After having played literally hundreds of golf courses around the world and being the son of Gary Player, it is only natural that I would develop my own perspective on the idiosyncrasies of the world of golf course design.
I will never ever forget the words of Pete Dye after he was given all sorts of criticism on how difficult his courses were: “Golf was not meant to be a fair game!” All we have to do is look at the Scottish and Irish links courses where Mr. Dye certainly got many of his unique ideas. You are always getting bad bounces, ending up in tiny little pathetic holes in the turf called pot bunkers. Then you have to contend with gorse, heather and the weather! Links golf has always been intriguing, as every hole is so different with all sorts of ups and downs and deep bunkers that every once in a while you need a ladder to get into. To put it plainly, it is always interesting and a great test. Just look at the eighth hole at Royal Troon, a wee par three, no more than 130 yards with a very narrow long green and a bunker that must be 20 feet deep on the right and just off the green to the left is a bank with gorse, heather and weeds! And number seven at Pebble beach with a tiny kidney shaped green again only about 140 yards from the back tee. When I played that hole in the US Open I have never been so relieved to walk away with par in all my life. In other words, you don’t have to have a long hole to have a tough hole!
I am looking forward to collaborating as a design consultant to Cal Olson Golf Architecture,
as in my mind there are many golf courses that were designed years ago that need subtle changes. For instance, most of the Donald Ross designs are utilized by the USGA for their sanctioned events. His greens were made with incredible undulation, as technology in the early 1900s did not allow for the ball to run 13 or 14 feet on the stimpmeter. The greens were very slow, therefore he needed to create slope to make the courses competitive. Today those same greens are lightening fast and unplayable. Hence over par seems to win most of their events. Not even the greatest players in the world can handle specific holes on these courses. A wee tip, keep the ball on the low side no matter what!
For me, the following says it all:
We never remember an easy hole.
We always remember a hole with great beauty, such as sixteen at Cypress Point.
We always want a fair challenge, knowing that a great shot will be rewarded.
We love a finely conditioned course.
We love the fact that we can play courses with many tee options.
We have not lived unless we have experienced the road hole bunker at St Andrews.
We enjoy a golf course with many different pin placement options.
Enjoy the ride!