Ian Andrew Golf Design
"He believes in himself, and a fun rather than frantic and
overdone style of golf that the game sorely needs."
Globe and Mail
My Design Philosophy
I believe that it is not the architect’s role to make the game
difficult. Rather, it is the role of the designer to make the game
interesting. My vision is to craft unique, distinctive and thought-provoking creations
that are fun to play. Each design will leave the golfer compelled to head
back to the first tee to try a different route or an alternative approach in
order to determine the best way to play our designs.
Playability and Difficulty
I believe playability and difficulty can co-exist on a golf
course. Though many ignore one in favor of the other, there are ways to make
a course enjoyable for the majority of players who participate in casual
golf, as well as those that maintain low handicaps.
Though it is sometimes lost in translation, the game of golf is
supposed to be fun. Rolls, rumples, ridges and slopes can add a huge amount
of interest to a course. The joy of the game is trying to figure out how to
play over, along or around these natural features.
Value of Short Par Fours
The short par four is the most enjoyable and interesting hole in
golf. For the average player, this represents the opportunity to make a par;
and for the better player a chance to make a birdie or better. When the hole
is well thought out it should offer the greatest opportunity and a huge risk
all in the same package.
Minimalism was a term coined to describe what a handful of current architects were doing that distinguished them from their peers. In reality it was a return to the techniques used by Golden Age designers such as Stanley Thompson, A.W. Tillinghast, and Alister MacKenzie. Minimalism is about making the choice to move as little or even no earth during the construction of a golf course. This approach leads to developing golf courses that are in complete harmony with their natural surroundings.
I have learned through studying the Golden Age architects that restraint is often more important than one's ability to direct earthmoving equipment. We recognize that modern architecture has the ability to shape nature, but suffers from the inability to avoid repetition. Nature, on the other hand, does not repeat itself and offers the architect an unlimited number of unique possibilities on each property. It is up to us to go out and find those natural holes through repeated walks over the site until we find the best routing. The greatest holes in golf were found rather than created.
Throw away the Standards
Standards are useful as guidelines, but strict adherence to standards does not make a great golf course. It is only the careful utilization of natural features and existing terrain that makes for a memorable golf experience.
The Golden Age architects often found themselves with difficult terrain and no ability to move enough earth to overcome a challenging natural feature. They didn't turn to standards and earth moving to remove these features. Instead they accepted the challenge to find the most interesting holes on the property. They found a creative use of a natural feature in order to make a grand new hole that required additional thought and skill on the part of golfers. Occasionally these holes were criticized on first playing, but over time many of these holes have become the model of greatness.
Greatness has never come from a formula, but out of an innovative solution to a problem, be it in a routing or dealing with a difficult feature on site. Today’s new courses tend to be based on achieving at least 7,000 yards and a par 72, regardless of the available terrain. Often, great natural character has been sacrificed to achieve a “standard” golf course. I believe to get the best course that nature alone should decide the length and par of the course.
Since diversity is one of nature's strengths and the diversity of all the different golf courses across the world is golf's strength. When you think about it, other games are played across a standardized playing field. So why wouldn't we avoid standardization at all costs?”
Greens are the key to golf design since awe-inspiring green contours alone can produce a great hole. Green contours and pin positions have more influence on which side of a fairway an approach must be played than the placement and arrangement of hazards. With very intricate greens you may need to play to opposite sides of the fairway on back to back days just to access particular pin locations.
In a day and age where many of the modern designers continue to
push courses back looking to defend par only through excessive length, they
seem to have completely overlooked that green contour is the greatest equalizer
in the game. A more complicated green surface requires a player be more
careful about position off the tee in order to access key pin positions.
The reason that many golfers admire the Golden Age courses over their more modern equivalents is the attention that has been spent in the details of construction. The architects of the past spent far more personal time on site time carefully considering every small detail so that no potential solution was ever overlooked. In the Golden Age each feature was built by hand which meant the level of detailing was far greater than it is today. I am committed to delivering this same level of craftsmanship because we believe this is the difference between a good course and one that is truly sublime.
In our nearly two decades in the business, we have been widely praised for our restoration efforts on many courses designed during the Golden Age. In order deliver the level of detailing, we experimented with alternate methods, including old-fashioned hand work to rediscover the techniques to build accurate bunkers and mounds. While our experiments were made to achieve an accurate restoration, they led our realization of the importance of more “handmade” features for new projects. We came to the conclusion that "handmade" features are what separate the highly praised Golden Age architects from the blandness so prevalent in modern architecture.
I understand that overseeing details – including picking up a shovel or getting on a tractor – can take a good green or bunker and turn it into a work of art. Excellence is in the details.
Environmental Approach to Design
I believe that we have an obligation to build courses that are
environmentally responsible. I believe in building courses now that
anticipate the changes in legislation that will affect the way we maintain
and build our courses in the future. I know through my experiences that we
can design courses that remain interesting and playable while reducing our
impact on the natural ecosystems.
Ian Andrew Golf Design Inc. 47 Dufferin Avenue, Brantford, Ontario, N3T 4P6 (519)-752-8456