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Peter Pallotta

If architects could only use their feet
« on: November 25, 2013, 02:15:42 PM »
If architects didn't have topos or aerials or surveys available to them, and if the sum total of what they could glean about the nature of the site came only from what their eyes could see and from where their legs could take them from what they could feel/sense underfoot, would golf courses today look and play and feel significantly different than they do? Your explanation/rationale for either  a 'yes' or 'no' answer would be appreciated.

Peter

Lyne Morrison

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 08:13:14 PM »


Peter,

This would take time of course and reminds me of Bill Coore being provided this very luxury to uncover what would evolve at Friars Head (with the adjunct of available topo detail). No doubt there are other examples, more likely in the UK and Ireland.

Through the process of 'discovering' a golf course and if provided a site of reasonable quality and flexibility, the architect would be free to devise a routing to reveal a mix of strategic and heroic design - all captured within a naturalised setting.

Forced outcomes and Penal shot making would hopefully be disregarded, replaced instead by the opportunity to look further afield and to seek more desirable outcomes - uncovering solutions that bring out the best in golfers - turning away from a reliance on length while looking toward solutions that prompt thinking and problem solving.

With the provision of a quality environment and a well resolved routing, the sensory experience would be heightened in a manner not available in a more commercial setting.

Lyne

Tom_Doak

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 10:51:20 PM »
Peter:

Personally, I would always like to have a map to work with, because I can read a map better than most, and because it helps me "see" what sometimes can't be seen due to thick brush and vegetation.  Sebonack is a good case in point:  I did a pretty good routing there before I ever walked the ground, which was just as well, because the site was so thick with trees and kudzu that on the ground you couldn't see more than 50 feet in front of yourself.

I suppose, though, that for the world of architecture in general we would all be much better off without maps ... so that architects were forced to get to know the site a little better, instead of taking the map and ignoring the topo and just starting to draw their own ideas on it regardless of the terrain that was there.

Peter Pallotta

Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2013, 10:12:01 AM »
Lyne, Tom - thanks, I appreciate the responses. But I guess I'm really asking something different, more fundamental. I know that architects like Bill Coore and others have sometimes spent a lot of time on site, wandering around, discovering more than creating a golf course. But I was wondering more about that discovery process itself, i.e. what would it be like if NO information at all other than what the human eye could ascertain was available (no 'accurate' sense of the various grades/slopes of the land through topos or contour maps, no 'bird's eye' view of the site as a whole through aerials etc). I was wondering what that wholly 'human' interaction with the land in the first instance (the architect) might mean in the second instance (the way the golfer would experience the course).  

Peter

William_G

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2013, 10:41:33 AM »
the foot on the ground with your eyeballs is the way a golf course should be found

however we all know that the "business" has gone to courses being routed and built by map/photo/topo without the inconvenience and cost of foot and eyeball

on some sites it may make no difference yet the eyeball test is what it's all about and creates something more timeless
It's all about the golf!

Paul Gray

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 06:28:53 PM »
Maybe I'm missing something....

Your answer surely lies in the past in every course that ever just evolved into a playing field when man started hitting balls across/over/around it.
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

Peter Pallotta

Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 07:42:01 PM »
Paul - you might be right; but then again, I'd suggest that working architects today are in many ways different from their great predecessors who laid out those wonderful old courses all over GB&I.  Not 'worse' or 'better' -- just different: what they look for, how they see, their bank of conceptual ideas/frameworks.  So maybe the answer isn't so clear cut, I don't know.

Peter

Tom_Doak

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 07:52:49 PM »
Paul - you might be right; but then again, I'd suggest that working architects today are in many ways different from their great predecessors who laid out those wonderful old courses all over GB&I.  Not 'worse' or 'better' -- just different: what they look for, how they see, their bank of conceptual ideas/frameworks.  So maybe the answer isn't so clear cut, I don't know.

Peter

Peter:

The main difference in working with a map is that you find holes that fit a certain length of tee shot, because you're using a ruler to find them.  Out on site, under foot, it is very difficult to estimate yardages, so unless you have an architect with a lot of experience, the result would generally be to have more holes where the drive goes over a crest at 220 yards, because it felt farther on the ground.

It would be completely different in Paul's premise, on an open piece of ground where you could hit balls around and judge everything by eye.  I had a site like that in Ireland once, and it was great fun to trudge around and imagine golf shots.  But the majority of sites are thick with vegetation, and in that case, routing without a map is quite difficult, and you tend to follow natural trails in the ground that you can walk -- whether they are really the best route for golf or not.

I was just out on the Forest Dunes site today, walking through two inches of snow and over stumps.  Very difficult to get your bearings on where you are and how far you've gone -- and I've got more experience at it than most people.

Peter Pallotta

Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 08:02:56 PM »
Tom - thanks. Besides everything else, that you're able to get so specific -- e.g. "more holes where the drive goes over a crest at 220 yards, because it felt farther on the ground" -- is very cool, and tells me something about the role that both experience and natural temperament/talent plays in routing a course.

Peter

Oh, on a lighter note, I guess one answer to my question would be "Courses would be shorter!"


Ian Andrew

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2013, 08:33:45 PM »
I think golf would have stayed out of the trees and been found more in the open fields. I think this would have been an intuitive reaction to having nothing but your feet and eyes to decide what fits best.


« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 08:39:57 PM by Ian Andrew »
Change is good.

Ronald Montesano

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 06:38:41 AM »
You would be restricting human development and our insatiable curiosity by denying us maps, which would have then restricted the value of the course. How? you ask...well, a human brain that does not desire a better way would build a lesser course. Imagine a less curious, less intellectual (insert famously curious architect's name here) given the land on which (insert famous golf course name here) now rests. The course would have been the weaker result of said architect.

There is no doubt that architects would eventually have come to draw their own rudimentary maps through the use of geometry and other mathematical elements. Progress would not have been abated. If maps existed elsewhere in the human world, they would have made their way to gca.

Would golf course builders and owners have been as demanding if such basic notions (maps, topography) didn't exist? I doubt it, as the general intellect of humanity would have been truncated. An owner/builder would naturally be a competitor, competing for the consumer's dollar. Course depiction and building would have evolved.
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Peter Pallotta

Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 10:49:23 AM »
Well, it appears the answer might be that we'd have shorter, more open and field-like (and almost treeless) courses, with routings following more closely along existing trails in a path-of-least-resistance sort of way, and that the sum total of all this would be a 'lesser' course than might have been built otherwise. Yes, that all seems plausible -- though I'd suggest that what modern architects would see and could imagine and could create (at the green and surrounds) and would design (strategy wise) in that environment might differ significantly from what their predecessors from a less mechanical age would've seen and imagined and created and designed. So I can still leave it an open question...

Peter
« Last Edit: November 27, 2013, 10:51:58 AM by PPallotta »

Thomas Dai

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2013, 11:53:08 AM »
Didn't I read on here a few months ago about Bill Coore walking around in the scrub while trying to route the C&C course in Tasmania and frequently hearing this strange noise - the noise which turned out to be the sound a disturbed and unhappy tiger snake makes! I'm sure there are other similar stories.

I would have loved to have walked somewhere like Perranporth with James Braid when he laid it out.

ATB

Paul Gray

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Re: If architects could only use their feet
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2013, 03:13:14 PM »
Doesn't the legend suggest that Harry Colt spent a fortnight camping out at Pine Valley and generally just ging walkabout? I digress.
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

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