Mark Mungeam is a principal with Mungeam Cornish Golf Design in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, a firm he joined in 1987. His notable course designs include Shaker Hills and Cyprian Keyes in Massachusetts, The Links at Hiawatha Landing in New York, and the Golf Club at Oxford Greens in Connecticut. In 1999 Mungeam oversaw the renovation of Olympia Fields Country Club in Chicago in preparation for the 2003 U.S. Open.
I have to admit that I like quirky design features that make use of natural features the best. Whether it’s a tree, an outcropping of rock, or grasses, if it can be incorporated into the design I think that’s great.
My favorite design feature is to obscure visibility of the putting surface from a portion of the fairway. I don’t mean the steeply uphill approach where you can’t see the surface of the green; what I’m talking about is a hole where if you hit it to one side of the fairway you can’t see the green, but hit to the other side and the green is clearly visible. Using this feature, you can reward a player for hitting to a certain area, much as you would with a bunker.
This is a subtle variation of design that is often missing from today’s eye candy designs.
Stampeding cows were a natural feature I hadn’t counted on, though.
Several years ago we were hired to design a course in rural Kentucky. The site was a farm with rolling fields and groves of trees. It was very pretty land, but there was still a herd of cows in one field. We weren’t paying them much mind. It was a quiet morning and the cows were all munching on the dew soaked grass.
I had heard about stampedes but had never experienced one. All of sudden these cows started running after the four of us on the site walk. We had to scatter and run for the fences, each of us diving over or under the rails and barbwire.
I’ve been pretty excited on site walks at seeing potentially great new holes, but my heart never beat as fast as it did in that field in Kentucky!