Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ed Shearon and Raven's Claw

Props to Ed Shearon.


Not too surprised if he's not a household name. He's a local architect in the Philadelphia area, and a real gentleman. He gives a damn, he tries, he fiddles with the routing a lot to get the kind of holes he wants, introduces Joe blow/Jane doe golfers to classical features all on golf courses all can afford that are solid. One thing he does is build courses close to the Mackenzian ideal to allow all levels of players to enjoy themselves (provided they play the correct tees). I went around Raven's Claw in Limerick, PA with him at a round set up by local cable TV personality and pal Tony Leodora. The point was further discussion of a more-matured (grown in) course and exposure for some to the course for a first time. Tony had to bail because of other work commitments (maybe eat Tums and drink Mylanta as he watched the markets?)

Anyway, Ed got his start with Hurdzan and Fry at Jericho National in Buck's County doing engineering for the course build. Ed grew up on Whitemarsh and did some reno work there and has produced three solo courses so far: River Winds (on the Delaware in NJ across from Philly), Raven's Claw in Limerick, PA (seriously - Limerick) and my favorite The Vineyards at Renault in one of the Eggs near A.C. (I like it best because it's core, built on sand and very easily walkable) - all three are worth playing. Ed does a very nice job, nothing awful, ever! Some really good holes and great variety. One more really good thing about his courses? It's hard to lose a ball although Raven's is the best for that. He includes subtle features to allow recoveries and prevent lost balls unless you really duff it and then you are on your own.

At any rate, Ed goes pretty much unsung, even in the Philly area so far, folks are just catching on. Go play his courses, they are all public, you will have a very nice enjoyable and stimulating day.

Sorry, not a single photo of RC, my back was in the potty and I was just batting it around and everyone knows I cannot play and talk at the same time.

Par 3's: 54* wedge, 7-iron, 4 or 5-iron, 3-wood

redanman's favorite holes at Raven's:

six (a modified redan) - What, that's a surprise???? Green is blind.
seven -reachable par 5 done well
eight - driveable par 4 under the right circumstances
twelve aka "Cyclops" you can easily figure out why! (Although I disagree with Ed about best way to play it)
fourteen - a sand wedge par 3 (Two feet) today
fifteen - called Alps, but not really one, still a really good hole
seventeen - a three-wood par 3 that's fun and fair

Least favorite? eighteen - not enough land and too uni-dimensional (devoid the fact that I effed it totally this time out - heck I needed an adult bevvie, I was thirsty and I knew they had draught Stella) A lay-up/wedge hole at the end with a 45* misdirected tee shot, oh well ...... Not exactly a real complaint, is it?

Of note, Ed had asked for comments afterwards and none of these should surprise him whenst he reads all about it here.

In a vacuum, the green complexes are more about the greens and could be more about the surrounds and certainly moderation and speed modification are absolutely necessary for the daily fee golfer. Personally, I'd like to see Ed get a shot at a de novo private club, I think he'd do well. Certainly his work so far shows restraint with the intent of not overwhelming the daily fee golfer.

Cheers, boys and especially you girls.


steve said...

The 1st hole is very weak also. I don't share your enthusiasm for the course. I'd rather play Lederach or even Turtle Creek just down the road.

the redanman said...

I'm not trying to develop a pecking order necessarily, but present an honest opinion. My own tastes are probably more towards Lederach's style, I admit (I'm a skilled and well-traveled opiner), but I think given some other more famous architects Ed's work stands up fairly strong.

Ed has become an architect by less formal means as regards golf than many and his courses are low budget, broad appeal - a good combo. Compare that to another prolific local architect based in Quakertown and I think you'll see what I mean. Blaukovitch's courses are generally much less interesting to the better player and overly forgiving.

Architecture is about niche and aspirations as well as absolutes.

Thanks for the comments. Also check out Renault in NJ, Steve. Please expand on hole #1 if you come back.