The new King-Collins course at Red Feather Golf and Social Club in Lubbock, Texas, is now growing-in ahead of an August opening.
Architects Tad King and Rob Collins were first contacted about the project in 2020, by professional golfer JJ Killeen and technology executive Brad Ralston, who had identified a 135-acre cotton field that they wanted to turn into a private golf course with a real estate component.
“The site for Red Feather is a playa lake,” said Collins. “These features, which are dry for most of the year, are very important for the drainage of the surrounding area. It doesn’t rain often in Lubbock, but when it does, it typically rains very hard and water from miles away will drain to the site.”
The project saw 1.3 million cubic yards of dirt moved so the heavily contoured golf course site can store enough water to handle a 500-year flood event.
“The vision was to create a rugged, west Texas landscape on the formerly featureless and flat site,” said Collins. “The finished course has an 80-foot-deep canyon and a network of barrancas running throughout that give it a one-of-a-kind look and feel.”
Having visited the site prior to starting the routing process, King-Collins developed their layout remotely. “We went through several different routings with Brad prior to finalising the current one,” said Collins, noting that there were some course changes as it was being built. “One of our biggest goals was to create a great deal of variety in terms of hole length and direction. We also worked to create a thrilling, gambling finish, which includes a driveable par four, a short par three, and a reachable par five.
“Each hole is unique and asks its own set of questions, yet they are all tied together visually and thematically. I think people will be shocked at the diversity of the shotmaking interest, the bunkering and greens that our team laboured so hard to create.
“Shaper Robert Nelson poured his creativity into building one of the most diverse sets of bunkers that I’ve ever seen on a golf course. There are tiny pot bunkers, nasty little slivers that you’d love to avoid at all costs, and some intricately detailed large ones. Some of the bunkers are hidden from view and play much larger than their size, given that the ground contours funnel to them.”
Red Feather will feature Zoysia fairways and bentgrass greens. Fairways will be mown very low and tight to promote the ground game. “The greens, like the bunkers, are diverse in their shapes, contours, and size,” said Collins. “Some greens, like the fourth, will be remembered for their bold contouring, while others are very subtle and sit neatly on the ground, with the sixth and tenth being prime examples. There will be a great deal of variety in terms of pin locations that will allow the operations team to present a varied and new challenge each day.
“The windy conditions will also invite players to keep the ball low, using the contours and the greens to work the ball close to the hole. Almost every green sits low to the ground and is open in front to allow balls to chase onto the surface. I think players will delight in discovering the ideal angles and shot shapes that yield the best scores.
“It is a golf course filled with local knowledge that will promote a sense of discovery as players learn through trial and error the best way to play each hole.”
This article first appeared in the July 2023 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.