Just for kicks, aim away on new QuickSands par-3 course at Gamble Sands in Washington

Designed by David McLay Kidd, the new QuickSands course focuses on fun with plenty of extreme slopes to feed golf balls toward the holes.

Just for kicks, aim away on new QuickSands par-3 course at Gamble Sands in Washington

BREWSTER, Wash. – Forget watching big drives soar beyond sight. Forget seeing a putt find the bottom of the cup. And forget turning a cold eye as an opponent stubs a chip in a tight match (forgive me for pointing out this one, as I’m usually on the other side of that scenario). All those things might be enjoyable, but there is something better.

The most fun in golf might be watching an approach shot land on a greenside slope, reverse course and gather speed to trickle onto the green, always rolling closer and closer to the hole. Hold your breath, waiting to see where it stops. A rolling, bouncing ball takes the normal seven seconds of excitement as a shot flies through the air and turns it into a much better 30 seconds of “what ifs.”

And that is the whole point of the new QuickSands par-3 course at Gamble Sands in central Washington near the Columbia River. David McLay Kidd laid out the 14-hole short course that opened last week with the hopes that even good players will take the sometimes-counterintuitive approach of aiming away from the hole to get a ball close. All in the pursuit of a few good laughs.

The QuickSands par-3 course at Gamble Sands in Brewster, Washington (Courtesy of Gamble Sands)

There are steep backstops. Feeder slopes. Funnels through extreme contours. Downhill tee shots begging a player to try a 180-yard putt. All things that might be too dramatic on a full-size 18-hole course – or too much fun when a serious player needs to post a serious score.

“When you’re out on a big course, because of the GHIN (handicapping) system, every golfer that takes the game seriously is going to post a score,” the native Scotsman Kidd said via video chat after the course opened May 1. “So when you build a full-scale golf course and you do crazy things, someone is going to post that score, and they can get irritated with the fact you’re doing crazy s—. On a par-3 course, nobody is posting a score. Nobody cares, right? … The whole point of it is, it’s not so serious. How do we absolutely max that out?”

It’s all in keeping with a new approach by Kidd that was manifested in the big 18 at Gamble Sands, which opened seven years ago and is ranked by Golfweek’s Best as the No. 1 public-access course in Washington and No. 40 among all Modern Courses built in the United States since 1960. Kidd also has laid out a second full-size 18 that is waiting to be built as the resort, set near expansive apple and cherry orchards, expands.

A sign leads the way past the range at Gamble Sands to the new QuickSands par-3 course. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

The whole property exudes a relaxed vibe, building on Kidd’s insistence that instead of punishing errant shots on the main 18, the big idea should be the pursuit of fun. Kidd was coming off a string of designing several difficult courses that were panned by many critics, so the designer changed tacts and tackled the task of making a course playable for average golfers. Gentle slopes frequently steer the ball toward safety, and wide fairways give any player the chance to swing without fear.

QuickSands, with its firm fescue turf that keeps balls rolling across the 25-acre site, amplifies that approach. It’s a major addition to a trend of short par-3 courses at famous destinations that invite players to take a break from typical golf.

Built into what was a wild dip among impressive mountain scenery, QuickSands’ 14 holes play from 60 to 180 yards. The longest, the eighth, plays steeply downhill and begs players to give the putter a whack off the tee. In my foursome at the opening, the best shot came with a flat stick, while another player who tried to loft a hybrid down the slope managed to knock a ball 30 yards right and over a pasture fence. The hole was named Faith, and take it on faith that a tee shot with a putter can work out.

“Our deepest desire when building QuickSands was getting people to figure out that hitting it directly at the pin is not the only option and may not be even close to the best option,” said Kidd, who might be most famous for his original 18 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. “A basketball got rolled around out there a lot to figure out how we could make that happen.

“Really, our motivation was how do we stop someone, or at least make them think twice about, hitting to whatever the yardage is. … I think if people go out there and just hit to the yardage, we’ve probably failed.”

The QuickSands par-3 course at Gamble Sands in Brewster, Washington, is framed by mountains. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

The holes boast names that were not the product of a marketing department but that were assigned to give Kidd’s crew of shapers a better idea of how the hole should play. Right Wing. Left Bank. Doughnut. Corkscrew.

“On the third hole, I said build me a crater (which became the name),” Kidd said. “Think of Crater Lake. I want to throw it into the crater, because the only way that a severely uphill hole gets fun is if there’s no way the ball can roll away. Think about it, every time you build a golf hole up in the air, like a par 3, normally when it hits the top and if you miss, everything ricochets away. So I didn’t want that. How do we prevent that? Easy, just build a crater. If a shot stays in the crater, you’re probably on the green and maybe you got close.”

No. 1 of the QuickSands course at Gamble Sands has a big slope behind the green that serves as a backdrop to send balls back onto the green. (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

The opening hole was named Plinko after The Price is Right game in which plastic chips bounce down through a series of pins. The green is built into a giant mound that turns around tee shots that seemingly land too long, sending balls downward onto the green and often straight toward the flag.

“So I explained to the guys on the first hole that I didn’t want anybody to try to hit to the pin, that I wanted them to use the backboard,” Kidd said. “So in the conversation, somebody said, ‘You mean like Plinko?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, just like that.’ And that’s where it started.”

If it all sounds too much like putt-putt and not enough like real golf, just relax. Take a deep breath. Try listening to the tunes piped through speakers around the course, maybe that will help. And you can still aim at the flags if you like – nobody will force you to join the fun. Go ahead and hit it straight at the hole, but know you’re missing the whole point.

Source : Golf Week More   

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Great Britain & Ireland's secret sauce, Tyler Strafaci's grit and other Walker Cup takeaways

There was a lot to learn from the 48th Walker Cup.

Great Britain & Ireland's secret sauce, Tyler Strafaci's grit and other Walker Cup takeaways

JUNO BEACH, Fla. – Cole Hammer has long seemed destined for the kind of Walker Cup glory he found on Sunday at Seminole Golf Club. Hammer won his third match outright (after tying his morning foursomes match) to secure the Cup once again for the Americans. A few minutes later, 30-year-old Stewart Hagestad claimed the 14th and winning point.

“It means the world. I honestly had no idea that my match was going to be the clinching point but it is really special,” Hammer said. “Waited two years for this. It was really close going into this afternoon and to be able to be the one to clinch it is a cool deal.”

The Americans didn’t romp to a blowout victory the way many predicted they would this week. A stomach bug – which also affected the Great Britain & Ireland team – threw a wrench in the plans on both sides. Sickness aside, here are the major takeaways from the 48th Walker Cup:

At the end of the day, WAGR is just a number.

There was never a head-to-head match at Seminole Golf Club where a GB&I player out-ranked his opponent. The Americans were wildly ahead according to the rankings, but if we’d all paid attention to those, and awarded points accordingly, this thing would have been over before it even started.

The closest Sunday singles match, according to the WAGR, was the one between Alex Fitzpatrick (No. 12) and Pierceson Coody (No. 2). Coody birdied the 17th hole to close out Fitzpatrick for the second day in a row.

Ranking doesn’t account for much in Fitzpatrick’s mind – especially not in match play. In fact, a better ranking might even create more pressure.

“The chances are that the higher ranked player is probably a better player, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to win,” he said.

Asked if talk of rankings discrepancies lit a fire under his team, GB&I captain Stuart Wilson said he was unaware of it.

“There were a lot of comments about us hanging in well and fighting really hard,” he said. “I was more of the opinion we were letting the Americans away with it. My mindset on the whole thing, the guys played well and played really well. I think on another day, the match would have been a totally different result.”

2021 Walker Cup

Stuart Wilson, L-R, Mark Power and John Murphy watch the action on the 18th green during Foursomes at the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. on Sunday, May 9, 2021. (Scott Halleran/USGA)

What was GB&I’s secret sauce?

Windy conditions with firm, fast greens seemed to play a bit into GB&I’s hands this week, but the close outcome wasn’t so much about what GB&I did surprisingly well, as Wilson noted, but where they played solidly. There was no keep-it-close mindset, and GB&I displayed that all week.

Ultimately Wilson felt a few loose shots cost his team the victory, and took that all the way back to the foursomes sessions.

“Maybe let the Americans get away with a little but too much and a few slack shots here and there,” he said.

His plan was to win foursomes on Sunday (check) then frontload the singles lineup to try to pull it off. At times, it looked as if the math would work in their favor.

Wilson highlighted preparation and on-site practice early week, even if it was interrupted by illness, as being key in GB&I’s success.

“I felt like we were bonding really well all week, had some great team morale, some great advice from Paul McGinley, just felt good out there,” GB&I player Joe Long said.

The Walker Cup - Previews

The United States Walker Cup team, with only one player (John Pak) not pictured. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

What if the alternates were always in play at the Walker Cup?

As a Walker Cup alternate, it would be hard to bring a better disposition to the occasion than the one Cooper Dossey brought to Seminole. He found out three weeks before the matches that he would serve as an on-site alternate, a decision made in light of COVID.

As a stomach bug ripped through the team, Dossey had a real chance of playing. Ultimately, his fellow alternate Mac Meissner got into the opening four-ball session, but Dossey only spent the week outfitted with an earpiece. He appeared on the first tee with the team and walked most of Sunday afternoon with an ailing Tyler Strafaci.

“I got here on Saturday and that’s what really intrigued me was they have treated me like I was on the team from the get-go,” he said. “I’ve played every practice round with them, I’ve gotten every piece of gear they’ve gotten, my own hotel room. It’s been pretty sweet.”

Only eight players compete in the first three sessions as it is and choosing who sits among the core 10 players is already a hard decision. Interestingly, in 2019 Crosby had all four lineups decided before the matches ever started – that meant he ended up sitting some of his hottest players, notably John Pak. Crosby indicated he’d have done that again but for have to deal with so much sickness.

While alternates were certainly necessary this week, it seems unlikely they’ll be in the mix again anytime soon.

“I’m not so sure we really need traveling reserves in a regular year,” Wilson said. “I think the 10-man squad is quite good as it is because you’ve kind of got natural two reserves naturally for the first three sessions as it is. I think the 10-man squad is quite good as it is because you’ve kind of got natural two reserves naturally for the first three sessions as it is.”

The Walker Cup - Day 2

Jack Dyer of Team Great Britain and Ireland (L) meets with Tyler Strafaci of Team USA after Dyer won their match during Sunday singles matches on Day Two of The Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club on May 09, 2021 in Juno Beach, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Applaud Strafaci simply for staying on his feet.

Strafaci, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, took himself out of Saturday singles at the last minute. The 22-year-old said later, after a trip to the hospital for IV fluids, that he was seeing two golf balls while he was trying to warm up. In close matches such as these, it was arguably the most heroic move he could have made – Strafaci’s withdrawal allowed William Mouw to step in and score a point against Ben Jones.

On Sunday, a slightly-recovered Strafaci appeared in two sessions and by late afternoon was bending over slowly and walking gingerly. Strafaci failed to put a point on the board on the final day – though he did nearly hole his final bunker shot on the closing hole – but the sheer strength it took just to stay on his feet will be a lasting memory from these matches.

Source : Golf Week More   

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