Is this the perfect par 4? Where the ground’s contours decide strategy off the tee

Golf course hole design


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 Hansen, Arno Kamphuis, Keith Maysley, Daniele Smith


Age: 33
Residence: Fort Worth, Texas
Handicap: 2
Been playing golf for: 29 years

Favorite course you’ve played: Pasatiempo Golf Club
Course you’d most like to play that you haven’t: There are many, but the Old Course at St Andrews would have to be number one.
Ever designed a golf hole before? Never in reality, but many times on paper.
Time spent on your design? Plenty. I know my wife was glad when I finally finished and stopped obsessing over it.

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

shinnecock no. 10
The 10th at Shinnecock provided inspiration for the design. Getty Images

Please take us inside your creative process.

It’s definitely a more difficult process than you think it will be. I always find it challenging to draw everything to scale and to translate everything to paper in order to fit the vision that I have in my head. As for inspiration, I often find that the most fascinating holes are those that use ground contours in creative and interesting ways, with manmade hazards playing a secondary role in enhancing the strategy. These contours can be small humps or hollows or large hills or depressions.

Golf hole design
Chance Williams
Golf hole design
Chance Williams

The idea for a deep valley or bowl in the fairway came from photos I’ve seen of holes such as the 10th at Shinnecock and the 12th at Sand Hills where this feature sets up the strategy for the hole. I find holes that ask the golfer to decide between extra distance on the tee shot or a better approach angle and view of the green to be thought-provoking and memorable. I tried to capture inspiration from these holes and others like them in positioning the fairway slope to create a decision for the golfer off of the tee. I went through several iterations of this general concept, and several reams of paper, before landing on this version.

Click here to see all 10 of our finalists and vote for your favorite design.

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Alan Bastable Editor

As’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, 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.