Is this the perfect par 4? A coastal-clinger that tests your courage off the tee
Ed. note: The inaugural GOLF + Nicklaus Design Challenge, to which contestants submitted plans for their dream par 4s, attracted nearly 200 entrants. From that group, the experts at Nicklaus Design, along with a handful of GOLF editors and writers, nominated 10 finalists — and now we’ve recruited your help in picking the winner. (You can cast your vote here.) To give you more insight into the designers behind the designs and how they conjured their holes, we’re profiling each of them in more detail in the coming days. The winner — which will inspire a hole design on an upcoming Nicklaus Design course — will be announced on or before May 15.
DESIGNER: GRANT LAU
Residence: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Engineering science student at the University of Toronto
Been playing golf for: I started playing when I was 8; I played competitive junior golf and am now a member of the University of Toronto golf team.
Favorite course you’ve played: Cabot Cliffs. The scale is unbelievable but even the holes that aren’t set on cliffs have unique design features that make them equally as compelling.
Course you’d most like to play that you haven’t: National Golf Links of America. I’ve never played a MacDonald and from looking at pictures and reading reviews I think it ought to be considered more seriously as the best in the U.S. with Augusta, Cypress and Pine Valley.
Ever designed a golf hole before? I’ve only ever done sketches of golf holes — but, yes, I’ve done many sketches over the past few years.
Time spent on your design? About six hours. I had the concept already as part of a larger nine hole plan. Most of the time was spent reworking the details and getting it on google earth.
Please explain your creative process.
The original 9-hole concept (pictured above) was inspired by two videos, which you can watch below. Hole 7 seemed fairly apparent when looking at the coastline. I’m pretty comfortable drawing plan views but I’m not very good at doing perspective sketches so image overlay with elevation on Google Earth was a revelation. With Earth, you can move around and get a sense for how your designs will look/play. Additionally, because you can’t modify the elevation, the medium is essentially forcing you to take a minimalist design approach, which I like.
I became interested in golf course architecture through competitive golf and from playing different courses while on vacation. I’ve only ever done sketches of golf holes but would love to get involved in an actual design project in the future. I think course design could use some more radical concepts to guarantee the sport’s viability long term. I’m a fan of Tom Doak’s reversible course and the sub 18 holes stuff that Edwin Roald has been pushing.
My crazy idea would be to cut a continuous path/paths at fairway height and width and just insert pins onto the fairway in different locations. This results in massive setup flexibility would save maintenance costs on the greens and requires few bunkers. If you only have space for six holes, but they can all take three different forms then you have something that feels much bigger. Plus, we used to putt on slow greens anyways — the turf just needs to be contoured and firm enough to make the course strategic. Aside from that, being in Engineering Science, I am a proponent any software/math integrations into the golf design industry.