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CREIGHTON FARMS MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 30, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to Creighton Farms. And thank you so much for joining us this afternoon for a wonderful event in the young history of Creighton Farms. At this time it gives me great pleasure to introduce the three gentlemen sitting before you. I'll start with the partners of SOUTHWORTH DEVELOPMENT and the owners of Creighton Farms. Mr. David Southworth and Mr. Joe Deitch.
Next it is my distinct pleasure to introduce a man whose career accomplishments are simply too lengthy to list in full. He is simply the greatest golfer to ever live. He is the winner of 18 professional major championships. 73 major PGA TOUR victories, 118 total victories worldwide. He's also been named one of the ten Greatest Athletes of the Century by ESPN. The most powerful person in golf for five years in a row from 2004 to 2008, and golf course architect of the year in 1993 and 1999. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded a civilian in our society. He's the golf course designer here at Creighton Farms, Mr. Jack Nicklaus.
JACK NICKLAUS: Thank you. Thank you.
If I may say that starting this project five years ago, I guess -- is that right? With the economy, things have gotten shut down a little bit. The people that I worked with before, prior to this, were people I'd worked with on previous projects. They wanted quality. They wanted a good golf course. They worked very hard getting the zoning and all the approvals here done here in Virginia. Now we did the project.
Unfortunately, the project was done at a time when things didn't work quite so well. So David and Joe have come along. Very accomplished in their own rights, a development company that's done a lot of things. And we're delighted they've come along, picked up the project, and decided to do it the right way, finish it up properly and move forward. So I'm glad to be part of that.
I'm the only one that's around still, I guess (laughing). But anyway, the golf course we went over this morning. The golf course, as many of you know, received a lot of accolades when it first opened.
It's a good golf course, a strong golf course. It's one that is a golfer's golf course, you might say. Somebody who enjoys playing golf will enjoy playing here because not only will it be fair and fun, but it will test your medal also.
What we did this morning and why we're probably a little later than we would normally be starting is that my last visit on design and construction of a golf course is usually the opening of a golf course. And because we didn't have that, because things had shut down before that, that's what we used this morning. We used a little extra time to go through some of the things.
The golf course has been maintained now for a couple of years. There were a few cutting lines. A few places that we thought maybe could be expanded from the average golfer's standpoint for a little more space to play. A couple, just the little stuff. It was almost nothing.
And we had one green that probably was a little bit more severe than the others, and we figured out how to fix that without building and inventing the wheel over again.
So I think we've got all those problems solved. I think the golf course, when you see it this afternoon, you'll see that it's esthetically pleasing. It's a beautiful piece of property. Jim Brown, Jim's probably here somewhere. Where's Jim? There you are, my friend. How you doing? Good.
I noticed that you built a house out there right behind the 17th, didn't you?
JIM: That's for you.
JACK NICKLAUS: Not for me. Darn well better be for you. Anyway, it's a beautiful piece of property. And it's one that, you know, it was environmentally sensitive. We had to make sure that we did all of the things right from an environment standpoint. We had to make sure that everything fit in here properly. So it's turned out to be esthetically pleasing golf course.
As I said, it's a good challenge. The golf course if you look at it, it's in beautiful condition. Jeff and his people have done a great job out here. It's just really nice.
I'm very pleased that we're here. In the opening today I'm going to play about five holes. That's about the limit that you I play anymore. That's a long round for me. That's almost 36 holes. And we'll just go through it so we can give you a flavor and give you the opportunity to ask some questions as we go.
I'll explain some of the things we tried to do. The strategy and things we're trying to accomplish. And then we can I suppose move on beyond.
THE MODERATOR: We're happy to open it up to questions for Jack.
Q. I wonder if you could tell us your role in all of this? How much hands on do you do from start to finish? How many times were you at this site and when was the last time you were here?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I'm hands on. I'm always hands on when it's a signature golf course. This golf course I was probably in here 10, 12 times probably. I actually looked at this property previously. We looked at this property with a check. Another group originally looked at this property.
JACK NICKLAUS: What year was that? Okay, then the second group came back three years after that.
Q. Three years after that, exactly:
JACK NICKLAUS: Anyway, so that project has been in here a lot.
JACK NICKLAUS: We would have beaten the economy. We would have been done and moved out by now. But anyway, what was the second part of your question?
Q. How much hands on?
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm very hands on. I've got a team that works with me, obviously. And in this particular case Jim was the on-site coordinator. Jim's over here somewhere. He's right back here.
And so Jim was here probably about twice as much as I was. What I do is I come in and get to a certain -- we get started. We get the routing. We get how we're going to clear it, how we're going to do this, how we're going to do that. They perform that. It takes sometimes maybe several months. Once construction starts it's usually every five to six weeks, and Jim's in here probably twice as much as that, maybe more.
We had an on-site coordinator. I'm not sure who. Who was here, Jim? We had Greg for a while. Was he here the whole time? Matt was on the project. So Matt was here first. So we had a couple of guys that are on-site coordinators that worked with that. Then everything that's on top of the ground is my responsibility.
I don't really think I need to get into the plumbing, as I call it and the irrigation, the drainage and so forth and so on. That's obviously part of design, but I'm not going to tell them what kind of pipe to put in. They have engineers that tell us that, and other people that are far more qualified than I am.
You know, but the product that you see out here is essentially mine. We have different flavors, different looks. We do different things.
Now you take the owner and see what he wants, what kind of look he likes. Who is going to play the golf course, who is going to be here, so forth and so on.
Q. Have you played the course?
JACK NICKLAUS: No, not yet.
Q. (Indiscernible) does this have potential in terms of you're right in horse country here, it's beautiful landscaping. But why Loudon County?
JACK NICKLAUS: I didn't choose it. You know, I don't choose where I go. We are brought in to do a project. The project here was Jim Brown's property. He thought that his farm ought to be developed into a golf course. That's what he wanted to do. We're brought in. I think Loudon County and this whole area around Washington has got, you know, a lot of people. Lot of upper-income level people. There's a lot of -- it's geared more to that. I don't think this is geared to be $10 million houses. It's geared to be --
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It's a small development as it relates to the real estate. There are 184 lots is what the community is planned for. As these type communities go, that is on the smaller side.
JACK NICKLAUS: Right. And you know, it's not my choice right now to do it, but that's what we do. We're a hired hand. We're no different than the engineer or the irrigation or whatever it is. That's what it is.
Q. That being said, your involvement here is obviously is this an indication that --
JACK NICKLAUS: That's not my question. That's your question.
JOE DEITCH: Our view when we came across Creighton Farms some two and a half years ago, we thought this was one of the most beautiful developments we'd ever seen. The way it was thought out. The way it was put together.
Obviously, the golf course being the centerpiece right now, the anchor of the community. So there's lots of -- without getting too far off topic, there's lots of fashion figures and stats to why this is a good area for up scale residential.
But we think that the vision here, the quality is really unsurpassed and something that we just can't wait to unveil and finish. I think later today we're unveiling our new clubhouse which we'll start to permit and build as soon as possible. I think that will add to what's here now.
Again, we'll just march forward and hope the people share our dream and our vision of Creighton Farms.
Q. Given the state of the economy that we're in, I don't know how far along we are toward recovery, but what does this mean about the state of golf course design and developments such as this?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I was telling David and Joe this morning. I said from a golf course design standpoint, the United States is virtually silent. You know, most of what's happening from my standpoint, my business is fairly silent.
Most of what's happening is a little bit in Europe. We're still doing quite a bit in Asia. We have a couple things. This today is not a design job or anything else. This happened three years ago. This is bringing back to life something that this was the start of a golf course design standpoint and development standpoint, a recovery in many ways.
Here's a project three years ago that should have been on the market three to four years ago on the market selling. It didn't. Now it has some houses here. It has a few members to it.
But Dave and Joe brought new life into this project. New blood into this project. New money into this project, which should push the project forward. As the economy does recover, this is positioned to do so with it.
I spend most of my time doing golf courses right now basically in Asia. I've been to Asia three times this year. I'm going back again next month. I've been to Europe not as much, but I've been over there I suppose three times so far this year. Going again -- I guess I just got back. I can't remember if I'm coming or going.
I might have to go once more over there. We go where our work is. And the United States will come back. I was telling David and Joe that we have two or three projects in the United States that are getting ready to happen, and that we're starting actually both of them.
They all sort of will happen within the next month. I think the three projects that are moving forward. I can't say anything because it's not my position to say what they are.
But that's the first thing we've had in the United States in basically a year to happen. So, yes, maybe you are starting to see a change and starting to see a bit of a recovery from that standpoint. That's what you were asking, wasn't it?
Q. With over 300 golf courses that you've designed in the past, obviously everyone has their own individual characteristics. What are some of the common characteristics and problems that you've had in those 300. Be that zoning, land whatever? I was wondering if you could address those commonalities?
JACK NICKLAUS: The thing they have in common is they're all on land and they all have 18 holes (laughing) that's to start with. Every one has a different problem though. Each project is individual. Each project has its own set of circumstances and things to deal with.
On this particular property here while we have a tremendous amount of wetlands. We had settlement fields. What do you call them? Drainage fields? What is the correct term, Jim? Just called a drain field. Drain fields for septic basically is what they are. We had quite a few of those around this property which had to be respected.
You obviously want to respect what vegetation you have on the property that is significant. You have climate to deal with. Figuring out what is the right grasses for this climate.
Washington area has always been a difficult area. It's kind of a transition between north and south. You've got all of the loud on county particularly to deal with. And what their wishes are for a project, and what they wish to see here, and what is acceptable to Loudon County and what is not acceptable. What kind of do you want to get their support? You certainly don't want to be fighting somebody. So we've worked very hard to get that.
You have obviously the owners finances behind the project to make sure that the project is completed and moved forward. And they're stable financially. In this day and age, you're never sure what's happening. I mean, that was the old project, this is the new project.
So I think David will not put out his bank statement, but I think you'll find they're doing all right. I'm sure there are other issues. But what other issues do you want to deal with?
Q. I was curious if there was any level of commonality?
JACK NICKLAUS: They all have the same, but they're all different. They're all the same issues, but they're all different because they all handle differently. And every county wants to see something different happen in their county. Every county has rules. The Corps will have different rules as it relates to wetlands and different places. That's dealt with differently every time.
You know, frankly, that's okay. I never have any objection to regulations and rules and so forth. Just tell me what they are. And, you know, let us work with you to improve the property, not trying to destroy a piece of property.
We're trying to do something positive on this piece of property. Make it look good. Make it work. Make it be environmentally correct and be here for a long time because it's going to be here for a long time.
I don't want to walk away from here and have somebody say look what Jack Nicklaus did to this place. I want people to walk away and say he improved on the environment and improved on what is here and worked with us to make it a better place. That's the whole idea.
That's what's so nice about golf courses. When I walk on a golf course, I don't get too many grumps.
Most people may be grumpy after they play. But most of them walk out and say, gee, this is a nice place, it's pretty, it's fun. It's a place I'd like to spend time. I want to bring my friends here. I want to spend time with them. That's what is fun about golf. That's what's neat about it.
Q. They say the second act is tougher than the first act. Yet yours has been arguably as successful as your first act. Can you compare the satisfaction of your playing career and all your accomplishments to your design career?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, the design career would have never happened without the first act. You know, if I would have been a middle of the road player -- for some reason, if you win more tournaments you're supposed to be smarter (laughing). I can't buy that. But let's let that pass and accept it (laughing). It's gotten me a lot of business.
But I'm certainly no smarter than the next guy. I'm certainly no more than -- I played my game reasonably well. I had a reputation in my game. I started getting involved in golf courses, oh, back in the late '60s. So I had two careers basically going together for a long time. And I kept learning at one while I was learning at the other, so I learned at both of them.
When one of them came abruptly to a stop -- I shouldn't say abruptly -- it lasted a pretty long time, too. I was fortunate to have other things that you I really enjoyed and it was a continuation of my other career. The satisfaction of walking up the 18th fairway at Augusta or Baltusrol or someplace winning a major championship will never be -- I can't measure that in any kind of terms other than it was an unbelievable experience. I'm fortunate to have had it.
However, being able to take what I've learned playing the game, and being able to apply it to a piece of ground that is here long beyond my golf game and my lifetime is something that I've really enjoyed. And something that I still get excited about, and hopefully I'll be able to do, you know, for a long time. As long as my health allows me to do it, I have no reason I won't do it because I enjoy it. That's basically what I get up in the morning to do now because it is fun, outside of watching my grandkids play football or something.
Anyway, I think that's basically what you asked me. I've enjoyed both careers. I've been very fortunate. Not many people are as lucky as I am to have been able to continue in the game they love and been able to apply that to something that actually reaches far more people than actually the game itself.
Q. If you had to compare this course to one of the courses on the PGA TOUR, which one would it be and why?
JACK NICKLAUS: Compare it? Oh, I would never compare it to anything. But I think it would certainly stand up very well to anything. I mean, this golf course is certainly not designed for a Tour tournament.
Could you hold a Tour tournament here or could you hold a U.S. Open here? Absolutely. I mean, this golf course would certainly do whatever you wanted to with it. The only issue you would have to worry about is the traffic. Where would you park? What do you have the area to put people, a gallery, wetlands. You have the issues of can your bridges handle that kind of stuff? It's not designed for that. But that would be your worries if you wanted to have an event.
The golf course from a playing standpoint I think would stand up favorably to anything you want to put up to it. That's what we try to create. We try to create an experience. We used to design basically from the back tees and then move forward.
Today the game of golf has gotten, the guys hit the ball so far, that we've stopped designing from the back tees and tried to make sure that the game from the members tees is what it should be for the members and the people that are going to play that 51 weeks a year at minimum.
Then we throw in a set of guerilla tees back there somewhere that those guys want to go back there and try to find them, they can't. Then we try to match the strategy up for both.
But the strategy actually works. It used to be the average golfer hit the ball 30 yards shorter than the average pro. Well, today it's probably 70 or 80 yards. So the spread is more like that.
I think if you wanted to take this golf course and prepare it to handle any event on it, it will certainly be very favorable.
THE MODERATOR: Mr. Nicklaus, I know there are a number of members and guests that would love to ask some questions.
JACK NICKLAUS: Whatever you want. Maybe we'll get the media some really good questions if we get some members out there asking questions. How's that, guys?
Q. I want to thank you, first of all, for the work you did here. I'm a member, and I live in Maryland. I was compelled to join the club after playing it. Seeing it once, walking it, and then playing it once. It was determined for me that it was the -- I think it's one of the best courses anywhere that I can drive to in this area, And that is saying a lot. As you know, we have quite a few other courses that are renowned. But I just wanted to thank you for that. I have a million questions about this course. It becomes addictive. One of the first ones would be the fairways are very dynamic from being muscular to having a lot of cant to them in different places. So it makes it exciting for every shot. Your drive and placement of drives is important and so forth. So I wanted to know what factors, was it the land the way it was? Are you looking to do that in the courses that you make? Do you have Florida a lot of flat fairways, and here that's not the case?
JACK NICKLAUS: What we try to do is you try to take advantage. First of all, you've got to route a piece of property and make it work. You find a clubhouse area and where you think you can start and finish from. Then you have to work it through the area how we're obviously, 1, 2, 3, 4, back to 18. We brought 9 reasonably close to the clubhouse. It is close to the clubhouse, right down here.
Then you're dealt with what's in between. What each individual hole area, and whether you make it par 4, par 3, par 5, whatever you try to do with it. And we had quite a few waters at USA, I guess, crossing this piece of property, and a lot of wetland areas. So we had a lot of areas to deal with that fit within your holes.
So you try to -- so that's why golf courses are different. No two golf courses could ever be alike unless you took two flat pieces of ground say in Florida and say I'm going to build it here and build it here and build the same golf course. You can do that. But you couldn't do that here.
So we try to figure out whether our scenario of what really fits on this ground and can be the most enjoyable, most fun, most strategic. In other words, the first hole was a problem. You had a water course that was about 100 yards short of the green, and I'm sure that causes a lot of problems for everybody.
Q. Yes, it does.
JACK NICKLAUS: It shouldn't. It shouldn't be in play. I tell you what we did today. That's when I went out this morning, I found right between the bunker and the rough is probably the narrowest area on the fairway. We're going to expand the fairway five or six yards on the right side there. And that's a matter of changing the grass. I mean, it doesn't cost anything is what I'm saying.
In other words, that will be a very simple thing to do. I just felt like I kept looking. We looked at where the tees are and so forth, and we adjusted to make sure that the members can have a little wider area to play to.
A pro's going to pop it right over there and get it down to the wider fairway, that's not fair. So we figured out how to try to make it more equitable. Those are the things we did today.
The golf course on the scorecard says is 6800 yards. I think that's too long, so we adjusted the golf course. We're going to have to do a new scorecard. I haven't seen it, but I know you have a composite scorecard. But I think the average golfer should be playing in the 65, 6600 yard range. After I got done adjusting, I came up like 6578 is I think what we're going to have for the members golf course.
We had the 4th hole where you have a hard time just sort of restricted by how far you can drive the ball. I expanded the fairway six or seven yards down on the right to try to give you a little more carry off the hill, so you can turn the ball and get it down into there a little easier and have a little wider area, because you need to be able to play the front tee to be able to get it down there, and you're restricted by that area.
So we did that. Those are the things we did today. My last visit are those kind of things. I suppose we made, what? A dozen little things out there?
Q. (No microphone).
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I would say, yeah. None of them which costs very much. I didn't spend $1,000, I don't think.
DAVID SOUTHWORTH: Well.
JACK NICKLAUS: Maybe more than that, but not much more.
DAVID SOUTHWORTH: Now we have a budget for Jeff to work with.
JACK NICKLAUS: That's right. You have $1,000, Jeff.
JOE DEITCH: The changes that were made today are about a dozen. They're all to help the playability. From my point of view as a medium handicap golfer, they were perfect. I mean changing some rough areas, some mowing patterns, widening some fairways, things like that. I think it will be well received by the entire membership.
JACK NICKLAUS: It's a matter of changing out grass whether it's bent and blue. The par 5, 11th hole, that's rough around the green, we're going to cut that to a shorter rough, so it's a little easier chipping area. Those are the kind of silly things we did today that weren't much where the golf course ends up being a fun, playable golf course. What was the start of your question? I can't even remember what it was.
Q. On this golf course I noticed that you notice it more when you're playing and trying to find a flat lie. I've become a much better golfer by having to learn to play a ball in different positions below and above your feet and so forth. On number 10 and number 11 in particular, you can see how the ground has a lot of motion to it as it rises and falls within what would be otherwise flat areas. I was curious as to whether you left the ground the way it was or whether you created those undulations?
JACK NICKLAUS: Have you ever seen water standing around on this golf course?
JACK NICKLAUS: That's why we did that. You want to get a 2 to 3% pitch in all sort of areas in your fairway so the water will move off. If we can sheet it off, we will. Sometimes it's too far to sheet it off. If it does that, it will start to build up in an area and then you get a soft, mushy area.
If it doesn't, we'll put a catch basin in and take that into that and pull the water into that and take it out of there underground. So we're trying to get -- Jeff's done a beautiful job of keeping this golf course in a -- you know, dry condition. That's what you really want.
We do have a little movement through the fairways, that is sort of the style we did on this golf course. You'll notice the bunkers have little fingers and that stuff. It's not really a Scottish golf course. It's not a links golf course. But it's got a little bit of a rustic flavor, and that movement of the fairways is with that. It's more done for a practical standpoint than from a golf standpoint.
Q. One more question because I know people have questions. So practicality, I can see from what you've been saying has a lot to do with your final design. It turned out magnificently from a player's standpoint. But with regard to the way the approach of the greens, whether you're hitting or whether they're -- I belong to a club in Florida that you designed as well. It has quite a few greens that are long. And with short front-to-back from the angle you're shooting at, I just wondered how much of that was designed by you based upon your game and the way you like to play it? Or whether that came into play at all?
JACK NICKLAUS: Depending on which side of the bed I get out of in the morning. I never know. I mean, seriously.
If I sometimes I'm influenced by when I was playing golf by the last tournament I played. The last good golf course I played. I don't think there's really anything new in golf course design. Sure there are things that you've never seen before, but it's basically how you apply it to the ground that you're on.
I've gotten on St. Andrews kicks before. I've gotten on Carnoustie kicks before. I've gotten on Muirfield, Scotland kicks before. I've gotten on Pebble Beach kicks. You know, things that I've played and I like, and things I like to do.
You know, I'm not sure whether I was really on a kick here or not, but I think during this period of time we had sort of an open field out there through a lot of that project in this golf course. Yet open field moved a lot.
So I think we had the fairways move a lot with it, sort of carrying it down through it. It had a lot of high grasses which lent itself to rustic looks on your bunker edges. The greens are -- some of the greens are across.
Q. But most of them run longer here. That's what you're looking at, right? Running crosswise?
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, they were both. But more greens on this golf course run more length from front to back than they do from right to left.
Not all of them, obviously. The 14th hole or 13th hole runs diagonally across left to right.
You try to create variety. You don't want to get stuck. You want to create as many doing dogleg lefts as you have dogleg rights. I try to create water hazards. I try to create as many shots on the right that are on the left. Try to create greens that move as many right and as many move left.
You know, you try to keep your par 3's going in opposite directions as best you can, if the property will allow you. I try to get my par 5's going in four different directions if I possibly can. If the property will allow you.
I think this property did not allow that. I think 18 and 7 both move in the same direction. I think 3 and 11 move in the opposite directions. So we have three of the four directions on those.
But the property dictates it to a large degree and what will fit there. There's a lot. I can't come with a specific example here, but I'm going to bet that we probably changed two or three holes that were once a par 4 became a par 3 or once became a par 5, became a par 4 during construction because it worked better as the golf course went along. That's just what we're trying to do.
Q. Is there ever a situation where you do something like on the course and say I won't do this anywhere else? This is the only place for this?
JACK NICKLAUS: If it's really bad, yeah (laughing).
Q. Is there any instance where it's really good and you say I won't do this again?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, you maybe you won't find a place to do it again. If I take Mt. Juliet over in Ireland. We had a wall at the end of a property that was a U-shaped wall, and I put a green back into it and put the sand up against the wall.
I mean, how many times are you going to find a wall that you can take a green and put it back up into it and use it as the background. It was an old wall there for hundreds of years. I wasn't going to take that wall down. In fact, I tried to use it as part of the golf course.
We did the golf course at Anaconda, that was an old smelting ground or mining company, whatever. They had flumes all over the place. They had furnaces. You're not going to find that. That's only going to be one time.
You want to have things unique the best you can with a piece of property. The little we're going to play the 6th hole today as one of the holes I'm going to play. That's a fairly unique hole. There is a little tiny spot out there that wasn't wetlands, and that's where the green is.
Will I ever find that situation again? Never like that. But I'll find a spot similar that might find like a little island green out in the wetlands. But it won't be like that, it will be different. And I'll apply it differently because I've tried to apply it to that area there that I thought would fit in there as natural as it could.
Yeah, sure, there's a lot of them that if they're good and so forth, how many times are you going to have the second shot at the 8th hole at Pebble Beach? Not very many, do you?
But we have a hole out there that's not dissimilar. I didn't make the second shot quite as difficult. But the 8th hole here this tee shot is very similar to the 8th at Pebble, which is not one of my favorite tee shots in the world, because it goes up to the top of the hill and goes off into a blind nothing. Well, this one does, too.
You can only drive it so far unless you really want to take it over and use wetlands on both sides and lose your golf ball half the time. You play it to the top.
No matter what you do. No matter what handicap you are, you're going to end up with a 200-yard shot into the green. Now that situation just happened to fall there because it was a 200-yard shot. I didn't do like they did at the 8th at Pebble and take it over to the edge of the wetlands and cut out a place and cut the wetlands back into it. I kept it off of it. I could have been more sadistic, but I didn't do that. Because the tee shot was tough and it was a required long second shot, I gave them more room to play the second shot.
So I mean there are some things that happen because that, like 16th at Cypress, you know, McKenzie had to put a green out there. He only had had 222 yards across that ocean to get there. He couldn't shorten it. He couldn't lengthen it. He wasn't going to change the coastline. That's what was there.
So, yeah, will that happen once-in-a-lifetime? Is that good? If I could find it again, I'd use it again. But you're not going to find it again. I think that's what you were asking, wasn't it? Sort of?
Q. I was just trying to find if you said this is what I can do on this golf course. I wouldn't try to do this somewhere else?
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, yeah, I would do that. I find that. I don't remember it as much on this golf course that way. But there are places that I would not try to do someplace else.
If you would look at challenge at Minelli out on the island of Lanai, I did something there that I normally don't do. I had a hole that would normally have gone one way on the ocean. But because the hole was so good coming the other way, I chose to get off the 11th hole and drive back to the tee and play the hole backwards because it was right where the hole should have played.
Didn't fit right in the exactly the sequence of holes. But because the 17th hole was such a good hole going the other way, I couldn't tie it up. So I just did it that way.
Now would I do that again? I wouldn't do it again if I didn't have to, because I didn't like it. But I did like the hole. The hole outweighed the inconvenience of taking the cart back 200 yards. So those are the things that you do.
Q. What can designers do to enhance the possibility of more people playing golf in the future?
JACK NICKLAUS: It's very difficult today with golf equipment. The game of golf was slow enough when the golf ball only went 230 or 40 yards. When the golf ball goes 340 yards it's pretty difficult to say how do you go that 10 yards faster? Whether you're walking or in a cart or traveling in space, when a ball goes 340 yards, it needs more width and more land.
You can look at the old golf courses. I don't know what St. Andrews was built on. But I bet it is probably not on more than 100 acres or less. About 90 acres or so. It's not very many. But today you try to take a golf course and do that, you'd have every lawyer and every member working for them in your office every time somebody got beamed with a golf ball. In our society, you can't do that. You need enough space.
Now to answer your question. If the golf ball went back to going 230 or 40 yards, the golf courses don't have to be as long. You don't need as much land. You can get around it much faster. But until they do that, the golf's going to be a longer game, and I think that's wrong.
That's what I've been preaching about where for how many years now? 1977 is the first time we went to the USGA. That's 32 years ago I went to the golf ball. And I told them, Guys, you're going to be in trouble. This golf ball goes too far. It's going to cause you problems, continuing to further, and you better solve it now. They said you're crazy.
18 years later, they first acknowledged that I've been to them. And I've been to them several times in between. And I said, guys, this is going to cause you problems, and it has caused problems. Not because the game's worse, the game's a great game. There's nothing wrong with the game today. It's just a different game.
It takes more space. It's taken the 19 thousands wonderful golf courses that we've got in the United States to make only about 18,999 obsolete to the pro.
I go for the average golfer and the pro and make the game the same game for the average golfer and the pro is really what we wanted. The whole objective was to have them play the same equipment and the same golf course. We couldn't be further away.
Now I think remember we talked about when they first changed the grooves and we went from the square grooves back to the modified V-groove that they've gone to. I said that. It was like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic. Didn't think it would do much good.
But I think they're really on the right track. I certainly hope so. Because what's going to happen is that the golf ball -- the pros are going to be the ones that drive what goes on.
And the pros are going to hit the ball in the rough. They're not going to be able to stop this golf ball out of the rough with the V-grooves. They're going to want a softer ball so they can hit a softer shot. When you have a softer ball, it's going to curve more and not go as far.
Then they're going to have to change the driver to fit it. They're going to have to change the ball to fit it without getting into a lawsuit, which is what the whole objective has been.
So do I think they made a wise move? Yes. I just hope they go far enough that they bring it back to where many of these wonderful of golf courses we've got in the world, frankly, are really tests for people.
Q. What if they did that and you made this golf course here?
JACK NICKLAUS: You can always shorten it. You don't have to play all the back tees.
Q. But still you've had to use this land to make this golf course?
JACK NICKLAUS: Because under today's scenario. You don't build a golf course for what they might do. You do it for what it is. You play by the rules of the day.
If they change the rules, we've got a half a dozen tees here that I'm sure Joe and David would say gee isn't that wonderful? We can change that now. We've got a new house slot.
JOE DEITCH: I was just thinking that.
JACK NICKLAUS: I know you were. In practicality it's not going to happen here because they have a certain zoning for a certain number. But in practicality, that can happen in a lot of places.
But if the golf ball, frankly, would go a maximum of 200, 220 yards, you could reduce the game down dramatically. You could speed the game up dramatically. And to answer your original question, that's how you would bring people into the game.
You need to bring people in that, first of all, they can hit the ball and find it. And can play a game and play a game that is not so difficult that it runs them off after they play it.
So if you have a nice space where the golf ball doesn't go so far that they lose it every time they hit it, they can learn how to control and get back into the game.
I go back and I look and I laugh as I watch some of the -- who was it? I played with -- I don't know. Mike might have been my partner. But we played at Palma Valley. An Arnold Palmer and Gary old challenge golf. Palmer has just nailed it off the tees, hit it 238 yards. And Nicklaus just pounded it by him at 246. I mean, that was a big drive.
Did we have days that we hit the ball a long way? Sure. We he got on the hard fairways and so forth. But the golf balls didn't go so far. The average golfer would hit the ball 225 or 30 yards. He hit it 10 or 15 yards behind me. He didn't hit it out 250, and the pro hits it out 350. That's not a game that they can play together.
That is the whole idea is to try to get a game where everybody can play it together. That's what we've been trying. At least that's what I've been preaching.
Arnold Palmer's been on the same bandwagon. Gary's on the same bandwagon, and Tiger's in that same position. He'd like to see that, too.
But this litigious society of ours has really caused this problem. I'm sorry to get on the bandwagon, but you asked the question.
I hope they understand what I'm trying to do. The problems we face is you notice that this golf course and what I did today was I tried to make sure that this golf course played within the abilities of the average golfer to try to get this to be a 6500 yard golf course for the average golfer. I don't think that their abilities are beyond that. I don't think they can play that 6800 yard golf course. That's what you call your back tees here.
In fact, it will be your members tees, because members go to the back tees. They say I can't play there, and they go to the next set of tees. If the next set of tees is too long, the course is too long, and you don't sell memberships. That's just the way it works.
You go to the next set of tees. If they can play it, and that's enjoyable, gee, I'd love to play here. That's the way it works?
THE MODERATOR: Dwight, who is a junior golfer with the First Tee Program of Prince William County, has a question.
Q. My question is what advice would you give to an up upcoming junior golfer?
JACK NICKLAUS: What would I give to him? I'd give a lot of advice to you upcoming junior golfers, it's all different though. Well, obviously, you know, an upcoming junior golfer has got to be able to have access and be able to play.
And that's part of what the First Tee Program is all about. It's to be able to not only to create young kids who probably wouldn't have the opportunity to see golf courses, the opportunity to see golf courses, play, and learn the game. But not only learn the game, but learn the lessons of life.
You being a first tee guy, you understand that. It's a great organization. But the young guys -- there's only one way you can get good, and that is play. The more you play, the better you get. I think as I grew up I remember going back. I can go through when I was 14.
I think I remember watching Byron Nelson give a clinic at a USGA Juniors I played in. I tried to play like Byron Nelson. I tried to imitate him the next couple of months. I saw Hogan the next year giving a clinic. I tried to copy Hogan for the next few months.
Then I played with Sam Sneed when I was 16. I was playing in the middle of the Iowa Open. I played the first two rounds of the Iowa Open. I went down and shot 76-70 the first two rounds of the Open. And I went down and played an exhibition Friday afternoon with Sam. And that rhythm, that beautiful swing and so forth.
I went back the next day and said I'm going to play like Sam Sneed today. I shot 64 and won the tournament. So I said that's not bad. So imitate somebody.
So what I'm saying here is watch. Get as much exposure to watching people, watch what they do. Watch how people chip. Watch how people play bunker shots. Watch how Gary plays bunker shots. He's magnificent. Watch Ben Crenshaw putt. He's terrific.
Go watch Tiger Woods recover (laughing). There ain't anybody better at that. I tell you one thing, he can make a par for birdies from the darnedest places I've ever seen. But that's how Arnold Palmer made his name. He said he was never on the fairway, he was out there where everybody else was and made birdie from out there. That's what made him so popular. People loved it because he played like they did and he won.
But you go follow these guys. You learn what they do. Learn how they do it. Try to analyze it. Try to figure it out. Try to imitate them. You'll get better. So will a lot of kids.
Q. I've been one of the very early members here. The he con he me has caused a lot of change. One, of the consistency throughout all of it has been it's a great golf course, and I thank you for that. Since you haven't played this course yet, the answer can't be this one. But I was just curious of the courses that you've designed, what is your favorite course? And if you have an overall favorite that maybe you didn't design?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, if I answer that question, I've got 30-something people that are very mad at me. But today this is the best one I played.
Obviously, there are going to be some that I like better than others. But what I like is not important. My job is to make a golf course for you to like. My job is to, you know, somebody comes in to me and says, Jack, I want to do a golf course with 60-yard wide fairways. I don't want it over 6200 yards for the members, and 8 thousands square foot greens. I say you really want that? That's what I want. Okay, I say, well you probably ought to get somebody else.
If I do that, then my job is to do what they want to do because that's what they've asked for. That's what they think works for their market, their membership, and so forth and so on. It's my job to do the best I can under those circumstances.
Obviously, there's going to be some golf courses that I enjoy more than others, because obviously as a player, I enjoyed building a golf course that is to play and to challenge you and make you think. I'm big on thinking.
I did an interview the other day -- I'll probably get a lot of criticism for it, because I said in there that, you know, I said we're talking about Muirfield Village, and this is where we did it. I don't think Muirfield Village gets the credit that it deserves.
Because if you go to Muirfield Village and stand on the first tee and you start going every single shot, you've got to think about where to put it, what to do with it. You've got to do that here, too. You've got to think about what to do with it.
You can go to a lot of the other golf courses that are the Top 10 in the country and probably play half the holes asleep. You know, to me, that's not fun. I hate going out and playing golf courses where I don't have to think. I don't have to use my head.
Now maybe I want to use my head too much. But I try to make the average golfer go to a level that they can do it within their abilities and think within their abilities and make it happen. If I can do that, then I think you make the golf course fun for people.
People talk about sometimes greens are tough. Today as far as the golf course, the only defense the golf course has today are its greens. Length is no defense anymore. You've got to put a little movement in the greens.
I have one guy that's been working for me for 25 years, Chris Cochrane. He's back there somewhere. But Chris makes the most fun -- Chris is a good player. He's a 1 or 2. He said to him the most fun part of the game is putting. So any time Chris is working with me on a golf course, they have a little more challenge on the greens. I work with a given concept. He fudges it a little bit more to give a little more challenge to it.
But he loves to putt, and putting should be fun. To stand on a green and see a four- or five-foot break fall down and roll down the hill and roll out. To have the skill to learn how to do that is fun.
Now to some people, he they hate that. Because they three-putt it every time or four-putt it. Okay, I understand that, too. So you try to have a balance.
Of course, the superintendent on a golf course, Jeff can make this golf course for you fun or miserable. But wherever he puts the pins. Whatever he wants to do, he can make it that way. He can make your day fun or miserable.
So when you have a miserable day, go to him because he could have made your day fun (laughing). I'm serious. And his job is to probably get a mixture in there to create you some variety. And my job on the greens and the golf course was to give you variety. To give you some days the first hole, 5th hole, and 12th hole will be really difficult. But some days they'll be really easy and some other hole will be tougher.
So you try to get a balance on your golf course. That's what we try to do. Let's go play some of it, do you want to?
DAVID SOUTHWORTH: We wanted to do one thing. So, Jack, we so appreciate you being here today and your involvement in Creighton Farms. Really, from bottom of our hearts.
So on behalf of Joe and I and the entire Creighton Farms community, we're donating a check to the First Tee Program of Prince William County for $10,000 today.
JACK NICKLAUS: Isn't that nice.
DAVID SOUTHWORTH: In your honor.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, thank you.
DAVID SOUTHWORTH: Yeah.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, this will help some of the young men we were talking about earlier get some golf in.
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