Friday, November 02, 2007

Nicklaus Hits Horseshoe Bay

There's a new golf course heading to Horseshoe Bay, and it's being designed by Jack Nicklaus. And this is a signature course, so Nicklaus is being very hands-on with the Summit Rock over Skywater track.

An article from Cybergolf shows just how hands-on Nicklaus is being:

Nicklaus rode the site in a Range Rover driven by Progeny (the site's construction contactor) principal David Oberle and was followed by a pack of 10 four-wheel-drive mules sporting Horseshoe Bay officials, local politicians and press. The Golden Bear spent almost four and 1/2 hours touring the site, whose holes are roughed-in but mostly rock, grass and - a lot of - dust.


From comments overheard between Nicklaus, Oberle and Chet Williams, senior design associate for Nicklaus Design, the master is considering options such as switching the nines of the golf course, eliminating back-to-back doglegs that turn in the same direction, and relocating several greens. "We have four or five holes where we have a little work to do, and we are going to change them a little to minimize the amount of rock work that has to happen," Nicklaus said. "We did change three or four holes around, but not extensively. This is essentially the same routing I did when I was here six years ago."

Nicklaus called the Skywater site "a nice piece of property," and noted that his team was working to determine the most efficient way to build the golf course. "That is part of my job - to figure out how to build a really good golf course here without breaking the bank book of the owners," Nicklaus said. "Right now we have probably a dozen holes that fit in nicely. There will be a series of memorable holes on this track, that's for sure."

The article was interesting because it also quoted Nicklaus talking about the challenges of building in the Hill Country, where so much rock makes things very difficult for construction crews and designers. Nicklaus' term for "rocky" is "bony."

"I think the Hill Country is the Hill Country - it is all bony," Nicklaus said. "You try to figure out how we are going to build a course without moving any more rock than you have to. That was what we were doing today - making sure that the routing was suitable and to give the construction team some strategy. We are going to work our way from there."


Nicklaus, who has designed more than 300 courses around the world, has three signature tracks in play within an hour's drive of the Lake Marble Falls Bridge: The Hills of Lakeway's signature course, Cimarron Hills in Georgetown and Cordillera Ranch in Boerne. He also co-designed the Flintrock Falls course at The Hills of Lakeway with his son Jack Nicklaus II.

Nicklaus said that of those four, The Hills' signature course was closest in the challenges he faces at Skywater. "Cimarron Hills was a very easy golf course to do because we moved very little dirt there, maybe only 50,000 yards," Nicklaus said. "We didn't move very much at Cordillera either, but we did move a lot at Lakeway, but that was a long time ago.

"We have made a few changes at Lakeway over the years, but that is a course that has always stood the test of time," Nicklaus added. "Lakeway was also a bony piece of property - much like we have here at Skywater."

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