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Mike_Cirba

Why we are "biased"
« on: June 14, 2003, 09:31:33 PM »
If you think about it, it's sort of silly to think that we are biased against any particular architect(s), much less contractors.

We like what we like, we don't like what we don't like, and we all use our individual and collective experiences in doing so.

For instance, why the heck would anyone be "biased" against Rees Jones, or Jack Nicklaus, or Tom Fazio, or Tom Doak, or Stephen Kay, or Brian Ault, or Arthur Hills, or anyone else?  It defies logic and common sense.

If any architect anywhere designed a course that appealed to our senses, to our feel for the game, to our understanding and intellect, why wouldn't we hail that work and want to tell others here about it?

I know when I play a cool course that I wasn't familiar with previously, my first inclination is to share that info with others who I know appreciate the same thing.  

Similarly, when I play a course that fails to inspire, or when I see one where I feel that a real opportunity has been lost, I try to point out here the shortcomings in the hope that we might all share in a common understanding, or conversely, hear from others as to how my experience and opinion might be incomplete or otherwise lacking.

However, accusing someone of "bias" does neither.  It's a classic example of the inarguable argument.  It turns into a "yes you are", "no I'm not" argument that is both interminable and contributes absolutely nothing to educational debate.

I know that others here have made the same plea, but for Heaven's sake, can't we bury this "bias" bullshit once and for all?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

T_MacWood

Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2003, 09:34:06 PM »
I own stock in architects 'who get it' -- its all financially motivated.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Dan Grossman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2003, 11:16:35 PM »
Mike -

I'm glad you started this thread.  I was beginning to feel like I needed to play a golf course 15 or 20 times and understood the owner's / architect's / member's perspective before I commented.  Good or bad.  That allows most of us to only comment on our home course, and me to comment on nothing (since I don't play anywhere regularly).  

I think it is entirely appropriate for people to ask for more detail or explanation as to why someone did or did not like a golf course.  But if you didn't like it, why does it matter who is responsible?  Shouldn't the golf course just be written up or opined on as lacking?

My two cents.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

GeoffreyC

Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2003, 05:23:00 AM »
Mike

Total inconsistency in stated positions regarding preservation of classic golf courses that depend on WHO does the work can only lead to those conclusions.  There is no way around it and that kind of example is totally different then someone liking or not liking a style of original work where I would agree with you that its important to respect ones opinion. Sorry but the two cases are not the same in my book.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

T_MacWood

Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2003, 07:29:58 AM »
If you disagree with someone and their view--it is much easier to label them than it is to articulate why you feel differently. Its a crutch.

From my experience those who are most passionate about the subject--rarely if ever resort to the bias or hidden agenda tactic.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mike_Cirba

Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2003, 07:54:14 AM »
Geoffrey;

My point is that we ALL have biases based on personal interpretive experience, not because of some unreasonable, deep-seated loathing of an individual that is without cause or some other personal character defect we might have.

You've seen a lot of "restoration" work over the years. †Put yourself back five years and let me ask you the following questions.

If you heard tomorrow that Rees Jones was coming in to "restore" Fenway instead of Gil Hanse, what would your reaction be?

If you heard tomorrow that Roger Rulewich was coming in to restore Yale instead of George Bahto, what would your reaction be?

Yes, I know, you'd wait until after the work was done to form an opinion, or at least before expressing it, but what would your first, gut-level reaction be based on your prior experience of seeing the work of each individual?

p.s. When are we playing again?? ;) ;D
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:06 PM by -1 »

GeoffreyC

Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2003, 08:16:56 AM »
Mike

My position on those issues is very clear and I have posted on this repeatedly.

I LOVE Fenway (and am looking forward to taking Tommy N there next week). †Gil's work is the best I have ever seen and you can include Plainfield in there too as an example of a great job. †I've criticisized Tillinghast "restorations" at Quaker Ridge and Baltusrol by Rees and I would expect similar reaction had he worked at Fenway.

I have repeatedly and to my personal grief and hardship at my home course raked Roger Rulewich over the coals for his butcher job at Yale. I personally got George Bahto involved in the project but the powers that control that project wanted to go in a different direction. I also have tried to get them to consider other architects that I thought would do a more sensitive job of restoration.

A good point here is that I have seen and evaluated these situations both before and after the work was done and from a personal on site perspective. I feel confident that regardless of whether we are talking about original work or restoration/renovation/remodeling I don't think ANYONE here has questioned ANYONE ELSES opinion or right to that opinion here on GCA. I think its an intellectual cop out to overtly criticize without seeing a course and then go and say that I have only limited time to see courses and so I wouldn't waste my time (my phrasing) seeing that crap. Why criticize in that case? I was consisten in that regard when I respected David Wigler's interpretation of Rustic Canyon even though I disagreed with it. Others and without seeing the course questioned his stated opinion and turned it into diatribe on tee shot options. Go see the course!

Mike- I'm bummed that my round at Westchester CC West got canceled this morning when the intense thunderstorms yesterday (but not up at Yale †:) ) closed the course. †I was looking forward to being humiliated by the PGA tour setup just before they come into town tomorrow. The rough will not resemble what they have at Olympia. Maybe we can play together next week.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:06 PM by -1 »

Tim_Weiman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why we are
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2003, 09:34:24 AM »
Geoffrey Childs:

I thought the subject of Rustic Canyon had died out!

A tricky part of this whole subject of ďbiasĒ is whether a person has actually seen a course under discussion. Iíll go against prevailing wisdom and suggest it isnít ALWAYS necessary to participate in a discussion.

Suppose ďJohn the hot architectĒ builds a course with many forced carries, say one on nearly every hole. Would there be anything wrong with someone offering an opinion that this really isnít a good CONCEPT, even though they havenít seen the course? Alternatively, couldnít someone support the idea of what John built without seeing it?

Though I havenít seen it, reports of Rustic Canyon portray a course with unusual width and where all the emphasis had been on creating interesting green complexes. Canít we have a discussion about the CONCEPT of Rustic Canyon without arguing whether one opinion is worth more based on whether they have seen the course? Isnít that what early writers about golf architecture really did?


« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Tim Weiman

GeoffreyC

Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2003, 09:57:47 AM »
Tim

Yes we can and it is certainly possible to have an intelligent and civil discussion of a topic relating to a golf course or a concept relating to architecture without seeing the course. When talking about a course (and not a concept) I will always respect the opinion of someone who has seen it and I can learn more from that perspective especially if I know what their tastes are from other discussions.

In this example it seemed an excessive method to belittle David Wigler's opinion based on his playing of the course. I do not believe you ever said that you could respect his opinion and judgement based on his actual experience at the course but rather kept rehashing how it was impossible for you to believe that a course could be top 10 from 60 yards in and not be in a top 100 listing.  Again from someone who made a point in the past about not making much of various lists. Timing is everything and the timing of that discussion did not seem appropriate to me.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Matt_Ward

Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2003, 09:58:34 AM »
I don't have an issue with people having "preferences" in terms of designers from yesteryear or from those who put forward courses today. Clearly, some people like certain styles and I'll be free to admit that I do like plenty of what Pete Dye has done over the years.

What I do have a problem with is as Geoff mentioned. There are people who are simply armchair quarterbacks who don't take the time and effort to actually play the course(s) in question. They simply spit forth some argument about this and that and really don't articulate upfront that such a view is based on nothing more than aerials, photographs or plain old opinion from their living room. Instead of doing the heavy lifting these folks take a convenient short cut and say that course "x" is really not that good because it represents the same old tired designs that have come forth previously.

I said this before -- I rate courses -- not architects. I have no set opinion on a person because each project is a new one and you have to approach it with a desire to play / see it before actually commenting upon it.

I also respect the fact that people may have preferences, but I would also hope that people realize that architectural efforts can evolve over the course of time and the idea that if architect "x" has designed one course (whether it be spectacular or a dog) is not a guarantee that every effort from that person will result in such a future outcome. ;)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

T_MacWood

Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2003, 09:59:47 AM »
Geoffrey
"I think its an intellectual cop out to overtly criticize without seeing a course and then go and say that I have only limited time to see courses and so I wouldn't waste my time (my phrasing) seeing that crap. Why criticize in that case? I was consisten in that regard when I respected David Wigler's interpretation of Rustic Canyon even though I disagreed with it. Others and without seeing the course questioned his stated opinion and turned it into diatribe on tee shot options. Go see the course!"

Nice dig at Tim Weiman. I'm not sure what this has to do with bias...I followed some of that thread and I don't recall anyone being charged with bias or a hidden agenda. I have no idea what Tim's personal situation is (or your situation or anyone's)--it is really none of my business--but I'm sure there are people out there who are married, who have young children, teen age children, college bound children or who have jobs that prevent them from traveling or who have parents or other family members who are ill or who may not have the finances to just go out and see a golf course. You are very fortunate to have seen as much as you have.

I agree with Mike bias is not bad thing it is human nature to draw conclucions and to have opinions--all forms of bias. Unfortunately bias is often used as a negative term against those for whom you disagree. I don't believe there is a hidden agenda or dark bias--those who have used those terms have still been unable to prove that they exist with any logical arguement.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Michael Whitaker

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why we are
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2003, 10:48:03 AM »
I'd like to offer a layman's observation:

As a frequent lurker, occasional contributor, I have noticed on this site that "labels" are automatically assigned to certain architects and color all conversation about that architect's work. Sometimes these labels are meant to praise the architect but, more often than not, they are meant to be demeaning. It has been my experience in business that the "creators" within a given industry usually break out as follows: a few outstandingly gifted, a few really bad, and everyone else somewhere in the middle. I doubt that the golf design business is much different.

But, the beauty of this fact is most golfers are also "somewhere in the middle." The average player does not necessarily appreciate that a course has "classic" design features... or necessarily care. What a lot of golfers want is a place where they can have a good time and not feel beat up or intimidated by the course. These players enjoy fairways that are wide and have mounds that bounce the ball back to the center. They hate forced carries, water hazzards, deep bunkers, and severly undulating greens. Thankfully, there are architects who deliver a product for them. On this site a lot of that work would be ridiculed and the designers considered hacks.

It's the casual dismissal of someone's work as "worthless" that creates the biggest problem for me. When I read a comment advising not to "waste your time" with a particular architect's work, or categorizing someone as "too commercial" or "over-the top," I'm always reminded of my mother-in-law's favorite line, "That's why they make chocolate and vanilla."

I read an article recently (I can't remember where) that made the argument that what we really need in this country are a large number of inexpensive "beginner" courses. The novice and less skilled golfers need a place to have fun, too.

Do you care who will design these courses? Do you care if they ever get built?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:06 PM by -1 »
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Tim_Weiman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why we are
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2003, 11:00:54 AM »
Geoffrey Childs:

In retrospect, it is obvious that the entire discussion of Rustic Canyon didn't work and perhaps it was my fault for quoting David Wigler. I did so precisely because I felt his original comment "ABC golf course is top ten sity yards and in, but outside the top 100 due to......" seemed to offer so much fruit for discussion.

I think the importance of site visits is important when discussing certain architectural issues. But, site visits aren't critical for every topic, e.g., concept discussions.

Tom MacWood:

People's personal situations vary. Some have the time and means to travel extensively. Others don't. I'd actually put most people in the latter category.

Years ago, while single, I made an effort to get out and see as much as possible, including both the recognized classics and the hot new courses. But, these days I don't see much as spending time with my daughter and getting my regular fix of Irish golf takes priority. Then, too, I've become more interested in seeing raw land or potential projects where confidentiality reasons usually prevent discussion here at GCA.

Ideally, we would all get to see everything worth seeing. But, that isn't going to happen. Thus, I see nothing wrong with a person deciding not to go see a course by architect X simply based on other work they've seen by that architect. We all have to discriminate and spend our time and money where we think we are likely to get the greatest enjoyment. I don't call that "bias".
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Tim Weiman

Bruce Katona

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Why we are "biased"
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2003, 06:18:48 AM »
Michael Whitaker: I applaud your comment and posting on this topic. Everyone likes to play the courses of their "favorite" designer. Every individual has their preferences and is entitled to their opinion. Here in the US, the First Amendment gives each individual that right of free speach.

By bringing the affordability factor into play for new golf courses, the hope is to introduce golf to more customers and retain the players who are not yet hooked on the game. Those are some of the goals of Golf 20-20 and The First Tee, who I have the pleasure to work with on a project here in NJ. It is exciting to have the opportunity to introduce the game we all love: but may disagree about on some finer points: to kids for the first time. I'm sure we all can recall bringing a young person to the practice range and watching them struggle until they hit their first shot properly. The sense of awe and accomplishment  in their faces while they watch the ball soar in the air for the first time is a "Kodak Moment".
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

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