As an example, the fifth hole on the Red Course measures 536 metres and plays as a par five. However, on the Blue Course the same hole plays from different tees as a par four of 381 metres, with an alternative line of play and with its own unique shot values. Altogether there are potentially eight par fives within the course with six of these holes offering a par four option. All the par fours provide longer and shorter alternatives, usually with different tee shot angles, as do the par threes.
Of course the use of two teeing areas has been seen many times before, but normally on nine-hole courses to create eighteen. It is unusual to see an eighteen-hole course of this quality use the same technique to successfully create an additional course both of which succeed as stand-alone layouts.
However, the two courses within one concept is not the only unique feature at Mill Creek. Taking on board the client’s wishes to create a form of cross-country golf, other layouts have been planned that can be played in many different ways.
This has been achieved by providing tees which offer alternative directions of play, facilitated by openings cut through mounding for new fairway corridors and designing greens which accept shots from two or even three different directions. The variety of playing options has then been further extended by the addition of a number of extra tees, outside the standard golf layout.
Several eighteen-hole Kaleidoscope Golf options have been laid out, including a reversible course, but there are no doubt many other variations which have yet to be discovered. There are even additional options to play different six- or nine-hole par three courses around the clubhouse.
Importantly Kaleidoscope Golf is laid out to fit within all the usual parameters required for the certification of new golf courses and play follows the normal rules of the game. Of course, by its very nature Kaleidoscope Golf involves crossing holes which somewhat limits the occasions that it can be played and the use of alternative routes does mean that on some holes not all the hazards are perfectly aligned. However, it does open the door to new opportunities for the golf management team to offer members a greater variety of different experiences.
It should be noted that Kaleidoscope Golf can be achieved with a design and construction budget not greatly different from the cost of creating a single course. At Mill Creek each hole has two tee complexes but this need not be required to create Kaleidoscope Golf. Moreover, maintenance costs are similar to that of maintaining one course, which is a definite bonus for the club owners.
Mill Creek offers much more than a high quality golf course and it is a testament to the aspirations and enthusiasm of a client who has not been afraid to push the boundaries that traditional golf developments offer. Mill Creek may be just an eighteen-hole golf course, but it can be a different eighteen-hole golf course for every day of the week!
Ross McMurray is a designer at European Golf Design and is currently serving as president of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects.