Sunday, November 10, 2019

Design Process

The regular readers know my love for sports, but the following confession will probably remove any doubt of my sports geekdom.  An annual golf hole design contest is held every year since 1998 to honor Dr. Alister MacKenzie, world famous golf architect.  I discovered the contest a few years ago, and of course, I submitted my very rudimentary drawing.  My 9-year old even participated this year with his own submission.  Following the MacKenzie Society's lead, the Perry Maxwell Society (slightly less famous designer) held a 9-hole course design contest through last week.  My son and I participated again.  The interesting part of the contest was all the different ways to route the holes.  I completed my design and compared with my son's drawing.  Using the same terrain, he envisioned a completely different use of the land in numerous different directions.  Looking at his, I rethought my design.  I started seeing even better possibilities.  I wanted to submit multiple entries, which is against the rules.  The possibilities were endless, and perfection was in the eye of the beholder.  The process was the fun part.

Outlines for finals are similar.  While I will concede there are more correct ways to structure the law than golf holes, perfect outlines are in the eye of the beholder.  The vision of one person with flow charts and bubbles will be completely different than a classmate.  The linear outline that follows all the correct design rules may not work for everyone.  Mike Strantz was an eccentric golf course designer.  I played Tobacco Road, one of his courses in North Carolina, and it was one of the most visually exciting courses I have played.  My dad played with me that day and hated the course.  He couldn't comprehend why the valleys and sandhills flowed the way they did.  He commented that the course got in his heard early.  Don't worry about what someone else thinks of your outline.  Your outline is intended to help you prepare.

As we all know, the process is what matters.  I sat with my son drawing our courses last week.  We talked about the possibilities and why we chose our routing.  Neither of us was right, but we enjoyed the process.  Outlining is the same way.  The process of making the outline and looking through the material develops understanding.  The repetition improves retention.  The outlining process is what matters.

Outlining and preparing for finals is in full swing.  Remember to focus on the process to produce what will work best for you.

(Steven Foster)

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