Saturday, December 5, 2015

Playability Reaches Crescendo: Renaissance Golf Design, Gull Lake View Golf Resort Forge Partnership

(Traverse City, MI) - A unique relationship is transforming a distinctive piece of land in the southwest corner of Michigan into a golf course with an exclusive heritage and a much-anticipated design concept, which enhances playability and enjoyment for golfers of all skill levels.

The course is Stoatin Brae, the sixth at Gull Lake View Golf Club and Resort in Augusta. It is being built on the site of a former apple orchard by a creative process linked together by the Scott family and Renaissance Golf Design, the Traverse City-based architectural firm founded and owned by the internationally renowned Tom Doak.

There is a twist. Doak is not involved in the project but has given his blessing to his senior associates Eric Iverson, Brian Schneider, Brian Slawnik and Don Placek to independently design and construct Stoatin Brae. The finished product promises to be enthralling.

The emphasis in the design is ultimate enjoyability.

“The overall approach is consistent with what Jon Scott really feels strongly about,” Iverson said. “Bring back the fun in golf. It’s one of the things we all need to do to make sure the game perseveres.”

At Stoatin Brae, that won’t come at the expense of strategy and exceptional shot-making. That’s the beauty of it.

The course will be visually enticing, as well. The property sits high on a ridgeline above the Kalamazoo River. With the trees from the apple orchard gone, the entire ground is clear wall-to-wall and replanted to prairie grasses. Within the golf course, many of the holes are visible across the property, offering beautiful settings from various angles.

There is no forced formula in the design, no preconception of where the holes would go. It’s all very natural.

“The desire is for the course to play fast and firm,” Schneider said. “There will be the option of running the ball along the ground and into the greens. The fairways are wide. It was built to be fun.

“Fun plays a big part in all the work we’ve ever done. Fun means being able to play one ball, finding your ball, having width off the tee, half-par holes. From tee to green you can find your ball. Par is defended around the greens. There is a bit more contour in the greens at Stoatin Brae than you'll find on the other courses at the resort."

That is in tune with Gull Lake View's president, Jon Scott’s philosophy. He advocates amplifying the call for kinder, gentler designs to help promote and grow the game.

“It’s a special piece of land,” Scott said. “And it convinced the guys at Renaissance to get involved.

“The great thing about working with the guys from Renaissance Golf Design is that they are collaborative individuals. They work as a team in doing most of the projects so this was just an extension of that. We worked with Renaissance on a daily basis to make sure that their ideas and our vision were compatible and hammered out the differences as we went along.”

The completion date is mid-2016. From the back tees, the scorecard will offer 6,700 yards with tees on the short end down to 5,200. Scott also has been adamant in favor of an extra set of forward tees to accommodate beginners, young golfers, women and seniors – anybody that might be distance-challenged – at about 4,000 yards.

“As far as the short tees go, when I approached Eric about this, he agreed immediately,” Scott said. “The guys at Renaissance are really, honestly committed to building something that works at all levels. They have a ton of experience in construction around the world and as broad an exposure to golf courses as any design crew that we could have worked with. Making a challenging course for good golfers and a playable course for the average guy is about as tough a design job as you can have.

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