Staples Golf Design Quarterly

It's All About the Art!

From concept drawings to design communication to 3D rendering, great golf design is an art at all stages of the process! This edition of the SGDQ highlights some of the most recent art coming out of our office, as well as our thoughts on how it will continue evolve with the future of the industry.

Dear Staples Golf Fan,

Greetings!!  A new year’s resolution of mine was to get back to writing.  Even though this is a bit late, I’m on it!  This year has been off to a great start, and I find myself focused on the things I love best about our line of work.

As I got to brainstorming this newsletter, it got me thinking… what is the one thing I enjoy more than anything… what’s the most important aspect of my work…?  I immediately came to this – producing the “art!”  Not only do I love to design and draw, but I also find that proper communication is incredibly important to ensure we build exactly what we want.

So, I thought I’d use this issue to dial in and share my perspective on communicating through drawing, and computer renderings, with a specific focus on greens design – let’s goooo!!!

The Art in Design

It won’t come as a surprise to most of you, but I’m still a firm believer in the power of good ol’ pen and paper… or at the very least the power of sketching (funny how I’m now more attached to my iPad than I ever felt possible!).  It’s the way I communicate the details of Classic greens design, and it’s still as relevant today as ever.  Here are a few of my most recent works:

Top left to bottom right: Garden City CC #12, Olympia Fields - South #8 and #1, Terrace Park CC #7

These types of sketches are the simplest and most effective way to quickly communicate the design intent, both on a technical and artistic level. This communication is valuable at all stages of my design process – it helps me as I work to explain my own inspirations, it allows the Owner to understand these details, and it is the key way I communicate to our design shapers how to get the design built to our collective vision.

The Art in Construction

It’s interesting to me that, over the years, fewer and fewer of the specialists in our industry are interested in – or even capable of – interpreting a grading plan with contour lines.  Instead, with the growing design-build movement, I find many of the best operators are those that truly understand the art of Classic design and can make the necessary adjustments as they see it in the field.

Construction field notes for Hole #5 at Olympia Fields - South

I personally try to be on site as much as possible – as my frequent flier programs can attest!  However, since many jobs don’t stop moving forward when we’re not there, there are always going to be design adjustments made on the fly, in real time, to adjust to the actual conditions of the site.

What is most important – and what a good sketch plan can best communicate when needed – are the shapes, slopes, and strategies of the proposed concepts based on the conditions of time, place, and circumstance.

The Art of the Future??

As firm as I hold to this philosophy, I do still find myself wondering – will this change moving forward?  We’re hitting another era where design technology has been rapidly advancing – the work completed on the Lido in Wisconsin is testament to that!

I’ve been more and more fascinated with the capabilities of these technologies, and find myself using them more and more in my own work, most recently with communicating my Master Plan for Arizona Country Club.

Click the image above to view our video renderings for Arizona CC - produced in PGA 2K23!

We’re fast approaching a time where it will be possible to completely design courses in 3D modeling systems and have the equipment (perhaps even unmanned (ouch!?!?)) complete all the rough grading by simply uploading the plan data digitally.  We’ll be able to see our designs in near reality before they are even built, which I have already used to great advantage to make adjustments to my design plans.

So with all of that, a big final question here: Could A.I. replace the human factor to create the same or even better art?  Not in my lifetime!  In fact, I see all of this new tech as just another opportunity to stay in front of the trends, while still relying on the pen and paper sketch to convey how the design will be digitally rendered.

Look familiar? Even with 3D models, sketching is just as important for guiding the art!

Additional News

To wrap up, here are a few more highlights from the start of this year:

  • Meadowbrook CC is in the final stages of their new, reimagined practice facility. A double-ended range, shortgame area shaped to resemble the greens on the     course, a flat practice green, and bunker practice should be ready to roll early this summer!  
  • Mill Valley – a long-running client of mine in Northern California – just wrapped up construction of an awesome new putting course, along with an adjacent     expanded patio.  Huge improvements for an already great social atmosphere!
  • Terrace Park CC in Cincinnati has finished construction on another hole from our Walter Travis inspired Master Plan – this time the par 3 hole #7.  Should be an exciting new addition!
  • Timber Creek in Sacramento is in the process of upgrading their range, shortgame area, and putting green, with the intention of providing a glimpse of future work to come on their course.
  • Add two more clients to the board – Mira Vista CC in Fort Worth and Arcola CC in New Jersey! Will certainly have some exciting updates for both here this year!
  • Attended the Mastersand the RBC Heritage this year, with new friends in our industry. Thanks Tom!

A note of thanks for the continued interest in my work, and the writings that come with this newsletter.  The coming months (and perhaps years) are setting up to be some of the most impactful, lasting, and interesting projects of my career.  I look forward to sharing these experiences with you all!

Until next time!

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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