A busy but great week!
Last week was a very busy but a great week. After spending most of the week working in Denmark I yesterday went to a Jamie Cullum concert in Edinburgh – IT WAS FANTASTIC. This guy is not just good he is great – I truly admire anybody with that kind of talent and passion – to be there was absolutely inspiring on so many levels.
Last year Danish Cancer Research asked if I would like to donate a prize to the golf club that would raise the most money in their support during 2009. I was honoured to be asked and offered to donate “myself” for a day to the “winning” club. As it turned out the club that “won me” was a pretty remote one (in Danish terms), - flying into Copenhagen we are talking about a 5-6 hours drive. I did not know the club beforehand but after some research I soon started to look forward to the visit despite the long drive.
I have never seen any other Danish course on such a great site - forest covered dune land.
Well, in golfing terms one could do without the trees but these trees were planted long ago to protect the sand from blowing away. Laying out courses on sites like this is no longer possible – they are protected (this site included) and therefore out of reach - even so, I have decided to keep hoping :-)
It was a good spirited bunch of members who joined me at 9 o’clock last Sunday morning. The club chairman, a few green committee members and the superintendent were there and tagging along for the day was also a journalist from a Danish golf magazine.
I had suggested that we would start the day in the clubhouse so I could get to know a bit about the club and their future vision for the facilities before walking onto the course.
When doing this kind of consultancy work I am usually contacted by clubs who have design issues that need solving or clubs who are eager to upgrade their facilities altogether. This time was different though - this club had not called me but “won” me and when talking about future visions I was told that the course was ranked well and that the club was content with the number of members and green fee guests too! What a challenge! Luckily there is rarely a course which does not have room for improvement. A brainstorm on the facilities (what is there, what works/what doesn’t and what can be done about it) is therefore never wasted and the club knew this.
The course was fine and as expected it would have been hard for any kind of golf course architect to do “a bad job” on a site like this. However the alignment and placement of tees always needs checking out - especially the ladies’ tees, not that they are tricky to place, but the architect must take the time to do it well (they rarely do). Looking at the aesthetics of the course is also a must – club members and green staff “go blind” over time when it comes to the presentation of the course.
The main thing to check though, when visiting an existing course is the course strategy - how each hole plays or can be played - does the player have a choice off the tee or not etc. No choice this time though - with every hole heavily tree lined “straight down the middle” was the only way to go off each tee - there simply wasn’t room for any strategy at all.
I could mention many more details that we looked at this day but the main conclusion was not surprisingly for the committee to think about where trees could perhaps be cleared to give more choice off the tee and then to STOP planting trees – trust me they had enough. I had a great day visiting the club and I do hope they did find it worth their while to spend a Sunday with me. What the journalist got out of the day is still to be revealed!
I did a few interviews this week and was also contacted by the American magazine “LINKS Magazine” - Tom Cunneff was writing a piece on female Golf Course Architects and as he said when contacting me, “of course he had to include me”. He had found only 18 female architects including long gone architects like Marion Hollins and Molly Gourlay. I am not surprised by the number though - to be a golf course architect you have got to love golf, appreciate being on site during the construction and not unimportantly put up with “all the crap” that goes with being a female in a male dominated business. No wonder there are so few of us around.
Although Tom’s piece was more like a list and not an in-depth article I was glad to be mentioned linksmagazine.com/best_of_golf/features/female_golf_course_architects/index.aspx Quite a few names on the list were former players – most likely signature designers and not golf course architects as such but I was there on my own merits as a golf course architect and as one of very few women running their own business. Although I never intended to work alone I am altogether proud to have made it in this tough industry woman or not.