Ran Morrissett's Golf Club Atlas Introduction
This month’s Feature Interview with Rob Collins tackles the age old question: if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
By that, I mean how do you credit an architectural firm that conceives an AWESOME design on spectacular land only to see the developer go in a different, non-golf direction? I first met Rob face-to-face this past February after his round at No.2. At that time, he showed me photos and drawings for a golf course outside Fernie, British Columbia. It had all those hallmarks that Lorne Smith of FineGolf would categorize as a very high ‘joy to be alive’ quality: shared fairways, huge central bunkering, a zig-zagging stream, minimal rough, and vistas of the snow-capped Canadian Rockies. Very tasty – a modern Jasper Park! However, the developer opted to go the home/park route and golf was scrubbed. What credit will King-Collins ever receive for such an unrequited effort? Essentially none. That’s why I promptly invited them for a Feature Interview and I believe that this firm is capable of grand things, well beyond the same old fare.
Sweetens Cove claims the #1 ranking in Tennessee on Golfweek's ``Best Courses You Can Play`` list!
See the attached link for a terrific article by Martin Kaufmann about the unlikely ascendancy of Sweetens Cove to the top of Golfweek's rankings for the state of Tennessee:
Anthony Pioppi compares Sweetens Cove to the original version of Augusta National
``Sweetens Cove…harkens back to one of the most influential golf courses ever built in the United States (Augusta National) …. Collins and his partner, Tad King, have embraced the original MacKenzie-Jones tenets with gusto. Writing about Augusta then, MacKenzie could have been describing Sweetens today.``
Anthony Pioppi, To The Nines
Rob Collins nominated as one of golf's ``Most Influential Architects`` in Golf, Inc.
``I don't necessarily equate multi-million dollar fees with being influential,`` he explains. ``Today people want golf courses that are intellectually interesting.``
Rob Collins & Tad King honored by Golf Vacation Insider
Does the King-Collins Design team deserve a spot on this list even though they have only designed one new nine-hole layout and renovated two holes on a second course? Given the high praise their Sweetens Cove Golf Club outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee has garnered – people are throwing the phrase “best nine-hole course in the country” around liberally – we have to believe that this duo will be getting more chances to apply their rustic aesthetic to existing courses and perhaps a new tract or two in the near future.
Sweetens Cove featured in ``The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, v. 2``
Sweetens Cove received the highest average rating of ALL golf courses in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, & Louisiana.
``Sweetens Cove is one of the most audacious designs we’ve seen. (King-Collins) built one of the most diverse & entertaining set of green complexes found anywhere. This kind of fun, inventive, quick golf is more commonplace in the UK, which is why the game is so much healthier there than in America. If you leave (Sweetens Cove) smiling, don’t panic: golf is supposed to be fun.”
Ran Morrissett, co-author, The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, v. 2
It's not totally unusual for a golf architect to leap out of the back room into prominence. David Kidd did exactly the same when he built Bandon Dunes in the late 1990s, and he hasn't been the only one. If the right opportunities fall into his path, I would be pretty confident that Rob will ascend to that level. His work at Sweetens Cove is remarkable: to take a flat, boring nine hole course and build something so visually dramatic and yet such damned good fun to play is, in my opinion, one of the more impressive golf architectural achievements in recent years. Some will say it is too bold; I disagree. The first and most important job of a golf course is to put a smile on the face of those who play it; well, I came off Sweetens Cove wearing the biggest grin for some considerable time, and I reckon that'll be true of the overwhelming majority who get to play there. I look forward to seeing where Rob's career takes him next; wherever it is, I reckon local golfers will be lucky guys.
Sweetens Cove is one of the most audacious designs we’ve seen. King-Collins built one of the most diverse & entertaining set of green complexes found anywhere. This kind of fun, inventive, quick golf is more commonplace in the UK, which is why the game is so much healthier there than in America. If you leave Sweetens Cove smiling, don’t panic: golf is supposed to be fun.