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Mac Plumart

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Books
« on: February 06, 2010, 09:53:02 PM »
I make it a point to really listen to people when they talk about golf and their opinions on golf, especially if they are a good player, a professional in the business in some area, a historian, etc.

So, I am having a conversation a few days ago about golf course architecture over a burger and a coke.  The people I am talking with are big Tom Fazio fans.  And they mention that he wrote a book regarding his thoughts on golf course architecture and they mention that in the book he says that the "Golden Age" architects had to utilize the natural lay of the land because they had no other option and that today things are much different because the architects have much more technology available to them.  So, to rely on the older methods of building a course is antiquated and lacking.  

Based on this comment, I ordered his book and will read what he has to say.  

Three more follow ups on books...

#1--has anyone read this book.  Any other interesting things to look out for?

#2--I also ordered George Thomas' book.  I am sure it is in line with Mackenzie, Hunter, and MacDonald...does anyone notice any huge differences among the ODG's ideals?

#3--Colt's essay's are on my list.  Does anyone have a great place to buy these?  Donal listed an archive link, but I can't seem to find them anymore.  EDIT...I got this one!

Thanks,
Mac
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 10:28:38 PM by Mac Plumart »
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Ben Sims

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Re: Books
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2010, 12:34:39 AM »
Mac,

I hope you enjoy Captain Thomas' GAIA.  It is the best book I've read on the subject yet.  Doc Mac had some good one's, Bahto's Evangelist is an inspiring volume, Doak's Anatomy is a primer for all aspiring wannabes such as myself.  But none of those match GAIA in my opinion.

To answer question two on your list above; Thomas writes about the concept of half shots and pars (I think it's late in the book).  Basically it's an alternative way to count strokes.  Full shots for everything but putting, where it would become a half shot.  A par three made with the tee shot, bunker shot, and one putt would be a 2.5. But hit the GIR and two putt, it's a 2.0.  I won't expound too much on it here, but his reasons are pretty convincing.

Ryan Farrow

Re: Books
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2010, 01:00:42 AM »
Mac, you can finds Colts Essays on Amazon.

I think a University Library re-printed this book. They re-produced it with scans, very readable. And only 16 dollars.

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Some-Essays-Golf-Course-Architecture-1920/dp/1112282459/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3C8E8YPTTASAX&colid=1P3TAKQ1TYBVB

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2010, 08:46:32 AM »
Thanks guys.

I can't wait to read these books/essays. 
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Jaeger Kovich

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Re: Books
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2010, 08:49:45 AM »
I believe I have read the Fazio book you are talking about. I dont have it in front of me, its packed in a box in ny and im snowed in in virginia. Its mostly a glorified picture book and doesn't get into much detail about any architectural concepts.

here is the link on amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Golf-Course-Designs-Tom-Fazio/dp/0810967170

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2010, 09:03:34 AM »
Jaeger...

Ugh!  Although I did have a fear that the book would have little substance, but I was/am hoping for a little bit about what Mr. Fazio's ideas on architecture.  I've read quite a few books  (http://www.mrpgolf.com/books.html)  and hearing an architect who has a totally different view on what a golf course is would be neat to read.  Whether I agree or not is a different story...but nevertheless fun to read.

I've also stumbled across a website called An Anarachist Guide to Golf Course Architecture (http://aggca.blogspot.com/)  Thus far it is interesting to read...especially his opening post.

Thanks,
Mac
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Bill Gayne

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Re: Books
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2010, 09:30:45 AM »
The ODGs may not of had today's equipment but they did have cheap labor to move earth and were free of the environmental restrictions that many modern sites have.

I agree with Ben Sims that Golf Architecture in America is the best book on golf architecture.

SL_Solow

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Re: Books
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2010, 10:04:59 AM »
Enjoy Fazio's comments on framing.  Two others that are really good by the old masters are Hunter's "The Links" and Simpson and Wethered"s  "The Architectural Side of Golf".  I know you have read Doak's "Amatomy" which is quite good as well.

Melvyn Morrow

Re: Books
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2010, 10:09:14 AM »

Mac

I admire your determination of reading and trying to understand the thoughts of others. The only drawback I see is that you might arm yourself with so much conflicting information and details that you lose sight of what has been driving you.

Please do not misunderstand my comment, its great to accumulate a forest of books and the perceived wisdom of many but ultimately what matters is your take and stance on the game of golf. No one has come up with all the answers, although many have strong supporter who believe their guys have come close.

The underlining lesson that many do not learn is that we all judge yesterday men and women with modern attitudes. We give them no slack (I think thatís the word you use) to past generations due mainly to the fact that we canít or do not want to understand their living and working environment. View all books as aids but remember that golf course design is still technically in it early stages, its just around 160 years old (give or take).

Many of the top golfing historians still do not know how the 19th Century Designers worked let alone their design construction procedures. Many still talk of AM designs/PM games and courses open with days. They have failed to understand the Modus Operandi of these guys and the basic knowledge of the new clubs and golfers of the day. It not really their fault, it has just been accepted and gone down in legend that a course was designed AM and the first competition played PM on the belief that the site was so well suited to golf. The real truth is that on average a course still took the best part of 3 months to prepare and it kept on improved over the first year or so. Many designs projects are documented but its just the case of listing the sequence of events in their correct order not forgetting any. Yet I must say that I am surprised that many of the second generation early 20th Century designers failed to remember. Whatever their reason there was a defined MO to the earlier designs which were used and improved upon by later generations.

If the second generation of designers decided not to praise their predecessors, with some even dismissing the design content of 19th Century guys how can later generation be relied upon to produce their thoughts based upon this questionable lack of serious historical information.

Nevertheless, I am not advocating dismissing the comments or writing of 20th & 21st generation authors, but just look carefully at their source material as it in itself may not convey the full story. So I suggest that you workout that which is important to you and why and follow your feelings.

I will not talk about my usual dislikes but I will mention that some golfers love the deep green well manicures golf courses, others feel that if we wanted these types of finishes they would be playing Snooker or Billiards upon them. Some dislike a browning green course insisting on well watered courses, yet many just want the more natural look that blends into its surrounding believing that was the origins of the early golf courses and feel that they do not want to play on what looks like a contrived chocolate box image.

Read all the books but be true to what you seek from your game. My friend, I do not think you will find the real sprit of Golf let alone of St Andrews in a Book, it is in you and how you approach your game.

Melvyn   


BCrosby

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Re: Books
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2010, 10:28:56 AM »
Mac - By all means, get more books.

Fazio's book is bizarre. First, it's the only book I know that purports to be about gca generally but whose illustrations all come from holes designed by the author. Which suggests that Fazio's marketing agency had a larger role than usual.

Second, Fazio, god bless him, is candid about his goals. Holes/greens should be "framed" in their settings. It's hard to know what he thinks distinguishes a landscaper from a golf architect. As I recall, the notion of "strategy" does not appear in the book. The issues that MacK, Thomas, Hunter, Behr, and the whole Golden Age cohort worry about in their books and essays are virtually absent in Fazio's book.

Finally, he is remarkably dismissive of his GA predecessors. It's not so much that he criticizes them, it's that Fazio seems to think that they have very little to teach him. Which I find an odd attitude for any practitioner in any profession.

Bob  

  
« Last Edit: February 07, 2010, 10:53:05 AM by BCrosby »

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2010, 01:26:17 PM »
Great stuff guys!

Per Bob's comments (and Sheldon's), I am excited to read Fazio's book as it seems that a few nuggets pertaining to his style and thought processes will be in there.

And Melvyn, I could not agree with you more.  If I could play all the time, I would...but alas it does get dark every single darn night and I take to reading and studying about the game and its history as it fills my time in a fairly productive way. 

I also like what you say about "feelings".  I remember a quote from Herbert Warren Wind concerning golf holes.  He said that no one every describes a golf hole correctly.  THey say things like...it is a 350 yard par four with a dog leg left into a sunken green that is surrounded by bunkers and fronted by a stream.  HOWEVER, he says what they really need to do is describe how the hole makes them FEEL. With this I agree concerning a hole or a course...or for that matter the game itself.  Do you love it, do you like it, do you hate it, does it frustrate you, challenge you, intrigue you, etc.

I've also heard TOm Paul and Adam Clayman talk about this "feelling" time and again.  And I think they are right.

Anyway, thanks again.  I truly appreciate you guys sharing your thoughts with me.  I let you know whatI think of these books when I finish them!
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2010, 04:32:26 PM »
Thanks Kelly, I'll check it out!
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Eric Smith

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Re: Books
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2010, 04:57:04 PM »
Mac,

You may as well add Tillinghast's "The Course Beautiful" to your list.  At just over 100 pages, it's a nice collection of some of his articles on golf course design.  I think you'd enjoy reading it.
 




Tim_Weiman

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Re: Books
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2010, 05:28:43 PM »
Mac:

Nobody ever recommends it as a golf architecture book because that is not what it is intended to be, but I would still recommend reading "The Match", the classic story of the match between Hogan and Nelson and Venturi and Ward played at Cypress Point during the 1950's.

Take note of the clubs played and the distance of shots. If ever there was a clear illustration of how pointless the golf technology arms race is, this book is it. "The Match" makes clear that making courses ever longer to accomodate ever longer balls doesn't really produce more exiting golf.
Tim Weiman

J_ Crisham

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Re: Books
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2010, 06:44:24 PM »
Mac:

Nobody ever recommends it as a golf architecture book because that is not what it is intended to be, but I would still recommend reading "The Match", the classic story of the match between Hogan and Nelson and Venturi and Ward played at Cypress Point during the 1950's.

Take note of the clubs played and the distance of shots. If ever there was a clear illustration of how pointless the golf technology arms race is, this book is it. "The Match" makes clear that making courses ever longer to accomodate ever longer balls doesn't really produce more exiting golf.
Tim,    As I recall from a previous thread last year,this book has been found to have several inaccuracies throughout its story. It was a fun read but one should not take it as the gospel truth. Hopefully Bob Huntley will weigh in as he has personal knowledge of said match and as I recall played in a game or two with Mr. Ward back in the day.

                                                                      Wish you well,  Jack

Phil_the_Author

Re: Books
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2010, 10:27:57 PM »
Mac,

In a few short weeks when we unveil the newest updated Tillinghast Association website I believe that you & everyone else who has ever expressed an interest in Tilly & golf architecture will be amazed, thrilled and satisfied! For example, we will have EVERY PGA Course Consultation Tour letter available for reading, and in several different formats. By date, one-at-a-time and even as a slide show...

And that's just one of the improvements...

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2010, 09:18:39 PM »
Well, my Fazio book arrived.  "Golf Course Designs"...and frankly, it is already a classic!!!

Say what you will about him, but he is a pretty solid, if not very good, architect.  Is he my favorite?  No.  But he gets/got enough work, that he has to have some skill.

Nevertheless, and enough of the P.C. disclaimer...

In Chapter #1, he has a section called "Using vs. Creating Terrain".  Now that to me IS totally Fazio.  In fact, isn't his claim to fame creating something out of nothing...Shadow Creek? 

Furthermore, he goes on to say that if he builds a course in the rugged mountains, he wants it to be a flat course.  And if he builds a course on flat land, he wants create contours and hills.  This is totally different from everything I've studied previously (to see the books I've read/studied see the link in a prior post) and, therefore, very interesting.

He also says/implies that if Ross and Mackenzie lived in our time they would embrace Fazio's style. 

Wild!!

I'll keep you up to date on my reading...as I am sure you can't wait to hear more from me!!! ;)
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

TEPaul

Re: Books
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2010, 09:25:04 PM »
Mac:

I have them all and have read them all---many times, and considered them all very, very carefully. Yes, I think there is a big difference and by that I am not implying any necessary value distinction as to quality, style or worth at this time as far as the opinions of golfers generally are concerned or should be concerned. It's a "Big World."
« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 09:28:29 PM by TEPaul »

Jim Sweeney

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Re: Books
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2010, 09:26:18 PM »
Mr. Fazio would have quite an argument with Charles "steamshovel" Banks! Or McDonald and Raynoe in the building of Lido.
"Hope and fear, hope and Fear, that's what people see when they play golf. Not me. I only see happiness."

" Two things I beleive in: good shoes and a good car. Alligator shoes and a Cadillac."

Moe Norman

George Freeman

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Re: Books
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2010, 11:08:07 AM »
I agree with Ben Sims that Golf Architecture in America is the best book on golf architecture.

Why is this book so expensive?  I assume it is out of print?
Mayhugh is my hero!!

"I love creating great golf courses.  I love shaping earth...it's a canvas." - Donald J. Trump

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2010, 11:49:30 AM »
George...yes, I believe it is out of print.  The one I got is an original one from 1927 in mint condition that cost $8,000.  Just kidding.

It is 1997 reprint, but still wasn't too cheap.

What is kind of funny is that I bought Brad Klein's Discovering Donald Ross maybe a year ago for $50.  Now it sells for $125ish.

This recession has pushed up the price of out of print golf books?  Hmmm....

FYI...check out this link...http://www.archive.org/index.php

I don't know if Thomas' book is on there, but I downloaded the Colt essays from there.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2010, 10:20:37 PM »
Well, I just finished the Fazio book.

Interesting and quick read.  

Top takeaways for me...Fazio's attitude regarding "Using vs. Creating Terrain"...it is a section of the book and a recurring theme.

The book also highlights his business process more so than the golf course design process.  I found this unique and interesting.

The first things he considers include (starting on page 159)...

what is the concept for the course?  public, private, resort; real estate based or stand alone;
What will be the handicap of players playing the course?;  
Where will the clubhouse and entry roads be located?;
Is the financing sound?;

He also talks a lot about "fairness" of the course and the beauty of the course and the holes and how to "frame" views to attract the golfers eye.  He mentions his routing centers on taking advantage of views and variety.  And he pounds the table that meeting schedules and budgets for the client is vitally important.

In my opinion, he has the business process down to a tee.  He has big time client focus.  And he really tries to make the experience of the course enjoyable for the golfer.  "Fair", fun, and beautiful rounds of golf.  He knocks the ball out of the park on these elements.

Given that I hadn't heard any of the "Golden Age" greats talk along these lines, I thought the book was/is worthy of a read.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2010, 11:00:58 PM »
I know everyone is talking Pebble Beach right now, but I just wanted to drop a quick post on George Thomas' book, Golf Architecture in America.

Simply reading the foreward got my fired up and excited.  And then reading the first chapter tonight almost overwhelmed me due to his enthusiam for golf course design and his love for the game.

As much as Fazio's book was interesting and unique, I sensed a marketing/business angle to his thought process...and you know what I think he does that well.  He is a huge success.

But Mr. Thomas certainly appears to have a deep down fire burning passion for golf and specifically golf course architecture.  I won't type any passages from the parts of the book I've read thus far, as it would be too much to type.  I will simply say this, it is my belief that due to people like Mr. Thomas golf is in a much better place today than it would be without his contributions.

If I stumble on any worthwhile sectoins that deserve a post, I'll pass it along.  I am sure y'all can't wait!!!  ;)
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Garland Bayley

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Re: Books
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2010, 11:47:20 PM »
...
He also talks a lot about "fairness" of the course and the beauty of the course and the holes and how to "frame" views to attract the golfers eye.  He mentions his routing centers on taking advantage of views and variety.  And he pounds the table that meeting schedules and budgets for the client is vitally important.
...

What I got from Fazio was that people like pretty, so it is his intention to give them pretty. That is an accurate paraphrase of what he wrote.
My thoughts on that -- I can get pretty without having to pay Fazio course green fees to get it. But then I live in an area designated to be a  National Scenic Area.

As far as fairness is concerned, we've been over that. Fairness is a misnomer. Every one plays the same course, so it is fair by default. The better word is predictable, and you have shown me pictures of predictable boring courses followed by unpredictable interesting courses by, for example, Pete Dye.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Mac Plumart

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Re: Books
« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2010, 07:52:33 AM »
Garland...

Excellent point on the pretty part and the big fee. 

On the "fairness" part of it, that is a word that Mr. Fazio himself used over and over.  Frankly, I had Crane/Behr flashbacks...but decided to spare you guys with another post of that.  However, it is my opinion that most golfers deep down in their psyche side with Crane AND I think Fazio knows that and embraces it.  He then uses this fact with another fact, that people like stunning beauty, and he has combined the two to make one hell of a golf course design shop.

But regarding your points on "fairness" and "predictability", I agree 100%...but as I said those were Mr. Tom Fazio's own words.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

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