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: DANIELE SMITH
Residence: State College, Pa. (but born and raised in Pittsburgh)
Occupation: Student at Penn State University’s College of Engineering
Been playing golf for: 19 years
Favorite course you’ve played: Swinley Forest Golf Club, in Ascot, England. It’s a captivating Harry Colt design.
Course you’d most like to play that you haven’t: Cypress Point, and not merely because of the ocean holes!
Ever designed a golf hole before? Yes! From schoolbook doodles to conceptual proposals for real prospects, I’ve done it all.
Time spent on your design? A few hours under the midnight oil.
Please explain your creative process.
I wanted to create a hole with a slightly engineered approach. I used design software to create the layout sheet, plus a pencil and pen design on vellum, and overlay them together in Photoshop. I created multiple revisions of the hole, crowdsourcing feedback from golfers of various backgrounds and abilities. (For example, a dear friend of mine suggested setting the hole in a coastal region.) My design philosophy values integrating public opinion, sort of like what Mr. Nicklaus is doing here.
Despite the visual appeal, I opted out of using color in my presentation for a more architecturally-minded approach. I want the viewers to focus on how playing the hole provides a unique strategic experience, coinciding with the movement of the hole location and conditions. Fussing over anything other than line work would have distracted our efforts to appreciate the true architectural potential of the hole.
That being said, I do work in watercolor (and post some of my work on Instagram @The_Smith_Signature). Because I used pencil and pen for this project, it was easier to supplement more time toward the overall layout of the sheet and provide a 3D artistic interpretation, with no gimmicks involved. “Coastal Creep” is a hole that could be built on just about any firm and hilly site, and therefore is not restricted to a coastal oasis.