Tripp Davis, ASGCA, (Tripp Davis and Associates), is back at his alma mater. The former University of Oklahoma golfer returns to rework the Jimmie Austin Golf Course at OU and enhance the school’s golf practice facilities.
After Davis and his team completed a Master Plan for the golf course, practice facilities, entry road, parking lot, and clubhouse, they began with the redesign of the tees going with a new Zoysia turf, repositioning and restyling bunkers, changing some fairways, and major work on seven holes.
Originally designed and built by ASGCA Founding Member Perry Maxell in the early 1950’s, the course underwent a major redesign in the early 1990’s at the hands of ASGCA Past President Bob Cupp. The objective of the latest work by Davis has been to adapt the course to the way the modern college players play, giving it the flexibility to strategically challenge the best men and women players in college golf, while establishing an historic and visually interesting style.
“Today’s best college golfers are playing a great deal differently than they did 20 years ago and the work we are doing at OU is to adapt to those changes while making sure the golf course has the flexibility to be set up in a way that will strategically challenge all players,” said Davis. “Although the course can be set up to play quite long, we don’t want length to be the dominant strength a player needs to play well. We want to make the ability to score as the most important strength.”
Relative to style, Davis wanted the golf course to be more reflective of the naturalistic attributes of the site and embrace Perry Maxwell’s naturalistic styles and influences. Bunkers with “ragged” edges and free flowing lines, and strategically placed native grasses will be more visually prevalent, while Bishop Creek and its tributaries that run through the property will be more in play and more visual.
Starting this summer, Davis will begin work on the new OU practice course which will be known as “The Ransom Course.” The foundation of The Ransom Course is a four hole course that can be played as par three holes from a wide variety of distances and angles. Within the framework are two short par four holes that will allow players to practice a variety of different tee shots down what Davis calls “driving lanes,” with one oriented south and one north. And, there is fairway and there are bunkers approaching each of the four greens from a variety of angles, giving players the ability to practice every shot imaginable from 100 yards and in.
“The key is giving players the ability to practice in a realistic environment and experience real on-course situations,” Davis said. “It is taking variety in practice to another level beyond the typical driving range and short game area.”
With the changes to the golf course and the addition of The Ransom Course, Davis believes the University of Oklahoma will have one of the very best University golf facilities in the country.
“Having played college golf and being part of a National Championship Team here at OU in the 1980’s, I am fortunate to have a unique insight into the college game and how golf teams come together to practice. Eliminating any barriers to how a golf course can be set up to mimic what players may find at any golf course around the country, and eliminating any barriers to how they can practice, is what is of value to a college golf program. We are achieving that at Oklahoma.”