New Course: The ‘re-gen’ of Peninsula Kingswood :: Golf Australian Magazine

The biggest course redevelopment in Australian golfing history is set to propel Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club’s North and South Courses onto the world stage. Six years in the making, Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club finally got a chance to celebrate with its official opening.

“Peninsula Kingswood is a gift to the game of golf – a great test that sits comfortably alongside Melbourne’s other Sandbelt gems like Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who marked the occasion with a ceremonial drive.

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Bunkers 101 :: Golf Australia Magazine

Believe it or not, bunkers are not scattered across a golf course simply to make your life a misery. The great designers used them to improve the strategy of their creations, but, as Mike Clayton points out here, not all bunkering is good and often it can be misplaced to make a hole more difficult.

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New project in China

OCCM are again travelling to China for final discussions on a major course renovation project in Beijing, which is expected to commence in 2018. This will be OCCM’s second project in China, having recently completed the renovation of the Yangtze Dunes course at Lanhai International Country Club. More details to follow, with a formal announcement expected within the next few weeks.

Chinese course reopens following renovation :: Golf Course Industry

Yangtze Dunes, the newly renovated links course at 36-hole Lanhai International Country Club, reopened to member play on June 23, following a far-reaching, 12-month renovation directed by Melbourne, Australia-based Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM).

The renovated 18 reopened as a walking-only course, a rare renovation decision (exceedingly rare in Asia) that necessitated the removal of some 8 km of concrete cart paths.

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Melbourne icons secure Aussie Open :: Golf Australia

Two of Australia’s most famous tournament venues have won the rights to host the 2020 and 2022 editions of the Australian Open. A strong field of contenders from Melbourne’s famous Sandbelt put their credentials to Golf Australia to fill the “release years” from the current eight-year contract with Sydney.

Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt was grateful to all clubs for their enthusiasm in the bidding process, but was delighted to announce that Kingston Heath Golf Club would play host in 2020 and then Victoria Golf Club in 2022.

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OCCM completes renovation of Links course at Lanhai International :: Golf Course Architecture

Australian design firm Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM) has completed an extensive 12-month renovation of the Links course at the 36-hole Lanhai International CC in Shanghai, China. Located on the southern shores of Chongming, an island in the Yangtze River delta, Lanhai International was purchased by Ping An Group, the huge Chinese insurance firm, in 2016.

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June Unveiling for OCCM Reno at Lanhai :: Golf Industry Central

Thirty-six-hole Lanhai International Country Club will reopen its Links Course this June following a sweeping, 12-month renovation directed by Melbourne, Australia-based Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM).
Founded in 2009 here on Chongming, an island in the Yangtze River delta, Lanhai International CC has quickly taken its place among the top clubs in Asia, on the strength of those 36 holes, its elegant Tuscan-style clubhouse, and a distinguished membership drawn from nearby Shanghai. The club’s profile and ambitions were raised considerably following its 2016 purchase by the Ping An Group, one of the world’s largest insurance conglomerates.

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Six reworked holes open for preview play at Peninsula Kingswood :: Golf Course Architecture

A project to enhance the North and South courses at Peninsula Kingswood Golf Club’s Frankston site is progressing well.

The courses, which lie on the edge of the Australian sandbelt, are being redesigned by the team at Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead (OCCM).

Six holes on the North course – holes ten to fifteen – have recently had a ‘soft opening’, allowing members to get their first glimpse of the new holes on the northern side of the property. Work on the South course started in March 2015, with that course now having been open for play for the past year.

Continue reading at…http://www.golfcoursearchitecture.net/content/six-reworked-holes-open-for-preview-play-at-peninsula-kingswood

Course Design and Artistic Talent

FROM GRAYLYNLOOMIS.COM

I was introduced to the work of OCCM Golf on my trip this past fall to Melbourne, Australia. The Australian golf course design firm is made up of Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Clayton, Mike Cocking, and Ashley Mead, and on that trip, I was able to play Victoria Golf Club with a group of friends that included Michael Clayton. One thing led to another, and I began following Mike Cocking on social media, where I began to notice his sketches and beautiful watercolor paintings of golf courses.

I shot Mike a quick email asking if he’d be up for an interview on the site, and the resulting article has made for one of my favorites in the Golf Art Section! I love that Mike was happy to share everything from his sketches to even a few hole outlines that he marked in dirt. OCCM is already very well known in Australia, but watch for them in the US. They were recentlyfeatured in LINKS Magazine for their first US design work in Texas. Count my words, you’ll be seeing much more of OCCM, Mike, and his partners in the future. Until then, enjoy the interview!

You are first and foremost a golf course architect, but you are also a talented artist. How do those two things affect or spill into one another?

Having a good eye is an advantage when it comes to the visual side of golf course design, just as it is when doing a drawing or painting. Knowing if something looks too busy, unbalanced or out of scale can be just as useful out on site as it is at the drawing table.

When able, your firm builds the courses that you guys design. Do you view the shaping of a golf course as an artistic process?

Absolutely. When it comes to the more sculptural elements such as building bunkers, greens or even tees for that matter, it’s an artistic process that’s hard to put into a plan or explain to others. So we prefer to limit the design work to a concept rather than detailing every hump or hollow, and then spend more time in the field refining the ideas as they evolve and come out of the ground.

We approach construction this way for a few reasons. Firstly, no-one is good enough to be able to tell exactly what a highly detailed drawing will look like on the ground. You might have a rough idea but invariably it will need adjustments to make it fit the landscape and to ensure it plays and looks as you hoped it would. So in my mind it’s a waste of the clients money and time doing an excessive amount of detail if at the end of the day you are going to be there making adjustments anyway. This approach isn’t unique by any stretch but it still amazes me how many projects go the other way, where the designer makes very few visits and relies on the plans being perfect and the GPS or site foreman having the skills to interpret exactly what they were thinking when detailing the work at the computer screen or drafting table.

The design-construct process is fluid and so you need to be able to make changes and respond to them in the field. Sometimes you can sketch a concept, sure that it is the very best design for the hole you’ve ever imagined. But then you start moving dirt and, oh, that bunker looks a bit big. Maybe it should be split in two. Or maybe the green should bump left or be raised at the back a little? And then there are the practical elements to work through….access, wear, drainage and so on.

Then occasionally you might also need to call a halt to shaping because something starts to look really good that you hadn’t expected. Perhaps its not what you’d originally set out to achieve but it creates a fork in the road moment – scrap it and continue as planned or take advantage of it and go off in a slightly different direction? It can often work out better but if you’re not there it becomes an opportunity missed.

Tell us about the collaborative elements of OCCM and the joys and frustrations of working with three other architects.

I think it all comes down to personalities. If you had 4 big personalities each wanting to push their own agenda it would be a nightmare. But we know each other well, we each have some different strengths and backgrounds which I think everyone respects and we also have different roles when it comes to the design and build process so its not like we’re in each others pockets 24-7.

Typically all four of us will get involved in the early stages of planning and pitching for a new project. It’s during this phase where the process is at its most collaborative – throwing various ideas at one another and seeing what everyone else thinks.

Then as we go forward and get into more design development and construction one of us will lead the project – typically myself or Ashley. At the end of the day someone needs to make the call on the ground and its also best if the client is just hearing the one voice. It gets way too messy if the client is hearing from 4 different people.

Of course every project is different, as is the collaborative process. Sometimes the lead architect will do the bulk of the design work, other times it might be a couple of us working closely together, but we always try and visit each others projects even when not heavily involved.

In terms of frustrations? Well, occasionally you lose an argument when you really felt it was a good idea but it’s rare. A) because if you can put a strong enough case forward the others will tend to agree and B) because we all think similarly you generally know what everyone will think before putting the idea forward. Typically though our approach has more positives than negatives. Collectively we have a lot of experience with each of us having their own unique strengths so I’d like to think the collaborative approach means the chances of a ‘miss’ are reduced. Which in this business means a lot….

How often do you use your artistic skills for hole sketches, routings, or plans before the construction process begins?

It really depends on the project. As much as we’d love to have hand drawn concepts for everything we’re working on (none of us are exactly fans of CAD style plans) its not always practical and unfortunately I just don’t have the time. Also given the nature of concepts or routings changing through the design process it gets a little tricky – there’s no such things as an eraser if you’ve painted in watercolours!

If we’re pitching for a job I’ll sometimes do a drawing as it is a point of difference over our competitors and it better captures the feel of our courses than any computer plan can. Years ago when I started in design I would do a bit more drawing of concepts and so often these would form part of what we would put on display for the members to look at. These days we also do a few photo simulations for clients which are really effective… sometimes too effective as people tend to take them more literally than say a sketch which has a little more room to move.

If a concept changes drastically through construction the club will often want to update the members or committee so occasionally I’ll draw the revised hole. Its quicker and again I think we prefer the style over the clinical style that a computer tends to produce.

In terms of in the field……it just depends on the project and the hole in question.

At Healesville I went overboard. It was my first project that I was the lead designer on. I was 26 or 27 and filled a book with ideas for bunker shapes, greens designs and the like and was paranoid about trying to create as much variety as possible so I would tend to draw the ideas in the book. Also many members of the crew we used had never worked on a golf course before so I used every means possible to try and convey my ideas.

These days as we build our own work and have guys with the experience of Jason (McCarthy) the need for sketching is probably less and less. I still keep a sketch book with me, just to note down ideas, but more often than not it might be as simple as a little sketch in the dirt (e.g. 12th PK) or perhaps a little 3D sand model as we did on a few holes in Perth at Yanchep. These are perhaps the best method of all as you can draw the shape of the hole or green but then work in 3 dimensions to show contour.

Sometimes though if the ground isn’t obviously showing one thing or another and I have an idea in my head that I’m trying to explain I might do a sketch – not for the client but just for us to talk through. It doesn’t need to be a work of art – just accurate and to scale like the example taken from earlier this week at Peninsula Kingswood (16th North).


I thoroughly enjoyed gaining insight into Mike’s design process and the unique collaborative work style at OCCM Golf. Mike Cocking was extremely generous with his time compiling these images and answering all of my questions. He actually sent more of his work than I was able to put in the post! I highly suggest you look through his taste of the yardage book for Royal Queensland Golf Club and his sample of the Cape Wickham yardage book as well.

Thank you to Mike and best of luck to everyone at OCCM!

Sharpening Up

FROM AUSTRALIAGOLFDIGEST.COM.AU

To “keep the rabbits out” has become an iconic phrase after Telstra coined the popular expression in a 2006 Bigpond television commercial. Australians instantly warmed to the hilarious faux explanation for why the Great Wall of China was constructed.

But keeping the rabbits out is among a host of changes Curlewis Golf Club has implemented since being taken over by new owners David and Lyndsay Sharp.

This classic Vern Morcom design – set in the heart of Victoria’s beautiful Bellarine Peninsula – has engaged the Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead design firm to “make the course more enjoyable; not harder or easier”.

On a layout bearing resemblance to courses on the Melbourne sandbelt, it was agreed trees at Curlewis had outgrown Morcom’s 1970 design. Four holes now feature new and/or altered trees, and plantation removal has occurred on 10 holes.

The installation of a rabbit-proof fence surrounding the course has made  improvements to the Santa Ana couch turf base easier, and irrigation updates on five holes will enhance the conditioning.

Golfers will be pleased to know the 12th fairway is now wider, and superfluous bunkers have been eliminated on two holes.

Bespoke course furniture now complements a new-look Curlewis in the form of new tee markers, seats, ball washers, bubblers, divot sand storage bins and sand bucket storages.

Away from the links, the new Spikes Bar opened in November, and lunch and snacks are available for hungry golfers seven days a week. Top Bistro dining from Thursday to Saturday nights has also been a big hit.

After your round, it’s worth trying the other passion project of  the Sharps – wine. 

An afternoon visit to either of their Jack Rabbit and Leura Park cellar doors –  both minutes from the golf club – makes for a special day on the Bellarine.

THE DETAILS

Curlewis Golf Club
1345 Portarlington Rd, Curlewis VIC 3222
Phone: (03) 5251 2534
curlewisgolf.com.au

The Royal Treatment – Golf Australia Magazine Feature

FROM GOLFAUSTRALIA.COM.AU

Royal Canberra has undergone major changes during the past two years and the new layout has now been revealed. Mike Cocking from the design firm Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Mead reveals some of the key changes and why they needed to be made.

 

“Powerful forces railed against me….because….there was a golf course! And all the heads of all the departments belonged to it. And they took a fine pride in making the then Prime Minister the President of the Club! And I fought an uphill battle for a long time”.

 

So recalled the then Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies at the inauguration of Lake Burley Griffin in 1964. A long-time supporter of American architect Griffin’s vision for the centre of Canberra, he felt the city would never be complete without it. ”You can’t have a great city unless you have water in it!” he went on to say.

 

There was of course a golf course in the way – it was Royal Canberra and the original site is now somewhere under 33 million cubic metres of water. Coincidentally on the 50th anniversary of this very speech, Ogilvy Clayton Cocking and Mead (OCCM) began construction to redesign the course.

 

Royal Canberra’s new 14th hole has brought the lake well into play. PHOTO: Supplied.

With the impending flooding of the Molonglo River, the city granted the club compensation in the form of some land higher up the hill – home of the National Arboretum, where trees from around the world had been planted to assess their performance in the Canberra climate and soil.

 

 

Mike Cocking’s drawing of the new 14th hole design shows the greater width of the fairway and the playing lines from new tees.   

 

 

It would prove to be a wonderful decision and Commander John Harris was commissioned to design the layout. The undulations on the new site were excellent for golf and the trees would provide a unique backdrop, making one of the prettiest settings for a golf course in the country.

Fast-forward to 2010 and we (OCCM) were fortunate enough to be awarded the role as the club’s architects with the aim of essentially giving the course a face-lift. It was still a very pretty place to play but there were some fundamental issues that needed to be addressed. Plus, after once being ranked inside the top-10 in the country Royal Canberra had slipped to outside the top-100.

 

One of the great assets of the course – the trees – hadn’t been well managed and now encroached on every hole, drastically narrowing the fairways and affecting
turf quality.

 

It was a logical time to consider which direction the club should head in. In no way did we want to change the feel of the course – it still wanted to be a parkland, tree-lined type of layout – but we saw there was so much more potential.

 

Watching members play the course it was amazing to see just how much golf was played out of the rough. On such a big property there was very little short grass – rough surrounded every green and bunker and the fairways were only 20 to 25 metres wide.

 

There were some agronomic issues too, driving the need to reconstruct the greens and tees, many of which were still originals from the 1950’s. And the bunkers, which are notoriously difficult to build in clay – especially 50 years ago – were badly in need of attention.

 

It was a logical time to consider which direction the club should head in. In no way did we want to change the feel of the course – it still wanted to be a parkland, tree-lined type of layout – but we saw there was so much more potential.

 

Australians have often compared Royal Canberra to Augusta. It was lush, tree-lined and undulating like Augusta, and I guess felt more like an American golf course than an Australian one. But that’s where the similarities ended.

 

Royal Canberra’s new 10th hole. PHOTO: Supplied.

Augusta, by contrast, is an incredibly wide golf course – wider even than Royal Melbourne – with short grass extending from tree line to tree line and surrounding every green. Combined with width it has an amazing set of greens that demand you position your ball perfectly back in the fairway. Sometimes this will be laying up to find some level ground, other times it’s hugging one side of the fairway or the other, to improve the angle into the flag or to gain a slightly better view to the green. With width the player has the freedom to choose their own line – for good or ill.

 

By no means was this the case at Royal Canberra and whilst we weren’t trying to copy Augusta, the timeless principles of strategic design which Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie championed certainly were at the forefront of our minds.

 

Fairways were widened as much as we could – in light of the fact that much of the vegetation had to be preserved. The bunkers were all rebuilt with a bit more shape and artistic flair, and a relatively new drainage system (Kustombind) was added to help preserve their appearance no matter how much it rained.

 

In building the new greens we wanted to return the ground to its natural contours so they would fit better into the landscape. This meant removing many of the mounds and hollows that surrounded most of the green sites.

 

Putting surfaces now have predominantly long tilted surfaces, a little like the sandbelt in Melbourne, and the combination of slope and bunkers pinching into the putting surface sets up the strategy back on the tee. Sometimes you will need to hug the right side, other times the left. Rarely will the best line be from the middle of the fairway.

 

Around the green we introduced more short grass – so missed shots may funnel away from the target a lot further and increase the variety of recovery shots to be played. No longer is the only shot a lob wedge from the rough.

 

The final piece of the puzzle was re-grassing the course. A blend of grasses more akin to American golf was chosen by the club to suit the difficult Canberra climate – bentgrass on the tees, greens and fairways and rye grass in the roughs. As it turns out, the effect is a course that looks more like Augusta than ever before!

 

Of all the changes made to the course, without doubt the talking point will be the holes around the edge of the lake, in particular, the long par-4 14th – a cape style hole played across the edge of the lake.

 

The concept was inspired by Commander Harris’ original sketch of the course, which sadly never got built but you could always get a sense of its potential. Rather ironically the cause for the relocation of the course back in the 1950’s (the lake) would become one of its greatest assets, helping make the 14th one of the most dramatic and photogenic holes in the country.

 

The final walk towards the clubhouse… Royal Canberra’s par-5 18th. PHOTO: Supplied.

Looking back I wonder what the mood of the membership was back at the inauguration speech, having been forced to move from the original home?

 

Excitement? Concern? No doubt it was similar to what many of the current members felt when they first heard the course was to be renovated. I can’t speak for those members who were part of the relocation from the valley, but with this redesign now complete and feedback trickling through, some of the most satisfying compliments have been that “it still feels like Royal Canberra.”

 

Now as far as I’m aware, Sir Robert was not a golfer, but we should be thankful for his doggedness in helping realise Griffin’s centerpiece for Canberra, and for inadvertently helping to create one of the greatest inland courses in Australia.

 

OCCM completes work on back nine holes at Royal Canberra GC

By Sean Dudley

The back nine holes at the Royal Canberra Golf Club have reopened for play following a renovation project led by Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead (OCCM) golf course architects.

 

Royal Canberra Golf Club is more than a century old and moved to its current site in the 1920s. The course was designed by John Harris, and has since been worked on by a number of architects, including Peter Thomson and Michael Wolveridge in the 1980s, who added an additional nine holes.

 

The firm has worked with the club in Canberra, Australia, since 2010, with the recent work focusing on holes 10-18. Royal Canberra is home to 27 holes of golf, and OCCM will be shifting its focus on the final nine holes in the near future.

 

OCCM architect Mike Cocking has been pleased with the work thus far as he and his team look to bring one of Australia’s most reputable courses back up to scratch.

 

“Growing up it always had the reputation of being a very good course,” said Cocking. “In the 1980s it was ranked in the top ten in the country and during my playing days the ACT Amateur was a big event and so it received a fair bit of attention from that too. For a country where most of our best courses are within a few kilometres of the ocean, it became known as one of our better inland courses.”

 

When OCCM was first brought in to work on the course, Cocking explained that the course had become very narrow, with trees encroaching on play and having an effect on the turf quality.

 

“One of the things we noticed watching the golfers play the course was how many shots were played from the rough,” he said. “On such a big property, there was very little fairway length grass – essentially none around the greens and the fairways were perhaps only 20 or 25 metres wide. The bunkers were badly in need of attention and there were some agronomic issues which drove the need to reconstruct the greens and tees. So it was a logical time to consider which direction the club should head in. In no way did we want to change the feel of the course – it still wanted to be a parkland, tree lined type of layout – but it could be significantly better.”

 

With regards to the back nine, Cocking described these holes as lying on some of the best land on the property. The project team has removed vegetation in selected areas and opened up large expanses of grass to link certain tees and greens.

 

“The undulations are more dramatic, with many holes playing across long valleys from tee to green, but for me the most exciting part was the ground around the lake,” he said. “I also really like how the creek has turned out on the 15th. The valley which ran across the 14th, 15th and 16th holes typically got wet in winter and rather than fighting the contours, it seemed more appropriate to work with the heavy ground, so we converted this valley into a creek. It looks great but more importantly it adds a lot of interest to the second shot on what is a very reachable par five.”

 

Cocking says that some club members were apprehensive at first about any tree removal, but reported that these areas have been among their favourite changes.

 

The fairways were widened as far as possible by Cocking and his team, in light of the fact a lot of the vegetation had to be preserved. The bunkers were all rebuilt in an artistic style, replacing the simple shapes with sands similar to those used at Augusta.

 

“When building the new greens, we tried to return the ground to its natural contours so they would fit into the landscape a little better,” said Cocking. “This meant removing many of the mounds and hollows that surrounded most of the green sites. Putting surfaces now have predominantly long tilted surfaces, as opposed to tiers. The combination of slope and bunkers pinching into the putting surface sets up the strategy back on the tee. Sometimes you will need to hug the right side, other times the left. Rarely will the best line be from the middle of the fairway. Around the green there is also a lot of short grass – so missed shots may funnel away from the target a little further and the variety of recovery shots has been increased. No longer is the only shot a lob wedge from rough.”

 

OCCM has been tasked with creating three ‘fairly indistinguishable nines’ at Royal Canberra, and Cocking is hopeful that work on the final nine holes will commence within the next two years.

 

“Hopefully the rankings will reflect the comments by the members and some of the early reviews,” said Cocking. “We’d love to see the course return to the top 20 and legitimately be viewed as one of the best inland course in the country once again.”

Spring Valley

For many years we have consulted to Vern Marcom’s wonderful but too often under-rated sand belt gem – Spring Valley, which was recently reviewed in Golf Australia Magazine. Some alterations have been quite extensive but more often than not the work has involved repositioning a tee or perhaps subtly reworking a bunker or tee carry.

As with all our construction on the sand-belt we try hard to give the impression the new work have been there for a long time. Changes at the 5th were completed 12 months ago and show how even a small change such as widening a tee and making some changes to the carry can make a significant difference from the tee.

:: Mike Cocking

Before

After

OCCM Courses in the Top 100

The two main biennial course ranking lists in Australia have now been released for 2016, with courses that OCCM has provided architectural services to featuring prominently. In the Golf Australia Magazine list, eight courses redesigned by members of the OCCM team feature within the top 50 including Lake Karrinyup #14 (#15 in Golf Digest), The Lakes #15 (#16 in Golf Digest), Peninsula Kingswood North #20 (#40 in Golf Digest), Royal Queensland #25 (#24 in Golf Digest), The Grange – West #28 (#44 in Golf Digest), Bonnie Doon #38 (#55 in Golf Digest), Spring Valley #43 (#53 in Golf Digest) and Healesville #50 (#82 in Golf Digest). Peninsula Kingswood South and Royal Canberra are currently under construction and were therefore not considered. It will be interesting to see how far these two courses can climb in the 2018 rankings.

 

An honorable mention goes to Sun City Country Club in Perth, which has entered Golf Australia Magazine’s top 100 list for the first time at #84 following the redesign of nine holes. With more work to come over the coming years, we look forward to Sun City moving further up the rankings in future editions.

 

OCCM also provide ongoing consultative and restorative work at a number of Sandbelt clubs to help maintain the strategic intent of the original architects while making enhancements where necessary. Given the number of new courses that have entered the top 20 in recent years, the work done at these clubs has been vital to their continued recognition among the top echelon of courses in the country. Of these clubs, Kingston Heath came in at #3 (#2 in Golf Digest), Victoria #11 (#8 in Golf Digest) and Commonwealth #19 (#22 in Golf Digest).

 

Meanwhile Barnbougle Dunes and St Andrew’s Beach, both collaborations between Michael Clayton and Tom Doak, finished at #2 (#5 in Golf Digest) and #13 (#20 in Golf Digest) respectively.

 

 

 

 

The Evolution of a Golf Hole

LIKE most living things, golf courses change over time.  Sometimes this can be slow. Trees grow, bunkers erode, even putting green levels can change with constant top dressing and bunker play, adding as much as 30cm over time. Some changes occur much faster.

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Ogilvy Open About British Ambition

As seen on theage.com.au

Martin Blake

Sports writer for The Age

Geoff Ogilvy heads to Royal Lytham and St Anne’s Golf Club in England next week fresh from a break at home in Melbourne, and determined to find the solution to his poor British Open Championship record.

Australia’s most recent major championship winner — he triumphed in the US Open in 2006 — has played nine British Opens, missing the cut seven times, with a fifth at St Andrews in 2005 being his best finish.

For a player of his quality and experience it is a puzzling record, and one he cannot explain.

“It’s weird to me, because I played a lot of amateur golf around links courses and played really well,” he said yesterday.

“I feel like I should play well on links courses. Maybe it’s no excuses, time to go do it, I suppose.”

Ogilvy, 35, has had an unusually-long four-week break from tournament golf, spending time in Melbourne and watching his beloved St Kilda. He says he began the season in America stale from a demanding Christmas period in which he played the Presidents Cup plus the domestic tournaments.

It is the reason he has taken a break now as the tour lurches into the Open at Lytham, the PGA Championship and the PGA Tour playoffs in September.

“The game’s in place and I’m pretty enthusiastic about the game and pretty fired up but I think sometimes when you take a few weeks off you can gain that extra level of whatever that thing is in your head when you’re playing well, that relaxed confidence.”

Ogilvy said he anticipates Tiger Woods will win more major championships, although his fade-out at the US Open was a warning sign that he is “more unpredictable” than previously.

“He looks very impressive. He looks like Tiger Woods,” said the Victorian.

“Before when he got in that (US Open) mood and on top of the leaderboard at a major, 14 times he got on top of the leaderboard in a major and was never passed. I don’t know if he’s in that place any more but, wow, he’s very close to the best player in the world at the moment, and the best player in the he world who’s already won 14 majors.

“I don’t think it’ll be too suprising if he won one this year or if he started winning them this year or next. He’s got his ducks in a row now.”

The British Open starts Thursday.

Masters Officials Don’t Overlook Anything With Course Setup

From Golf Digest
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
April 2, 2012

Every time I go back to Augusta National for another Masters–this year will be my seventh–I’m struck by how much those in charge know about how to best present the course. The completeness of the club’s approach is quite amazing, both in terms of conditioning and setup.

The various club committees have plenty of experience, of course. They’ve studied the best players in the world competing there for 78 years now. Nothing is new to them. They have it pretty much figured out, and occasionally offer a few surprises.

Some things don’t change though, or at least they haven’t in my admittedly limited experience. It is well known, for example, that the grass on the fairways is cut back toward the tees. Almost every blade of grass on the course is cut against the direction of the shot. The club says it is purely an aesthetic thing, and that is hard to argue with. The fairways do look better without the stripe effect you see so often at other courses. No matter where you are at Augusta National, the grass is the same uniform shade of green.

Still, there’s more to it than mere appearances. Mowing the grass like that makes the course play longer because the ball doesn’t run as far as it might otherwise. When you look at footage from the Masters of maybe 20 years ago, you see balls bounding down fairways. The players got a lot of run out of their shots back then, far more than we do today. But that’s not all bad. Today’s slower turf does have the effect of making the landing areas play “wider.”

Actually, that slowness plays a much more significant role in the short game, especially chipping. Because the grass is always running against you, the fringes are much more passive than the putting surfaces. I’ll bet the speed differential between fringe and green at Augusta National is bigger than anywhere else in golf. All of which makes judging exactly where to land the ball unbelievably tricky. It’s why so many guys struggle from just off the greens at the Masters.

One of the toughest chips you can face on the course is from right of the 11th green, a spot where it seems at least one player in every group is playing from during the tournament. Bailing out away from the water is very tempting but no bargain. It is almost impossible to land a chip short on that green with any confidence; you just don’t know what the ball is going to do after it pitches. Then when it does get on the green it invariably races away. It’s such a subtle test, but one that gives the course much of its character.

The same is true behind the 15th green. It is so difficult to judge how much forward momentum the ball will have after it bounces and how fast it needs to be moving once it gets onto the sloping putting surface. And again, it is a shot that tends to come up a lot over the course of the tournament. Go for that green in two every day and you are likely to finish over the back at least twice.

The other big setup feature at Augusta National involves the bunkers. I’m sure it has happened, but I can’t recall ever having or even seeing a buried lie. The philosophy seems to be that players should always have hard shots from good lies, which is what I grew up with in Melbourne. You can have a good lie every time, but you better be a really good bunker player if you want to get the ball close.

I find that refreshing. I hate it when officials try to give us bad lies for no good reason. They put too much sand in bunkers so that balls will plug. To me, that’s a flawed mentality. All it does is bring the best bunker player and the worst bunker player to the same place. The whole idea of competitive golf is to let the better player separate himself. At Augusta they seem to “get” that concept.

Finally, don’t believe all the stories about how Augusta National changes every year. Maybe it does, but it is done so completely and so seamlessly it is almost impossible to tell. To be honest, I’m never sure one way or the other, which I guess is how the club likes it. They want to be in our heads before we even start. It’s just one more part of why this wonderful course is so cool.