Golf Course Architecture - Issue 69, July 2022

61 Prior to joining Ron Forse, I was tasked with creating two different routings over the same land for a course that would not have any bunkers as the client wanted to keep maintenance down. Sadly, the project was never built but given that same commission today, I would certainly feature mounds, depressions, ditches, small creeks, trees, wide fairways with internal contours and short grass around greens. Greens of varying elevations would also be critical, whether they be plateau, punchbowl, crowned with prowls, tiers, ridges, depressions. Over the last few years, Greg D’Antonio, superintendent at Concord CC outside of Philadelphia, and I have incorporated ditches at his course. Ditches are the perfect solution to improve drainage, increase strategy and provide a visual contrast to the bunkers and mounds. They are a multifaceted feature and I have also incorporated them at Beacon Hill (pictured) in New Jersey. Wide fairways replete with speed slots, hillocks, depressions and lots of width are something that a bunkerless course should include. The randomness of those features complements the essence of the game. Speed slots become a target to reach and gain extra roll of the tees. Wide corridors allow for enjoyment of the game as well as reinforcing the intended angles of play. Mounds like those built at Bald Peak Colony Club in New Hampshire have such a dramatic impact on play and are something I enjoy trying to replicate. Tillinghast’s ‘chocolate drops’ from Bedford Springs or the field of mounds at Somerset Hills are inspiring. Short grass around numerous greens is a necessity. The short grass keeps players engaged necessitating creativity in their recovery shots. One option becomes four. How beautiful is that? In a day and age where trees are coming down by the thousands on some courses, I can’t believe I’m going to say that a bunkerless layout requires trees – a wellplaced tree can have a beneficial impact on strategy for this type of course. One more feature that could be used is a stream. It allows for unique opportunities to create diagonal carries, placement of greens close to water, and risk-reward shots. Some sort of water body like a lake or pond may be needed on such a course, but only if it was already part of the site – they provide interest for players and creativity for designers. Considering alternatives create the visual and playing interest. I have never had a ‘no sand bunker’ stipulation on a complete course, but occasionally have on a few holes – to protect views of (or from) an important building or from a nearby road. From a golf interest point of view, it is a lot easier to do this on just two or three holes than on a complete course! “During the 1990s and early 2000s, the boom years of new golf courses, we were told that new courses were in competition for members, often on the basis of the proposed course plan and layout. People argued that, to provide that ‘wow’ factor, courses had to have lots of water and a profusion of sand bunkers just to make the glossy presentation plans look more attractive! A subtle understated design Photo: GCA Photo: Beacon Hill Country Club Jim Nagle of Forse Design shares examples of features that can be used instead of sand bunkers