Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sand Hills - The original "modern" masterpiece

Mullen, Nebraska. Where? If you know golf those two words mean one thing....Sand Hills Golf Club.

The owner, Dick Youngscap, took a huge risk in the mid 1990s by decided to build a golf course in the middle of the Sand Hills of Nebraska where play is limited by weather and geography.
But, fortune favors the brave and Sand Hills is an absolute gem, Top 10 in the World. Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore with very limited earth moving required, the golf course evokes the sense of St. Andrews but in a very different setting. Like the Old Course, the fairways are huge, the greens allow the ground game and the course is affected by the wind, encouraging players to move the ball back in their stance and keep it low.
This golf course really put Coore and Crenshaw on the design map and they have gone on to create wonderful courses around the world including Hidden Creek in New Jersey, Colorado Golf Club near Denver and Friars Head on Long Island. You can see some great photos on their site here.
Sand Hills was at the forefront of the trend towards natural golf and has led to some wonderful golf courses that have followed in its wake, such as Ballyneal in Colorado, Prairie Club in South Dakota and the soon to be opened Cabot Links in Canada.
Sand Hills is the new definition of golf, nothing fancy, no carts, no paths, no country club, no cart girls, no bag drop, just golf....pure golf.

Monday, October 18, 2010

1966...the year of The Ping Anser

The year was 1966. England were winning the World Cup for the first and possibly last time and in Redwood City, California a GE mechanical engineer named Karten Solheim was designing the most successful putter of all time, The Ping Anser. His company name, Ping came form the sound of his original putter, the 1A.
With its familiar "plumbers neck" more golf manufacturers and putter companies have copied this design than any other in history and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than Mr Solheim must have been a proud man.
The Anser is classic - every golfer has used one based on Karsten's design at some point and with its heel and toe weighting it is as relavent today as that day in 1966 when it first saw the light of day.
Ping stills sells bucket loads of the new model Anser or you can easily pick one up an original for $50 on ebay.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Dormie Club. An Absolute Gem!

I have just returned form our semi annual UK v. US match in North Carolina. We played great golf courses in and around Pinehurst - Mid Pines, Pine Needles, Tobacco Road and the majestic Dormie Club.
If you haven't heard of the Dormie will! It is the latest creation from Coore and Crenshaw, who alongside Tom Doak and Jim Urbina are creating the 21st century version of the vaunted Golden Age of Golf Architecture. Dormie is pure golf, creative design, wonderful greens complexes, a great walk and most importantly, FUN! The club is full of intrigue and rumor after changes of ownership, but that will all be forgotten as more people play this absolute gem. I may be feeling giddy after playing it, but it is already in my Top is that good. Pure golf, pure enjoyment.