Monday, April 12, 2021

Forrest Richardson and Jeff Danner Announce New Golf Design Firm


Two veteran designers have come together with a unique, shared vision for creating golf courses

(PHOENIX) — After 32 years, Forrest Richardson has had enough. No, the current president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects isn't giving up his design practice. He's merely bidding adieu to life as a sole practitioner. Richardson is pleased to announce that Jeffrey A. Danner, ASGCA, MEIGCA, ASLA has joined the firm and will serve as Senior Golf Course Architect. Known for decades as Forrest Richardson & Associates, the firm will transition to Richardson | Danner Golf Course Architects. The firm will operate from two offices, in Phoenix, Arizona and in Northern California. The enthusiasm for the move is palpable.

"It's a goal we've had for several years, to bring the right person aboard," says Richardson. "There's strength in having two golf course architects coming together to build upon a shared passion that golf must be fun, inclusive and sustainable. It's especially effective when one golf course architect is older and has 'seen it all,' and when the other is experienced, but younger, with a fresh perspective.  Jeff fits the bill perfectly. He's a young guy, but he has already done so much. We see great promise with Jeff and his abilities to create a bigger and better offering for our clients and the world of golf."

Danner is similarly attuned. "Our personalities, skill sets and approach to things really complement each other, which provides a huge value to clients," says Danner. "We offer a combination of rich and diverse experience. Certainly Forrest has seen just about everything, but I've seen a lot, too, in my 16 years in the business, especially with different cultures, climates and site conditions around the world. It gives a client the best bang for the buck when you have two people on the design team who can bounce ideas off each other. It's a win-win to have that type of collaborative environment."

Indeed, Richardson comes from a perspective of having experienced every design trend, environmental movement and economic condition. He's designed dozens of traditional, regulation golf courses, yet in recent years, he's been renowned for his out-of-the-box solutions to complex issues. In 2019, a leading trade industry publication, Golf Inc. lauded Richardson as one of the nine most innovative figures in golf, stating that he "evangelized for values like affordability, sustainability, playability and enjoyability which challenged conventional wisdom."

One of his most impactful projects saw Richardson wave his redesign wand at the Palo Alto, California municipal layout in 2018, reconfiguring it into Baylands Golf Links. For its $12 million investment, the city received a golf course that's much more enticing than its predecessor. It features imaginatively contoured greens, requires less water and incorporates new wetlands and natural habitat. What's more, says Richardson, is that he redesigned the layout in such a way that he gave back ten acres of land to the city for use as soccer fields and other park uses.

"It would have cost $50 million dollars for the city to buy that much land," says Richardson. "And that's if ten acres of land were even available—which it wasn't. Today they have that ten acres to use for something other than golf, and it is a point of pride in the community."

Always forward-looking, Richardson champions the role he and the ASGCA have played in effecting positive change on golf's environmental impact. "We did that at the highest levels of government regulation," he told Links magazine early in 2021. "Golf courses are now accepted as appropriate buffers to wetlands and sensitive habitat. We're continually challenging the notion that everything that goes into a golf course must be complicated and costly—it doesn't. We've invested research in using less water, less labor, and working on how courses can accommodate disabled players and be more flexible."

Clearly, Richardson's emphasis on environmental awareness, access and inclusion in course design was a powerful magnet for Danner. Prior to joining Richardson | Danner, Jeff worked as an architect for Greg Norman Golf Design in Florida and held previous design positions for Lohmann Golf Designs and Golfplan, both based in the U.S. He has worked in or traveled to more than 30 countries and has contributed to many award-winning new construction and renovation projects. What resonates with him most, however, are the special projects that expand access to more golfers.

In Illinois, he assisted on taking an old driving range plot and transforming it into a five-hole pitch-and-putt practice range combo that was handicap-accessible to those in wheelchairs. "Those types of projects are exciting," says Danner, "when you get to work with an organization that's out to serve the greater good."

On the Black Sea in Turkey, Danner helped create a course by diverting a lot of heavy fill material and muddy soil to reclaim the site, building an interesting, links-landish canvas in the process. The course would go on to host the Deaf Olympics. Richardson shares the passion for global design. He has spent quality time working to grow golf through planning projects in such places as El Salvador, Albania, Bulgaria and most recently, in Libya. "Golf has a powerful message of respect and social interaction," he says. "We cannot forget that the game brings people together, and very often that lasts a lifetime."

"I believe that golf needs to be more inclusive," says Danner. "I've always been excited to be working on public access courses, probably because I grew up around public golf. Sustainable golf is more than environmental stewardship. Without inclusivity and golfer participation, golf isn't a viable business. It all goes hand in hand."

As a boy, Danner created golf holes in his family's backyard, experimenting with various weighted whiffle balls. Richardson, too was a backyard designer, at age 8. Both men studied in Scotland, Richardson in a program hosted at the University of Dundee in Fife and Danner as part of his postgraduate studies through the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA). Today Danner is one of only three golf architects in the world to hold membership in the ASGCA and the EIGCA.

In a remarkable coincidence that likely proved a precursor to the present relationship, Richardson played an integral role in influencing Danner's career, if indirectly. "Early on in my professional life, I had done a lot of remodel work, but not as much that required routing," says Danner. "I picked up Forrest's book (Routing the Golf Course: The Art & Science That Forms the Golf Journey). That book taught me the basics of how to route a golf course. There's nothing more rewarding than putting the routing puzzle together and feeling like you've got it. At a 2007 golf show, Forrest was kind enough to sign that book for me. Another reason I'm so excited about this venture was that Forrest was there at the beginning of my career."

For Richardson, the new arrangement brings about a welcoming déjà vu. When he first hung his shingle in 1988, the firm he founded evolved from a longtime association with the late Arthur Jack Snyder, himself a past president of the ASGCA.

"From the time I first met 'Jack,' as he preferred to be called," said Richardson, "it marked the beginning of a friendship and mentorship that lasted 32 years. That first meeting (in 1972, when Forrest was 13) fueled my growing passion for golf course architecture."

Richardson and his mentor collaborated for 20 years. Together, their work includes more than 70 completed projects that range from multi-course facilities to short and intimate par-3 layouts. Perhaps this is a case of a career coming full circle. By welcoming Jeff Danner into the fold, Richardson is sensing that same feeling of anticipation and discovery that washed over him as a kid.

"'Golf was meant to be fun'—Jack repeated this to clients, colleagues and me," said Richardson. "It was his mission statement and trademark, and I've held onto it."

"My specific design philosophy has always been to work with the land to create a memorable golf experience that is a fun, fair test," says Danner.

Together, Forrest Richardson and Jeff Danner—Richardson | Danner—plan on having a lot of fun crafting compelling, sustainable, occasionally outside-the-box courses that are a joy to play. As Richardson puts it, "The largest canvas in the world of art is golf design, and we want to be brave in our solutions because that is what will bring about change—change that makes a difference."

More information: www.golfgroupltd.com

Dartmouth College Selects Montcalm Golf Club as New Home Club


(ENFIELD, N.H.)
— Montcalm Golf Club is pleased to announce that it is the new home golf course to the Dartmouth College men’s and women’s golf teams. 

The two-year partnership provides the Big Green program access to practice and play at the award-winning, 6,829-yard Enfield, New Hampshire based course, imagined and built by Andrew Sigler, a graduate of Dartmouth (’53) and Tuck (’56). The partnership provides Dartmouth access to Montcalm’s course and its state-of-the-art practice facilities as well as the ability to host tournaments. Montcalm will also carry Dartmouth merchandise in their pro shop.

Last July, it was announced that Hanover Country Club would permanently close. In January, Dartmouth reinstated its men’s and women’s golf teams and, therefore, needed a new home.

“We are sensitive to the challenges and transitions the Dartmouth golf program has endured over the past year, but we are pleased to support, welcome and accommodate the Big Green,” said Steve Rogers, Director of Golf at Montcalm Golf Club. “We will do everything to ensure they, like all our Montcalm members, feel at home and thrive here with the use of our course and state-of-the-art practice and training facility. This partnership provides us with the ability to host competitive play and showcase our course to some of New England’s finest collegiate players.”

It was close to 20 years ago when Sigler designed and built Montcalm as a result of Dartmouth temporarily closing the Hanover Country Club in 2001 for renovations. Golf Digest recognized the course among the top-10 best new private courses in the U.S. in 2005, and the magazine acknowledged Montcalm again in 2007 as one of the best in New Hampshire.

Rich Parker, Dartmouth’s Bill Johnson Head Coach of Men’s Golf, is complimentary of Montcalm’s recent enhancements to its amenities in 2020, namely a new training and practice venue that includes 40 full-swing, natural-grass hitting stations, 20 PGA Tour approved Turf Hound hitting stations and a bent-grass putting and chipping green, as well as beautifully groomed practice bunkers and pitching areas. A new 5,700-square-foot putting green was also installed for 2020.

“We are excited to have our men’s and women’s golf programs being able to call Montcalm their home,” Dartmouth Director of Athletics and Recreation Peter Roby said. “I’ve visited the course and was impressed with the amenities related to practice and understand that it is a true test of golf. Our golfers will benefit from Montcalm’s hospitality and will enjoy all it has to offer.”

Situated between the Green Mountain National Forest and the White Mountain National Forest in the Upper Valley section of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee region, Montcalm Golf Club has outstanding panoramic mountain views of Killington, Vermont’s Green Mountains and Mt. Ascutney, as well as rolling hills of velvet fairways and greens. Montcalm Golf Club is conveniently located off of I-89 Exit 15 at 2 Smith Pond Rd. Enfield, NH 03748. 

For more information: call 603-448-5665 or visit the website: www.montcalmgolfclub.com.

April Events at Circling Raven include Equipment Demo Days, Women’s Summer Kickoff, and Spring Pricing


Award-Winning Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel Golf Amenity Caters to an Array of Interests

(Worley, Idaho) – Circling Raven, the nationally acclaimed championship golf course at Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel, announces three Equipment Demo Days in April, plus a women’s event and value priced greens fees.

TaylorMade (April 17), Mizuno (April 18), and Titleist (April 24) will conduct Equipment Demo Days from 10 am – 2 pm on their respective dates at Circling Raven’s 25-acre Practice Facility. Players can try the latest available drivers, irons, and wedges. Each participant will receive a free fitting for the equipment that is recommended for them based on their swing and skill level.

Purchases of $500 or more receive a 2 for 1 voucher to come back with a friend and play Circling Raven. Purchases of $1,000 or more receive a complementary round at Circling Raven. As a bonus, participants can enjoy the 25-acre practice facility for free on the Equipment Demo Days. To participate, people must RSVP online at cdacasino.com/golf or call 208-686-8823.

The Ladies Summer Kickoff will occur on April 30 beginning at 10 am. People are invited to learn about Circling Raven’s women’s golf programs, meet the professional staff, and enjoy special discounts while enjoying free food and drinks.

April also offers golfers value-priced greens fees that increase next month. From now until May 23, players can play Circling Raven on Monday – Thursday for $89, Friday – Sunday for $99. Those rates will increase $10 each respectively on May 24. All greens fees include GPS loaded golf carts and free use of the Practice Facility.

For those planning to play often at Circling Raven this season, the Advantage Card maximize receiving Circling Raven perks. Purchasing the card enables cardholders to receive a complimentary round this season, free entry into an Advantage Cardholder tournament, $10 off the lowest greens fee for each round, supervised practice on the range or clinics with Circling Raven pros, and more. 

Circling Raven Stay-and-Play Packages begin at $249 until May 23 and include one night’s stay, double occupancy, and two rounds each at Circling Raven. The packages are complemented by pairing golf with other Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel amenities. From massages and other services at Spa Ssakwa’q’n (pronounced Sock-wah-kin), to immersing in Native American tradition through the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s cultural activities offered to guests and resort visitors, the options are many. 

Visit www.cdacasino.com/golf for more information on golf and other resort options.

Friday, April 9, 2021

PGA TOUR® 2K21 Introduces New TravisMathew and PUMA Golf Gear


Collection of hot new lifestyle and sports apparel available now in the MyPLAYER store

(RELEASE) — 2K and HB Studios announced TravisMathew and PUMA Golf gear has arrived in PGA TOUR 2K21, keeping MyPLAYERs swinging with swag on the cutting edge of modern golf fashion.

The TravisMathew collection includes three polo shirts, three hats and three shoes, marking the brand’s PGA TOUR 2K21 debut. PUMA Golf introduces an all-new oversized hat and new shoe. The gear is available to all players in the PGA TOUR 2K21 in-game shop. PGA TOUR 2K21 is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia and Switch.

For more information on information on PGA TOUR 2K21, visit the game’s official website, become a fan on Facebook, follow the game on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #PGATOUR2K21 or subscribe on YouTube.

Top Teacher Mike Bender Gives a Peek Inside the Ropes at This Week’s Tradition Unlike Any Other


(VIDEO)
— Do you ever wish you had the chance to pick the brain of a top instructor who works side-by-side with the best players in the game? Earlier this week, some avid golfers had that opportunity when perennial top-five-ranked PGA teaching professional and director of instruction at The Mike Bender Golf Academy at Magnolia Plantation Golf Club (Lake Mary, Florida) Mike Bender sat down for a Q and A with V1 Sports’ Mandy Von See, host of “Tuesday Traces.”

In this fun conversation, the 2009 PGA of America National Teacher of the Year revealed some great instructional insight, some stories from around Augusta National Golf Club’s grounds during this Masters week and some great tales from his travels with 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson.

Bender has been on site at Augusta National Golf Club all week helping Johnson prepare to play in the season’s first major. Here are just a few of the topics he and Von See covered – with the help of viewer questions – in this engaging, informative conversation:

What would an amateur who average scores around 80 shoot from 6,800+ yards at Augusta National Golf Club, under Masters tournament conditions?

That's a good question. I would say, if he shoots 80 usually and played the back tees, he wouldn't break 100. They have no idea how hard it is or the amount of tough putting and chipping there. There'll be a lot of there'll be a lot of four-putting and a lot of double and triple chips.

Would you go for the green on #3 at Augusta with driver?

Am I me, or Bryson DeChambeau? I think you do if the pin is in the front of the green. That way, you can drive the green or drive it over the green. It's probably an easier way to make birdie versus trying to hit that little front pin placement over on the left hand side. The other day in a practice round, Zach was 30 yards short, So, a 30-yard short to a back pin location is pretty good. To a front pin location, it's no good. So, it depends on how far you can hit.

Do you go for the back-right pin location on #12 on Sunday?

On number 12, you hit it right over that bunker. Then, you make a 20-footer for birdie or you make par and get out of there. Like they always say, right on number 12... you can't win the tournament there, but you can definitely lose the tournament there.  

Where do you prefer to see a golfer’s weight in the putting stroke?

I like players that have more weight on their left side. Primarily, it's so there isn't any transfer of weight during the stroke. Favoring the left side and keeping the weight, consistent, you can minimize any lower body motion and you can have a little bit more of a pure stroke with your shoulders, as opposed to having any kind of movement in the lower body.

How do you coach your players to deal with the nerves on the opening shot?

I will tell you a funny story. Back in the day, I remember Zach Johnson playing in (The Memorial Tournament) at Muirfield Village and tee times came out and he said he called his wife and he said, "Guess who we're playing with?" and she said "Tiger Woods?" He says, "No, bigger than that." After this long silence, she suddenly realizes it's Jack Nicklaus. Zach was paired with Jack Nicklaus at his own tournament, and they had like a 12 o'clock tee time with 10,000 people around the first tee. So anyway, I called Zach on Thursday night and asked, "How was that opening tee shot?" He said he was so nervous he couldn't swallow a BB. He said, "Well, I knew I couldn't pass. I had to play, so I visualized great shots I've had in the past, and I ran my routine." I striped it right down the middle. Everybody gets nervous but the players, you know, they stick to the routine and they're OK. They've hit so many great shots under pressure and so forth and they're off to a great start.

What is the key to hitting irons consistently?

Everything comes down to the proper delivery of the club into the ball. You could say anybody who's very consistent in golf is delivering the club the same way into the ball. Being able to hit down on your shots and compress the ball - which helps to stabilize the clubface - and controlling that clubface is another key component to hitting good iron shots. I try to make sure people come in on the correct plane because that helps them produce more lag. Lag helps to get your hands more forward. That, in turn, helps you get down on the ball, so it's kind of a domino effect. I definitely want to hit down on the ball and control the clubface.

What one drill would you do to get a consistent downswing?

I look at things like one domino falling against the other and they run down the list. So many times, I see people with so much tension in their shoulders and their forearms and they start their downswing more with their upper body, and they start rotating a little early and that's where they can shift the plane and come in and have all kinds of different release habits. If that's the case, I have the drills I get people to do. We work on trying to accelerate and be more relaxed in their arms and get their hands moving toward the golf ball. We do a lot of things when we do a fold-up drill with an impact bag up against the wall that helps get people to do that. We have a handful of drills that we do to work on that particular aspect of the swing because it is such a big deal.

What are you impressions on the PXG clubs Zach Johnson uses and would you consider them for amateurs?

The PXG clubs are phenomenal. They're a great club and, obviously, they've had an evolution since they came out and they've continued to get better and better. Zach is dialed in with his equipment now he really feels confident with it. I think they're an excellent club company. All the companies these days make great clubs. The fit is the main thing. You've got to get fit properly. And that's going to come from seeing somebody who has a launch monitor that can dial in all your specs to your swing speed. Also, once your launch angles are flat, it's really important that if you do get that fit right.

Egg Salad or Pimento?

Pimento. Definitely.

How do you navigate the no-cell-phone policy to capture video on the grounds at Augusta National?

Most weeks, I use the V1 app on a mobile device. Here, I bring my own camera with a tape head and videotape swings. Then I bring it home and then I load it into my computer into my V1 Pro system. I can take it back and look at Zach’s swings from today, and put them up against other years. I’ve also got some swings of other players that I can use for teaching purposes can still do a lot of work with the V1 system out here at Augusta.

Watch the full conversation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlMJc4W-DWU

McConnell Golf continues to dominate North Carolina course rankings in 2021


(RALEIGH, N.C.)
— For the first time in its 17-year history, Raleigh-based McConnell Golf propelled all 10 of its North Carolina courses into the state’s top 100 rankings, including a trio of layouts ranked among the state’s top 20.

Those three — Old North State Club on the shores of Badin Lake, near New London, Greensboro’s Sedgefield Country Club and Raleigh Country Club — all remained in North Carolina’s top 20, while the other seven helped McConnell Golf maintain its status in the state’s top 100.

A perennial state top 10, Old North State Club was ranked No. 9 in North Carolina, while Sedgefield CC — which annually challenges the world’s best golfers during the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship — moved into the state top 10 at No. 10. Raleigh CC was ranked No. 20 in the state.

In 2020, along with the addition of Porters Neck Country Club in Wilmington to its portfolio, McConnell Golf unveiled a $5.5 million restoration of Donald Ross’ last design at Raleigh CC, overseen by architect Kyle Franz. Architecture experts predict RCC will jump higher in the state rankings following the modern-day reimagining of the iconic course.

In December, McConnell Golf expanded its footprint across the southeast with the purchase of The Water’s Edge Country Club in Penhook, Va., on Smith Mountain Lake.

McConnell Golf is an owner and operator built upon the concept of “pure golf for the true golfer,” focusing on enhancing both the individual club’s and its company’s overall membership value. The McConnell Golf collection of clubs throughout the Carolinas, Tennessee and now Virginia includes courses designed by legends Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Hale Irwin and Ellis Maples.

In the 2021 North Carolina Top 100 rankings, Durham’s Treyburn Country Club was ranked No. 31, followed by the Country Club of Asheville (48), The Cardinal by Pete Dye in Greensboro (52), Porters Neck Country Club (75), Charlotte’s Providence Country Club (79), The Country Club at Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh (81) and Brook Valley Country Club in Greenville (100).

The 2021 state rankings also included two specialty categories. Old North State Club was ranked No. 4 among the state’s “Fairest Courses to Play” (“regardless of overall difficulty, courses that best reward good shots and penalize poor ones in a manner that is reasonable”). Meanwhile, Sedgefield ranked No. 10 in the state for “Most Strategic Courses” (“the degree to which the course requires thoughtful planning and precise execution of shots from tee to green”).

“Our courses continue to merge history, beauty and opportunity for our avid golfing membership and their guests,” said McConnell Golf President & CEO John McConnell. “With the enhancements made at Raleigh Country Club and new projects planned at other McConnell Golf courses, I am proud of what we have accomplished in the past year and eager to see how the rankings play out in the future.”

The N.C. Golf Panel presented its 26th annual report on the state’s 100 best courses in the April issue of Business North Carolina magazine.

Troon Selected to Manage Esplanade Golf & Country Club in Naples, Florida


(Scottsdale, Ariz.)
– Troon, the leader in club management, development, and marketing, is pleased to announce it has been selected to manage Esplanade Golf & Country Club, a private club and community located in Naples, Florida. Troon Privé, the private club operating division of Troon, will manage golf, club, resort-style amenities, food & beverage operations, golf course agronomy, membership marketing as well as the community’s master association.

Esplanade Golf & Country Club features an 18-hole Chris Wilczynski-designed golf course that was named one of the “Best New Courses in America” by Golf Digest in 2014. The 6,983-yard, par 72 course offers golfers wide fairways off the tee and the ability to run the ball up on every hole. Flower beds, water features, trees and bunkers help frame each hole. 

The community’s wellness center includes a fitness center with cardio and strength training machines, free weights, a movement studio, a variety of group fitness classes, personal training sessions, wellness seminars as well as spa and massage services. The wellness center also features a resort-style pool, tennis, pickleball and bocce programs.  The Amenity Center houses many member clubs and along with the Event Lawn which hosts monthly member-wide events.

Food and beverage options at Esplanade Golf & Country Club include the Bahama Bar and the recently opened Culinary Center, which features two restaurants – the Barrel House Bistro and The Café – for members to enjoy.

“Esplanade Golf & Country Club is a spectacular community,” said Ricardo Catarino, vice president, operations, Troon. “We are thrilled to be working with the Board as we look to further elevate the entire operation from golf course agronomy to service levels and member experiences.”

The beautiful Esplanade community was developed by Taylor Morrison Homes and includes approximately 1,798 acres, 1,000 of which are natural preserves, wetlands and walking trails, as well as over 170 acres of lakes. The gated community features 1,184 residential homes.

For more information Esplanade Golf & Country Club, visit www.naplesesplanadegcc.com or call 239-232-2575.

For additional news and information, visit www.Troon.com.