The 16th at Midland, Redan, is one of the most unique renditions of the most commonly copied Template hole you might ever see. If you’ve ever played a Raynor-designed Redan, then you know Midland’s has a different take. This doesn’t make it bad. Actually, as Jim Urbina put it, it makes it wonderfully unique, and something that should be admired. We know that Raynor wasn’t on site in 1920 when the Redan was built, but we also know that he came back after it was constructed. If he really disliked it, chances are he would have made them rebuild it, like he did himself with a rake to the green’s surface of the Short. Did he admire the uniqueness and quirk of it? Maybe, maybe not. We know for sure that he wouldn’t like the pond that fronts the hole, as it was dug to bury the pond on the 15th, just a few years after Raynor had left for good. Regardless, the hole is full of attributes that makes Midland different than the other courses in town, you won’t enjoy the experience of this hole anywhere else. In my opinion, I think too many architects have taken the uniqueness out of many Redan’s during “restorations,” so I’m glad Urbina didn’t want to make the 16th a carbon copy of a Chicago Golf Club, or CC of Charleston, which are often just copied and sadly, pasted.
Notice below there is no pond fronting the hole in Raynor’s drawing. Also notice the location of the tee box. Historian, George Bahto, was incorrect stating that the original line of play from the tee, was directly behind the now 10th green. This straight-on angle tells me that maybe Raynor never intended the hole to play at such a severe angle over the left bunker.
By 1937, we know that the pond had unfortunately been dug.
The Redan possesses such good strategy that it’s long been known as the most copied 3-shotter, even in modern-day architecture. It’s strategy is timeless. The original Redan, where CB Macdonald got his inspiration, was the 15th at North Berwick in Scotland. If you’ve been fortunate enough to play the original, then you already know, the first design will probably never be topped. For more info and examples of the Redan, click the link below:
So what makes Midland’s 16th different? The main landform that’s unique, and out of character, is the large mound in the front left corner of the green-pad. This creates a completely blind pin, anything left of center, which is a normal attribute of the Template, but usually the mound is absent from the design. This fortress-mound creates a tougher challenge with a long iron or wood in hand, by making distance control extremely difficult, because it forces you to do what Redan’s do best; gauge how far the ball will roll once it hits the ground. But at the same time, the mound itself rejects shots that come directly at it, forcing the line of play to the right. Removing, or lowering this mound, to make the Redan look and play like all the others was discussed by Urbina for about 60 seconds. It’s part of Midland’s character and charm, and shall stay so.
However, the part of the Redan that had been lost over several decades, and that was taking away from it’s fun-factor attribute, was the right side of the hole. Over time, exactly like all of the other greens, it had shrunk. But the Redan had shrunk in the worst spots. By 1937, it looks as if the Redan had already lost its functioning shape, as this was probably a financial decision, as it was well documented in the BOD minutes that implementation of design was compromised. The sheer size of the Redan green made it a good candidate to save on mowing labor. By the 1940’s, shown below, you can now see the size of the putting surface no longer fits the scale of the green pad, or the bunkering.
Fast forward 100 years, and as heights of cut have lowered considerably in modern times, struck shots have much better roll-out, which has meant that a lot of times your ball would roll through the entire green, and end up in the surround on the back left corner. It was determined in the Master Plan that the green needed to be extended to keep balls on the putting surface as much as possible. But in order to implement a green expansion, the entire cart path would need to be moved to the West, and the back existing surround would need to be shaped to match the contours on both sides of the green complex.
In the picture below, the orange excavator is parked on the existing cart path. The white hash marks are the intended new border of the surround, and green surface.
Below, you can get a better sense of the green expansion that was constructed.
But surface drainage has always been an issue on the back left of the green because the cart path would slow/stop water from completely exiting the green complex, leading to winter damage, and saturated summer conditions. Josh Eykyn, of Hartman Construction, beautifully shaped this back expansion, and installed drainage to prevent both scenarios, and the result is a look as if the contours have always been there.
The right side of the green needed to be expanded, up the hill, all the way to the bunker, to restore how the Redan should function. Now it is very unlikely that a struck ball will stay up on the right slope since it’s all putting green surface right to the edge of the bunker. By recapturing this area as putting green, it brings back more of an original shape of a Redan, as they are turned on that 45 degree angle to the line of play, from right to left. In order to make these grass line changes, the irrigation heads had to be relocated outside of what would be the new putting surface. This task is no easy feat, and all hand work. Also interesting to note in the picture below is the undisturbed soil profile. You can see the clay base, then the evolution of dark organic matter-soil, then the multiple decades of topdressing with sand. Greens were built as bathtubs in the Golden Era, because they didn’t have irrigation, and the intent was to hold as much natural rainfall as possible. Now, we want to get rid of that water as quick as possible, and try to modify the soil profile. Greens were built with bulky technology of Studebakers in the 1920’s, not like Mclarens of today.
However, by the time we were on 16 green, we were on borrowed time. This was the last green expansion the Midland staff executed, and you can tell, it was one of the most trying sod jobs of the project. With the snow falling, and freezing temperatures looming, everyone needed to maintain focus on quality control. There also was an excitement, and relief, that energized everyone, culminating the last major sod job of the construction project.
However, after the last big sod job, all of the winter preparation still needed to be executed, which is an extensive undertaking of itself, on a normal year. It can’t be overstated how lucky we are to have such a fine group of people that were asked to climb even further, when they thought they had reached the top of the mountain.
The bunkering on the Redan didn’t need much restoring, just tweaking it’s sharpness, and location, to the green pad. The bunkers were pulled closer to the edges, the aesthetics were Raynorized, and shaping now matched the rest of the holes. The left bunker was turned slightly into the hole, and pulled further into the fairway. This helps create more direction to the player, to play right, and let the Redan slope do the work. Once shaped by Joe Hancock, Hartman Construction added drainage, and several tons of sand. The results will speak for itself, as the green complex, and bunkering, are better displayed as the massive scale it was envisioned by Raynor, 100 years ago.
Below you can see the difference of aesthetics between both bunkers, as Joe Hancock is almost finished with the right side, and the left side is in its existing presentation.
At the tee box, not much needed changing. The back tee was leveled, and the retaining wall from the 1990’s, was removed. A safe hillside was built to walk down, and Fescue was planted on it. The forward tee was new(er), and only needed to be realigned. The drop tee was tripled in size, with it’s own independent irrigation heads installed. From the tee boxes, the Redan has been going through a transformation for well over a decade. What used to be a hole that was so overplanted with trees, you couldn’t appreciate the wind, scale, or architecture. Raynor would be extremely proud of the work that’s been done here, and more than likely, happy with its current unique state.
The retaining wall from the 1990’s about to be removed to create a more natural presentation.
The stairs were also removed, and shaped for a gentle grass walk-up, through the Fescue, which will create a fantastic feel of vista, scale, and architecture, in this corner of the property.
New properly shaped, and sized, drop tee.
The comparison aerial shows the changes to the shape of the green, surround, the new cart path routing, and how the bunkering will come more into the players view from the tee box, demanding confidence in one’s stroke.
Overall, the Redan was determined to be a unique example of the Template, and accentuating its uniqueness was determined the best course of action. Jim Urbina wanted to make sure that we maximized its scale, fun factor, functionality, and strategy, and with everyone’s involvement, it should be considered a great success, and a memorable experience.