Is this the perfect par 4? A coastal-clinger that tests your courage off the tee

Grant Lau's submission for the GOLF + Nicklaus Design Challenge.

Grant Lau's submission for the GOLF + Nicklaus Design Challenge.

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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.

Previous finalist spotlights: Todd BramwellBryan OrellanaTrevor HansenArno Kamphuis, Keith Maysley, Daniele Smith, Chance Williams, Tim Bailey

DESIGNER: GRANT LAU

Age: 18
Residence: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Engineering science student at the University of Toronto
Handicap: Scratch
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.

WE WANT YOUR VOTE! Click here to pick the perfect par 4 from among our 10 finalists

Grant Lau’s par-4 submission is part of a 9-hole design.

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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.

WE WANT YOUR VOTE! Click here to pick the perfect par 4 from among our 10 finalists

A closer look at Grant Lau’s design.

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Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.