Friday Feels + NLU Architecture Musings


#1

First things first. I’ve been on the NLU train for quite some time and have nothing but respect and admiration for @Tron, @Soly and the rest of the crew. I can’t believe I spent so many years of my life as an extremely avid golf fan without scrolling along on my phone inhaling their takes mid-tournament. So obviously this take is about to take a hot turn–or cold, I suppose–but I did want to emphasize that it’s coming from a good place.

That said, for all of Tron’s gripes today about ANGC’s layout, I’d submit that of the litany of course changes at NLU these days, the architecture obsessions is my least favorite. It’s not that I don’t find it interesting or insightful, or believe it lacks coverage on this site. But it is becoming too prominent and beginning to overshadow and take the place of all of NLU’s great content of years past. When I learned NLU was going pro, I expected the site would double down on its fresh and irreverent golf coverage and update daily, with blogs recapping each round, in depth golfer profiles each tournament, etc. Instead, it seems impossible to go a day without being doused with haughty takes about golden age architecture and template greens. We have now reached the point where on Masters week, two of the only three Augusta blogs posted to the site are devoted to how ANGC mows grass and out-of-place ponds on 11 and 16. Don’t get me wrong - I’m happy to read them. (Also, thoughts and prayers to Tron, whose disrespect for the egg salad sandwich and volunteer who served it should get him banned from the grounds for life–though maybe he’d be happy with that.) But should these issues be NLU’s focus for the week?

I long for the golden age of NLU, when #toursauce was the butter to the delicious bread we were fed every weekend. Wittingly or unwittingly, and perhaps in their never-ending quest to clear trees, NLU seems to be slowly starting to lose touch with its roots. It’s time to go back to Butch Harmon already.

All due respect, I love the platform and do trust the process. But curious if others share my views on this.


#2

Beautifully said. I’ve followed NLU for 4 years or so and have told anyone who will listen about the site/twitter handle but the architecture takes are nauseating. I can put up with the take downs of Jack Nicklaus designed courses but having to listen to how ANGC should go back to the retro version from Tiger Woods 2013 is unbearable. I got into an argument with the guy from Fried Egg about how they shouldn’t have trees right of 11 and the fairway should be 100 yards wide because it makes it easier to play a front pin. It’s akin to picking apart the Sistine chapel to me. More tour/player takes and way less pretentious architecture critiques.


#3

That post had great width and angles. I feel like the #content has veered a little bit inside baseball recently, and considering that it’s Masters week with an unbelievable leaderboard, I agree that arguing about the ANGC redesigns is missing the forest for the Eisenhower trees. I’m probably going to be more partial to in-depth player previews, particularly with such an eclectic mix of low key young players like Li, Shub, and all the amateurs (Tired: Joaquin Niemann. Wired: Doug Ghim).

That being said, while I’m never going to judge a random GolfNow hot deal because the course failed to include a Redan, over the past year I’ve really come to appreciate the game in a different way, and learning ahout course design is part of that. Architecture Twitter is an idiosyncratic, acquired taste, like Gearhead Twitter without all the outrage. Plus, I really liked the agronomy column, which had a whole bunch of information about how ANGC is built and maintained that I’d never heard of or considered.

It’s interesting to see NLU branch into the minutiae of golf once everyone went pro in something other than accounting. I’m glad they’re making us eat our vegetables with the architecture content, but I’ll never turn down more red meat articles about the players, tournament history, and spicy sartorial takes.


#4

Agreed. The architecture takes are getting old. Let’s get some new content.


#5

I loved the agronomy article but the berating of Angc by guys who read an architecture book rings hollow.


#6

I enjoy some architecture takes but I agree sometimes it’s a little much. I consume so much of NLU & fried egg content that I often question every course I play. Is this considered a “good” course or not? Maybe that’s a good thing idk.


#7

Andy at The Fried Egg has me hating a lot of courses I play and never even thought about. It makes me glad to think that I’m woke now, but also sucks that I’ve discovered all the accessible courses near me are abominations of architecture.

As far as NLU getting more vocal about architecture, I’m fine with it. I like Tron being the curmudgeon, Soly being JT’s not so undercover PR guy, and the rest of the gang doing their thing. I always assumed they would evolve and grow from just twitter rants/jokes, and I think this is part of it.


#8

I’d love to be more knowledgeable on golf architecture. However, I’m not going to go from liking a golf course I play to hating it just by realizing a tree should be here or a bunker should be there.


#9

I should rephrase, I don’t hate the courses, more like I hate on them more now. Before I wouldn’t notice things and now it seems I spot more design characteristics, but they seem to be more design flaws rather than positives.


#10

I agree fully with this. I’m not suggesting they abandon architecture – the agronomy article was really interesting. It’s just that there are only so many pretension-oozing takes about biarritz greens and black and white photos of old scruffy golf holes that I can stomach in one day. The NLU crew’s Twitter coverage this afternoon was vintage NLU at its best. I’d love to see them convert more of that into blogs and longer form pieces and media.


#11

NLU have said on podcasts that the trips over to GB&I and Australia/NZ have made golf course architecture click in their minds more. You can read books and you can make observations about some courses through TV or pictures, but once you are boots on the ground at some of the best designed courses in the world, you do start questioning yourself:

“Why was this a more unique experience than most courses I play?”
“Why did the course make me question so many of decisions?”
“Why was that so fun, yet so mentally exhausting?”
"Why am I itching to go back out and play it again so much?
“What would I do differently next time I’m there? Did I put myself in the places I should have?”

Once it clicks, your mind has the gears shift into overdrive during and after rounds. In their defense, I know the feeling; I reached enlightenment a few years ago.

Once it clicks, having a discussion about golf course architecture with others only adds to the complexity and the appreciation of it.

Back to ANGC…

The reason NLU, ZB, The Fried Egg, and just about every golf site you go to that isn’t just reporting generic Masters news are discussing what is hidden at ANGC is because we know a top 6 (depends which rankings you look at now) course in the world SHOULD be #1. It has so much potential. The bones are so good that the changes aren’t even that big of an ask. This isn’t a renovation. It’s a restoration.

Think of the ANGC discussion as a political campaign. We have a common interest we would like to see change. If we spread the awareness and grow the pressure to make a change, then maybe a change will occur. If you don’t support our view, or you are sick of hearing everyone complain about the issue, you have every right to take that stance; however, we will keep campaigning on hoping for change.


#12

I get what you’re saying, though note how you’re describing your heightened sensitivity to course design. Enlightenment? It’s frankly a bit much. I am happy for you and Tron that it clicked in such a powerful way and don’t for a second question the authenticity of your current feelings on this. I’ve played in Ireland and Scotland. I appreciate and agree that golf is purer and better there, and that added strategy is more enjoyable. But I’m not reading NLU to “campaign for change.” Already donated to Obama in 08. I’m happy to read critiques, including of ANGC and any other top course. But the supercilious rhetoric and intense focus on design do not resonate with me at all. So I’d prefer that not dominate the NLU airwaves.


#13

I feel very divided in this topic… For starters I won’t lie I get a ego boost about being very woke on architecture and like to show off my albeit somewhat small knowledge. I also found the agronomy article to be fascinating, and a deep dive that other media sources aren’t producing. With that said, it can become overbearing. I too have evaluated my own CC again and I now find things that I used to think were cool to be a little gimmicky or unnatural, and that is a tough pill to swallow.

With that said, I really like learning about architecture! I think with NLU foregoing their amateur status to play on tour they are now able to provide both the old school spicy takes and architecture. There is room for both!


#14

:point_up_2:t3::point_up_2:t3::point_up_2:t3: Yeah, what he said.


#15

I was accused by @ANTIFAldo of your post being from my burner refuge account. I’ve always been in the anti-intellectual course review camp and definitely #GotInvolved with NLU for the irreverent golf coverage and not a slurp job on McKenzie, Raynor, et.all.

I understand architecture twitter has its place, but it might be gaining too much market share at HQ in Jacksonville.


#16

I will soften my stance and say that the recent focus on updating Muni’s is refreshing. If we’re using the high brow architecture lens to decrease maintenance costs, shortening places to 9 good holes with a respectable practice facility, and generally providing a better product at a cheaper price, then I’m all in. I would happily pay more in local tax if H-Town would consult with the Winterpark 9 guys and revamp our Muni network.


#17

Oh yes, agree with this in a major way. Tron used to be hilarious - when I first found NLU I went back and listened to old recaps of tournaments that I didn’t even watch because they were so entertaining. Now he’s spending 25 minutes cranking off that there are too many trees on a hole and that the grass is too green? Just brutal. Go back to having fun. Plus the NLU architecture stance seems to just be a watered down regurgitation of Fried Egg, basically:

wide = good // narrow = bad
original = good // new = bad

I don’t really mess with twitter, so perhaps I miss out on the good ole time NLU ribaldry that is still happening.

As an aside… the architecture thing, I don’t really think it matters that much for TV. For all the bitching these guys were doing about 7 and 11, they didn’t look that different from a few of the other par 4s. Soly mentioned on today’s pod that the TV guys don’t do a great job of discussing the strategic aspect of ball placement and I agree with him there. Even if a viewer really tries to focus on the “width/angles” thing, it’s very difficult to pick up on because you’re rotating across a lot of shots at a lot of different holes pretty quickly.

Also, I’m not sure that the whole “strategy” thing matters as much people want it to. Hit a 300+ yard drive in the middle of the fairway and you’re good on just about any hole. Aim your approach shots near the pin, aim on the side that’s less penal.


#18

The architecture talk is one of the major elements that has me coming back again and again. The opportunity to read and interact with advanced golf thoughts is why it is so special and so different.

One thing this thread seems to be forgetting is that golf courses are the ONLY thing we have in common with the professionals. The golf course is our “refuge” from daily life and where we yearn to spend our free time. Golf courses are the ONLY reason we all enjoy and play this game - otherwise all we have is a stick and a ball. When you think about all your best golf memories, you were on a golf course.

Story lines of players and tournaments is different every week which is cool to be updated on, but isn’t every single media outlet covering this in spades? In the end, the golf courses design features allow fans to have these story lines, allows players to spray the sauce, and even gives insight for those of us that like to bet on the game.

Golf courses define how we interact with the game, yet they are the least covered element of the professional and amateur game. Without good golf course design, how would we decide where to go on a trip with buddies? Why is the Masters such a stand out over other majors like the PGA? (hint: it’s golf course design).

Personally, I really embrace the idea of looking at my home course through a different lens. I was even able to ride around my home course with our superintendent and chat, hole by hole, about ideas to make the course more fun.

Sticking with the roots is all fine and well, but I challenge anyone to come up with ideas for content that is truly unique from other platforms. Even further, content that is meant for the fan with significantly above average interest and advanced thoughts on the game.


#19

The 2015 and 2016 Saucies would like a word. R.I.P.


#20

Covering the PGA tour with an eye towards sauce, humor and player storylines aside from their family tree (shout out Jim Nantz) is what originally drew me in. Hearing a professional takesmith articulate my frustrations with CBS is a close second.

Travel stuff is great because they focus on #vibes, now they’re bordering on lost in the sauce on centerline bunkering and template holes.