Debatably Donald & The Damage Done: W.D. Clark and The Architects Forgotten at Faux Ross Courses

Special thanks to Jay Revell and Rick Shefchik for their contributions to this piece. Many of you are familiar with Jay from his site, but Rick is an accomplished sports and music writer, whose ‘From Fields to Fairways’ is a history of Minnesota’s classic courses. 

This is not a story about Donald Ross.

However, as much of the subject matter is tied to Palatka Golf Club—a municipal south of Jacksonville that is also allegedly a Donald Ross design—it’s tricky to avoid him. You may have caught that one word in the previous sentence that sets up an obvious premise…a fact-and-fiction regarding the course’s lineage. It’s a common theme, covered by Will Bardwell at Great Southern Golf Club, and covered eagerly by the press during the drama surrounding Mayfair Country Club in Sanford, FL. A similar tale could be told about many Ross courses, and many have previously broached the topic regarding Palatka. Analyzing Palatka won’t be a Pulitzer “A-HA” investigative moment.

So this isn’t a story about Donald Ross or about why the proper identification of this course is important for his legacy. This is a story about W.D. Clark and why the proper identification of this course is important to his legacy.

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Golf.com’s Top 100 Courses in The World…and What YOU Hate About It. Comparing Trends at Every “Top 100” and Finding Your Match

The few of you who were around at this point last year might remember our feature, “Golf Digest’s Top 100…And What YOU Hate About It. A Statistical Analysis of The ‘Best’ Courses.” You may remember a few things about it…for one, it had nothing to do with statistics, and everything to do with looking at simple numbers and noting trends (they’re different). Secondly, it focused specifically on three major services’ Top 100 U.S. golf courses. Due to the overwhelming lack of readership we had last year, we are unable to provide solid evidence that there’s a demand for the same feature highlighting the Top 100 golf courses in the world.

So we’re doing it anyway…and then you can tell us “never again.”

As a reminder, the three most certifiable rankers we’re looking at are Golf, Golf Digest, and Top100GolfCourses.com—three offerings that base their rankings on a panel of some scope, and not simply a roundtable.

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The Fox & The Lion: Restoring Seth Raynor’s Lion’s Mouth Hazard at Fox Chapel Golf Club

Here’s a book concept for any number of the golf historians / architecture aficionados I follow on Twitter: The Redans of Raynor. A chapter dedicated to every Redan that Seth laid out. It could be a fine book, and Redans are a fine concept, but there is a point where the tried and true needs a rest. You and the missus need something slightly more exotic from the Raynor repertoire.

Here lies the Lion’s Mouth, a template (in some circles) that Raynor didn’t attempt to place at every routing. You’re probably familiar with the concept already; a large bunker cutting into the front of the green, both discouraging the ground game (a generalization) and muddling the distance to the flag. As opposed to the Redan—which is always en vogue—the Lion’s Mouth has had a few flash-in-the-pan moments over the past few years that have driven newfound interest to this relative rarity. For one, Keith Rhett and Riley Johns incorporated the concept during the drivable No. 6 at the hip Winter Park nine north of Orlando. More so, the U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston brought wide eyes to the intimidating bunker laying at the feet of No. 16’s green.

So let’s keep that momentum moving into 2020. More accurately, Fox Chapel Golf Club will keep that momentum rolling.

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Sunnehanna Country Club’s Almost-Greats: Tillinghast’s Favorite Hazard and Its Allegheny Adaptation

A.W. Tillinghast was not a fan of templates.

“I have known Charley Macdonald since the earliest days of golf in this country and for many years we have been rival course architects,” he wrote. “Our manner of designing courses never reconciled. I stubbornly insisted on following natural suggestions of terrain, creating new types of holes as suggested by Nature, even when resorting to artificial methods of construction. Charley, equally convinced that working strictly to models was best, turned out some famous courses. Throughout the years we argued good naturedly about it and that, always at variance it would seem.”

That is, Tillinghast was not necessarily a fan of MacRaynor’s template philosophy when it came to MacRaynor’s own template holes. Tillie approved more so of his own concepts, which include the “Reef” and “Double Dogleg” (his “Tiny Tim” was, for all purposes, just a different term for “Short”).

One has gathered more acclaim than those, however: The “Great Hazard” (frequently cited as “Tillinghast’s Great Hazard”…which probably fed into the architect’s noted ego).

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A Dwarf Star Among Big Ten Giants: Rutgers University Golf Course & Lessons For Campus Courses

Having just watched Gary Woodland win his first major at the U.S. Open and, having been one of the slim minority to watch Jeoungeun Lee6 win her first career major, we now turn our attention to the third, and least relevant of the U.S. Opens: The U.S. Senior Open. With no offense to the gentlemen involved—many of whom had very illustrious careers—they are now living a non-PGA reality much more rewarding than the Web.com tour. We do not feel compelled to pay as much attention. That said, sometimes these guys play some bitchin’ courses that slide under the attention spans of everyday golf travelers. University Ridge, the home course for both this year’s Senior Open and the University of Wisconsin Badgers—is a decent course. If we were Badger students, we’d be happy have an affordable RTJ2 route at our disposal.

The Big Ten has several class-act (ha) golf courses among its members. As a Buckeye, we’re biased toward the Nicklaus-By-Way-Of-Mackenzie gem that is the Scarlet Course. Purdue students get discounted rates at a pair of courses from the Dye(s), and Michigan offers two different experiences with one Mackenzie layout and one Dye adventure. But you know about these (maybe). So we decided to set out in search of something different.

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How to Build A Winning (Read: Moneymaking) U.S. Women’s Open? Design? Location? Tiger Woods?

We at BPBM are stunned by numbers and perception on a weekly basis, and not just in terms of “we probably should have clubbed up for that slope.” No…it’s usually album sales. “How could Ariana Grande outsell <INSERT NAME OF FRENCH BLACK METAL BAND>?” But this week it was different. As golf course architecture nerds, we were thrilled with the lead-up to the U.S. Women’s Open. On one hand, there was the salivation from a design standpoint, as The Fried Egg and others pushed the Country Club of Charleston, a lesser-known Seth Raynor Gem. And surely the Hank Haney controversy could only push viewers to the event, right?

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Slicers, Hookers, Cutters: Best Metal Albums, May 2019

Slicers, Hookers, Cutters is a monthly rundown of the best and worst albums released during the previous month. Let’s be real…there’s only so much time we can dedicate to albums every month, so feel free to tweet @BethpageBM and let us know what we missed. Understand, of course, that we may have actually hated the garbage you recommend…so if you don’t see a social shout-out for that release, you’ll just have to sit there and wonder whether we missed your comment…or whether your taste is terrible. This crushing paranoia is all part of the doom metal experience.

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TifEagle: Explaining Favorite Florida Bermuda Grass at Bay Hill, PGA National, TPC Sawgrass & More (Plus a Ridiculous Trump Interview)

Grass has an enormous impact, both on metal and on golf. But, unfortunately—while grass is readily celebrated in metal blogs—it gets skirted around far too often within golf blogs. That’s why most viewers of the Genesis Open were bemused by the word “kikuyu,” and curious as to why analysts so frequently mentioned it. The reason for such focus is, of course, because it’s important, dammit.

And that’s why, this week, we’re wasting our time on a subject you—our valuable readership—don’t think you care about! And we will use the cookies on your internet to find where you live if you think about skipping this week’s post.***

*** = Not how the internet works.

There was a point, up until 2016, where the PGA Tour shifted gears between the Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational (at PGA National’s Champions Course and Bay Hill) to The Player’s Championship at TPC Sawgrass. You don’t need much more than Google maps to spot the difference in design from Bay Hill to Sawgrass, but it went a bit deeper than that. As implied earlier, it came down to grass. Specifically on the greens.

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Slicers, Hookers, Cutters: Best Metal Albums, February 2019

Slicers, Hookers, Cutters is a monthly rundown of the best and worst albums released during the previous month. Let’s be real…there’s only so much time we can dedicate to albums every month, so feel free to tweet @BethpageBM and let us know what we missed. Understand, of course, that we may have actually hated the garbage you recommend…so if you don’t see a social shout-out for that release, you’ll just have to sit there and wonder whether we missed your comment…or whether your taste is terrible. This crushing paranoia is all part of the doom metal experience.

Good news for all the Slayer fans out there: You’ll finally be able to get to a farewell tour show that doesn’t feature Anthrax. Sorry, guys. The Bronx bombers are just painfully out of place next to Lamb of God and Behemoth on a lineup. Hell, they’re out of place in Thrash’s “Big 4.” Check out the May dates, or assume that Slayer will become the perpetual KISS; in a constant state of retirement party.

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