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Great Ran Morrissett Interview with Jeff Brauer, Golf Course Architect

As always, Ran Morrissett has an insightful and probative interview with an outstanding golf course architect. This month, Ran sits down with Texas’s Jeff Brauer: Dallas Stars fan, bon vivant, and the trailblazing golf course architect that gave us Giant’s Ridge in Minnesota and Cowboys Golf Club in Dallas.

From the interview:

“7. You have a natural inclination and interest in the history of golf course architecture. How does that filter through to your work?

I know my designs have more variety in since beginning to include versions of famous (or good) holes in my work. I like Seth Raynor, but I also like Mike Strantz, and have no trouble mixing Raynor’s Redan, Punch Bowl, and Biarritz greens, with a Thomas Mae West, and a Strantz long (or wide) ribbon green, followed by a tiny Ross “fortress green.” I’ll even bunker both sides of an LZ on one hole, like RTJ, because that idea is used so little these days.

Some people say “this hole is different from the rest” and I say, “That’s the whole point.” My overall style ties them together enough, and on most courses, features tend to be too much alike over too different.

At Firekeeper, we built a few tees in Larry Packard’s 1970’s Innisbrook free form style, and those get a lot of comments. But the historic feature I always wanted to use, and found the place for at Firekeeper was the fairway bunker from Royal St. George 4th hole. Our version is also on our 4th hole, and it’s a par 5 like the original used to be, creating the risk reward of carrying the 30 foot deep bunker for a chance to reach the green.”

My own interview with Jeff is here.

From my interview:

JF: What courses that you have played inspire you to imitate the same design concepts?

JEFF BRAUER: My favorite old time courses are many Raynors, including Shoreacres, Royal Melbourne, (Mackenzie), San Francisco, (Tillie), and Seminole, (Ross, but a different look than Pinehurst, in fact more in line with Mac). I think you could say I am as influenced by aesthetics as play value, since all golfers enjoy a great looking golf course.

As to specifics, I love the angled bunkers at Seminole 6 and the generally scattered look Mack got with his bunkers. I like the angled carry bunkers at SFGC and RM because now they are fairly easy to manage. If a carry bunker were built at 275 from the tips now and had little way around because the fairway was narrowed, I don’t think that would be as charming. I generally place any carry bunker short of the maximum distance so more folks have that thrill.

It’s hard to describe in words, but the contouring on those greens has been an influence on me. Colt greens influence me even more. The easiest way to say it is that 1970’s designers tended to build mounds on the inside curves of the greens, whereas Colt and others built them on the outside curves, which is a totally different look. It gives a random, rolling edge to the top edge of the green that is attractive to the golfer.