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Tom MacWood had an interesting theory.He believed that restorations should be made to the "architectural high water mark" The problem is, how do you determine that ? And, Who determines that ? And, what do you do if the club's archives and resources can't ascertain the "true" architectural history and pedigree ?
To take this notion even further, how do you really know what the course was really like at ANY point in its history? Photographs? Aerials? People get shouted down on this site all the time for making judgements on courses just from photographs. There's a reason for that.Any evaluation that determines how a golf course plays, based strictly on photos is inherently flawed, and close to worthless.However, determining dimensions, configurations and spacial relationships can be determined from photographic evidence, especiallly if both aerial and ground level photos exist.[/color]As to people who may have played the course or had some knowledge of a course still being around and active, I am reminded of a quote from a book I read once: "Truth exists in the moment. Before that moment there is only conjecture, after that moment, only opinion." Some members are invested in the club and possess a keen sense of awareness relative to its architectural history and configuration. Those individuals are a valuable resource that shouldn't be dismissed.[/color]Isn't every restoration effort, or any tweaking that is done to a golf course going to eventually come down to the opinion of one person, or the consensus opinion of a group of people?YES ..... and .... NO.Unanimity is not a quality usually associated with the work on golf courses, be it an alleged restoration, sympathetic restoration, interpretive restoration, modernization or alteration.Some architectural features are produced through concrete ideas, others through compromise and others by accident.The critical issues are:What does the club want to do with the golf course ?Restore it .... in a pure fashion.Restore it .... sympatheticallyRestore it .... interpretivelyRestore it .... and update it at the same timeFine tune itModify itModernize itRecreate itOr a combination of the above.Who is going to be the guiding light and the driving force on the project and what are their goals ?What's the club's financial tolerance or threshold ?[/color]Of course, there's never going to be a shortage of people who believe that they know better than the other people who have made changes to a course (or even the original architect), so changes will continue to occur. But even if you want to go back to the original version of a course, or some high-water mark for a course, how can you possibly know how close you are getting? I think there are individuals who know, or know how to find out. Many of them visit this site.But, it's a far bigger problem when you drill down to the club level. LUCK plays a big part.There have been suggestions that the Dead Architect's Societies could be of great help to the clubs fortunate enough to have been created by one of those Icons.If a club is lucky enough to have a concerned member who is knowledgeable, dedicated and has the time to devote to a project, they should enlist their services in researching the club's architectural history.TEPaul was that member at his club.In 1999 he produced an excellent architectural history for his club.But, due to the unique architectural history of his club, and the democratic nature of his club, the determination of which point to restore the club to became a complicated matter.Enter "Compromise" stage left.Was the work done by Gil Hanse "perfect" was it a pure restoration ?No, because the club didn't want a "pure" restoration.And, I think that's where a great deal of the difficulty lies.I've favored a restoration at Garden City Golf Club that mirrors the architectural features, circa 1936, with the understanding that the length of the golf course be amended from its 1936 distances.Why 1936 ?For two reasons.First, the USGA Amateur was held at GCGC in 1936Second, because there's an abundance of aerial and ground photos taken circa 1936 that would be a superior roadmap to reconstruction and restoration.Is 1936 the high water mark, architecturally ?I don't know. It could be for some holes and maybe not for others.But, on balance, due to the abundance of architectural evidence and the significance of the USGA Amateur, 1936 is an appealing, if not the ideal year to fixate upon.[/color]To whip out two cliches in one sentence, can you "go home again," or has that ship already sailed.........?The choices aren't limited to those two defaults.Those are the easy choices, not necessarily the prefered or ideal choices.In order to proceed with a project, the "will of the membership" must be harnessed and directed along the proper path. A guiding light must lead the way and them.It can be a thankless or a rewarding job, unfortunately, you don't know which until you're into the project.[/color]