Friday, February 19, 2010

Great Golf Courses are a Derivative of Nature First and Man Second!

Great golf courses are a derivative of nature first and man second. That some may choose to study man first and nature secondly and possibly not at all is short sighted. Even courses that are entirely man-made should mimic nature first.

The Excerpt below is from Anarchist's Guide to Golf Course Architecture- Philosophy of Golf Course Architecture

Probably the most bizarre facet of the study of golf course design to me is that most people start with poor assumptions. The typical route for today’s designers and the budding new designers is to study all of the great Architects and golf courses or even perhaps write and comment about it. People spend years and lifetimes doing this. Maybe if you were designing buildings this would make sense, go look at the great buildings of the world. The buildings were all designed and built solely by man. But when it comes to golf courses, I consider it an inadequate course of study. The great golf courses of old were largely produced by nature and the great new ones emulate the great old ones, so whether or not the land was great, the golf holes are created to have that look, feel, and playability. This course of study, learning all there is to know about the great golf courses, is certainly understandable and it is viewed by virtually everyone but me as the proper course of action to “learn” about golf course design. You too can take the pilgrimage to the Mecca of golf and become enlightened. That’s all you need, a ticket and some time and you too can learn all there is to know.

What we are missing is that Mother Nature by and far built those great courses, not man. The only thing that I don’t like at those great old golf courses is the artificial edifice of man and that occurs mostly in unnatural looking man made fixes of bunker edges. If we want great golf courses, maybe we should go back to studying nature, natural landforms, and erosions caused by wind, water, and animals. At the heart of it all isn’t that what we seek to do? Aren’t we trying to find or create golf as it was discovered in nature? Studying great designers and courses as an adjunct to studying nature makes sense, but we need to spend more time studying nature first and then those designers that came before us. Otherwise the only thing that will have changed is that we will have a new “look” and “playability” that at some point becomes conventional. We have a chance to fight our inborn tendencies to go with the herd or I guess to put it in the Scottish golf vernacular the flock and if we can, then we will keep new golf courses less predictable and more natural than ever. If not, maybe we are sheople. Just say and do what the rest of the flock does.

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