David: I know this is an impossible question to answer for anyone who’s involved in the golf design business, but do you have a favorite golf hole on the Machrihanish Dunes course?
Jimmy: Number three, par 3. Number three is one of the most beautiful par 3s. Since we took the mound down in the front of the green to allow us to see more of the green surface and we’ve raised the tee up, we’ve got a little bit of a Nicklaus situation here, where we’ll get tee up and green down. The green contours are extremely special.
Number one and number three, which is number 10 and number 12 that are going to be one in three next year because that’s the way we designed it. We designed it with the softer nine first, and then the tougher course nine second. All the signage is done so that it will be played that way forever in the future.
Number one green and number three green and those two golf holes, a nice beautiful dogleg par for which you can drive, if you take it on, on the [inaudible] lane. You can play it as a dogleg, right to left. It’s a wonderful green. Number 10 or number one is absolutely wonderful. Number three is a shot [inaudible] gorgeous. I actually prefer it to number 14.
Number 14 has the background. Every golf hole has to have a foreground, middle ground, and background. Number 14 certainly has the background. Number three, the symmetry of the golf hole is all there for me. I love it. You want to hear the one I don’t like?
Jimmy: I don’t like number 17 or number eight. I think the green is in the wrong location. We were given that location. I’d love to bring that green back to the edge of the ravine, we play with a driver and a middle to short iron. Then, take the tees for number 18, up on to the location that number 17 is at the moment, and play 18 in a different direction, we can see the green from the deep.
I don’t think the drive on number 18 is one of the most interesting drive in the golf course with the rocks on the left and up through the gully. That’s the next big discussion with Gregg.
Those are my best holes and those are my weakest holes. If you had a long iron or a long wood into number 17 and the green just doesn’t hold the shot terribly well these days. It all fires through the back into the rough. If we bring the green forward, it would be a wonderful second shot.
David: I’m with you on that, having hit 5 woods and hybrids into that green, or tried to. I’m in your camp on bringing that one a wee bit closer.
Jimmy: I don’t think we have to worry too much if we’re losing a little bit of land to the golf courses these days. I remember many, many people, developers, when we arrived on site; first thing we’ll ask of them is, “What do you want”? They’ll say to my son, “A championship golf course.” “What do you mean?” “Something around 72, 74 par, 72‑73.”
We’ll say, “Have you ever played the Queen’s Course at Gleneagles, sir?” They’ll say “Of course I have.” [laughs] It’s a par 65. It’s only five and 650. “Did you enjoy it?” “Yeah, it was the toughest of the three courses.”
David: It really is.
Jimmy: It’s a bit royal.
David: That’s a very good point.
Jimmy: That proves the point. It’s not about land anymore. I certainly believe that golf courses will become shorter. I think greens complexes will become more difficult. I think greens will go back to the whole contours in them. Guys like Donald Ross and his creations, greens creations will be looked at in the future more closely, like Pinehurst No. 2 with his up-down [inaudible] and these small fronts.
If you hit the front of the green, the ball runs back off the green, but it doesn’t run back straight off the green. It runs back to the left or it runs back to the right. It ducks itself in behind the bunker. You’re then left one of the most difficult pitch shots in the world to get you forward.
That’s where I think the game is going to go. I’ve talked a bit about that for years. I think the other thing that’s going to happen in golf courses is we’re going to create many, many more nine-hole complexes, where guys can go and play for two of those and be back home for lunch.
David: Jimmy, thank you very much for your time. Before you go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t get your prediction on the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Are the European players going to hang on to the cup, or do you think the U.S. has a chance to grab it from them this year?
Jimmy: I don’t think this is going to be a runaway win for either team. This is going to be one of the most closely fought contests, having watched the championships in the U.S. over the last two or three weeks.
Some of those guys like to read at the weekend, playing such good golf and some with a measure of humility. Some with a measure of arrogance. Arrogance at the weekend, humility the week before.
Tiger is a little bit susceptible in such a leg. Rory is the same. It’s going to be a very close-fought contest. I don’t think the golf course is going to excite a lot of people, but don’t quote me on that.
David: That’s a good non‑answer, Jimmy.
Jimmy: I know Tom Watson very, very well indeed. I won’t tell you what he thinks of it. [laughs] We’re doing a co-design with Tom at Cadbury’s in London as you probably know, which is very interesting, because Tom’s obviously the captain of the American team.
David’s doing a co-design with him in London. I was 25 years at Gleneagles. The Ryder Cup’s at Gleneagles, you got to believe in coincidence I’m telling you.
David: Yeah. That’s great. That’ll be exciting.
Jimmy: I haven’t even got me a ticket, David.
David: They’re not easy to come by from what I hear, but I’m sure that somebody can sneak you over the fence up there somewhere along the way.
Jimmy: I think I’ll probably enjoy the club in the first year when Machrihanish streams real close to the boys, and have a few beers at the same time and get right into the excitement, a few guys from your part of the world here that’s for sure. It’s going to be a pretty exciting year for Machrihanish.
David: It has been already, and we’re only into March, full speed ahead. I hope to see you over there in the next couple of months, James.
Jimmy: I look forward to that. I really do, David, and thanks for including me in your blog. I hope we’ve done something that’s worthwhile.
David: This is terrific. Thank you so much, and take care. Give my best to June as well.
Jimmy: To June all the best. Thank you very much David. See you soon.
David: All right, cheers. Bye now.
Jimmy: Bye‑bye, David.