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					GOLF


                                                             Jonathan Tucker        STRI Golf Course Architect




           hile Tiger Woods is currently in a class of his       The principles of golf course design and construction have


W          own, there is also a perception in some
           quarters that there are two distinct forms of
golf course design defined by the Ame~ican and British
                                                             undergone a process of evolution which started in the late half
                                                             of the 19th century. Prior to this period, nature was the major
                                                             architect and contractor. This era was noted for the steady
                                                             influx of professionals/ greenkeepers (it was necessary usually
schools. In reality, the boundary between the two            to combine both professions) from Britain (notably Scotland)
categories is blurred and arguments regarding their          who assisted in the design and building of the escalating
relative merits are meaningless.       The contrasting       number of courses in America. Their experience of true links
images of the perfection of Augusta and the naturalness      golf was much valued, although to fulfil the demand many
of the Old Course at St Andrews emphasise the                amateurs dabbled in the creation of new courses.              A
                                                             combination of ignorance, restricted finances, utilisation of
polarised view, but this ignores the interaction which
                                                             unsuitable land and ineffectual construction techniques
has taken place between Britain and America which has
                                                             resulted in the proliferation of primitive courses typified by
shaped the development of golf course architecture. As       geometric greens, artificial hazards and no attempt to comply
with most aspects of golf course architecture, we have       with basic principles of landscaping. A similar situation
to look to the past in order to better understand the        prevailed in Britain (which was subsequently to be dubbed the
present.                                                     "dark ages" of architecture) associated with the urbanisation of

14   TURFGRASS BULLETIN OCTOBER 2000   ISSUE 210
                                                                                                                                                                 GOLF


  late Victorian England when far from ideal inland sites were           generally stylistic. Indeed, the adoption of so-called minimalist
 exploited for golf.                                                     architecture by fervent disciples, while laudable, is no more than
       However, the process of the transatlantic exchange of ideas       the traditional approach used by much earlier architects who
 had been initiated and was to continue over the next century.           fitted the golf course into the landscape before widespread earth
 Names that are synonymous with the historic development of              movement became the vogue. Therefore we have come full
 golf architecture including Donald Ross, Harry Colt, Herbert            circle!
 Fowler and Alister Mackenzie all undertook commissions or                    There are differences between courses in the USA and Great
 lived and worked in America leaving their indelible mark and            Britain but these are mainly conditioned by expectations as
 influencing those to follow. Ross introduced many of the                blemishes are less likely to be tolerated in the USA. This is fine
 features characteristic of British courses including "push up           as long as this perfection can be sustained by adequate budgets.
 greens" (the economy of which can be seen from the subtle               The implications of elaborate bunkering must also be considered
 hollows formed around the putting surface in order to balance           in the context of management efficiency and cost-with the more
 cut and fill). He was also a confirmed advocate of strategic golf       elaborate flights of fancy being tempered by financial constraints.
 or "risk and reward" with the option of alternative routes of play      Environmental factors also have a profound influence. The
 allied to the utilisation of multiple tees. During this golden age,     United States exhibits a much wider diversity of climatic
 seminal golf courses such as the National Golf Course of America        extremes which has a profound influence on grass species
 (C B Macdonald) and Pine Valley (George Crump) were                     selection as well as construction techniques. The Californian
 constructed. Macdonald adapted many famous holes to his                 method of construction (based on a pure sand profile) is well
 ambitious (and high cost) layout, but he also conceived the "cape       adapted to the rapid drainage demanded by heavy, intermittent
 hole" (a dogleg across a bay where the player cuts off as much of       rainfall, but the USGA specification (or suspended water table
 the corner as he dares) and this was a true original. Colourful         construction) provides a balance between moisture retention and
 characters also emerged during this period, notably Albert              good drainage. Mounds and undulations within fairways are
 Warren Tillinghast who was dubbed the Dean of American-born             often deliberately introduced in the United States in order to
 golf course architects. "Tilly the Terror" has left an enduring         create the phenomenon of contour or surface drainage. In
 legacy with a total of nearly 70 golf clubs to his name, including      Britain, sub-surface pipe drainage is still the primary method by
 classics such as Baltusrol and Winged Foot. He was also prone to
 violent rages (sometimes brandishing a pistol) fuelled by
 substantial drinking binges. Tom Simpson also did fine work
 during this period on the European continent. He was somewhat
 eccentric, turning up at Clubs in his silver Rolls Royce, a familiar
 figure in his cape and carrying a cane.
      With the introduction of bulldozers and modern earth-                                       British Seed Houses Ltd
moving equipment after the Second World War the capacity to
 transform the landscape become reality. This proved a double-
edged sword as the empowerment of the architect to impose his
own design vision on the site overshadowed sound principles of
utilising natural features to the full, as well as increasing
construction costs. Widespread earth movement often led to
                                                                            Pick 'n
further problems due to destructuring of soils and complicating
future management. Widespread reshaping of this nature was
embraced initially by American architects. At its best, changes to
the land form can be indistinguishable from natural features and
                                                                            Mix...
                                                                           A seed mixture is as good as its blend of
can turn a bland site into an interesting one. At its worst, a totally     proven grass varieties. But we believe in
contrived course is created which bears no resemblance to the              the right mix of expertise and service too.

natural landscape.                                                                                    With scientists on

                                                                                                      our IGER breeding
      In parallel with these new methods of construction, a new
generation of architects began to emerge headed by Robert Trent
                                                                                                      new and improved
Jones. Arguably, Robert Trent Jones has had the greatest                                              varieties all the time -
influence on the development of architecture in the modern era.            and our direct-to-market    fieldforce helping

His style has been widely copied which incorporates large                  you specifY the mixtures you need - you can

undulating greens, broad sweeping fairways and yawning                     rely on British Seed Houses.

                                                                           Make sure you pick the right mixture.
jigsaw bunkers. In essence, golf course architecture became more
an exercise in landscape design. It could be argued that historic
landscape gardeners such as Humphrey Repton and Capability
Brown would be renowned golf course architects of the day if                                SE E DS-SE
                                                                                                                        fiB
                                                                                                                      RVICE           -SOLUTIONS
golf was extensively played during their period.
                                                                                    Warrington                              Lincoln                    Bristol
     The main point is that modern golf course design invariably                01925 654411                         01522 868714                  01179823691
echoes past principles and practices and the major changes are

                                                                                                          TURFGRASS BULLETIN OCTOBER 2000                 ISSUE 210   15
GOLF




which excess water is removed with a heavier reliance on             strategies have had to be developed, including restoration,
conditioning the existing soils through good aeration practices.     wetland creation and wetland enhancement. Indeed, a survey
    Design is also directly affected by management techniques        carried out by the American Society of Golf Course Architects
and grass selection. In the United States cutting heights of 3       (ASGCA) indicates that environmental concerns over wetland
mm during the summer months are regarded as the norm and             loss and degradation was the prime reason for difficulties in
some courses are now pushing the limits even lower with the          obtaining permits for golf course projects.
newer cultivars of creeping bent being mown at nearer the 2              Restoration of many of the old courses in the United States
mm level. Greens can be exceptionally quick when shaved to           to their former condition reflects the value placed on the genius
this level (as one ironic speaker in the USA noted, possibly         of the original architect. Indeed, I would suggest that, taking a
because the greens are dead). From a design perspective where        broad view, golf club members in the USA have a greater
slopes on greens are 3% or more, it is unlikely that a downhill
                                                                     knowledge and interest in the architectural pedigree of their
putt can be contained and remodelling may be necessary. As a
                                                                     own course. The architect is also considered pivotal in
consequence, management tends to lead design and some of the
                                                                     advocating changes (with less emphasis on amateur
character of our older greens may well be lost in the interests of
                                                                     intervention) in conjunction with drawing up long term action
cultivating faster surfaces.
                                                                     plans with the golf course superintendent providing the main
    Golf courses on both sides of the Atlantic are coming under
fire from environmental bodies due to their perceived influence.     thread of continuity in their implementation.
on the landscape. There is a particular concern in the USA               In summary, there has been a convergence in styles between
regarding loss of wetlands (both coastal and inland), therefore      America and Great Britain and this has been facilitated by the
preservation and protection of these habitats have been a prime      ease of transatlantic communication as well as being greatly
motivation in the golf industry. This increased awareness has        influenced by the media. The main lesson is that we should
produced new challenges for the golf developer and mitigation        continue to look to the past in order to direct our future.


16   TURFGRASS BULLETIN OCTOBER 2000   ISSUE 210

				
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