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Forrest Richardson

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Restoration: Bunk or not?
« on: June 07, 2003, 09:19:30 AM »
I have been outspoken here when posters refer to "restoration", and in return I have received plenty of criticism for my opinion that "restoration" is mostly a falsehood in our great world of golf.

Golf courses are ever-changing, and to "restore" any portion of a course is a near impossibility. "Restore" to what? If you are "restoring" to a particular point in time you are not restoring, you are "partially restoring", and whatever is accomplished is pseudo of the original at best. Often it would have been better if simply re-done in a fresh way. Change is good for golf so is tradition. Part of the tradition in golf is change.

I also take exception to the notion of restoring based on cryptic plans and written accounts. This is is remodeling under the disguise of "restoration based on interpretation". In my view, it should be called such. We influence history when we refer to such work as "restored".

I was amused at the comments about the Road Hole Bunker being an awful job compared to the original: There never being a green or bunker there in the first place, what has existed for the past 100 years is in and of itself a remodeled addition to The Old Course. Certainly the bunker in its Robertson days was nothing like it was in 1960, 1970, 1980 or 1990. No one has ever restored the Road Hole Bunker, nor ever will. They will change it and this change cannot (should not) be cloaked as "restoration".

Golf course architecture is about designs, holes, conditions, edges, roughness, plant growth and death, changes in terrain, personal influences, green committees, players gripes, preparations for tournaments, changes due to equipment, changes due to the environment, owners wishes, etc. these affects are what makes the game so interesting. In my view we spend far too much time worrying about "restoring" and too little time finding the new blood; the new frontiers; and, of course, the appropriate links to the past.

So, I ask you each to dig deep and give up some thoughts. Is it possible we are using the wrong word? I await your arrows.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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T_MacWood

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2003, 10:18:32 AM »
Do you think it was a mistake to restore Frank Lloyd Wright's house and studio in Oak Park?

It had been converted into seperate apartments some years ago--certainly a very efficient use of the property. I do not believe anyone is using the place since it has been restored.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2003, 10:35:17 AM »
Tom,

You have used this analogy previously. Although a building cannot fairly be compared to a golf course, I will answer you anyway:

Yes, it was likely a mistake. But with walls and mortar (a building) you are more apt to preserve and restore, so change becomes an issue of the "growing" things that go along with a building: landscape, use, furnishings, art adornment, and the effects of age and weathering, which can be quite charming.

Would you compare eating an artichoke with an orange? Probably not...unless you like orange peel.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2003, 10:37:22 AM »
By the way, Wright did very few consultations on remodeling, so he would have gladly razed or remodeled his own buildings had someone slipped him a mickey strong enough that he forgot it was his work!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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Willie_Dow

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2003, 10:57:06 AM »
My thoughts are that if you like what you have then maintain that landscape.  If not, rebuild it or repair that condition.  If the green doesn't drain properly, or the fairway ponds - as they are today - study that condition, make note of it, and recommend that something should be done.  In other words, correct the problem, and don't use spin to call it "restoration".

You are right, Forrest, change should only be recommended when nature's evolution will not solve that problem.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

T_MacWood

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2003, 11:14:38 AM »
Have you visited his house and studio in Oak Park?

If I'm not mistaken it evolved over time...Wright was constantly remodeling it as his family and his career expanded. Isn't that also true with Taliesin...he tinkered with it often? I believe he also added on to Fallingwater.

I suspect Wright would say the reason most of his designs were not remodeled is because they were perfect to start - not unlike MacKenzie's attitude. And if they needed to be altered for whatever reason--my take is these men wouldn't appreciate their work being touched by the unclean hand of a inferior architect. I can appreciate their attitude.

In my opinion there is a difference between a single architect altering his own work - like Ross at Pinehurst #2 - and a William Mitchell redesigning Alison's Timber Point. There are few modern architects who would have the balls (or stupidity depending on your point of view) to change #2 - Fazio is the only one that comes to mind. Maybe Fazio is right and the others are wrong....what do you think?

Do you believe there are/were architects whose talent and creativity stands out above the others? For example do you think FLW, Fredrick Law Olmsted and Dr. MacKenzie were masters in their given art?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

A_Clay_Man

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2003, 11:43:34 AM »
Forrest- You left off intent on your list. And you could argue how is it possible for someone to know someone else's intent, unless it was specifically put down on paper.

It does seem to boil down to semantics, but any attempt to restore versus renovate shows consideration for the one or group of individuals who originally conceived what ever it is that's worth restoring.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2003, 12:21:45 PM »
Tom,

I've not been to Oak Park. But Taliesin, yes. I do think there were masters...some of which by the way, tinkered with others work in the process of becoming such. This, perhaps, is key to my thought: With all of the hype about "restoring" layouts are we stifling the creativity. Should we be saying: "Change is good, do what is right seek transformation, remodeling, rerouting or be less bold and just partially restore it? Will this not foster greater designs and better courses and a greater distinction to those that stink as a result of such an approach?

P.S.  I do not know if Fazio is right or not.


Adam,

I've written plenty on paper and here and will likely look back and disregard a bunch of it as being "of the moment". I would suspect all of the greats have writted things and explanations that could not possibly be regarded as an edict to their designs.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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A_Clay_Man

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2003, 01:08:15 PM »
Forrest- I think what you are describing above is the next phase of growth after this period of belt tightening and conservation. It also seems as though those future great designs will be 10k yds long and require much in the way of efficeincy to maintain.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

TEPaul

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2003, 01:13:41 PM »
Forrest:

This is a good thread of yours and one who's subject is something we all talk about on here in one way or another almost daily.

Personally, I would advocate the use of the word restoration in golf architecture, though, and maybe strongly advocate it.

The reason I say that is more for the perception of what it indicates than the actual dictionary meaning of what it indicates and how the word translates to golf course architecture which obviously is an ever-evolving canvas.

But restoration sort of implies that something has changed for the worse and needs to be put back again to something resembling the original. Sometimes it seems that some on here are far too doctrinaire that what's to be restored be done so purely that it may not take into consideration the changing necessities of the game. That's when many architects who are otherwise considered to be the best "restorers" use words such as "interpretation". The purists don't seem to like that word or thought and reject it as some kind of corruption of a real restoration. Personally, I think not. Many of the best architectural restorers I know think that attitude is one that basically lacks an understanding of the realities of architecture in the field. I also feel that much of good restoration is as much recreating a look than anything else.

But again, I think the word restoration at least connotes the correct perception. Obviously an even better perception would be to use the word "preservation'.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:06 PM by -1 »

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2003, 01:45:28 PM »
TEPaul,

I like your thoughts. Regarding what you just wrote, "I also feel that much of good restoration is as much recreating a look than anything else" does this eman that you advocate recreating a look in terms of being the best our profession/interest has to attain? I.E., is recreating what you feel is at the heart of decent golf design? Or is this just reserved for those places that today we view as being worthy of some degree of recreation?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
    www.golfgroupltd.com
    www.golframes.com

TEPaul

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2003, 02:05:21 PM »
Forrest:

All I meant by "recreating a look" was that if an architect is going to restore something like Merion's bunkers, as an example, to say 1930 that the "look" of 1930 should be recreated as exactly as possible. Even if an architect decided to move a bunker for playability reasons at least make it look like 1930.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2003, 03:13:01 PM »
What would Wilson do if he had not designed a course and magically appeared in 2003 and was asked to improve it? Would he restore elements to some time period? Or would he begin by improving just doing his job independent of some push or influence to pay tribute to a previous look?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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Patrick_Mucci

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2003, 03:36:27 PM »
Forrest Richardson,

I think each "alteration/restoration" has to be  evaluated individually.

I know courses where a green chairman or president altered a feature.  On many occassions, there is documented evidence of what was altered, how it was altered, and what it looked like before and after it was altered.  In those cases where the alteration was recent, it's usually easy to "restore" the feature, IF that is the intent.  Often, some want to restore the feature with modifications, and that is where the problems begin.

In other instances where alterations have occured beyond the collective memory of the membership, and photographic and physical evidence doesn't exist, interpretive restoration is the best the club can do.

In other situations, an exact restoration may not be prudent.
As an example,take a hole that had a fairway bunker removed, and tees altered.  To restore that bunker, in its original form and location may not serve the architectural purpose intended by the original designer.  Restoring it to its original location may result in the bunker being totally out of play.  Restoring the tees to their original locations is almost out of the question today, and less likely in the future.

Before a restoration begins, an evaluation of the original alteration should be undertaken.  A determination should be made with respect to:  Should the feature be restored in its original form, or should a modified restoration take place, or should a further modification take place.

Each situation should be judged on its own circumstances.

I believe that "restoration" isn't the simple process some would have us believe, and that one must look at restorations in the context of the play of the golf course today, and into the future.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Brad Klein

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2003, 03:54:24 PM »
Forrest, who says restoration is "simple?" I've been writing for years that restoration requires interpretation, and that it seeks to bring something back to a more pristine form than it was ever in before. But surely it has to do with identifying inherent strengths and then deepening rather than vitiating that basic identity.

You know very well the difference between restoring and modernizing. For you to efface that difference or to pretend that it's all somehow a process of renovation is a betryal of basic architectural knowledge. Perhaps because you've spent so much working in areas of the American West where there was nothing worth restoring and everything was modern when you saw it - perhaps that would lead you to evaluate classical courses the way you apparently do.

There's a very different aesthetic at work in the East and Midwest. Here, far too many of your colleagues have made a trade of ruthlessly renovating without looking seriously at classical design virtues. They dismiss the past with the wave of a CAD program.

Is restoration easy? Hell no, it requires thought, study, decision-making, interpretation. But it also requires a serious study of architecture tradition, and to dismiss that is really kind of casual.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:06 PM by -1 »

nperiod

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2003, 03:58:45 PM »
I think that in discussions on this forum the term "restoration" is used interchangably with "renovation" or "rehabilitation."
 
Here is a widely accepted definition of "restoration" -
restoration means the act or process of accurately recovering the form and details of a property and its setting as it appears at a particular time by means of the removal of later work or by the replacement of missing earlier work."    

A rehabilitation or renovation occurs for a variety of reasons. Let's take a bridge that was built in 1925... cars were a different size and weight in 1925 and so safety standards were different than those of today. If it was endeavored to bring the 1925 structure back to its glory it will need to meet today's safety standards... these compromises may cause it to be less authentic and thus a "rehabilitation".

Definition follows...
"Rehabiltiation" or "Renovation"-For historic properties or portions thereof which are of historical or architectural significance, renovation or rehabilitation means the act or process of returning a property to a state of utility through repair or alteration which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portios or features of the property which are significant to it historical, architectural, cultural and archeological values.


I hope this helps clarify your question Forrest. :)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2003, 05:53:27 PM »
Patrick,

You cannot, I submit, restore any portion of a golf course accurately using old photos or written accounts. A golf course is too fluid to allow this. Rather, you are changing it back to, as you say, some of the values it once had. And you are good word: interpreting.

Now, today we have a wonderful technology called LIDAR, which is laser beams bouncing millions of times per second literally which are then received and recorder to form very accurate mapping of landforms, even down to the detail of blades of grass if that's what one desires. So, it WILL be possible to restore courses today in 100 years providing the LIDAR records and maintained. And, with GIS data, it will be possible to even restore to the exact moisture content of turf, dryness, or whatever.

But, to honestly use the word "restore" relative to golf courses today that were built long ago I don't buy it. The matter of whether we SHOULD evoke the styles of the past is another decision. I applaud such movement backwards in certain instances. But I almost always prefer the combination of old values and new values. It's more exciting.

I appreciate your comments. As to the green chairman's changes, well, that's part of the game. Usually not good, however, especially when a professional is not a part.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2003, 06:05:19 PM »
Brad,

Do you really think that many people read what you write? Get real, man, all of us here read it, but the lookouts in the crow's nest are too busy managing, playing and having fun!

(The above was meant to bother Brad, but he will never admit it.)

Let me be clear: I do not think changing courses is simple.

I take exception to the term modernizing. What does this mean? If a natural condition changes a course is that modernizing? If I change some bunkers on a Bell course so they are better than present but not quite Bell, is that modernizing? I suppose it's modernizing if it's done today...right?

Regarding the East / Midwest / West thing, let's discuss ratios. You are correct, there may well be less to appreciate in the West. But percentage-wise, which side of the country wins? And, just what constitutes a win?

Also, let me be clear about this: I am all for classical design virtues. You have been a great teacher of such values in your writing you know, the great pieces and works we all read, but...

Seriously, you have been a tremendous source of inspiration for classical design virtues but I really want to help propagate the race of these design values. Therefore I am more interested in the balance of embracing the old at times, but almost never at the cost of allowing design virtues which will be seen as classical in the next century.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2003, 06:08:17 PM »
nperiod,

Very thoughtful. You are correct, partially, my thread was meant to discuss this word we all use, but incorrectly in my view. Also, and perhaps greatest in importance, do we really ever want to approach "restoration"? In my view, it is the least crucial to golf's future and not entirely a good idea.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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michael_j_fay

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2003, 06:30:31 PM »
This is a very tough topic for those who don't understand the wideness of the swath that has been cut through the courses designed by Raynor, Ross, Tillinghast, etc. by lesser Architects, Club Presidents and Green Chairmen.

I am talking about golf courses that were at one time in the country and are now part of the near suburbs. Those that were graced at one time by the arrival of one of the above-mentioned gents. Those courses that had from the beginning a contiuity of style and form. Those courses crafted by the use of the land and a phenominally imaginative mind.

These are the thousands of great old courses that were built to be 6,500-7,000 yards and have no excess land to expand.
The real professionals of the Architecture business in the old days actually drew plans which we have today. Numerous governmental agencies have been kind enough to take aerial photographs of these courses, which are available to the public.  When these tools are put in the hands of today's responsible professional Architect a course can be reconstructed fairly well. At least much of the original intent can be reinstalled and the contiuity of style will not be as horribly interrupted as it was under the hands of the renovator.

I have played hundreds of classic golf courses and can say that I have seen thousands of altered holes. In nearly all cases I have felt the impact on the course of the adulterators. I have seen practically no altered holes that have improved from original drawings or any that made the course more cohesive in style.

The work of the restorer is to remove from altered holes those elements that set it apart from those holes which have not been altered. It is difficult work, it takes a good deal of research and enormous attention to detail. For the lazy, egotistical architect (usually one with little or no stering in his credential) it is much easier to cut and paste modern appointments on a canvas that has been created by one greater than himself. That Architect is seeking the creation of a Ross/Moron course to enhance his reputation. The Professional Architect, on the other hand, will study the canvas and return it as best he can to a Ross course.

I know that true restoration can take place. It is difficult, ofttimes unpopular and certainly given to criticism from those who do not understand. The proof of its' benefit to our game, however, is in the ground. Go to Salem, Wannamoisett, Holston Hills, Pinehurst #2 and others and I feel you will understand much better.  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2003, 06:54:36 PM »
Micheal,

In all due respect, Pinehurt No. 2 is nothing like it was when Mr. Ross first "finsihed" it in fact, he never finished it. How would you propose the subtle details of 200 acres be "restored" by looking at plans no larger than a coffee table and reproduced in crude form? Like I said, without LIDAR (or similar) technology we are but guessing and pondering what was there based on third and fourth hand information. Yet many would have us believe that we are being somehow loyal to the original architects with the word "restoration".

I guess I leaning toward "bunk" we change, pure and end-of-story. We might change to appear like the past, and embrace the past and uphold its ideals but we do this clearly in the modern time and we are better when we do it with our own creativity and zest.

If Tillinghast was a contributor to GCA he would agree with me, I am certain.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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T_MacWood

Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2003, 07:02:22 PM »
Ironically the best candidates for restoration are courses that have been left more or less pristine condition....they have evolved naturally and gracefully and have kept architects away for the most part. Courses like Addington, Chicago, Garden City, Royal Melbourne, Myopia Hunt, Essex County, Mayfield, Cypress Point, Yeamans Hall and St. Louis. Trees are a problem, greens shrink and perhaps a feature here or there has been lost, but the remnants remain and it can be recaptured without too much trouble. It is a major advantage to use the existing well preserved course to guide in restoring that same course, simply replicate what is already there instead of starting from scratch.

I think the problem in the past has been a lack of appreciation for the architects that came before. I think Forrest's attitude is continuation of the RTJ, Dick Wilson and Jack Snyder attitude. Few architects were really interested in the past (it wasn't a subject that they felt inclined to study--in fact the subject was pretty much ignored with the execption of a Wind) Some of these architects and their proteges might pay lip service, but that's about it. Very few went out of their way to study those maestros of the past--to discover why Ross or MacKenzie or Colt or Thompson's work was endurring. Some might visit their premier courses...but it seems to me they were more focused on what they percieved as weaknesses instead of focusing on why these designs worked so well. As result we are left with far too many less than inspiring courses--and ironically the same very old courses still dominate the seen. On the positive side I do see a change in attitude among many younger architects...and the recent results are evident.

The best arguement for the preservation and restoration of the past great designs is Sand Hills, Pacific Dunes and Rustic Canyon--those course are the fruits of architects that did appreciate and study the past.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Willie_Dow

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2003, 07:13:12 PM »
Forrest:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Willie_Dow

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2003, 07:20:51 PM »
Sorry, but do you think you can come in from nowhere and "restore"?  Where are you going if your premiss is a void?
Or only a suggestion?  Please define "Bunk"!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Restoration: Bunk or not?
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2003, 07:40:15 PM »
Tom,

I may not be as great a student of the past as you, but I have spent a great deal of time studying the past. I take from it what makes sense to a project or the need. I love Pacific Dunes, but most all of my friends from the UK would wonder why it was not more original to an American ideal. I would argue with them, but to no avail. Most Brits would find more to love about Pebble or Oldw Stonewall, a Hurdzan Fry layout that makes no sense in terms of what golf was meant to be, but is clearly American ingenuity at its best.

Oakmont might be the poster child for the American ideal "To heck with the British ideal", said the Fownes'. "We will do what we please and we will make it an original and CB MacDonald can have his link to the past what we are doing will define America in terms of golf courses."

Tom, it is very hurtful for you to suggest I may have no regard for the architects of the past. Gosh, I love the work of amnyb of these great architects and minds. What I am suggesting is that the very notion of continual bashing of new ideas on old layout is a very good direction to kill new thinking. We are in a different time. Do we need to embrace the past? Sure. But at what cost? I say let the creative juices flow and allow positive change to take place. It will not all be good, but what is all good? I am pretty much crying now at some of your comments, so please allow me some time to retreat with my family and watch a video. If it makes you feel better, I'll suggest a b/w film. OK?

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
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