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National Historic Landmark
« on: December 10, 2002, 12:50:26 PM »
Here's a link to the National Historic Landmark page for Oakmont Country Club.  Some time ago there was a discussion about preserving historic and architecturally prominent golf courses.  Looks like the folks at Oakmont are leading the way (I have no idea what status/benefits there are with NHL registration).

Click Here
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:12 PM by -1 »


Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2002, 12:55:51 PM »

Merion has the same designation.

I don't think it means a thing in relation to the historic preservation of the design integrity of a golf course, but it makes for a very nice plaque.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:12 PM by -1 »


Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2002, 01:00:50 PM »

I went back and read the original thread on "National Landmark Golf Courses".  You are right.  It doesn't have anything to do with preservation as the property owner can still do as he or she pleases (apparently, dependent on state law).  But as Tom MacWood stated it does establish a certain mindset of custodianship for the club members.

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

Rick Shefchik

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Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2002, 01:11:58 PM »
Mike -- Wouldn't you think that if more golf clubs had such a designation -- or if there were a similar designation that dealt specifically with the golf course itself -- that more memberships would take seriously their responsibility to preserve the essential nature of their courses?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"Golf is 20 percent mechanics and technique. The other 80 percent is philosophy, humor, tragedy, romance, melodrama, companionship, camaraderie, cussedness and conversation." - Grantland Rice

Brad Tufts

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Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2002, 02:34:39 PM »
How are you doing today gentlemen?

I am very curious and interested as to the designation of these courses, as I'm shaping my senior history thesis around this topic here at Middlebury College.  I knew that Oakmont and Merion have this designation, but I would be very surprised if there aren't other courses that have a distinction like those two.  Do we think that there are more courses in the national register of historic places that arent included in the national historic landmark list?  

I thought one quote from the national register of historic places website was very pertinent, as they listed their criteria of choosing sites that: "That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction," which you would think could involve several golf courses.

I'm trying to shape my paper (75-100 pgs) around the history of golf course architecture, but i'm getting a large amount of resistance from professors who dont believe that a paper on  GC design could be historical.  I'm attempting to prove them wrong with a good paper, and i've thought of the historical preservation vs. restoration angle as a way to connect the history of golf course design to what they think is something "historical."

Any thoughts on the historical preservation angle?

This could turn into an advocacy paper......
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....


Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2002, 02:52:05 PM »
ah the senior history thesis... brings back uh, not so fond memories.

i'd have to agree with your advisor regarding the ahistorical nature of golf course design, at least from a "history thesis" perspective.  it might prove very difficult to document the changes in GCA, i.e. without the circular argumentation that course X is different from course Y because the pictures show they are different.

i think the difference here is the between a general definition of "history" versus an academic definition of "history".  obviously the academic history is looking for causes and factors that affected change, and not just documenting that things did change.

if you were going to chart the evolution in golf course construction technique that might be more "historical."  or how construction techniques and equipment changed GCA design.

just some thoughts...
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Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2002, 03:03:13 PM »
btufts- Sounds like a slippery slope but I know less than most. ;D  
It would appear that this landmark status is merely an ego stroke. If it were truely historic, one would hope that there would be heavy restrictions on tinkering or even playing a national landmark. Of course my thinking stems mostly from the museum pieces I think of when I think of these things. So, a living breathing evolving golf course lands somewhere on that slope.

Perhaps the history of a golf course is primarily in the moments that individuals have on said venue and not in the land that comprises it.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Tom MacWood (Guest)

Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2002, 03:42:12 PM »
That's an excellent quote.

I would think the extensive biographies on Ross, MacKenzie,  Macdonald and others is evidence that there is some historical merit to golf architecture. As we progress in documenting the history of golf architecture and identifying the important architects and their best work, I think the preservation movement will gain momentum.

I do not believe there is a need for a landmark designation (you have to walk before you can run), but there is a need for the architects as a group to take responsibility for protecting the history of their craft. For all the ill advised minor changes, tree plantings and tinkering done by green committees, most of it is reversable. It seems to me the architects on the other hand have performed some of the most severe and evasive alterations to their predicessors work.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


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Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2002, 04:22:52 PM »
I don't know how responsive this is, but I noted that Roller Coasters can be designated as NHLs and I am guessing other recreational locations are also so designated.  

Looking at the criteria, I think a case can be made for a recent historical landmard built on a significant location of historical importance, that being the Oregon Trail, grassland, buffalo prairies.  Sand Hills and all its surrounds... 8)

Red Mike is another on a significant historical location.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
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Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2002, 01:42:05 AM »
Mr. btufts

I think that you need to broaden your subject matter a bit.  A "History of GCA in America" probably looks not dissimilar to any Professor from "A History of Train Spotting in Tunbridge Wells" or "A History of Pub Crawling in Daytona Beach."

I personally think there is a book to be written out there about the "History of Golf in America, 1893-1937" (ask Ran for the proper dates).  Look at the sport in light of the social, economic and demographic history of the time.  Include GCA, but look at it in a broad perspective, i.e. the Bendelow's as well as the Macdonald's.  Look at it in a national and inclusive sense, not just focusing on the usual suspects.

To my mind, virtually all of the writing on this subject so far has been narrowly focused and far too hagiographic.  There's a pony in there, somewhere........

Go for it.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »


Re: National Historic Landmark
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2002, 05:29:11 AM »
As to whether a NHL designation has any effect or control over the preservation or limitations on changes that can be made to a property designated as a NHL, one should read the fine print in the NHL website.

Basically a NHL designation does not change an owner's ability to make changes though, unless of course that owner is trying to avail himself of local or federal monies to maintain that NHL in some way.

Certainly there may come a time or point where an owner of a NHL designated property may make so many changes that the NHL designation may be reviewed or withdrawn.

When it comes to ideas about preservation, I think some of you may be confusing a NHL designation with a "conservation easement".

It's certainly possible to place a "conservation easement" on a property that even the Federal Government (although generally local governments) may consider historically interesting or perhaps beautiful enough to be worth perserving 'for the public good'.

But the "easement" is an agreement or covenant with that government, generally through a conservation organization (which I call an "aegis"), that requires certain limitations on change or alteration by an owner.

In almost all cases a local "conservation organization" (basically approved or franchised by the local or Federal government) writes the "convenant" with the owner specifying in detail what can and cannot be altered. And that conservation organization is responisible for monitoring the "easement" for that government to be sure it's being adhered to by the owner.

The interesting thing about conservation easements, which generally involve the preservation of land as open space (although they can involve the preservation of things like historic buildings) is that they come with rather significant tax deductions to the owner--and those deductions generally involve Federal income tax, although it can also involve local tax abatement of one kind or another.

If the owner breaks or abridges the "easement" obviously he can be responsible for repayment of tax abatements, deductions and probably penalties.

But the basis of Federal conservation easements (through local conservation organizations) of this kind whether on buildings or land is it must have or do some good in a public sense, or obviously the governments cannot support the use of Federal or local monies (even in the form of personal tax deductions) to support the conservation or preservation.

This could be done for an historic golf course but it's a little hard for private clubs to take the tax deductions and at the moment there's no conservation organization I know of who would be willing to monitor the preservation of a golf course, like a Merion or Oakmont.

And secondly, would an Oakmont or Merion ever want a conservation organization to monitor the preservation of their golf course? But sometime money talks, even if in the form of a tax abatement or deduction.

At the moment though, I'm certain there's no actual "conservation easement" on any golf course in America except for the fact that the land underneath a golf course may be restricted as to it potential buildability if the course was to cease to exist. And I only know of one golf course with an arrangement like that.

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


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