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David McLay Kidd learned his lesson


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#1 dpark

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 01:58 PM

My opinion of David McLay Kidd has been persona non grata for several years now. Although he designed one of my favorite courses (Bandon Dunes), he also built total pieces of garbage like Tetherow in Bend and the Castle course in Scotland.

I can't find the article, but in a Q&A about Tetherow when Kidd was questioned about golfers complaining about the "eyebrows" in the middle of the BLIND landing areas at Tetherow that were too penal, his response was "the golfer hit the wrong club". That arrogant POS response told me that this guy was on an ego-maniac trip and I vowed to never play any of his other courses other than BD (I played Tetherow for a tournament and have never gone back).

I was in Scotland earlier this year and wasn't planning to play the Castle course due to the scathing reviews from my buddies who had played there in the past and the stories that the caddies refused to caddy there because all they ended up with were pissed-off golfers who tipped poorly because they shot 100+ with a dozen lost balls.

However, the person whose house we rented, told us we must play the course because they had "significantly softened" it over the past few years. To his credit, it was still a challenging course but we also had a good time. Still too many blind shots and funky landing areas for my taste, even with a caddy to point out where to hit the ball . During the round my caddy showed us what they had done to make the course playable and it was clear that Castle would have been stupidly difficult before the changes. To me it was a shame to have to spend money to "undo" all the stupid things Kidd did. So while we did have a good time playing Castle, my opinion of Kidd was unchanged.

Well. I saw an article in Golf today that seems to imply that Kidd has learned his lesson. Not sure when I can play Mammoth Dunes, but I will give Gamble Sands a try since it isn't too far away. I can also play Rolling Hills in SoCal when it is finished since I have family down there.

http://www.golf.com/...nt=2017110912PM

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#2 ParParAgain

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 02:01 PM

Hey, as a general rule, we all get a little smarter as we get a little older.....

Even golf course designers.

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#3 CMCSGolf

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 03:13 PM

Interesting thought.  It does seem like Kidd has evolved his style more quickly than many other architects considering it's very easy to spot the differences in the 20 years he has been a lead designer.  I haven't played the Castle, but I have played Tetherow, Bandon, and Gamble Sands.  Bandon is in a league of it's own, but I actually like Tetherow more than Gamble.  I get that Tetherow has funky greens and some exceptionally penal parts of the course, but it is a course that looks and plays very different from most other courses. Even if the course isn't perfect or awesome in everyone's eyes, there is some value in creating something different from the other 10,000 courses out there.

Gamble is also a great course, but the greens are much simpler than Tetherow: they are flat and uninteresting.  The wind keeps Gamble challenging, but there is very little to note on or around the greens.  While Tetherow is the exact opposite (probably still too severe for average golfers and they have softened it somewhat), I had a lot more fun hitting wild putts.  Twice I had an approach collect to a few feet from the hole because of the severe slopes and several times I watched my ball trickle 50 feet from the hole because I was on the wrong side of the slope.  This might be "unfair" because the margin of error between a 5 foot putt and a 50 foot putt could be 1 yard, but this was fun to me.  

I don't think I would want to play Tetherow every day, but it was far more interesting than most courses with pedestrian flat greens.  Also, the fact that Kidd admits flaws and realizes when change is necessary is an admirable quality in my view.  I've never met him and he may be a jerk, but most things in life are rarely perfect the first try.  Donald Ross tinkered with Pinehurst his whole life, Bobby Jones tweaked Augusta a lot, etc.  It's unfair to view a course as a static object that can't evolve and improve.

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#4 youraway2

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 06:15 PM

View Postdpark, on 09 November 2017 - 01:58 PM, said:

My opinion of David McLay Kidd has been persona non grata for several years now. Although he designed one of my favorite courses (Bandon Dunes), he also built total pieces of garbage like Tetherow in Bend and the Castle course in Scotland.

I can't find the article, but in a Q&A about Tetherow when Kidd was questioned about golfers complaining about the "eyebrows" in the middle of the BLIND landing areas at Tetherow that were too penal, his response was "the golfer hit the wrong club". That arrogant POS response told me that this guy was on an ego-maniac trip and I vowed to never play any of his other courses other than BD (I played Tetherow for a tournament and have never gone back).

I was in Scotland earlier this year and wasn't planning to play the Castle course due to the scathing reviews from my buddies who had played there in the past and the stories that the caddies refused to caddy there because all they ended up with were pissed-off golfers who tipped poorly because they shot 100+ with a dozen lost balls.

However, the person whose house we rented, told us we must play the course because they had "significantly softened" it over the past few years. To his credit, it was still a challenging course but we also had a good time. Still too many blind shots and funky landing areas for my taste, even with a caddy to point out where to hit the ball . During the round my caddy showed us what they had done to make the course playable and it was clear that Castle would have been stupidly difficult before the changes. To me it was a shame to have to spend money to "undo" all the stupid things Kidd did. So while we did have a good time playing Castle, my opinion of Kidd was unchanged.

Well. I saw an article in Golf today that seems to imply that Kidd has learned his lesson. Not sure when I can play Mammoth Dunes, but I will give Gamble Sands a try since it isn't too far away. I can also play Rolling Hills in SoCal when it is finished since I have family down there.

http://www.golf.com/...nt=2017110912PM
I played Stonebrae near Hayward, CA: I really liked the course.  Demanding shots but rewards for pulling them off.

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#5 dpark

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 09:52 PM

I think Kidd wasn't getting any business after the reviews of courses like Tetherow and Castle.

I don't know him personally, but I do wonder if his "epiphany" was really due to a change in heart, or a desire to be paid to design golf courses again.

Either way, the world can use more Bandon Dunes courses and fewer Tetherows. I don't know anyone who says "Bandon is a pile of garbage, never going there again" but I know dozens of people who say that about Tetherow. And it isn't because of the service or the price. It is because of the playability of the course.

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#6 irvtrain

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 10:32 PM

I read a couple good articles about Kidd from a couple years ago. One was Tom Doak gave Castle a zero in his Vol 1 book on course architecture....it was the only course to get a zero. Pretty scathing and probably hurtful to Kidd.  

Another was he how he had to overcome Tethrow and Castle with Gamble Sands for Keiser to consider him for Sand Valley. Fortunately for him Gamble Sands was a hit and Keiser gave him the 2nd course to design. It definitely was along the lines that he was making golf courses way too difficult as you mentioned.

I've played Bandon Dunes and Gamble Sands and love them both. I really want to make it to Tethrow soon, but mostly want to make it to Bend.

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#7 ryu123

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Posted 09 November 2017 - 11:48 PM

Bandon Dunes & Gamble Sands are built on open, mostly flat land.

Both Tetherow & Stonebrae are on the sides of steep hills.

Liked Bandon Dunes a lot, Gamble Sands almost as much.

Didn't like Stonebrae.

Really disliked Tetherow.

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#8 CMCSGolf

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 12:37 AM

What are some of the big dislikes about Tetherow? I know the greens are severe, but is that really worse than completely bland greens like Pronghorn - Nicklaus a few miles away? I completely understand not loving Tetherow, but it really surprises me that people hate it.  If I had to speculate, I would guess people who hate Tetherow think courses should be eminently fair.  Like I said, two balls can end up 50 yards apart even if they start few feet apart. That can be frustrating, but it's fun once in awhile in my view.  The worst part of the course is the segmentation of holes in difference groups between various housing tracts.

Tell me what I'm missing?

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#9 mallrat

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 01:51 AM

I think there are 2 parts to this post that are different conversations.

1) Never seen the Castle course but played Tetherow a handful of times and really enjoy it. A friend of mine actually got to know Kidd after the course was built (and during the building). One day they were playing a round together and Kidd admitted to him that he was going through a divorce and was really angry when he built that course and would do the greens completely different today. (And I would play Tetherow over Pronghorn Nicklaus every day and twice on Sunday)

2) I canít imagine he was ever black balled or on the outs or anything. He is a younger designer who seems VERY busy which has to ruffle some feathers. What is he late 40ís or early 50ís. For his portfolio at that age is pretty impressive. Iím sure he has changed some things over time and made some mistakes he wonít make again. If he didnít learn from mistakes then I would say there is a problem but as Gamble Sands and Sand Valley supposedly show he has learned a lot.

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#10 golfandfishing

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 09:36 AM

Matt Ginella is a huge fan of McKay Kidd, which gives me great concern over his ability. Ginella evaluates based on hype, marketing and payola as his primary criteria.


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#11 Wardonation

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 10:09 AM

View Postdpark, on 09 November 2017 - 01:58 PM, said:

My opinion of David McLay Kidd has been persona non grata for several years now. Although he designed one of my favorite courses (Bandon Dunes), he also built total pieces of garbage like Tetherow in Bend and the Castle course in Scotland.

I can't find the article, but in a Q&A about Tetherow when Kidd was questioned about golfers complaining about the "eyebrows" in the middle of the BLIND landing areas at Tetherow that were too penal, his response was "the golfer hit the wrong club". That arrogant POS response told me that this guy was on an ego-maniac trip and I vowed to never play any of his other courses other than BD (I played Tetherow for a tournament and have never gone back).

I was in Scotland earlier this year and wasn't planning to play the Castle course due to the scathing reviews from my buddies who had played there in the past and the stories that the caddies refused to caddy there because all they ended up with were pissed-off golfers who tipped poorly because they shot 100+ with a dozen lost balls.

However, the person whose house we rented, told us we must play the course because they had "significantly softened" it over the past few years. To his credit, it was still a challenging course but we also had a good time. Still too many blind shots and funky landing areas for my taste, even with a caddy to point out where to hit the ball . During the round my caddy showed us what they had done to make the course playable and it was clear that Castle would have been stupidly difficult before the changes. To me it was a shame to have to spend money to "undo" all the stupid things Kidd did. So while we did have a good time playing Castle, my opinion of Kidd was unchanged.

Well. I saw an article in Golf today that seems to imply that Kidd has learned his lesson. Not sure when I can play Mammoth Dunes, but I will give Gamble Sands a try since it isn't too far away. I can also play Rolling Hills in SoCal when it is finished since I have family down there.

http://www.golf.com/...nt=2017110912PM
Lives in my town, was known for being quit the heavy drinker. Tetherow is just horrible in every sense of the word but Gamble is the complete opposite. I believe there is a middle ground somewhere? I heard that he was going through a tuff divorce during Tetherow?

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#12 mallrat

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Posted 10 November 2017 - 10:25 AM

View Postgolfandfishing, on 10 November 2017 - 09:36 AM, said:

Matt Ginella is a huge fan of McKay Kidd, which gives me great concern over his ability. Ginella evaluates based on hype, marketing and payola as his primary criteria.

But that comes from the course owner and/or manager not architect.

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#13 SDL

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 07:47 PM

I've played Bandon Dunes (and really liked it), and I'm hoping to play Mammoth Dunes next summer. A few weeks ago, my brother played Sand Valley and the preview holes for Mammoth Dunes. He liked Sand Valley, but thought that Mammoth might be even better - at least based on the holes that were already open.

I'm glad that Kidd is back to designing interesting and fun courses. I've been impressed with Mike Keiser's approach to building courses for the "retail" golfer, and I'm wondering if Doak will be asked to design the next course at Sand Valley. It would be interesting to see what magic Doak could conjure up as part of the ongoing competition between Doak and Kidd.

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#14 raynorfan1

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 09:13 PM

Iím sympathetic to Kidd. Heís done some really really amazing work - Bandon Dunes, Nanea, Mac Dunes - but heís had some tough commissions in the Castle Course and Tetherow.

With the Castle course, he took a big risk and it didnít work. But itís a tall ask to build the seventh course at St. Andrews - youíre going to be compare to Kingsbarns at best and The Old Course at worst.

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#15 WestCoastHacker

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 02:26 PM

Maybe I missed the announcement, but is this article the first time we have had confirmation of a second course at Gamble Sands?  I note that their website now refers to the original 18 as the "Sands" course.

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#16 cardoustie

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 03:11 PM

The Castle was a tough slog.   I still had fun and managed an 81 with 37 putts.  My 6 cap bud shot 90 with 45 putts or so.  The pins were nuts when we played it

It was hard ... and we played it in a pretty good breeze after 5 greens had been softened
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#17 1lovesputters

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 02:24 PM

View Postmallrat, on 10 November 2017 - 01:51 AM, said:

I think there are 2 parts to this post that are different conversations.

1) Never seen the Castle course but played Tetherow a handful of times and really enjoy it. A friend of mine actually got to know Kidd after the course was built (and during the building). One day they were playing a round together and Kidd admitted to him that he was going through a divorce and was really angry when he built that course and would do the greens completely different today. (And I would play Tetherow over Pronghorn Nicklaus every day and twice on Sunday)

2) I can't imagine he was ever black balled or on the outs or anything. He is a younger designer who seems VERY busy which has to ruffle some feathers. What is he late 40's or early 50's. For his portfolio at that age is pretty impressive. I'm sure he has changed some things over time and made some mistakes he won't make again. If he didn't learn from mistakes then I would say there is a problem but as Gamble Sands and Sand Valley supposedly show he has learned a lot.

I love Tetherow.  To each his own.  Love Bend- and Tetherow and both Pronghorns.
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