EATONTON, Ga. - It will come as no surprise that Ben Crenshaw's first golf course design in the southeastern United States has a traditional look to it.
Crenshaw and Bill Coore, his design partner for the last 11 years, presented a sneak preview of their latest creation on Wednesday to members of the media.
The Golf Club of Cuscowilla, which is scheduled to open in mid-summer of 1997, has a traditional feel from the natural routing of the holes and sweeping faces on the bunkers right on down to the close proximity of the greens to the tees.
Crenshaw, of course, is two-time Masters champion who is a foremost golf historian. Tricked-up golf holes and target golf are not part of his architectural style.
"We simply were guided by the old architects who put the golf holes on the ground," Crenshaw said Wednesday. "They didn't care what the par was or the length of the course. Par is just a number."
Cuscowilla, which is named after a legendary Creek Indian chief who lived on the land in the mid-1700s, will play to a par of 70 and measure 6,718 yards from the back tees. There are just two par-5s on the course, one on each side.
The other courses that Crenshaw and Coore has created over the years are all along the traditional lines, but most of them didn't have such cooperative owners as Cuscowilla's William M. Harrington, Peter Bailey and Heinz Wilhelm-Nathe. The Cuscowilla owners allowed Crenshaw and Coore to design the course without any real estate development constraints.
"It was a unique situation here," Crenshaw said. "This is a beautiful piece of land with a lot of variations in the topography. If architects have a free hand like we did, you can get the most out of a piece of land."
Crenshaw said he and Coore "scouted all over" the Cuscowilla property, which was a former pine tree seed orchard research plot, to determine what he called "the best golf situations."
"It was like having a 600-acre canvas to work on," Crenshaw said. "The course was created by attempting to listen to the natural topography, which could best be described by gentle rolls with no sudden changes of elevation."
Crenshaw said he made at least seven trips to work with Coore on determining the routing of the holes.
"We are very proud of it," Crenshaw said. "It was a real love. I've loved every minute of it."
Other than the fact that Cuscowilla is traditional in design, there are few parallels with the Augusta National, located 83 miles down the road. However, the location of Cuscowilla to the Augusta National did play a role in Crenshaw and Coore's decision to take on the job.
"Anytime you go to an area that has a highly-regarded golf course, you are very selective about the piece of property you choose," Coore said. "You want to do something in a classic enough nature that the people who play there and then play here would think of it."
Crenshaw and Coore are fans of the work of the late Perry Maxwell, a partner of Augusta National co-designer Alister MacKenzie. Maxwell worked with MacKenzie and Bob Jones to create the Augusta National.
"Perry Maxwell was one of the great architects," Crenshaw said. "He felt if you took a piece of property and fit the hole to the contours, that in itself would distinguish it from any other golf course."
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