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Designing a Real Course
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Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Wednesday, July 08, 2020 at 12:09:12 PM | IP Logged

I am starting this thread for a few reasons:

1. My computer is being repaired and I'm bored
2. I think it would be cool to show all the steps that go into designing a real golf course as accurately as possible
3. There are very few threads anymore on the forum

This project started a while back as I was looking into which courses I want to design that the community would enjoy. I really enjoy making major championship courses and we are fortunate to have such a great selection of those already. I absolutely loved working on LA Country Club and wanted a similar project to that. So after doing some research, I decided on The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, which will be hosting the 2022 US Open.

So throughout this thread I will be sharing how I am going about with this design, some progress updates, and some commentary. Hope you enjoy!  
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Wednesday, July 08, 2020 at 12:30:02 PM | IP Logged

Here are the steps that I have already gone through:

1. I made sure nobody else was designing the course. The last thing I want to do is step on toes and/or have two designers release the same course. As far as I know, nobody else is planning on doing this one. And, as an added bonus GolfMike offered to create some graphics for the course!

2. I checked to see if elevation data was available for the course, and it was! So I worked to download the DEM and orthoimagery, trimmed them down to size, and started a project in the TA program.

3. The most interesting thing about The Country Club is that there are 3 nine hole courses on the property, and for major championships, they use holes from all 3 of them to create their championship layout. So, my next research project was to find out exactly what holes were being used. I was very lucky to find this website that takes into detail the course's renovations and plans for the US Open under architect mastermind Gil Hanse:

https://www.hansegolfdesign.com/news/new-look-for-the-country-club-when-us-open-arrives/
https://www.hansegolfdesign.com/projects/restoration-projects/the-country-club/

4. Because of that website, I found out that they will be using the same layout as the 1988 US Open and 1999 Ryder Cup with a couple changes. The fourth hole is going to be eliminated from competition and replaced by the Primrose 12th hole, which will be the 9th hole for the championship. The hole is compared to the 7th at Pebble Beach without the coastline. Short, downhill par 3, heavily bunkered, small green. Also, the 12th hole has been lengthened to a par 5 while the 14th will play as a par 4.

5. The next step in research is to get to know the course. The course website gives you nothing, so I took to YouTube and Google to find what I needed. There are some great videos on YouTube that give a hole by hole walkthrough. There are also a good deal of images to be found in various articles on the internet. I also watched the coverage of the 1988 18 hole US Open playoff between Curtis Strange and Nick Faldo. They showed highlights from the front nine and the entire back nine. Then I watched the highlights from the memorable 1999 Ryder Cup where Justin Leonard sunk a pivotal putt on the 17th hole.

6. I have a few great books that are helpful in learning the history of the course. TCC was one of the five founding USGA members and was also the setting for the match that gave us the "Greatest Game Ever Played" in which local golfer Francis Oiumet defeated Harry Vardon to win the 1913 US Open. This match was also referenced on every single video that I used for research.

6. I always try to get as many resources as possible to help with the design. Many courses will sell yardage books, course guides, etc. With Whistling Straits and Baltusrol, these were huge helps. I was able to find a yardage book from the 1999 Ryder Cup on Ebay that illustrates all the slopes in the greens. While this hasn't arrived yet, it will be a key resource in creating the greens accurately.

7. My primary focus on real courses is to nail the signature holes. I knew very little about TCC coming in but after doing the research it became very apparent that there are many great holes on this course. I will definitely be spending a little extra time on these holes:

#3- I winding par 4 with huge hills on either side of the fairway. A huge risk/reward driving hole.
#6- Formerly the 7th hole, the oldest hole on the golf course, a medium sized par 3 with a two tiered green
#9- The above mentioned short, downhill par 3, which will make its US Open debut in two years.
#14- Formerly a par 5, now a long, uphill, nasty par 4 with a slope in front of the green that will cause the ball to roll back 40 yards if it is short
#17- The signature hole, the one that caused Vardon to lose the 1913 Open and that helped the US to win the Ryder Cup

So now, I will wait for the yardage book to come in the mail and for my computer to get fixed and will update this thread accordingly! 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Wednesday, July 08, 2020 at 12:35:16 PM | IP Logged

Also to note: there are two versions of The Country Club that will play in TW08. I will be playing them to get a little info, but because of the course renovations I felt that it was important to get a new version of the course out there. 
 
 
 
 

 
Gunpower61
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Posted: Wednesday, July 08, 2020 at 12:52:30 PM | IP Logged

Nice one Bobby, thanks for sharing, its a sticky topic now. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Wednesday, July 08, 2020 at 7:08:45 PM | IP Logged

Got both computers back. The XP one had a new graphics card installed, GEForce 8800. The main computer graphics card busted. I had to order a new one and will install when it arrives. So I'm working from the backup computer right now.

Came across my first of what will probably be several issues. The DEM appears to be slightly off from the orthoimagery that I'm using. It's really interesting because the land that the course is on has a lot of up and down. It's hilly but it doesn't really slope in any particular direction. That makes things even a little more difficult. Three potential solutions:

1. Use the DEM as is and make adjustments after laying out the course.
2. Use the flat plot and completely do elevations based off Google Earth.
3. Try to figure out how far the DEM is off, and move the entire course after it is laid out.

I'm not sure which of those I will use but it doesn't matter right now. I will continue laying out the course and make that decision later.

Another issue: None of the course renovations are on the orthoimagery I'm using. The aerial photo is from 2005 and the renovations are only a few years old. Luckily there aren't a whole lot of changes, give or take a few tee boxes and connecting a couple fairways. I looked for better orthoimagery but decided to stick with what I have.

So far, holes 1-3 are pretty much laid out. The next step will be to finish laying out the course using the TA program. Hopefully I'll finish that by the time the new graphics card comes. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Thursday, July 09, 2020 at 10:21:30 PM | IP Logged

Boring updates today:

Laid out holes 4-8, along with several holes that are not used on the championship course. They will not receive too much attention and will be there just for visual purposes.

Received a course map from the 1988 US Open in the mail. Some info about placement of tournament structures and some helpful photos.

Unrelated, also started reading "Moment of Glory" by John Feinstein. Excellent so far! 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Thursday, July 09, 2020 at 10:26:23 PM | IP Logged

I've also written a few notes to remind myself of thoughts I had while working:

Brookline Notes
1 tee box (was formerly part of the practice area)
Add deep rough textures (fescue and rock areas actually)
Houses on 7, building behind tee
Look through all holes (specifically compare my ortoimagery with a more modern satellite view from Google Earth or Google Maps)
17 Ryder cup pin (Gotta use this location! Typically I'll put four pins on each green. Any more than that causes testing to take way too long)
Fairway widths (I know many fairways will be narrowed for the Open)
New tees (luckily many are labeled on the Hanse map)
New bunkers (quick glance has already shown a couple added and a couple removed) 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Friday, July 10, 2020 at 11:01:54 PM | IP Logged

Lost my grandmother today. It was expected, but still hard.

I tried to distract myself and work on the course. Laid out two tee boxes, a creek, the ninth green, and two bunkers. Then boom, blue screen of death. Guess I should not have had that graphics card installed. I was able to salvage my tca file, so that's a positive. But who knows how long until I'm able to get back to it.

Also, the yardage book came in the mail. It's exactly what I need for the greens. Typically there's a lot of guesswork that goes into greens but these should be very accurate. 
 
 
 
 

 
Hyno Designs
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Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 4:16:04 AM | IP Logged

edited by: Hyno Designs on Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 4:17:00 AM
 
I am sorry about your grandmother.

Actually have the 1988 US Open and part of the playoff on Betamax. My VHS copies of 99 Ryder are not the best but I think I have a digital 2 hour recording of the edited highlights.

Whistling Straits restored the 04 final round VHS it is pretty good than have all 4 rounds from 2010 and 2015 plus extra interviews. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 7:50:01 AM | IP Logged

It's amazing how many people were at the 88 Open. It doesn't seem like that many people attend (or are allowed) these days, pre Covid obviously. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 5:37:21 PM | IP Logged

New card came today, put it in, and we are back in business. I played one of the versions of the course that's available. The architect put a lot of work in on the course. It also reassured me of my reason for creating this course. Many of the holes were lengthened, the course was rerouted slightly, and a lot of trees were removed.

Side note: I recently made the jump from intermediate to advanced. Got a slam dunk ace at Gleneagles while playing a round there. Can't remember ever having a shot go directly in like that.

I've almost finished my Feinstein book. It's really good. Especially nice to read about Ben Curtis, who became a local hero after winning at Royal St. George's in 03.

My compiling/now-TA PC was worked on today. They replaced some RAM and said it should be good. I'm just hoping it's not the TA program that's caused me all these problems.

I'm going to watch "The Greatest Game Ever Played", hopefully with my wife tonight. Every video, article, and book I've come across about TCC has mentioned him. He also appeared in the book I'm reading and my brother mentioned him in conversation. I've seen the movie but it's been a while. For some reason, I think I'm supposed to watch it for some reason. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 10:44:18 PM | IP Logged

Did not watch the movie. Will not be able to work anymore on the course until Monday. May take a day to work on a fictional course I'm trying to finish. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Monday, July 13, 2020 at 5:50:25 PM | IP Logged

I'm close to being back at 100 percent working capacity. Finished laying out hole 9 and tried to find how accurate my DEM is. Hopefully it's at least close. Will save a lot of work if it's good. Thanks to Google Earth elevation for this one! 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 10:27:37 PM | IP Logged

Found a little extra time tonight. The layout is complete... well, kind of. I still have to add the fescue rough, some added tee boxes, and make corrections to what is already out there. But here's a little sneak peek of the course as it stands right now. 
 
File Attachment
Zip File - JPG File - Click Here to Download File - 90.8 KB
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at 10:47:48 PM | IP Logged

Got a great email from GolfMikeLK today saying that the graphics are ready for the course. Not having Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro is rough because I can never produce my own splash of logo. Luckily Mike and Pat have been extraordinarily gracious in creating graphics for the courses. These ones are excellent. Makes me want to finish the course even sooner.

I got a lot done yesterday knowing that I was not going to have much time today and that time was going to be spent playing the game on my new monitor.

Still have not watched the movie.

Next step: paths, paving, and deep rough 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 11:43:02 PM | IP Logged

Worked on the first hole today. Added a new tee box, some cart paths, practice greens, etc. Spent about 45 minutes trying to decide what textures to use. Still dont know. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 at 10:34:28 PM | IP Logged

Very successful day!

I found a good combination of textures that I like. I will probably still change the rough texture but it's at a point where I feel comfortable right now. I added cart paths, fringes, first cut, modified bunkers, and added tee boxes for the first six holes. There were some issues with yardages, probably because of the orthoimagery/DEM I used, but I was able to make a few tweaks to get the yardage correct.

Just for fun, I compiled the first six holes and tested them out in the game. I was very satisfied with how everything looks so far. I still haven't touched any elevation, planted any trees, or added any structures, but overall I'm already starting to get the course to feel the way that it should. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2020 at 12:11:17 AM | IP Logged

Finished the textures through hole 13 today. I also altered some distances on 12-18 to make them more accurate.

Finally rewatched The Greatest Game Ever Played. Didn't really help with the design aspect but helped a lot with the history.

I don't anticipate the elevations to be too difficult. The planting will be moderately tough. Overall, it is coming along nicely. 
 
 
 
 

 
Bobby Bolin
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Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2020 at 10:59:48 PM | IP Logged

Big day today, accomplished a lot. All fringes, paths, and first cuts are done and all tee boxes are created. I picked up and dropped the entire plot about 100 yards south of where it was and the elevations matched so much better! I spent several hours today making sure tee box and green elevation levels were accurate. All the tee boxes have been flattened and and the course is officially laid out from the black tees. I played a couple rounds and am excited about how it looks. I think I have found the right combination of textures. Spent some time today looking through structure libraries to find all the buildings needed.

Overall, it took probably 5-6 hours today to get to this point. My XP computer blue screened while I was shutting down so hopefully it doesn't happen tomorrow.

This week is not very busy so we will see how everything goes. The plan is to work on the rock formations on holes 3 and 8, then start with bunkers, greens, and fairway elevation next.  
 
 
 
 

 
Gunpower61
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Posted: Monday, July 20, 2020 at 10:57:53 AM | IP Logged

Going well it looks,Thanks for the updates Bobby. 
 
 
 
 

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