Westward Ho!

“Wind, I consider, the finest asset in golf; in itself, it is one of the greatest, and most delightful accompaniments in the game. Without wind, your course is always the same, but as the wind varies in velocity, and from the various points of the compass, you not only have one course, but you have many courses.” C.B. Macdonald

 

The 11th hole (originally the 9th), has probably changed the most, tee to green, than any other hole during the MP project. Often considered the best par 4 on the back nine, Raynor must have wanted the (original) 9th hole to have serious teeth. Over time, the teeth had become dull, so the MP looked back to the historical photos for guidance regarding the restoration. Westward Ho! is not a Raynor Template hole, but several of his courses have holes that have adopted the name, out of respect for its history. Westward Ho! was an English village, with a golf course laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1864, that eventually adopted the name. It was the beginning of golf for England, as many great players learned to play at Westward Ho!, including Horace Hutchinson, and John Henry Taylor, who won the Open Championship 5 times.

For more information on Westward Ho! – https://www.scottishgolfhistory.org/oldest-golf-courses/1864-westward-ho/

If you study the original drawing, the first thing you’ll notice is the wide corridor and 4 fairway bunkers. The first fairway bunker on the left, was one bunker, not 3, as it was presented before. At the green, there were no bunkers. Again, there was mystery as to what we studied in aerials from the past. Did Raynor again change his mind in the field, or alter it in a site-visit?

Notice below that the fairway bunker at the beginning right of the fairway is gone (or never built), the other 3 fairway bunkers are there, and large in scale, there’s a C-shaped bunker left of the approach, and there’s a bunker very close to the left side of the green, that was intended for the original 7th green.

Notice in the aerial below that the tee box is in the same location as it is today. The one thing that you cannot tell from the aerials is the fantastic topography the hole lies upon. Jim Urbina has said several times that this hole might have the best, naturally flowing land, of any hole on the property, one that Raynor was more than likely very pleased with, and especially, since wind has such a large influence on how you should play your ball, given the conditions you face.

At the tee, there was a major change. The back tee complex was lowered by almost four feet. This produced a massive amount of soil, which mostly was spread out to the North and East side of the tee complex. Lowering the tees restored Raynor’s intent of the player’s horizon-line vision, meaning when you you’re hitting your shot, your view is into the horizon line of the landing zone, which is broken up by fairway bunkers, left and right. This creates a more intimidating feel, for players of all lengths, even onto a massively wide fairway.

Below is the finished product being topdressed, in a more natural, clean, and classic presentation of a tee box, without steps, and a forced flower bed. You’ll notice Fescue grass was planted to the right of the tee, that ties into the slough, bringing a more natural feel, closer to the tee.

A new forward tee was built, to get those players to land their balls on the right landing area. Before, a well struck tee shot down the middle of the fairway, would veer left or right, and end up in the rough. The new tee, shown below, will reduce that from happening, by getting balls to land over the large hump at the beginning of the fairway.

One of the initiatives of the MP, was to widen the fairway back out on both sides. On the left, to get tee shots struck off-line to continue to roll in the fairway bunker. On the right, to get balls to continue to roll, further off-line, and not stop when they rolled into the previous rough.

 

The second set of bunkers will only come into play, off the tee, with the longest of hitters. But Raynor must have placed them there, because they rest at the top of the hill, which frames the corridor, but more so, for player’s second shots from the rough on both sides. With the width of the corridors being restored with tree removals, a player’s ball is able to travel further right and left, bringing these fairway bunkers into view as you look to advance your ball to the green.

Proving again, that the map drawing was correct, the original fairway bunker sand on the right, was found once shaper Joe Hancock started to excavate new the bunker cavity. There was so much work being done to the entire hole, that we wanted both Joe, and Zach Varty, working simultaneously on it, minimizing the distances between all of the construction trains. With all 6 bunkers being built on #11, installing drainage, and reworking irrigation in each of them, was a full-commit from all aspects of the shapers, contractor divisions, and our staff.

100-year old bunker sand exposed on right fairway bunker.

Below, you can see that the C-bunker was rebuilt, which again, will be catching balls on the approach, creating a hazard for balls that come up short of the green, as well as creating an intimidating decision to play directly over it to new pins that will hug the left side of the green. But notice the fairway expansion grassing line, and how we had to add sod after the seed had grown in. Once we started construction of the green site, Jim didn’t like how the fairway grass line presentation tied into the green. He wanted the fairway line to look as though it was tying into the edge of the new green, so 6 feet of sod was added to the outside to get it correct.

Same with the right side of the approach. Notice how the sod creates an infinity look into the bunker, also ensuring balls will roll into the bunker, without being stopped by rough. Credit to our staff, who had to lay a lot of sod with a positive attitude, without truly understanding why “presentation” was worth all of the extra work.

At the green, you can see how Hartman Construction has created the “bathtub,” removing the heavy soils down 5″, and filling with a mixture of sand/soil/peat, that matches our 50 years of topdressing built up into the greens. This also shows how drastically the 11th green has changed, injecting numerous more pin positions, and variety of strategies, with the expansions.

Below you can see that the fake mounding is gone in the approach, up the left side of the green, as well as the backdrop mounds, restoring the bunkering, and infinity skyline aesthetics. The approach topography was also changed, to tie in the C-bunker, with the green, resulting a massive sodding project, all the way around the green complex.

The green expansion bathtub filled with new soil, packed, and percentages of grades hand raked out, prepared for sod.

Below you can see the skyline/infinity look of the green on all sides, with very little rough in your approach sight line.

Left side of green.

Back of green.

Right side of green.

One of the aspects of the project that will never be seen is the irrigation restoration that occurred. The wiring on #11 was something out of a Stephen King novel. Normal configuration of irrigation wires runs with pipe that runs down both sides of the fairway. On #11, we had to cut both wire runs, and pipe, on both sides of the hole. This created hundreds of splices, and worse yet, the process of elimination to put them back together in the correct sequence. But if by chance, you unknowingly cut a wire while trenching or digging, it creates a nightmare trying to troubleshoot. We had all of the above on #11, and Mark Ries had his hands full, with multiple days of frustration.

Before you can start any excavating, trenching, or shaping, the irrigation wiring and piping needs to be located, then turned off/isolated. 11 green and fairway had its water off for 2 weeks, creating a environment of survival for the turf, and many long sessions of watering the green, with several hoses attached to 18 fairway irrigation.

Major transformation of the green complex.

And finally, a large section of cart path right of the approach was removed, to prevent wayward shots from hitting it. With all of the changes to the 11th hole, there will be little doubt about its test of golf. At the same time, the MP implementation made it more playable for the higher handicap player, a win-win. With some of the best land on the property, we’ve proudly accentuated it with complimenting architecture.

Mike Manthey

9 Replies to “Westward Ho!”

  1. Paul Kirkegaard says:

    Thanks again for including the old photos, Mike. We may not fully appreciate esthetically what you all did for this hole until we get to play it. Another fun hole made even more fun!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Agreed Paul. This one needs to be played in the am, midday, and pm, to appreciate!
      M.

  2. Bill Sands says:

    Probably 50 or so years ago, the Star Tribune did an article re the best composit golf course in MN. This hole was included as the old #9. They quoted Arnold Palmer who drove into the left bunker off the tee, hit his second into the trap left of the green, blasted out and three putted for a 6.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      This is a fantastic story Bill, love it! Need to see if I can find the article, would love to read all of it.
      M.

  3. BRUCE DRAKE says:

    Thanks. A fine hole, made even better!!

  4. Dan Kelly says:

    I will take my 5 and walk on with head held high.

    1. Dan Kelly says:

      While muttering, under my breath: “Take that, Arnold Palmer!”

  5. Brian Gorecki says:

    Great historical overview. Thanks so much Mike for taking the time to educate the membership on all the little pieces that made-up the MP. I’m in awe of all the thought and hard work that made up the redesign. Brian G

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Brian! A lot of details to share, but hopefully explains the what’s and why’s to improve everyone’s education and experience!
      M.

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