The Golfer

Best of the World 2018

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G olf architects are getting a lot of attention these days. The golfing public cares about course designs. People know the names of architects, their styles and their courses. As part of this new attention, some architects have become media superstars, appearing on television and on the lecture circuit. All of the national golf magazines now rate courses and give lots of ink to designers. Everyone seems to have their favorite architect— whether old, new, living or dead. It wasn't always like this. Not too long ago architects attracted very little attention. Golf courses were just places where you played golf. They weren't "by" anyone and they weren't any particular "style". Consider, for example, Bernard Darwin's famous book Golf Courses of the British Isles (1910) and how it brought attention to the famous courses of England, Scotland and Ireland for the first time. One may have assumed that golf architecture was central to the book. There is, however, not a single architectural attribution anywhere to be found. In a similar vein, Pete Dye wrote recently that while in the army during World War II he played Pinehurst No. 2 many times, never knowing who the architect was. He even says he wouldn't have known Donald Ross from Betsy Ross at the time. Likewise, Shell's Wonderful World of Golf in the 1960s was filmed at some of the greatest courses in the world. Rarely, if ever, was the architect identified. It is a sign of how much things have changed that entire real estate developments are marketed on the strength of an architect's exalted reputation, and some figure extensively in media coverage at major tournaments. Never before have architects received this kind of attention. All of this architect adulation gets ratcheted up another notch when it involves Golden Age designers. If there was a time when Dye did not know that Donald Ross designed golf courses, those times are clearly over. Ross, MacKenzie, Tillinghast, Thomas, MacDonald, Raynor, Flynn and the other members of the Golden Age pantheon are now treated like deities. That is not an altogether bad thing. They were an extraordinarily talented group, and recognition of their talent was long overdue. Their recent fame has helped to save many of their courses from mutilation or worse. Sometimes, however, I wonder if all of this adulation has gone too far. As good as the Golden Age architects were, the reverence for them can sometimes be over the top. Their courses are sometimes treated like sacred sites. Every swale, tree, and ridge—or lack thereof—is taken as a sign of the master and invested with deep significance. All of this might be disregarded as so much harmless hero worship if it were not for the fact that Golden Age courses do evolve, like any other courses. Questions of restoration or alterations inevitably come up, and dealing with these issues on courses from this early 1900s can get emotionally charged. Especially if the people we are dealing with believe that the designer of their course was a genius, which is sometimes true, and that every feature on their course is a sign of that genius, which is almost never true. by Mike Young C o u r s e s t r at e g y A new look at the Golden Age of design genius The architect as

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