can be very accommodating to the average player, while challenging the skills of an expert player, most of whom are not familiar with this type of strategic design.








Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Time flies when construction is underway.  Since my last post here seven holes have been shaped, drainage and mix has been installed in the tees and greens, topsoil has been spread, and irrigation is being installed.  The pictures shown above were of the initial site dirt work, such as sediment basins, being done by the site contractor.  On August 1st the site contractor was out of the area of the course having completed the basins, and The Williard Group, Inc., Golf Course Builders moved in and began shaping.  Within the month we had shaped seven holes. My own design approach has been evolving toward working closely with the existing terrain.  That evolution has reached a level whereby I am able to produce some exceptional holes without disrupting too much of the ground with which we are given for the course.  This approach is largely responsible for the speedy construction schedule, and I feel will probably produce the best strategic holes.  Also, there is a greater depth in the aesthetic quality of a golf course that has not been overshaped, something most architects are guilty of at times.  That is not to say that the bunkering is close to the existing terrain.  The bunkers have been carved into the ground, and make for some dramatic and challenging features. 

The picture to the right is a close up of the same bunker.  The sand will be in the flat part of the depression, and the banks will be grassed in fescue.  A large bump is within the bunker, which has been carved out around it. 

Hole 7, a par 3, is depicted to the left.  The depression in the foreground is a temporary sediment basin that will be removed.  The depression in the middle ground is a bunker that fronts the green.  The sandy terrain beyond it is the mix on the green.  Fairway does slide around the left side of the bunker and into the front, left of the green.  Another deep bunker is just beyond the fairway.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The final finish work on holes 5 through 11 is progressing well.  All sod has been laid around the bunkers, and The Williard Group is commencing preparations for seeding.  In the period between now and my last posting the owner’s hired a fine green’s superintendent, Ryan Woodard, who was formerly the assistant superintendent at Lederach Golf Club.

Following are some pictures taken within the last week of a few of the holes. 

Hole 6, above, is a straightaway par 4 in the woods near the Little Neshaminey Creek.  In the picture from the tee you can see the sod that marks the fairway bunker on the left. 


The fairway, below, is alongside the bunker and then wraps around to the left beyond the bunker.  A player would want to play a right to left shot into this area if the pin is on the left side of the green to give a good angle from which to approach the pin.  In the front of the green is a hump that makes the approach into any pin area most difficult if coming in from the wrong side of the fairway.

Above is a picture looking back to the tee from the left side of the fairway. 

Below is the view of the green from the left fairway, just beyond the bunker.  The hump is hard to distinguish but you can see the sandy soil which is the green and see how accessible the left side of the green is from this angle.  However, if the pin were on the right side of the green this would be a real challenge from here because of the hump. 

Above is the par 3, 7th hole from the tee.  The ribbon of green is bunker bank in front of the green.  Because the course has been built close to the existing ground the features like bunkers only reveal themselves as you get closer to them.  So, there is always an element of doubt as to distances and challenges that await the player.




Below the bunker reveals itself a little more as the player approaches the green. 

The full challenge of the bunker is evident in the picture to the left.  The bunker is large, but has some very narrow and difficult areas which can make recovery shots a real challenge. 


In the picture above, in the same way as hole 7, the approach shot to the par 4, 8th hole, seems straightforward, not fraught with any danger.  However, the small ribbon of green seen here will reveal more as we get closer.


Below the picture now shows the bunkers that are set well in front of the green in the approach area.


Now that we are approaching the green, in the picture to the left, the three deep, and difficult bunkers are revealed, and now make the golfer aware that they must be very decisive and precise when planning their strategy for playing the approach shot to the green. 


This is the par 3, 11th hole pictured above.  The bunker across a portion of the green is sprawling and requires the player to either shape a shot into the green from left to right, or to play over the bunker to successfully reach many pin areas on the green. 

The 11th green, pictured below, was built onto the existing ground; however there was much slope in the land.  In order to have pinnable area the surface was cut to tame the slopes creating a benched area across the midsection of the green.


A small coffin bunker, shown to the left, waits off the left side of the green, and there is a slightly larger bunker in the back of the green.


Monday, July 16, 2007


The course has been growing in now for just under two months.  Ryan Woodard and his crew are doing an outstanding job.  The following pictures were taken July 16.  It would be helpful to have a routing to follow but for now I will try to take you through each hole and hopefully you will get some sense of how the holes lay out.

The picture left is the tee shot on the par 4, 6th hole.  There is a large bunker to the left that is pictured below.

This is the large bunker along the left side of the fairway.  Note the fairway beyond the bunker.
Pictured left is the large bunker with fairway beyond the bunker as mentioned above.  This angle is from the fairway looking back to the tee.
Pictured right is the view of the green from the same spot where the picture was taken from above.  This is a particularly good spot to be when the pin is located along the left side of the green.  A large hump in the green makes it very difficult to approach the left side of the green from the right side of the fairway.
Pictured left is the angle into the green from the right side of the fairway.  This is a safe spot to avoid the left fairway bunker.  Pin positions along the right side of the green are more accessible from this angle.  Notice the beginnings of the rough growing in between the spot from where the picture is taken and the green. 
Pictured right is the green taken from the left side.  The hump in the front of the green is more noticeable.


Pictured left is the view of the 7th green from the tee.  Some indication of the challenge from a fronting bunker is evident by the steep edge in front of the green.
Pictured to the right is the fronting bunker.  Notice the mowed area in the back of the bunker, which shows up in the picture above, in the center.  Especially appealing to me is the narrowness of the bunker between the land left intact once the bunker was carved out and the green side bank. 
A little further up from where the above picture was taken is pictured to the left an opening along the left side of the green.  A narrow and deep bunker was made just beyond this fairway and it abuts the back left part of the green. The green you see is pitching toward you at about 3%, a decent slope on a bentgrass green.  One way to attack this pin area would be to hit a fade so the ball can bite into the slope and hold a position close to the pin.  Even the fairway provides some relief if the shot is less than perfect, however you will notice the back part of the fairway descends to the bunker so the margin for safety is exacting.
If you go straight across the green from where you are in the above picture you will find this long, slender bunker pictured to the right.  Notice the gap in the woods behind the green, this is where you will cross over Creek Road to get to holes 8 thorough 11.


Skipping ahead, pictured to the left is a large fairway bunker that is between holes 8 and 10.  This picture is taken from hole 8 fairway looking to its left toward hole 10 fairway. 
Turning to your right back toward the green at hole 8 is this view of the green pictured to the right.  You have some indication of bunkers stretching across the front of the green, and notice an unbroken width of land to the right that leads into the green.
As you walk toward the green you see pictured to the left a portion of rough that comes out across your direct line to the green and the bunkers to the left now appear to be in the fairway well short of the green.
As we approach the green, if we walk to the left fairway, we see better the bunkers in the approach area to the green as seen in the picture to the right.
Walking to our right and through the open fairway area that leads into the green we see in the picture to the left a bunker that awaits the careless approach shot into this area.  If you look more closely at the previous pictures taken from the fairway you do get some clue as to the presence of this bunker which is on the right side of the green. 
Pictured to the right we are standing on the green looking back to the fairway, you see the distance between the green and the approach bunkers.  It is not evident here but there is a significant swale in the fairway between the bunkers and the green.  Just barely clearing the bunkers could make for some interesting and surprising results.


Pictured to the left is the view looking at the green of hole 9 from the right fairway.  The green starts from the left side of the picture and ends approximately where the home in the background begins, and then fairway goes from there up to the 8th tee which is to the right edge of the picture.
The picture to the right shows a better angle from which to approach the green.  There is a fairway bunker which is in the foreground of the photo.  If you noticed in the picture above there is some sort of depression in front of the green that stretches across the front, right portion of the green.  Looking at the green in the right photo we now see that this is a bunker. 
Back to the right side of the hole the picture to the left depicts the deep bunker at the green.  Fairway is alongside the right edge of the green and slopes down to the bunker edge.  It is hard to see the ripples in the right portion of the green.  These ripples eventually soften and disappear leaving the back, right portion of the green for some exciting pin positions. 

HOLE 10, PAR 4

To the right is a picture of the tee shot on hole 10.  It is a straight away hole, the green is in the middle of the picture.  You see some evidence of the bunker on the right where the grass changes to a darker hue.
In the picture to the left we have now moved down the fairway and looking to the right you see the bunker that is in between this fairway and the fairway on hole 8.
Turning to our left and looking back down the fairway toward the green the picture to the right shows the view of the approach shot.  The green is open in front and a large slope to the left can be used to take the ball into the back right portion of the green.  There is plenty of fairway in front of the green and to the right.  However, a bunker sits at the end of this fairway and a pitch shot from here to the green can be challenging because of the slopes in front.
Upon closer examination you can see the fairway area and approach bunker in the picture to the left. 
Many of the pin areas in the front of the green are accessible but a bump and run shot must deal with the slope that descends from right to left across the line of play.  This is evident in the picture to the right.

HOLE 11, PAR 3

To the left is a close up view of the green at hole 11.  The right bunker is just in view, and there is a bunker left of the green and one behind the green.  The green became a two tier green when we tamed the existing slope in front which was too steep.
The picture to the right gives a good view of the bunker that abuts the right side of the green.  This is the approximate line of the tee shot.  
Pictured to the left is a small bunker which is alongside the left side of the green, opposite the large bunker. 
Pictured to the right is the bunker in back of the green.
From the same position where the picture from above was taken if we turn to the left we look over the green, the large bunker to the right of the green is in the middle ground and the teeing area is in the distance above the break in the reeds.

I have been remiss in updating the most current work at Heritage Creek. This past fall we completed work on holes 3, 4, and 5. I will post this work soon.


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