Golf Course Architecture: Issue 55 - January 2019

13 MA I L BOX Dear Editor Beginning my golf career at a 7,361-yard course back in the early 1970s gave me a clear perspective of how the lust of yardage was the holy grail of golf. Almost all golfers want to bomb the little white pill as far as they can. But ask yourself how many times that old retired insurance salesman has plonked 200 yard drives right down the middle of the fairway and ended up taking your cash at the end of the round? He kept the white pill in play while you spent your time in the woods, trying to recover from a long drive. There is an old golf adage: ‘the woods are full of long drives’. Our great golf ambassador Jack Nicklaus and many others have been saying (for quite some time) golf needs to be dialled back, as more golf courses are not long enough to challenge the newer touring golf pros. The cost of maintaining more and more yardage and the acres involved is getting out of hand. At a recent GCBAA meeting, a former PGA Tour commissioner decried the abundance of length now being built into golf courses. How would golf feel, what would the experience be like if one played a golf course with 40-50-yard wide fairways and distances which rounded out around 5,600-6,500 yards? What if a golfer came upon an 80-yard par three? Or one which he could not play the forced 100-yard carry from the tee? Courses are rarely designed with all potential clientele in mind. Why do many golf courses struggle to obtain and retain enough rounds to remain financially stable? Too long for the average golfer to enjoy, may be one answer. Most golfers play to bogey and that should be considered when designing a golf course. Simply throwing in another set of short tees is not the only solution. Do the other short playing field ideas really work? Designs of straightforward simplicity might be the best approach. David Hart Kansas, USA Dear Editor I have just read the Frank Giordano article about Le Golf National in the last issue of GCA and I find that I do not agree with him that Le Golf National is art fraud. Between Robert von Hagge and Hubert Chesneau, the court decided to give the design credit to Chesneau. And that is all. Mr Giordano is right to think that von Hagge design elements are present at Le Golf National. I have played all the von Hagge designs in France, and it is clear that the course is of the same blood. But to build a stadium course and the rest of the facilities, driving range, academy, and so forth was the idea of Hubert Chesneau and the FFG. When Mr Giordano says that Chesneau “has done fewer than ten courses, not one of which is a distinguished design” in thirty years, he is wrong. The Saint Malo Golf Resort, of which I have been general manager for six years, was designed by Chesneau. We organise a lot of events, including national amateur tournaments and professional events for the LET Access Series and Alps Tour. All our green fee players come back from the course with a large smile and happy to have played this beautiful championship course. Our turnover is increasing each year. Mr Giordano is correct to say that the design of Le Golf National was down to von Hagge, but he is wrong about M. Chesneau’s career, and if he finds himself in France, I would like to invite him to play our course. Franck Nichol Saint Malo Golf Resort, France Dear Editor We were thrilled to read Tim Lobb’s article on the subject of tee selection in the last GCA . We completely agree with his position on the subject. We would add one thought. In addition to eliminating any gender references when talking about tee choice, age should also be removed from the conversation. The courses with which we have worked find they have significantly better results when they follow this advice. As we have said before in GCA , golfers should select their tees based on their swing speed/average drive yardage. More fun for all! Jann Leeming and Arthur Little New Hampshire, USA We are delighted to receive letters from readers, and the best in each issue will be rewarded with a golf shirt. Send to 6 Friar Lane, Leicester, LE1 5RA, UK, or e-mail us at