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All Things Currahee

L a k e M o u n ta i n G o l f C l u b

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NOVEMBER 1, 2013 | $10.95 US | $11.95 CANADA | GOLFWEEK.COM

No. 17 at TPC Stadium Course at PGA West


PHOTO COURTESY OF HAIG POINT CLUB

puzzle pieces of a

No. 17 Calibogue, a 195-yard par 3, sits along Calibogue Sound at Haig Point Club.

For architects, discerning the best course routing never has been more difficult

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BY BRADLEY S. KLEIN

his peak in the 1950s and ’60s, the elder Rees Jones was standing on the shore Jones didn’t have to worry about wetlands. of Daufuskie Island, set directly across But environmental laws having changed, Calibogue Sound from Hilton Head Island, architects in the modern era have to avoid S.C., trying to figure out how to get to the such areas — whether by routing elsewhere or water. Get golfers there, that is. simply playing over them. He was early in the process of designing ?Caption For Rees Jones, who had the run of 900 Haig Point Golf Club. It was 1979, and acres for the Haig Point course, the most though he had done several successful interesting land was along the perimeter, projects, he was not yet a household name where the wetlands approached the tidal in golf course architecture. But he thought waters. There wasn’t a wide enough stretch that the Daufuskie course presented a great of dry uplands to sequence holes along the opportunity to bring holes up to the water’s length of the coast, but there was enough edge — a goal of modern course designers. room to put either a green or a tee in To do so, he would need holes playing front, with Calibogue Sound as a looming across wetlands, and that meant long carries background. So he would exploit the beauty into the prevailing wind over land that could of the natural setting along a perpendicular not be filled. Low-handicap golfers could axis, effectively using corridors that provided handle that. But this was supposed to be a dramatic views. residential community, where the majority of Along the way, Jones utilized a neat tool members would buy homesites while in their in the routing arsenal of any thoughtful 40s and 50s and expect to be playing into designer: different angles of play. The scratch their 80s. golfer would play across hazards, while Rees Jones didn’t have the freedom that higher-handicappers could play alongside his famous father, Robert Trent Jones Sr., or around the wetlands. Jones also did had enjoyed during his long career. At

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something that solved the routing problem while maximizing the Haig Point site’s native assets. On two par 3s, the eighth and 17th, he built double holes — a dry one and a wet one, so to speak. The result is, in effect, a 20-hole course, though actually it’s two different sets of tees creating holes that don’t require forced carries. “I wanted to make sure everyone could play for the rest of their lives,” he said. As strange as a description of the routing scheme might sound, on the ground it easily works as basically two overlapping courses in one: the slightly longer, more demanding Calibogue, and the shorter, slightly more forgiving Haig — the latter with the two alternative par 3s and easier angles on four full drives.

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here are all sorts of ways to route a golf course. The simplest, most elegant is the famed out-and-back string of holes at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Too bad it’s never quite that simple — pure sand, no internal real estate, no wetlands, simply fitting the


course between the town on one side and the beach on the other. In the centuries since the Old Course seemingly unfolded, course development has become a lot more complicated. Classic-era designers didn’t worry about swampy land; they either moved to an adjoining uplands site or filled the low-lying ground. No more, as environmental permitting and the restraints of available land forced architects to be more inventive, balancing homesite development, road access, stormwater management and safety setbacks from property lines. Architects talk about this as a “puzzle,” with golf holes the pieces that have to fit. And they don’t fall easily into place. Jeff Brauer, a Dallas-based designer, says that sometimes he’ll do so many preliminary routing plans on paper that he’ll give up designating them “A,” “B,” “C” and so on, and instead use numbers. “Twenty-six letters weren’t enough,” he says. “Though in actuality, they are not all new schemes but revisions where you’ll use some of the same holes but spin off sections in other areas, so it’s more like 1a, 1b, 1c.” When you’re doing a routing, par 3s are your friends because they solve the problem of bridging difficult ground. Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Gold Course in Williamsburg, Va., is an example of this. Trent Jones used a wonderful set of par 3s to get across ravines and over natural water bodies, reserving the expansive open areas for the landing areas of par 4s and par 5s. Some legendary designers, like cowboys from a previous century, prefer to head off in the field and get lost wandering around on their own. That’s how Bill Coore likes

to think about his routing plans. He and his design partner, Ben Crenshaw, are the kind of guys who get excited about a 2-foot elevation change. They figure that if they can scratch a foot out on the low side and pile it on the high side, then they have enough topography to work with. As much as possible, they are always looking to keep their courses natural, ground-hugging, tightly connected and walkable. Of course, sometimes architects are working with such a rugged piece of land that making it walkable is virtually impossible. In fact, just walking the raw site might pose impenetrable problems. That’s what Jim Fazio confronted when he was presented with 1,200 acres in Toccoa, Ga., overlooking Lake Hartwell, 100 miles northeast of Atlanta. When you’re dealing with 250 feet of elevation change, exposed rock outcroppings and dense tree cover, it’s virtually impossible to walk the land without at least a preliminary sense of where you’re going. So Fazio did an early drawing of the layout off of a topographic map before heading out, he says, “with a bulldozer in front of me so I could make it through the thickets.” The original land plan called for 2,000 homesites. That really complicates a routing because standard setbacks from the fairway’s center to adjoining property lines are 250 to 300 feet, sometimes even more on the (predominant) slice side or at the inside of a dogleg. The architect has to steer clear not only of houses but of active backyards – swimming pools, lounge chairs and kids playing. Eventually, the land plan was adjusted to a less-cluttered 800 homesites.

The The forever forever views views from from holes holes 13 13 and and 14 14 at Currahee Club

But the topo map still showed up as densely bunched contour lines, so Fazio had his work cut out finding landing areas that would support a shot. The result is Currahee Club, a stunning, dramatic and at times visually overwhelming golf course. By virtue of roads, drainage and access, the land plan dictated that the clubhouse sit on a ridge line, and from there the returning nines radiate out – the front nine to the east, the back nine to the west. In a good example of converting a site liability into an asset, Fazio had golfers negotiate a 120-foot free-fall on the opening tee shot – the design trick on this par 5 being to create or float out enough of a landing area to contain shots before they run into broken ground. The view is almost vertiginous – straight out to Lake Hartwell, and from there a roller-coaster descent through dense woodlands dotted by wetlands. After that opening hole, the front nine is nestled in, but the back nine is wide open and provides long views (50-plus miles on a clear day) across the Dahlonega Plateau into the Appalachian Mountains and Tennessee.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF CURRAHEE CLUB

well-designed routing in golf takes you on a journey. The best architects are those who can seamlessly weave together enjoyable golf holes while resolving the technically complex land-plan issues of slope, setback, drainage, playability and real estate/resort economics. Classical designers had a freer hand to practice their artistry; modern designers must be more technically adept in negotiating more constraints and making tough sites work. For a golfer, the best way to understand routing in golf design is to sit down after a round and draw a little map of how the holes fit together. It’s not an easy thing to do, certainly not the first time you’ve played a course. But if you’ve paid attention to the sequence of holes and how they sit in relation to one another, you’ll get a pretty good idea of the most important elements in course design. Holes should fit in next to one another, fit the land and ideally, engage golfers with the natural terrain. When those elements come together, you know you’ve found a good routing. ❍

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RESIDENTIAL COURSES 1. (1) WADE HAMPTON CLUB Cashiers, N.C., 1988 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 7.93 2. (2) ROCK CREEK CATTLE COMPANY Deer Lodge, Mont., 2008 Tom Doak Avg. rating: 7.89 3. (3) HUNTSMAN SPRINGS > 102 Driggs, Idaho, 2009 David McLay Kidd Avg. rating: 7.66 4. (4) SHOOTING STAR Teton Village, Wyo., 2009 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 7.63 5. (5) GOZZER RANCH Arrowpoint, Idaho, 2007 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 7.50 6. (7) CASTLE PINES Castle Rock, Colo., 1981 Jack Nicklaus Avg. rating: 7.48 7. (6) COLORADO GOLF CLUB Parker, Colo., 2007 Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw Avg. rating: 7.47

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Huntsman Springs Driggs, Idaho

Territory Golf and Country Club Duncan, Oklahoma

8. (10) OAK TREE NATIONAL Edmond, Okla., 1975 Pete Dye Avg. rating: 7.37

10. (8) MAYACAMA Santa Rosa, Calif., 2001 Jack Nicklaus Avg. rating: 7.32

9. (12) MARTIS CAMP Truckee, Calif., 2007 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 7.36

11. (13) PRONGHORN (FAZIO) Bend, Ore., 2006 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 7.31


Currahee Club Toccoa, Georgia

14. (15) ESTANCIA Scottsdale, Ariz., 1995 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 7.19

29. (29) STONE CANYON Tucson, Ariz., 2000 Jay Morrish Avg. rating: 6.88

15. (19) LONG COVE CLUB Hilton Head Island, S.C., 1982 Pete Dye Avg. rating: 7.14

30. (25) THE PRESERVE Carmel Valley, Calif., 2000 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 6.88

16. (17) MOUNTAIN LAKE Lake Wales, Fla., 1917 Seth Raynor Avg. rating: 7.12

31. (30) FREDERICA St. Simons Island, Ga., 2004 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 6.86

17. (16) FOREST HIGHLANDS (CANYON) Flagstaff, Ariz., 1989 Jay Morrish, Tom Weiskopf Avg. rating: 7.10

32. (14) DIAMOND CREEK Banner Elk, N.C., 2003 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 6.85

18. (22) THE RIM Payson, Ariz., 1998 Tom Weiskopf Avg. rating: 7.09

33. (33) GOLF CLUB OF RAVENNA Littleton, Colo., 2007 Jay Morrish Avg. rating: 6.84

19. (18) PAA-KO RIDGE Sandia Park, N.M., 2000 Ken Dye Avg. rating: 7.07

34. (55) DALHOUSIE GOLF CLUB > 94 Cape Girardeau, Mo., 2002 Jack Nicklaus Avg. rating: 6.82

20. (20) CUSCOWILLA Eatonton, Ga., 1998 Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw Avg. rating: 7.06

35. (35) THE TERRITORY GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB > 94 Duncan, Okla., 2005 Randy Heckenkemper Avg. rating: 6.80

21. (24) CONCESSION GOLF CLUB Bradenton, Fla., 2006 Jack Nicklaus Avg. rating: 7.04 22. (27) JUPITER HILLS CLUB (HILLS) Tequesta, Fla., 1970 George Fazio Avg. rating: 7.04 23. (23) LAHONTAN Truckee, Calif., 1999 Tom Weiskopf Avg. rating: 7.03 24. (26) KIAWAH ISLAND (CASSIQUE) Kiawah Island, S.C., 2000 Tom Watson Avg. rating: 6.98 25. (28) FOREST DUNES Roscommon, Mich., 2003 Tom Weiskopf Avg. rating: 6.95 26. (39) JOHNS ISLAND WEST Vero Beach, Fla., 1989 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 6.94

12. (9) MOUNTAINTOP Cashiers, N.C., 2007 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 7.26 13. (11) PATRIOT GOLF CLUB Owasso, Okla., 2010 Robert Trent Jones Jr. Avg. rating: 7.26

27. (NR) THE MADISON CLUB* La Quinta, Calif., 2006 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 6.93 28. (21) BLACK DIAMOND RANCH (QUARRY) Lecanto, Fla., 1988 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 6.90

36. (32) FOREST CREEK (NORTH) Southern Pines, N.C., 2005 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 6.77 37. (34) BLACK ROCK Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 2003 Jim Engh Avg. rating: 6.75 38. (38) QUINTERO Peoria, Ariz., 2000 Rees Jones Avg. rating: 6.74 39. (44) STONE EAGLE Palm Desert, Calif., 2005 Tom Doak Avg. rating: 6.74 40. (31) BRIGGS RANCH San Antonio, 2001 Tom Fazio Avg. rating: 6.74 41. (36) SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS Las Vegas, 1999 Robert Trent Jones Jr. Avg. rating: 6.73 42. (62) CURRAHEE CLUB > 92 Toccoa, Ga., 2004 Jim Fazio Avg. rating: 6.73 43. (58) SPRING ISLAND (OLD TABBY LINKS) Okatie, S.C., 1994 Arnold Palmer, Ed Seay Avg. rating: 6.73

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RESIDENTIAL

HONORS Golfweek’s Best Residential Courses 2013 (No. 62) -Golfweek Golfweek’s Best New Courses 2006 (No. 12) -Golfweek 2013 Top 1,000 Golf Courses in the World -Rolex Best of the Mountains (No. 1 in Lake Living Category) -Mountain Homes Southern Style Top 50 Regional Waterfront Communities -CL Registry America’s 100 Premier Properties: Georgia -Links

Currahee Club Toccoa, Georgia 706.827.1000 | www.CurraheeClub.com

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residents and members, features the relaxed yet refined mountain style that people desire

largest lakes in the southeastern United States, the private gated golf community of Currahee Club is taking mountain and lake living to

today with casual and refined dining inside and outside on the stunning stone terraces. Hand hewn hardwood floors, dramatic wood-beamed

a whole new level. Drawing upon its rich local heritage and picturesque landscape, Currahee — a Cherokee

ceilings and massive stone fireplaces make this majestic structure a showplace that many say is one of the most beautiful clubs they

word meaning “stands alone” — is truly a oneof-a-kind community. Blending seamlessly into its majestic surroundings, Currahee Club is a refined yet relaxed retreat where guests repeatedly say, “What an amazing hidden gem Currahee is, so close to Atlanta and just minutes from the quaint Historical town of Toccoa that has all your day-to-day needs.” Reserved exclusively for members and their guests, the 18-hole Currahee Club Course is the spectacular centerpiece of the extraordinary community. Taking advantage of the natural contours of the land, acclaimed course architect Jim Fazio crafted a 7,540-yard, championship

have even seen. In addition to golf and lake living, Currahee now has a newly completed Currahee Sports Club & Amenity Campus with swim, fitness center, excursion center, tennis, volleyball, bocce ball, basketball, tot lot, event lawn, garden, poolside dining and tiki bar. Members say Currahee is their perect private mountain and lake home where doors are rarely locked and kids play outside. Whether your design style is Nantucket, mountain refined, craftsman, English cottage or mountain rustic, each home in Currahee takes its cue from the natural landscape, offering

masterpiece. Boasting astonishing 360-degree, three State panoramic views of Lake Hartwell and the Blue Ridge Mountains, this world-

families a peaceful retreat from the hectic pace of everyday life and setting the standard for all other gated golf communities in the Southeast.

class course features rolling fairways, dramatic elevation changes (up to 350 feet in some areas) and generous, sloping greens.

With just over 700 homes planned on 1,200 stunning acres, only a privileged few will be able to call Currahee Club home.

n the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, atop the shores of Lake Hartwell, one of the

The stunning 48,000 square-foot clubhouse, which has quickly become a second home to

Golfweek’s Ultimate Guide

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