The Brewster, Wash. club enlisted acclaimed golf course architect David McLay Kidd to create its short course—a 14-hole layout known as “Quicksands.” The Disney theme park-style wiring for the music system at the 25-acre course is being hidden and laid out like the course’s irrigation system, with dozens of in-ground speakers.
David McLay Kidd, a Scotsman who was hired to build the original destination course at Bandon Dunes at the age of 26, wanted to push the boundaries a bit further than others before him when creating his first short course, Forbes reported. So, when designing the 14-hole, par-3 layout at Gamble Sands in Brewster, Wash. known as “Quicksands,” he reached out to the company that designs the sound systems for Disney theme parks.
He explained he wanted to be able to hear music everywhere while playing, as if he were eating with friends at a restaurant, but didn’t want it to be intrusive, Forbes reported.
“We said, ‘What can we do to take it to the next level?’ Music was an obvious thing,” McLay Kidd said. “The Cradle at Pinehurst has music, but it seems like it’s very localized. You can hear it on some tees and greens and then you can go play three holes and not hear it. I love the idea, so how would you do it if it were pivotal to the experience?”
At Quicksands, the music system wiring is being hidden and laid out like the course’s irrigation system, with dozens of in-ground speakers costing between $600 and $700 apiece that will be leveled and equally spaced throughout the 25-acre course, Forbes reported. Those will be easily heard, but not seen.
“They’re designed a certain way so you’re never far away from one. Whatever is playing, you have a pretty standard volume throughout,” McLay Kidd says. “If you’ve got the Eagles playing in the background, you could sing along with it through the entire track and never miss a beat.”
Like many new short courses today, Quicksands is designed for fun, with holes ranging from 60 to 160 yards in length built on rolling sand dunes between the range and entry road at Gamble Sands, Forbes reported. There’s even a cocktail bar built on a dune in the middle of the course, with a restroom buried underneath—not unlike the unseen sound system.
With courses at Bandon Dunes and Sand Valley, McLay Kidd has seen firsthand the growing popularity of par-3 courses at destination golf properties. In addition to Bandon Preserve (13 holes) and The Sandbox (17 holes), Pinehurst has its “Cradle” course, Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri has Top of the Rock and Mountain Top, and Forest Dunes in Northern Michigan opens its 10-hole short course on August 1, Forbes reported. The par 3 course across from Myrtle Beach International Airport in South Carolina is getting new life, with plans for lights for nighttime play, wireless music and craft beer options, while Tiger Woods is building the new short course at Pebble Beach in California that will include a replica of the resort’s iconic 106-yard seventh hole.
McLay Kidd says short courses have often been an afterthought, squeezed into a corner with uninspired design and little to no maintenance budget, Forbes reported.
“But what we’ve seen over the last dozen years is these short courses are a real thing,” McLay Kidd said. “They’re being designed by the world’s best designers, given top billing, best pieces of land, and big budgets. They are something to add on to the main course—the appetizer or the dessert in a lot of cases.”
Just don’t expect to simply pull out your pitching wedge every hole at Quicksands when it opens for preview play later this year, Forbes reported. At least not if McLay Kidd has anything to say about it.
“Being a Scotsman, a short course in my vision is one where the last thing I want you to do is pull out a wedge and hit it stiff to the pin,” he says. “I’m going to do everything in my power to make that a high-risk option. I want you to instead think of all the other options—to use a side slope, or a backboard, or a kicker, or even putt one from way off. Just like Scotland, I want you to think about all the different ways you could get from 100 to 150 yards in without pulling your stock wedge.”
Interestingly, there’s no plan for tees or tee markers at Quicksands, and no distances on the scorecard, Forbes reported. There will be bag stands with drink holders that loosely direct players from one green to the next hole, allowing players to pick where they’ll tee off.
“When you take away tees, that actually plays to the architect’s advantage because now I don’t have to give you a flat lie. And if I don’t give you a flat lie, it becomes a lot less appealing to hit a pitch off a tight, uneven lie and now you’ll start to think about other things,” McLay Kidd said. “It’s such a weird game because it’s not instinctual like basketball. It’s a game where you get all the time in the world to think about what you’re going to do, and yet most average golfers don’t. They say, ‘Oh, it’s 100 yards, that’s my 52-degree wedge,’ and they pull it. I wanted to do things that made them stop in their tracks and say, ‘Oh, I don’t like that, that’s uncomfortable. Well, what else could I do?’ You could take your 8-iron and chip it, let it run down there and try to read the contours.
“I have to get in your face; I have to take away options and make you fail, and make you think, ‘Hmm, why did that happen?’ he adds. “And then one of your buddies tries putting it. The rest of us skulled it, thinned it, chili-dipped it, and this guy putted it and got it to four feet and won the hole.”
That’s McLay Kidd’s hope for what Quicksands will be, Forbes reported. Whether that comes to pass, well, he won’t know until players experience it. But he’s confident those shots are there and that part of the fun will be letting golfers will figure it out for themselves.