Forum Replies Created
New plays in the UK – well to be honest I try to stay well away from most new course because they represent what I call international courses which are based upon the American model. That model, for me at least is one of easy, of made to be golfer friendly rather than course to play golf upon. They throw in island greens, very short cut fairways and rough than most Greenkeepers would be proud to call fairways. The fun, the challenge is taken away from the player/golfer, even bunkers around the Green tend to be shallow with hard compacted bases which in truth are just an extension of Fairways. The idea on many a modern design is the make the player feel he is better that he really is, this I believe is wrong, and to make him even more inclined to relax they promote carts to help their finances, not realising that they are taking the ability to understand golf course architecture and so the game from the golfer making him just a player. Respect seems to have disappeared to a great degree, because you don’t have to be a scratch player to be a golfer. Still I fear its disrespectful to offer up some of these new courses as places to play golf and don’t get me started on clubs who ban Walking – they are NOT golf Clubs at all. All the blame cannot be put to the feet of Designers, clubs too have to take the blame for they want championship course so that they can make money by charging accordingly – but that just not right – I do not believe anyone can built a championship course that comes with time and much errors, but time is not the key word when profit is at the heart of the matter. Guys if you love golf, you have to think outside the box, embrace the rawness of real golf because that is what makes you want to play even more and start seeking to play the same course twice in a day – if for no other reason than you get to understand it through its different moods. Give me a good old tried course that reeks of age and woodworm and you will have found a gem that will pull you in time after time for me Luffness New GC – its Scottish Golf with a touch of old world charm. A more basic course is Killin GC basic but a fun old course.March 23, 2019 at 1:25 pm in reply to: The Errors of Maint Meld & Design over last 70 years #4011
Being from St Andrews and loving Links golf, my view on golf and golf course designs are rather strong. I believe keep close to Nature and the Natural in both the game and more so design – the course should be in balance with its surroundings and that hopefully makes it sustainable, however many modern course and some designers believe that money allows for poor design and even worse taste, so we get courses that need much water and day to day maintenance because they are located in poor sites which have been stripped back to bedrock then reshaped and rebuilt making the course stick out as an alien structure. This can lead to poor design, lack or real hazards and bunkers as shallow that they serve no purpose than just an extension to the fairway. in short, in my opinion many a new course over the last 70 years are poor because poor site selection. Then this idea that golf requires a cart is one of pure fiction and quite frankly laziness on behalf of the player – can’t call him a golfer, because if he was one he would bloody well walk. If you want to play golf you first need a golf course – I wish many would take a trip over to Scotland and see Askernish on the island of South Uist – it was built on existing land for a cost of £50,000 with much work being done by the locals – its a course that embraces the very spirit of what golf is all about and it has a few great holes – if only designers and golfers would take the time to understand Askernish then they would understand design and golf and be able to correct the errors of the last 70 years.
Golf is about commitment and challenges, about the unexpected and the ability to adjust ones game to the course and the weather conditions because the rewards are just as breath taking. I am a man of the Links because its raw fun and exhilarating.
Mike – Its a long way indeed, but worth the trip if you find yourself in the UK – it’s like The Old Course circa 1860’s before it was civilised, but it brings the golfer to the place that so well defines the game and that of golf course architecture. Its not perfect – then is that not the actual point. Another course to look out for is Warkworth GC (http://www.warkworthgolf.club/ ) North East of England – it follows in the same sort of format as Askernish, not so wild though!
As for walking, I feel St Andrews has it well covered re carts – the following is a copy of their Cart Policy – Its very good and wish it was standard on all other courses – then perhaps we would get back to playing golf again.
Buggy Policy (Carts)
Golfers who are registered disabled with a permanent condition of disability and relevant supporting documentation may request a buggy for use on the Old Course between April and October. It will be driven by a qualified caddie driver. The buggy is provided free of charge but the appropriate caddie fee is payable. Golfer’s disability documentation should be provided at the time of booking or when entering the Old Course ballot.
Buggies may be taken on the Castle, New, Jubilee, Strathtyrum, Balgove and Eden courses by seniors over the age of 65 or golfers with a medical certificate, subject to availability. The fee is £30. Please book in advance.
Brent , no I have not played golf in America.April 10, 2018 at 7:15 am in reply to: Turf Dykes, Man made fairway ripples, man made burns #3637
Turf dykes are just the construction methods – W Park Jr used dykes of various forms to replicate all form of hazards, this was done well before his time. Grass bunker today was a turf dyke in the 19th century – as I mention many times before the guys from the 19th Century developed much which today is forgotten – why, because we don’t or rather designers don’t know the history of their own industry. You just have to look at the many Holes that they developed in the 19th Century and have since been reproduced or copied all over the world i.e. Redan, Road Hole, 1st at Machrihanish to name but a few. The 19th Century produced wonderful designs that made golf so interesting and challenging that it went worldwide – it was a Golden Age of Golf and more so Golf course design – the then designers took the test to the would be golfers – today the game has mellowed, I hear all talking about how hard some Holes are, but think back to the days when Hickory and gutty was the order of the day on courses not as well prepared as they are today (in fact I wonder if half the pro game would have played upon some of the old courses as they were not golfer friendly are required golfer to PLAY Golf). But, so many just don’t understand the design history of golf , and it seems neither does the R&A, then I wonder if they ever did!
I have been in touch with the newspapers in Dundee re the Links Trust – well read for yourself see link https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/628946/descendant-of-old-tom-morris-says-st-andrews-golf-shop-rebranding-is-an-insult/
Brent Gremillion I understand you point – I understand the need to terraform, I understand the need to cater for what you are given – but I do believe that with a little more design input in the right areas, the course could well be made into a good inland course. However I do not believe that’s down to science or art but simple common sense much of which was laid down in many of its various forms in Scotland course back in the 19th Century.
The pity is that we have a design industry that does not know its own history – so has lost its way, not knowing from were it came – suddenly hit course pre 1900 and everyone seems lost – its as if suddenly design appeared on the 1st of January 1900. What has been ignored is that much was done pre this date in developing designs, more so than many believe – all one has to de is not just look at the courses, but more so the Holes – The full depth of Holes like Machrihanish 1st Hole the Road Hole, and many many more besides. Take also into account the courses have been mellowed over the years because come 1900 penal was not a word to be spoken, it created too much of a challenge. So much has been forgotten – in closing I found the other day, in my 19th Century research, a short article on a Scotsman’s visit to the pyramids in Egypt – he climbed to the top of the largest one and pull out of his pocket a Morris Gutty ball which he placed close to the top and then used the curved end of his umbrella to tee off the ball – mad actions like this makes me feel that golf has a future with individuals like this – however do we still have nuts who might do this – a thought came to my wife as I told her about this guy and she said that if they find that ball way in the future they may well believe that the ancient Egyptians invented golf. What some people do to practice their swing – surprised the old fool did not fall off the pyramid. My point is much was tried in the 19th Century re golf and golf course design.
Nevertheless, I do take you point, and only wish that more time was taken to find the land that is fit for purpose.
Ben – the art if you believe in art as related to any form of golf course design would be – well in my way of thinking relate to first of all The Land is Fit for Purpose. As for others telling clubs what to do – well again we have to look at location, climate and then add common sense.
As for rocks, leave them, use them, we need designers to think outside the box – rocks are great hazards and should be used if it makes the Hole more challenging therefore entertaining. Many course have worked around rocks and that will lesson the pressure on the budget strings.
The main problem in the USA is that you spend too much money first on the course design , then on building them, destroy everything first then rebuild from bedrock – why – what the point, we need to remember that the natural and Nature should be involved with the design and build of the course. Just too much looking for perfection, but golf has never been about perfection, its about challenging oneself first, then the course and anyone else if appropriate . We must stop being fixated on the super engineered, super manicured super Green and smooth courses and get to grips with the fundamentals that defines The Royal & Ancient Game of Golf. Once we do that the toys will no longer matter, in fact players will become golfers and put away childish things like carts (unless required for age/medical reasons) GPS’s Distance devices and may even revert back to Hickory Clubs with gutty ball.
Courses should be judged by how they play using Hickory, that really defines the game and IMHO the quality of the course for it pulls you the golfer back into the realms of golf – the real stuff when its your abilities that achieve the result not the over friendly course and equipment more so the ball. As for trees, – there is no place for trees on the course nor do I believe that they should be in the rough because trees are thirsty things and consume fasts amount of water Either the abundance of water or its lack has a serious effect upon the course. No, love trees but not on a course.
Again we keep coming back is the land fit for purpose, with all your man made gullies, burns etc, – courses need penal otherwise strategic does not get a look in – it just does not exist.
In my early days some of the old 9 Holes course in Scotland were penal, they allowed the golfer the facility to retreat backwards if he fell fouls of the penal bunkers and hazards but never really was it possible to go forwards, to cost was just too great, – alas today very few course survive that teaches golfers the wisdom of how to play, how to read the land and more so the Hole. A lesson my father taught me was pull the shot short or suffer the consequences, being young, I always went for it while my father was way out ahead winning each Hole by orienteering to the Pin. Golf is not all about wham bam thank you mam, we have to judge our ability with that of the design (lay of the land and cunning of the designer), remembering not to forget the weather, if you get it right the game is beautiful get it wrong and you may never want to hit a ball again, then that golf to many.
No trees and no TNT , minimal budget and lots of thought and searching for the right piece of ground – money alone is not the issues but it is in the mind of many today, mores the pity. Still, have never, as yet found the art in golf.April 2, 2018 at 1:33 pm in reply to: Turf Dykes, Man made fairway ripples, man made burns #3621
Turf Dykes – this is an item much loved and used in pre 1900 golf course design for inland courses. Many have been removed but most were done to resemble the contours and undulations much seen on The Old Course St Andrews.
Today few of the old course still have them, this modern idea of well groomed courses taking over from Nature and Natural, while in the process of make the modern course even duller. However please to say such courses like Tarland (https://www.tarlandgolfclub.co.uk/) still have the odd one or two. tarland was the private course of the Earl of Aberdeen designed by Tom Morris and open up to locals from the area in 1908. The 6th Hole & 9th Holes had a double turf dyke protecting the Green. The design are very simple sometimes about 3-5M long x 2-3 wide to a height of 0.5-0.75M, looking more like undulations than anything else and were very much the MO on inland Scottish courses circa 1890’s. If you look at the gallery on Tarland web site photo 5 you will se an example of one to the top left hands side of the photo.
Great ideas, however not much used, pity and they can just cause one a little problem as you near the pin. love them as it can make you think – which is what golf is all about.March 26, 2018 at 10:48 am in reply to: Would Young Tom Morris have designed Inland courses? #3612
Now there is a question many in the family have debated over the years. I believe he would have gone on to win many more Opens too, well up into the mid 1880’s anyway. As for design, yes – many a time we have wondered just what we could have expected regards his design ability. The general feeling being that he would have produced a sporty design, by that we mean courses that take the challenge to the golfer by locating more hazards in areas that would attract shots with therefore more thought required with each shot.
Young Tommy was a thinking golfer with considerable talent and very strong wrists, his ability to control the ball was way in advance of most of the players of his day. Seeing his score cards and knowing many of the old Scottish courses he played (although today much modified), we firmly believe he would be a match for many of the top pros today – why do we think that, his scores using the old gutty and Hickory clubs define his abilities. So we expect that his designs to reflect his game and that was way out of the normal. Yes, his short life robbed us of his children as well as what I believe would have been wonderful designs. In fact I feel that his designs would have been able to combat the modern aerial game, bring the game down to earth again thus making golf more like real golf.
His early loss hurt the family, although Old Tom still went on, his other son J.O.F while a good golfer was not in the top few of his day, and so never went into design in any way apart from helping his father, Old Tom.
Also, Inland courses are much loved by many who have never been brought up on the links, with that fresh sea breeze and the joyous land that golf links offers. Then Old Tom undertook many an inland design in his life time using turf dykes to try to represent the ripples and undulations found on links courses – can still see a few at Tarland (Duke of Aberdeenshire old course, a Tarland Golf Club). And inland courses offered more option for hazards i.e. railways to quarries, pond, streams and rivers – but not island greens! Still one thing many designers today seem to forget because of our technology and large budgets – is the land to be used for golf is it ‘Fit For Purpose’ – money is no substitute for good land as many a modern designer has found to the cost of his reputation – Land Fit For Golf – the key words missing from many designer’s vocabulary. Something Young Tommy knew all about, so yes Golf, I believe has lost out on the early death of Young Tommy, leaving us poorer for it.
Then, I might be slightly bias.March 13, 2018 at 9:25 am in reply to: Why Don't They Route 'Em Like Donald Ross Anymore? #3574
While Donald Ross achieved little back in the UK, he did understand golf course architecture – the Scottish Golf Course model of design which seems to have died out during his life time, lost forever yet to many of those who followed him right up to the present day his courses represent a hope.
Golf course design is – it seems no longer associated with playing golf, well so it seems with many of the new designs laid down over the last 50-70 years being somewhat wanting, some are quite frankly appalling. Design seems to have capitulated to the distance/aerial game, while seeking more to divorce itself from every aspect that made The Royal & Ancient Game of Golf a worldwide success story.
More quality course designs and Holes came out of Scotland in the 19th Century than seems to have been generated since WW2, why, – well I believe its because we have refused to learn let alone understand the real history of the game of golf, golf course design or course maintenance. We select the land then go about destroying the very thing that attracted us to that spot in the first place. We strip the land back to near bedrock then shape it to conform to our wishes ignoring the sustainability and balance of the course with the surrounding land. In short we build courses in Land not Fit for purpose and wonder why its cost so much to build and maintain. One has to ask at times, what ever happened to common sense when related to golf.
We need to understand the basics of the game and to then try to put that into practice instead of offering up courses that are so well kept that they look more like the gardens of some stately home than a golf course. Ross understood that from his time learning in Scotland, he brought that with others from his old country to the new, however after their passing, we have resorted to Pablo Picasso style of design than to Ross, Braid, Morris, Park Jr etc, etc. Our game has suffered because so many now do not realise that golf is a game of choices, challenges if you will, not aerial that flies over all our accumulated knowledge of design and hazards, so pandering to the weak, the lazy and uncommitted players that today graces our courses. We accept narrow fairways (reducing the appeal to the average player who tend to tack up the fairway than sail down the centre) island greens a game killer if ever there was one which seeks out the accurate hitter (yet again limiting the appeal of the course to the general public. Golf is not meant to be for the rich or the elite golfer, its meant to be for all.
Like walking, we have to start somewhere, and what better way to start than addressing the errors of the 20th Century and learning that which was once discarded because words like ‘Penal’ (which IMHO defines the very game of golf itself) fell out of fashion.March 12, 2018 at 6:37 pm in reply to: Are Golf Course Designer restricted by being forced to include cart tracks? #3570
I refer to cart paths which tend not to run on the course but adjacent to it, obscuring the very lie of the land which makes the course and its design harder to understand. Why would anyone want to play golf then proceed to do so by skirting the very thing you have come to try to master, the course – perhaps that’s the difference between real golfers and cartballers.
My understanding is that these tracks have to be incorporated early with the design which at times can be rather frustrating for the designer – I believe Tom Doak make some such statement some years ago on one of GCA topics.
I would also like to get a reaction upon my belief that the land is required to be ‘fit for purpose’ rather than throwing tens of thousands of dollars to terraform a course from the Natural to an artificial chocolate box picture of a course with all the hazards ironed (creases removed) out to give the feel of an over friendly course that is easy and will reward the player with a low score – however in the process not improve his ability to play golf.
Noting that I have not played in North America I question if there is any such thing as bad walks. Here in the UK, I must admit that nay bad walks always seem to be more down to my poor game than the course, also many of the out of the way courses have, as yet, not been able to afford carts so we are rich in only walkable courses. Everything seem sweet when I feel content with my game, more so the walking if I am playing the course for the first time.
How many architects have been over to Askernish Golf Course on South Uist Scotland to experience a course that is close to nature? I ask because to encourage walking I believe we need to address current designs and finishes and make a serious effort to return more to Nature and the Natural.