Golf Course Architecture - Issue 73, July 2023

45 greens. There are wild greens, but they are mostly very large, and there is a ton of big, broad pinnable areas out there. They are running those greens at around ten feet: partly the reason they are slower is because of the wind. When the wind is blowing 30 miles an hour you have to pay attention to it!” Sometimes, the only way for an architect to go is to accept that the greens will be very fast and hang the consequences. A few years ago, Wisconsin-based Craig Haltom rebuilt the Lac La Belle course, originally built in 1896, and a private summertime retreat for Chicago’s wealthy for most of its existence. “It had accumulated a lot of drainage problems and fallen on hard times before it was bought by the Morse family, the founders of the Prestwick group that makes course furniture from recycled plastic,” Haltom explains. “They’d never owned a golf course before, and company founder Matt Morse decided he wanted to build something spectacular on top of the old course. There wasn’t much to restore, so we went for it. It was a very difficult construction, but five years on the course is fully public and very successful. The first comment every player makes is how wild the greens are – we thought that would be the key to making it memorable. The ball is always doing something after it hits the green. You have to be aware that the type of shot you hit in will make a difference. But they are also very fast – as fast as you'd play at a high end midwestern course.” How did Haltom square the circle? He says that, again, it is about building greens that have big slopes, but also pinnable areas that are relatively quiet. “It has to be built in such a way that it has plateaus,” he says. “The art is that it can’t look like a simple segmented green. How do you connect the plateaus in a way that allows for modern green speeds? On average, the greens are large. There are a few tiny greens, and they are flattish ones. Where the greens are wild, they’re generally big enough to accommodate that. People find it to be a really fun, interesting golf course. It’s driven by pin positions and which side of the fairway you’re playing from. All that becomes possible when you have enough space.” “ The ball is always doing something after it hits the green. You have to be aware that the type of shot you hit in will make a difference” Photo: The Club at Lac La Belle At Lac La Belle, Craig Haltom has achieved the balance of wild contour and fast greens by incorporating pinnable areas that are relatively quiet GREEN SPEED