In 2009 the first Golf Study Tour (The McKenzie Tour) was undertaken by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the European Institute of Golf Course Architects and the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects. It was held in Australia, with 86 Golf Architects from around the world visiting Sydney and Melbourne. The Architects decided to continue the Study Tour each three years and in 2012 it was in USA then 2015 in the UK.
This year in November the Study Tour was again held in Adelaide over five days and incorporating visits to Kooyonga GC, Adelaide Oval, Grange GC, Seppeltsfield Winery (conference venue), Glenelg GC and Royal Adelaide GC where the final dinner was also held. The tour was named “Cargie Rymill’s Four Reds Tour” in honour of Herbert Rymill (nicknamed Cargie / the local Golf Architect who influenced much of the original design in Adelaide), the four Golf Courses all which are built on red sand areas with red sand bunkers and finally the Study Tour sponsor Toro (famous for its red machinery).
On the Tuesday of the Four Reds Tour a new innovation was introduced into the program, the World Sand Golf Design Competition which was held on the beach at Glenelg in front of the hotel. This new team event was sponsored by HydroPlan (irrigation engineering consultants http://hydroplan.com.au).
Each team (ASGCA, EIGCA & SAGCA) had six Golf Architects and were provided with some basic tools along with a rectangle area of sand 4m x 2m. Teams were only allowed to use materials sourced from the beach or sea, buckets provided brought water from the sea to the sites. The competition rules stated that it must be a golf theme, teams can develop the concept for their project prior to the event but cannot “overlay” any such designs onto the sand. Other Architects could provide advice and encouragement but could not actively take part in any construction or material gathering. A Toro Sand Pro prepared the sand and also cleaned up after.
All three teams developed a single hole concept, both the SAGCA team and EIGCA with a Par 3 and the ASGCA team opting for a short Par 4. The SAGCA had a pre-prepared plan but other teams had only discussed their concepts.
As originator of the concept and referee it was interesting to watch the different styles of the competing teams and how they went about concept development and construction. SAGCA went with historical theme by recreating a famous Par 3 hole from the Royal Melbourne Golf Course, influenced by Dr Alister Mackenzie. ASGCA developed a short Par 4 with strategic options, rock wall and bunkers with timber facing. Team EIGCA developed a links Par 3 hole.
The two-hour challenge was hotly contested and finished with each team Captain explaining their design features to the enthusiastic spectators and three judges; John Gransbury (HydroPlan), Richard Walne (Toro) and Tony Webeck (Australian Golf Digest).
After due deliberation the judges awarded the American Society of Golf Course Architect team of Andy Staples, Mark Hollinger, Rick Phelps, Mike Benkusky, Brian Huntley and Cary Bickler winners of this inaugural event. Commemorative trophies and plaques were awarded, and then HydroPlan’s 11 local staff and helpers treated everyone to local food and wine overlooking the sea until sunset.
What came out of the competition…. well Golf Architects working together as a team in front of their peers generated some very special golf holes incorporating a lot of what was being discussed during the Study Tour, sustainability, environment, strategy and above all…. fun.
Discussions were held as to how this event could move away from the beach at future gatherings. Simple just pick a golf course with either one big bunker or three smaller bunkers near each other and allocate an area within of 4m x 2m, away we go again. Rules to be modified to allow water from Irrigation system and natural materials found on the golf course.
Phil Ryan: International Organizer