GroundBreaking: A First Look At PGA Of America's New 36-Hole Frisco Facility

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The Dallas Morning News’ Scott Bell attended the Governor William J. Le Petomane Thruway, err, I mean, Silicon Valley of Golf groundbreaking on some of Frisco’s finest farmland.

The usual groundbreaking speeches and demos were presented, though refreshing in the videos below with Gil Hanse and Beau Welling discussing their works, the “fun” word was mentioned as the priority. Imagine that ten or fifteen years ago.

The golf portion includes two 18-hole championship courses -- the East Course and the West Course -- as well as a short course and practice areas. Organizers expect the new PGA of America headquarters to become the home of national player development and coaching programs.

In total, the city of Frisco expects more than $2.5 billion in economic development over the next two decades, according to an economic impact study it commissioned.

Preparation for major golf events is already underway

There will be no shortage of big events taking place at PGA Frisco.

The site has been promised 23 championship events over a 13-year span, including six majors across the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours: PGA Championship (2027, 2034), Women’s PGA Championship (2025, 2031) and Senior PGA Championship (2023, 2029).

Ticket sign-ups for those events coming soon, get them if they ever have the chance to last!

A couple of preview videos, first with Hanse and Welling, and a second with a look at the land plan that includes a par-3 course and Himalayas “interactive” putting green.

Former Cal Golfer Opens Rustic Canyon Round With 10 Straight Birdies

As co-architect I should be horrified but any course that rewards such incredible play must be a masterpiece, no?

Anyway, enough about me.

The Forecaddie reports on Brandon Beck’s 10-birdie start at Rustic Canyon in August and suggests that it’s a record given how few documented 10-straight moments have been recorded.

Oh, and he lipped out on the 11th.

Video And Podcast: The Fried Egg On Rustic Canyon

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It’s a treat to see the continued interest in Rustic Canyon 17 years after it opened, but as we knew at the time, the opportunity to work on a sandy site not far from a major U.S. city was something special.

So it’s an honor to have contributed to Andy Johnson’s Fried Egg podcast to discuss the design and his stunning drone photography of the place this winter.

Garrett Morrison looks at the design, what it meant to the region at the time and more, in this review with some fantastic still images.

Andy clipped out some of my comments on behalf of the design team—Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner as well—to provide these views:

Drone Flyover Of The Horse Course At The Prairie Club

It's been a few years since Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, myself and a fun cast of characters created the Horse Course at The Prairie Club, so it was nice to see the 10-hole par-3 course finally get the drone treatment its setting deserves. Especially now as the game opens its very closed mind to par-3 courses, the concept of H-O-R-S-E golf will hopefully get a little more attention.

And given the difficulty of maintaining prairie bunkers, it's especially neat to see how well they've evolved. Thanks Patrick Koenig for the great shots.

Week After Anti-Bombing Gripes, TPC's Anti-Bombing Change Causes Gripes

Last week some players were mad that Glen Oaks' 18th favored Dustin Johnson's ability to hit a super-human length drive under pressure and be rewarded. This week at TPC Boston, the newly updated 12th is causing consternation because it's forcing players to consider possible routes interrupted by bunkering, some a play down the 13th hole possible according to AP's Doug Ferguson who predicts many players will go all Lon Hinkle on us.

Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com has some of the player reaction, including Paul Casey calling the hole awful. That's an eye-opener given his general astuteness, appreciation of centerline hazards and understanding that you can't judge a hole by one practice round.

However, architect Gil Hanse, who oversaw the changes along with Jim Wagner, is preaching patience and is not shy in suggesting that hazards were placed to prevent the bombs away approach found to be so upsetting last week.

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com allows Hanse to explain the thinking behind the hole and need to consider it after more than just one impression.

“The expectation was it would take several rounds for these guys to learn how to play it and how they wanted to tackle it,” he said. “Unfortunately, some of the early reaction came after one practice round.

“The conversation we’ve had with three or four players is, 'Listen, just give it three or four rounds. Try to figure it out.' If we build a golf hole that the players can figure out after one round, then we probably haven’t done our job challenging them.”

And on preventing the new 12th from giving long hitters a distinct advantage:

“This golf course, rightfully or wrongly, has always been characterized as a bomber’s golf course,” said Hanse, who lengthened the 12th by 50 yards. “So when you’re making alterations, you have that in the back of your mind, and you don’t want to be seen increasing that advantage. We felt like the positioning of these hazards gives the average guy room to hit the ball. But as you want to push around 330, it gets more narrow.”

Hanse On Architecture's Future & TPC Boston's 12th And 13th

Golf.com's Dylan Dethier looks at Gil Hanse's rise (thanks for the link PG), which started in large part at the TPC Boston. Host of this week's Dell Technologies playoff event again, the course has been a long-term redesign effort with the PGA Tour and superintendent Tom Brodeur's team.

The transformation of the course into a New England-vibe course, rock walls and quirk included, has helped give this event much character. Hanse offered this on the future of design, inspired in part by the example he hopes to have set at TPC Boston.

"The future of golf is fun," he said, noting the accessibility of the short course he just completed at Pinehurst as an example. "Golf is such a difficult game that whatever we can do to make someone's first interaction with the game fun and positive is going to be a win. Of any sport, golf has the best field and the best landscapes, and those selling points will always resonate with people. The allure of being outside and spending time with people is huge and you can't match it anywhere else."

Dethier talks to Hanse about the latest changes to the 12th and 13th holes.

Golfweek's Bradley Klein offered his assessment of the remodeled holes in his 18 hole-by-hole description, including this on No. 12:

What used to be the only unbunkered hole on the course has been stretched by 49 yards and given centerline fairway bunkering in the form of  Principal’s Nose 305 yards off the tee. There’s also a new green position farther back. Hanse and Wagner also created more of a tie-in to the next hole by opening up the tree line and extending an existing ridge line into the 12th fairway, creating more of a drop-shot feel to the second shot. The shared space is a classical New England element that gets away from the older, isolated hole corridors that prevailed here. The putting surface also has been been moved away from its rocky ledge over a wetlands hazard. It now sits closer to the next tee, making for a better connect-the-dots feel. The hole requires a commitment off the tee between two alternative paths, the low road (to the right) shorter but a bit riskier; the high road to the left safer but longer.

Rio, It Never Ends Files: Degraded Golf Just Isn't Catching On...

While it pales compared to the suffering going on in Houston, the sight of Rio venues a year later is no doubt newsworthy and an important reminder about forcing the Olympics where they just don't fit. Knowing the joyful expressions of athleticism that took place there a year ago and seeing those places now is an eye-opener.

But as chronicled here many times, the continued inclusion of the Olympic Golf Course in slideshows certainly is a continued reminder that rustic, "degraded" golf (essentially dry links-style conditions) just doesn't quite make sense to non-golf media outlets.

Two recent examples of golf's inclusion in the discussion of venues here and here, though there are many more. Meanwhile, the course's Instagram postings tells a much different story than various press outlets wish to tell.

Gil Hanse, architect of the course, had this to say to Golf.com's Joe Passov:

"I'm hearing good things from locals," Hanse said. "Back in March, one of the international news agencies put out something about the state of the Rio facilities—the terrible state the pools are in, the Olympic Park with a chain link fence around it. And they ran an aerial photo of the 'degraded' Olympic golf course. I looked at it and I'm like, 'You can see the mower stripes on the greens. You can see all the bunkers are raked. You can see the fairways are mowed. How is that degraded?' It was definitely a fake news story. Very frustrating."

This was three days ago:

Pinehurst Breaks Ground On New Short Course

Gil Hanse explains the concept (embed below) of what hopefully joins the list of influential short courses inspiring more to be built.

Given the location of this one in front of the Pinehurst clubhouse, it's sure to be popular when completed.

 

 

Rio Olympic Golf Course Off Of Life Support For Now

Given the shocking state of venues where just months ago the Olympics took place, it was great to read from Peter Dawson (via Rex Hoggard's GolfChannel.com story) that the Rio Olympic golf course has some new funding. Employees are getting paid again and maintenance is ongoing.

“Things are looking a little better, there’s a group of people who have come together that have a relationship with the land owner there, and they’ve re-engaged enough of the greens staff to keep the maintenance going,” said Peter Dawson, the former chief executive of the R&A and current

Hopefully this gets the course back into consideration for international amateur or professional events. Things look less promising for the swimming venue:

 

Rio Golf Course: It's A Jungle Out There, Owl & Cabybara Edition

You're going to see them more than enough if you watch the Olympic golf coverage, but one of the great accomplishments of this course will be taking a property and making it better for wildlife through nature-based design and maintenance. That message hopefully is picked up by much of the world and may be one more important than who wins, or which developing nation gets more funding.

Gil Hanse told me today he's already seen a few bird species he never saw during construction and even he's astonished by the wildlife activity at a place that was already so active.

Steve DiMeglio wrote about the various critters for USA Today.

Here are the burrowing owls at the 9th, who have been allowed to do their thing. The Rules of Golf naturally allow for relief from this situation for the safety of all in involved.

A couple of shots from the ninth hole:

And the American contingent checking out the Capybara swimming around the 5th hole. Here's Rickie Fowler checking out the giant rodent who was busy munching on some greens.


Video: Gil Hanse On Olympic Course Bunkering And Sands

As I noted in this week's Golf World, uniformity will not be a word you'll hear this week at the Olympic Golf Course, one already little known to players and adding another local knowledge element: different sands.

Gil Hanse explains in this exclusive to GeoffShackelford.com why the sand shades and textures are different throughout the course, something unique to the site incorporated both for sustainability, cost savings and rewarding those skillful enough to do their homework. Let the howling begin!

We also discuss how the sandbelt style of bunkering came about.

A Few Fun Final Olympic Golf Course Preview Stories & Visuals

As we have arrived at week one of Olympic golf in Rio, a few final course and Games-related content pieces are worth a look.

John Clarke of the New York Times wrote last month about the Zeon Zoysia making its international debut this week. It started from a small amount transported on an airplane by David Doguet, owner of Bladerunner Farms and is a promising turfgrass going forward for certain regions of the world looking for faster, firmer and tougher turf.

Zeon Zoysia requires less water, fertilizer, nitrogen and pesticide than most other types of golf turf, Doguet said. Perhaps most important, he said, it can endure Rio’s poor soil and water quality and meets the strict environmental regulations that prohibit the use of chemical fertilizers and weed killers on the course, which is on a nature preserve.

The story also includes a couple of slideshows worth checking out.

Gil Hanse has posted a guest course review at GolfNow!

Golf Digest writers discuss their visit to Rio and impressions of the course. Esquire's David Granger is also in the mix, and the aerials are fun to watch as well:


They also provided this quick preview video of golf's (quick) Olympic history.

Best of all is this 360 degree tour of the property and course, which will, for those viewing this week, give a great sense of where the holes sit. Gil Hanse narrates.

And Quartz has put together these DigitalGlobe sequential aerial shots of multiple venues, including Olympic Park, beach volleyball and the golf course in all stages. Really fun stuff if you've been watching the Games.

Click on the link above to see the transformation in action, this is just the final overhead:

Video: Hanse Discusses Rio Olympic Course Finishing Holes

An exclusive to GeoffShackelford.com, architect Gil Hanse discussed with me about the finishing holes as we look at his renderings. Tomorrow he'll explain why you're going to see different colors of sand through the property and the look of the bunker style. (Thanks to Sean Gilroy for the crack editing work!)

As I have with all the previous flyovers, I encourage a look at Golf Digest's drone shots sponsored by Adobe. They really are a pleasure to watch, as narrated by Hanse.

The 16th hole flyover and Hanse's final rendering.

The 17th hole flyover and Hanse's final rendering.

The 18th hole flyover and Hanse's final rendering.

Video: Rio Olympic Golf Course 7th, 8th and 9th Holes

The closing three holes of the front nine return to the upper shelf of the property where the sandy influence is stronger. The long par-4 7th plays493/407 yards into the wind with a strong false front green.

Gil Hanse narrates the flyover for Golf Digest. Here is his final rendering.

The par-3 eighth (172/154) certainly exudes ties to the Redan and given the terrain it was set on, the fit was not forced. The rendering and the flyover:


The par-4 ninth hole brings a little blindness and weirdness to close out the front nine, playing 369 yards for the men and 324 yards for the women. The rendering.