The city of Edina in Minnesota has officially opened its new 18-hole Braemar Golf Course layout designed by Richard Mandell.
The new course has replaced a 27-hole facility, giving the golf holes more space and allowing the city to expand wetland areas and restore over 30 acres of oak savanna.
GCA attended the first of a series of opening events at the course this week, which will culminate in the course opening for public play on 18 May, having been closed since construction began in autumn 2016.
Crucial to the city’s acceptance of Mandell’s proposed design was the architect’s commitment to maximise the buffer area from environmentally sensitive areas on the site, which also helped minimise the time required for permitting.
The decision to reduce the number of holes at the facility to 18 has enabled Mandell to take holes away from poorly-draining areas which have now been converted to wetland. It also – along with a programme of thoughtful tree management – means the new course has significant width, creating multiple options of approach and forcing the golfers to make conscious decisions about their playing strategy.
“Width for strategy has always been an element of my philosophy, going back to the nineties,” said Mandell.
On several holes Mandell has also employed central hazards, which emphasise the choices available. At the par-five fourth for example, golfers can choose a direct route to the left of a series of central bunkers, or take the safer but longer high route to the right. This option also rewards well-executed shots with a kick down the hillside towards the green. “The hazards are there not to punish golfers, but to challenge them to think their way around the golf course,” said Mandell.
Bunkering evokes a Golden Age feel. This is perhaps most evident on the Tillinghast-style par-four fourteenth, where three angled bunkers are cut into a ridge in the landing area and a large bunker protects the right-hand side of an elevated green.
Mandell’s pursuit of the best possible holes on the property has resulted in a routing that includes a six-hole stretch, from the third to the seventh, that alternates between par threes and par fives. And there are only three occasions during the round when consecutive holes have the same par.
One of the highlights of the varied set of holes is the par-three thirteenth which now plays from the top of a large hill in the centre of the property, a dramatic tee shot to a green at the base of the hill.
A full report on the new Braemar Golf Course will appear in a future edition of Golf Course Architecture. Visit our subscribe page to sign up for a free digital subscription. The project was also profiled in the February 2019 special edition of the ASGCA’s By Design magazine.