"Keeping my eye in" – Ally McIntosh

Having graduated from the EIGCA education program but as of yet not working full time in golf design, I know the importance of keeping my eye in. So I was extremely grateful that the guys at EGD accepted me in to their office for a week to set me a challenging task, based on one that they had faced themselves a few years prior.

The project at hand was to redesign a new eighteen hole golf course from the remaining land available from two previous courses. Although the work had been undertaken by Ross McMurray, it was Robin Hiseman that would be my primary host and whilst he explained the brief to me, it immediately became clear that it would not be entirely straightforward: Firstly, the land had some of the severest elevation change that I had encountered. Secondly, redesigning golf holes over a site where existing holes are in place creates a very different set of problems than at a green-field location, not least because it is harder to visualise the land without what is there already.

Still, with a bottom line objective of routing the “best members’ course available on the land”, I stuck at it, going through countless iterations of possible outcomes and trying to fit the most pleasing jigsaw together from the options available. Finally I made some fundamental decisions which left me with two solutions, one of which I opted to develop in to an overall master plan.

My final day in the office was spent putting some shape, strategy and life in to the golf course and I’ll spend some further time back at home creating some detail to the design with some grading plans and green designs.

The week culminated in a visit down to the course for a match of the utmost seriousness. I think it better not to reveal the magnitude of my loss against Mr. Hiseman but the fact that we were shaking hands at the furthest point from the clubhouse perhaps hides a clue. Fortunately, I’ve had to invent a whole host of new excuses to account for my recent erratic golf; so it was pleasing to inform my opponent that I had been spending far too much time comparing the as-built course with my own routing from the drawing board. How was I supposed to concentrate on winning the game as well?

Needless to say, my warmest appreciation is due to Jeremy, Robin, Ross, Alex and all those in the office that gave their time up to help me. Go raibh mile maith agaibh.

By Ally McIntosh

Ally McIntosh on the 3rd Tee at The Montgomerie, Celtic Manor