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Anyone play a de-Signatured course

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

A standard golf course costs a lot to build, but the Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Whoever Signature courses cost even more.

 

A lot of the Signature courses got built back in the late 1990s as part of a residential development - the idea being the lots will sell faster if next to a Signature course. If the lots sell out, you can take it from semi-private to private.

 

Well, Signature courses can be troublesome once they get up and running. If the owner has 90% of the lots unsold five years later, and it's basically a public course, the sig emblem can be a money pit.

 

If you want to change the course - remove bunkers, cut down significant trees, alter water hazards - you have to get permission of the designing guru, or you lose your sig designation. Usually these changes involve negotiations.

 

We have one sig course in the next county that didn't work out as a club, and got bought with the idea of reworking it into a public course. The famous guru didn't like the changes, so the new owner said fine, pull the sig.

 

Do any of you play at courses built by famous golfers which have de-Signatured themselves?

post #2 of 8
What course are you referring to?
post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by WUTiger View Post
 

 

 

We have one sig course in the next county that didn't work out as a club, and got bought with the idea of reworking it into a public course.

 

Curious, how does the layout of a signature private course typically differ from a public course (I've never been fortunate to play a signature course) ?       Wondering why it would need to be reworked to become a public course - would it be to intentially void the signature of the course for financial reasons (i.e. cheaper to operate without the associated signature costs) ?

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by inthehole View Post
 

 

Curious, how does the layout of a signature private course typically differ from a public course (I've never been fortunate to play a signature course) ?       Wondering why it would need to be reworked to become a public course - would it be to intentially void the signature of the course for financial reasons (i.e. cheaper to operate without the associated signature costs) ?

 

Nothing specific about the layout that makes it a Signature design.  Both Jack and Arnie have various levels of personal input into the courses their firms design--a "Signature" design is essentially their highest level of personal involvement.  I saw a special on GC:  IIRC, for a Nicklaus Signature design course, Jack personally approves the architectural plans, and makes 4-5 personal visits to the course site as it's being built.  The early visits are to stake in the layout, and the later visits are to site in or tweak specific terrain features like mounds, bunkers, etc.

 

Since the "Signature" level of design has the most personal involvement of the big-name designer, it's also the most expensive package for the developer.

 

So, I'm guessing that as long as the course bears the "Jack Nicklaus Signature Design" label, Jack (or his firm) get's to personally approve re-designs, particularly if terrain features are moved or altered.  Sounds like a clever way to hold the developer hostage on future course improvements:  "If you don't pay my firm for the course upgrades, then you can't continue to use my name on your sign."

 

I'll further guess that "reworking" the course for public play involves filling in hazards and cutting down trees in order to make it more player-friendly (and faster).  It's understandable that Jack/Arnie wouldn't want their "Signature" name on a course that's built for mass/speed play.  They want their personal designs to be challenging and unique.

post #5 of 8

ah ok - thanks !    Makes more sense now that I understand what goes into a true signature course...

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by k-troop View Post
 

... I'll further guess that "reworking" the course for public play involves filling in hazards and cutting down trees in order to make it more player-friendly (and faster).  It's understandable that Jack/Arnie wouldn't want their "Signature" name on a course that's built for mass/speed play.  They want their personal designs to be challenging and unique.

 

I know of one course in west St. Louis County that went from private-equity to public. It wasn't a signature course, but a local newspaper or magazine interviewed the new manager on the "rework." It included widening the landing area on longer holes (cutting down trees). Also, the rework filled in some sand traps, to open up some tight greens a little more, and to cut down on maintenance.

 

The rework can also influence course grooming standards. If the main trace of play is mainly fairway lined by a generous swatch of "first-cut" rough, this helps speed up play: You not only can find your ball quicker, but it's easier to hit out of the rough.  

 

I have run into two course superintendents who had re-evaluated their sand traps. If you have a trap that no one ever lands in, you may want to take it out (less maintenance). At Cardinal Creek G.C. on Scott Air Force Base, the superintendent did this about four years ago. The course had several dozen traps.

 

The course had big-time scrambles on consecutive days. The evening before the first day, the crews went out and raked all the traps. As the second day's scramble wrapped up, the crews went out and looked at the sand traps. Despite nearly 200 golfers coming through the course, a third of the sand traps were untouched. A number of these were filled in during the coming months.

post #7 of 8

Sand traps are one of the biggest drains of a budget. I rake mine 4 times a week. and when it rains everyone washes out. takes 5 guys 8-10 hours to put them back together.

post #8 of 8
I'm a member of a Palmer signature course, and we might have the most poorly designed bunkers I have ever seen. They have very high,steep faces covered in sand, and every time it rains, they wash out. To make matters worse, the drainage on the green complexes direct the water into the bunkers. When the guys fix the washouts, they put a lot of sand on the faces, and the sand on the bottom is very thin. I used to work at a Donald Ross course, and those bunkers, with grass faces and flat bottoms, were easy to maintain. Our course has filled and grassed a couple of the worst bunkers, but they had to get permission from Palmer's design company in order to continue calling it a Palmer Signature Course.
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