MONROE TOWNSHIP, NJ – The eyes of the golf architecture cognoscenti are again upon our beloved Forsgate, and once more we are being spoken of in knowing nods and holy whispers. Golf Design expert Ran Morrissett, owner and operator of the golf design think tank GolfClubAtlas.com, has posted his analysis of the Banks course on line at http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/usa/forsgate-country-club/ for all the golf world to see, and they are responding with resounding support and fervor.
Morrissett’s piece is probably the most in-depth combination of course history and hole-by-hole breakdown that’s been written since Stephen Kay’s masterful restoration in 2008. Morrissett begins with John Forster’s steely nerve and iron will in building the Banks course in defiance of the financial mayhem of Great Depression – Forster altruistically wanted everyone and everything associated with his dairy farm to prosper, so he spared no expense, even in grievous economic times – and he concludes with present owner Chris Schiavone’s singular vision in preserving and stewarding the club into the 21st century and beyond.
“Schiavone appreciates what he has, and he wants the course to play as Banks intended,” Morrissett stated, underlying one of the secrets of Forgate’s remarkable resurgence: Schiavone’s commitment to promoting the course’s museum quality Golden Age golf architecture. Make mo mistake – Chris’s dedication is critical to Forsgate’s success and well worthy of Forster and. Banks’s venerable heritage.
Morrissett’s enamor with Forsgate’s illustrious history and venerable architectural pedigree have become the topic du jour on numerous golf websites, bulletin boards, as well as grill rooms across the country. When Morrissett speaks, ardent golfers listen, and what they are hearing is his belief that Forsgate is one of the great examples of Golden Age golf and perhaps Banks’s best work. Calling the Banks Course’s terrain ideal, rolling land for golf with compelling peaks and valleys, Morrissett pays Banks and Forster the highest compliments possible: “No architect could have produced a better design on that piece of property.”
Morrissett is absolutely right. It’s as though Banks might have been prescient about his untimely death, because he fired every architectural arrow he had in his quiver at Forsgate, boldly amplifying the typical Macdonald-Raynor-Banks templates featured across their Pantheon of courses. As such, even though the parcel of property has less total acreage than the larger Mid-Ocean or Yale, Morrissett accurately points out that the holes on the Banks course feel as majestic is their appearance, character, and strategies as those celebrated clubs, two of the greatest in the World, with whom Forsgate can rightly stand shoulder to shoulder.
Morrissett especially praises the way Forsgate features the ground game so prominently and so creatively. He was downright electric with excitement at our Reverse Redan, saying that our kickplate had more tilt than any other he’d ever seen, (and Morrissett has been everywhere), and laughing at the havoc a front pin placement wreaked on the scorecards of his fellow players.
I told him I do that the whole way around, not just at seven…
He also extolled the ground game options at other holes such as the Double Plateau, (“brilliantly devised”), the Biarritz, (“audacious,” “bold,” and “compelling”), and the back-to-back par-5s to close the front. Morrissett especially liked how the fairways blend so seamlessly into the greens, a testament to Kay and Schiavone’s commitment to authenticity and underscoring exactly how talented Donald Asinski is as superintendent. Happily, even Don gets a moment in the spotlight, discussing both architecture and agronomy.
Of course, no one makes us laugh as heartily about our beloved Banks Course as Stephen Kay, and his assessment of the Eden hole, No. 3, will make you spit coffee on your laptop.
From Sam Snead’s threat to “set hole positions so hard no professional would break 75” to Clifford Wendekack’s marvelous clubhouse to the best set of par-3s Macdonald, Raynor, and Banks ever designed to “the sheer joy of watching the ball interact with the ground,” Morrissett has made Forsgate a part of the conversation at the highest level of the game, all because Schiavone and Kay’s fingers arepressed firmly on the pulse of the golf zeitgeist. With that as the club’s fulcrum, they can move the world.
ALL PHOTO CREDITS RAN MORRISSETT AND GOLFCLUBATLAS.COM