Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

GOPHER WATCH 37 course more playable through rainy weather. But we think many players will be shocked to see just how dramatic the ravines were underneath the trees on the front nine, now that we’ve brought the holes up against them. With the plan to host the Houston Open, do you approach the design much differently to other projects? It’s not often that I worry about players who can drive the ball 350 yards or making greens flat enough to handle speeds of 12-13 on the Stimpmeter. But we still have to handle the full range of golfers who play at Memorial, so the process isn’t that different otherwise. What do you expect Brooks Koepka to contribute to the design process? He’s shared a lot with me about what he does and doesn’t like about the typical PGA Tour venue; what makes it interesting for a player of his calibre, and what sorts of skills aren’t rewarded on other courses. Brooks has given me a lot of subtle ideas to make it harder for the professionals – like giving them awkward lies and stances in the rough – that the average player won’t even notice. We both felt that many bunkers add difficulty for the average player but are superfluous for the Tour player. Plus, washouts on bunker faces are one of the main things that disrupt a tournament after heavy rains, so we are building radically fewer bunkers at Memorial Park than you’re used to seeing. I think the final number will be around 25, but there are only nine bunkers on the back nine – and none at all on holes thirteen, fifteen, sixteen and seventeen! What else would you highlight? I’m not a big fan of water hazards on most of my courses, but the expansion of the irrigation pond meant that we would have water in the home stretch at Memorial, and if we were going to have it, we decided we might as well put it right in the players’ faces. There’s a small stream at the short fifteenth – balls that miss the left side of the green will bounce down a steep bank and may wind up wet. The par-five sixteenth has water along the right all the way, and then across the front of the green and to both sides of the green, so there is no safe side to bail out for golfers who want to play for eagle. And then the short par-four seventeenth has water all along the right side and wrapping around the back right of the green, leaving a scary pitch when the flag is on the right, or a go-for-broke possibility if they move the tee up to 300 yards for one of the two weekend days. Photo: Tom Doak “If we were going to have it, we decided we might as well put it right in the players’ faces.” Tom Doak on water at Memorial Park