Interview With David Zinkand Lead Designer, Phil Mickelson Design
A Light Hearted Golf Q & A Interview
By Brian Weis
Below is an interview with David Zinkand, the Lead Designer at Phil Mickelson Design. The following are a few traditional and non traditional golf centric questions that I love to ask influential people in the golf industry.
Can you provide our readers a brief biography?
Late last year I became Lead Designer on the Phil Mickelson Design team after fourteen years as a Design Associate with Coore & Crenshaw. Shortly before graduating from Cornell University in 1997 with a degree in landscape architecture, I received the Dreer Award. This inspiring endowment enabled me to study many of Britain and Ireland's finest natural golf courses, along with the heathland layouts around London, the birthplace of inland golf architecture. Seeking experience upon my return to the United States, I applied the wisdom that to truly understand golf architecture, one must first learn how a golf course is built. The mentors who imparted this advice have crafted many of today's finest Minimalist courses. They include former employers Gil Hanse, designer of Rio de Janeiro's venue for the 2016 Olympics, as well as Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who hold 13 positions on Golfweek's 100 Best Modern Courses. In 2013, my firm, Zinkand Golf Design, renovated Desert Forest Golf Club, a minimalist classic in Carefree, Arizona.
When did you start golfing and who introduced you to the game?
My father taught me to play golf. As soon as I was old enough to tag along, Dad put an iron in my hands at our hometown Club in Ohio. Within a few years, I was playing from the hundred and fifty yard markers there at Fremont Country Club.
What is your current home course?
With all of the travel, I simply play where and when I can.
To date, what is your proudest golf accomplishment?
I shaped all of the greens and managed the design and construction of Bandon Preserve for Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw. Folks often tell us that is the most fun they have ever had playing golf. Regarding my solo work, I am very pleased with the results of a recent renovation of Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, AZ.
What is your biggest golf pet peeve on or off the course?
What is your favorite club in your bag and why?
A short iron. I like this club, because with a little imagination, you can play an array of shots.
What is your favorite golf destination?
Bandon Dunes Resort is my favorite destination. The Southern Oregon Coast and its people are amazing. I spent two years' worth of time building Bandon Trails and Bandon Preserve with Bill and Ben. Owner Mike Keiser was a great client and the golf there is inspired.
What course is on your bucket list that you have not played yet?
While on the Dreer Award in 1997-98, I visited over 200 seaside and heathland courses in Britain and Ireland. It was a great experience in both golf and life! After seeing such great classics, you become spoiled, and most modern courses look repetitive and artificial. For whatever reason, I missed the original course at Rosapenna in Co. Donegal, Ireland. I will go back and see that one of these days. I would like to see Royal Melbourne, and Cypress Point Club is a priority for 2015.
If you woke up tomorrow and could play one course you played before, where would you play?
This would easily be Rye Golf Club. We hear so much about other worthy historic layouts such as the Old Course at St Andrews and Prestwick. However, this quiet, private Club along the southern coast of England is a treasure! The course is set on a series of mostly parallel, but converging, dune ridges. Rye's layout evolved through contributions by Harry Colt and Tom Simpson among others and each hole uses the dune ridges in a fun new way. The routing is an adventure that also makes a great site for the President's Putter. Held by the Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society, this tournament pits the respective Blues' against one another each January, when the course is firm and fast.
If you could change one aspect, rule or thing about golf, what would it be and why?
There are many unfortunate perceptions about the game. Perhaps the notion that golf is necessarily a regulation eighteen-hole five-hour ordeal would be the first misperception I would tackle. A darn good fisherman once told me the trouble for golf started when fathers' became dads'. Fewer people are willing to devote the time required for a regulation round. This is not to say I think the days of the stout eighteen are over, but many of the most passionate golfers I know cherish their shorter ventures out on the links just as much as an all-day affair. Walking nine holes on a beautiful evening is a great way to unwind and get some exercise. Embracing alternative facilities with shorter layouts would also help with the time crunch. Who wouldn't enjoy a short course where you can get every club in the bag out at least once and return back to the clubhouse in under 2 ½ hours? That is the kind of thing dads could do for lunch with co-workers and clients, as well as in the evening with their families.
Dream foursome (living)?
I just became the Lead Designer with Phil Mickelson's Design team. Since I haven't played with Phil yet, let's definitely include him. Bill Murray's humor would be welcome, given the disparity between Phil's shots and mine. I've played golf with Bill Coore a number of times, but never with Crenshaw, so he would be fun to play with and provide a whole lot of perspective, just as he brought to our work over the years. Grant Rogers, the teaching pro at Bandon Dunes, would be my caddy. And if we could get away with a fivesome, I'd get in Justin Timberlake's ear about ways to promote the game.
Dream foursome (living or dead)?
There are too many choices, but Bobby Jones is the no-brainer as both a gentleman and a golfer. Babe Zaharias and Bob Hope would round out the foursome with Harvey Pennick as my caddy.
If we were talking design folks, Alister Mackenzie, John Low and Stuart Paton would be guys I'd love to play with. The latter two for what they brought to inland golf design as tinkering members of England's Woking Golf Club. They were pioneers and must have some good war stories about implementing their wonderful contours and strategies despite the protest of their fellow members.
18 Rapid Fire, Off The Cuff Questions
1) Hitting Long Drive OR Sinking Long Putt?
A long putt. I can hit it far enough already.
2) Having Round of Life OR Hole in One?
Round of life, I've got two hole-in-ones and an albatros, but you can always have a new low score!
3) Golfing at the crack of dawn OR twilight?
Twilight on the coast, crack of dawn anywhere else.
4) Hit a power fade OR power draw?
Power draw for the roll. That said, you can talk to a slice, but a hook won't listen.
5) Beverage cart OR halfway house?
Halfway house. But let's go really old school with a ginger beer cart, a la St Andrews!
6) Bathroom OR bushes?
I've been building golf holes for almost two decades, definitely bushes.
7) Hot dog OR wrap?
8) Around the green, being in sand OR thick rough?
9) Walking OR riding?
10) Do you carry traditional 3 iron OR hybrid?
I love striking a long iron, but hybrids are just too good.
11) Do you prefer long par 3 OR long par 5?
A long par three, preferably one that plays as a 3½. Half par holes draw the guts out in golfers.
12) Pants OR Shorts?
13) Palmer OR Nicklaus?
I'm a Buckeye, so Nicklaus.
14) Beatles OR Elvis?
15) Play for fun OR play for money?
Match play, your choice.
16) Bump and run OR flop shot?
Bump and run!
17) Lay up OR gamble?
Depends on how many over par I am. Under 80, lay up. Over 80, gamble.
18) 18 holes OR 36?
18, my wife and I are about to have our first child!
Revised: 03/03/2015 - Article Viewed 20,438 Times
Written By: Brian Weis
Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.
All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.
On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.
Contact Brian Weis:
GolfTrips.com - Publisher and Golf Traveler