Staples Golf Design Quarterly

Because I'm All About Value...

As most of us gear up for the first *actual* Major of the year, I’m excited to share some recent thoughts, happenings, and lessons learned.

Hey Friend,
Welcome to the latest installment of the Staples Golf Design Quarterly, v1.2019! As most of us gear up for the first *actual* Major of the year, I’m excited to share some recent thoughts, happenings, and lessons learned. I'll touch on why it's better to position a golf course as more than just a product, how returning to old school design impacts the future, and highlight some of the moves Staples Golf is making. Let's do this!The Experience Economy

Have you ever heard of the “Experience Economy”? As of a few months ago, I hadn’t either. Interestingly, I think this concept fits the golf biz perfectly. In summary, it describes the evolving perception of value, and how products and services (like golf courses and master planning) have become commoditized to the point where increasing value is a must for maintaining price points. In other words; our expectations for just about everything is going up, and if your product or service is not meeting increased expectations, you'll be forced to lower your price. The Experience Economy says creating experiences is the best way to fill this growing value gap, so it’s time for us to consider how we might create better experiences for our customers.

Golf really needs to pay attention to this concept. Golf courses particularly are now in a position to offer unique experiences as their value add. Take recent examples like visiting Sweetens Cove Golf Club in Tennessee, or the Winter Park Golf Course in Florida. You really get that great experience feel, and playing these courses stick with you. I like to think the old school architecture we did at Meadowbrook Country Club and Rockwind leaves you with this impression too. The takeaway should be the days of providing an average golf course experience are all but over. You can click here to watch this video for the full take on the Experience Economy.

Greens - The Art of Communicating Vision

Speaking of golf course experiences, golfer surveys always show it's the putting greens that drive customer satisfaction. I’ve always described golf design as a blending of art and science, but as you know, it’s the art that sells a design! The attached greens sketches are for San Vicente Golf Resort in California, of which we're set to break ground next month. I use my plans to communicate the vision to the golfers and owners during the design phase, which are then used by the shapers in the field.

I take great pride in not only communicating my designs well, but doing so in a way that showcases the art in what we do. With the rise of computer aided drafting in golf design over the past 20 years, hand drawings are becoming more and more rare, and it’s the part of the job I love to do the most. It's simply the purest aspect of golf design, and it's what connects us with the greats of early course architecture.

Understanding OFCC's History

It's hard for me to put in words how much I love seeing old photos of historic golf courses. I’ve learned one of the most important aspects of master planning for me, is in immersing myself into the history of my client’s courses, and there's no better way to do that than time-travel! As part of my upcoming work at Olympia Fields, I’ve already begun to understand the design intentions of the original architects through their realization from old photos. Much of this process involves reviewing these period photographs, which greatly helps in recognizing how courses have evolved over time, and how these changes have affected the playability of the course, now vs then.

Since I’ll be focusing on the South Course first (a Tom Bendelow design), here are a few classic images recently provided to me by the Club, and a few short notes on what I’m drawn to the most.

I love the original green shape, the shaping of the front left bunker, and the mounding around the putting green.

I really like the clusters of trees, and again, the shaping of the bunkers in this elevated shot of #18 green and part of 1# fairway. It’s also interesting to me how the short grass feels expansive, with many angles of approach.

Formerly the 8th hole, the current 6th hole on the South Course was described as the “pride of Olympia Fields,” which we are looking very closely at restoring to its former glory.Project Updates

Aside from San Vicente mentioned above, other projects currently underway include finishing up our renovation work at the University Club of Milwaukee (also a Tom Bendelow design). We’re ready for a spring start-up, as we prepare to complete the finishing touches to the new practice facility, soon to be the home for Marquette’s Men’s Golf Team. Bendelow put quite a resume together in his time, and nailing the nuances of his best work is our aim as it relates to today's game, and into the future.

A recent picture of a new "Bendelow" bunker on the 16th hole.

We’re also chomping at the bit to get underway at FireRock Country Club in Fountain Hills, AZ, on our bunker redesign project. The new bunkers will be dramatic and more natural in look and feel, and will improve the course's long term sustainability, as well as playability for the members. Our aim at FRCC is to fit the course features more seamlessly into the desert canyon environment which will further underscore the beauty of this property.

Andrew lining up his "power fade" (horrible slice) on #5 during a recent research visit to FireRock. One Last Thing...

We got our own drone, finally! We’re pretty exciting to be adding the ability to do much more drone work, which will result in not only more dramatic content, but also opens the door for us to do mapping inhouse. Showcasing our projects before, during, and after completion, has been something I’ve been wanting to do a better job of, so keep an eye out for some cool footage from us very soon!

Thanks for reading! I’m excited for what’s I store in 2019, and look forward to continuing to keep you updated! Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this quarterly, or what you'd like to see from us in the future. See you in June for Vol. II!

All the best,

Andy Staples, ASGCA

Andy Staples

Andy Staples, ASCGA member and principal of Staples Golf Design, was brought to golf at the age of seven by his dad, having learned the game at West Bend Country Club, in West Bend, WI, a turn of the century course designed by Langford & Moreau.

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