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John Connolly

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2016, 09:47:10 AM »



John


You are talking to the wrong guy concerning the shaping of the pre-Colt generation.  I like so called Victorian features.  I like bold, in your face, obviously man made stuff erupting from the ground with no connection to the natural terrain...partly because its so rare.  But the question one should ask is why were those features deemed necessary?  Where Colt etc had a huge edge was in routing courses to take advantage of natural features and figuring out where best to build courses based on terrain and soil and turf.  They also figured out that high greens drained much better and were therefore firmer and therefore easier to effect strategy of design.  The green side shaping and bunkering was at times lovely, but secondary to how the land was used. Just as with the top echelon of designers today, Colt etc used what God gave them very well, so the touch of man far less necessary.  But even the Colt generation got carried away at times and went crazy with bunkers rather than sticking to focusing on terrain.  I guess the temptation to add to God's work was just too much at times....I wonder if that was because routings may not have been considered that important 100 years ago? Were aesthetics even then a primary consideration for the average Joe Blow? 

I believe that what makes the top new(ish) guys special is that they look for a routing which maximizes the natural features.  This makes it a load easier to shape stuff to look far more natural.  In effect, standardization is removed by this lot. But like Colt and the boys, sometimes these guys cannot resist temptation....


Get a guy who knows how to route a course, isn't afraid to really push the boat with shaping and uses the natural features well and you will get a unique course...thats Kington.

Ciao


I don't disagree with any of what you've written here. As for your affection for geometric, "Victorian age", stylings, who am I to disagree with an opinion! There's room for all. In fact, our course started out like that in the late 1890's. I wouldn't trade that legacy for all the sand in Scotland.
"And yet - and yet, this New Road will some day be the Old Road, too."

                                                      Neil Munroe (1863-1930)

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2016, 01:00:52 PM »
John,

Good question, and not enough words or time to answer completely.  I have asked this and agree that the differences aren't nearly as big as some on this site say.  It's not like RTJ and Wilson were complete newcomers to the biz, and they learned from the earlier generation.  I would have to trace the lineages of other architects - say RB Harris - to see how far they went back.

And, when I see Hazeltine or even Bellrieve or Peachtree, I think those look more classis as time goes on.  Heck, even the Faz holes at Inverness look way better and fit in better than they did when new.

I believe a big factor, not mentioned, was the post depression/post WWII mindset that they really, really believed in a new design order and sort of avoiding the past 30 years of history..... of all kinds.  Some may say they through out the baby with the bath water, but it was a factor.  And, its easy to be nostalgic now, see how those men and women were wrong, point out flaws, etc.

I will say this - many of the answers here are gross generalizations, often touted here, and perhaps not based on a real study of what happened.  That said, there is some truth to all of them - maintenance mechanization became a bigger design issue, as did the hoards of new golfers and trying to get them around, as did Real Estate concerns, new construction techniques tried and tested, cost concerns as courses were getting built for the less than elite,  etc. 

In the end, the evolution of golf architecture was really just a whole lot of things that happened.

And, given it all, it happened the way it probably had to happen, for the most part. 

As I often point out, as dead ass sure as some of us are that we are in the best ever period of architecture that should never change, those in charge back then felt the same way.  Change is inevitable, and will continue to happen.  At some distant point, someone will look back at Doak or CC architecture with the same distain that some reserve for RTJ.  Then, it will come back in style in another 50 years. 

No knock on anyone, just the way the collective mindset works, together with the fact that no one style of art or architecture has ever been the be all, end all.  We always crave something new.


Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Greg Gilson

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Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #27 on: October 04, 2016, 12:09:39 AM »
Hi Jeff, I am interested in this point that you make:

At some distant point, someone will look back at Doak or CC architecture with the same distain that some reserve for RTJ. 

It may have been a throwaway line and I do not want to de-rail this thread. However, at that distant point (or even now) when a knocker looks at Doak or CC's architecture what do you think their knock might be?


Greg Gilson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2016, 12:14:06 AM »
Ooops, not sure what happened there....

Hi Jeff, I am interested in this point that you make:

At some distant point, someone will look back at Doak or CC architecture with the same distain that some reserve for RTJ.  Then, it will come back in style in another 50


It may have been a throwaway line and I do not want to de-rail this thread. However, at that distant point (or even now) when a knocker looks at Doak or CC's architecture what do you think their knock might be?

not pretty enough?

not enough earth moved?

fairways too wide?

not enough room for housing (therefore become unaffordable)?

I understand that you are not the knocker...but i'm interested in what you think that guy would be griping about.

Jeff_Brauer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2016, 09:06:44 AM »
Greg,

A good question, and in reality, my main point was that general trends will change.  I can't predict how, but am almost certain, based on history, that they will.  I doubt anyone but golf architects themselves will focus on earth moved (although there were at one time regulations in parts of Europe designating the maximum any site could cut or fill.....) but they may say we need to make it prettier, as that is a concern of average golfers and owners.

If forced, I suspect that the general trend of gca is still towards more sophistication, in that outside forces will require most new courses to serve many outside functions that compromise golf, if they are to be permitted at all. They do now - Real estate, flood control, environmental filters, and who knows what.  I mean, what if the ball rollback comes to pass?  Sure, it might be eliminating back tees, but that alone might change courses. (Be careful what you wish for)  For that matter, I also believe the information age, and the next generation constant desire for instant information may change things, although maybe it would be more in the clubs, balls, carts and GPS side, not design.

In any event, many golf courses will "require" extensive retrofitting to meet the times, even if some think the designs are timeless.  In watching the Beatles "8 Days a Week" documentary last night, it did occur to me that musicians, always focused on new material, really diss other musicians a lot less than golf architects (except, oddly, Lennon and McCartney right after they broke up)  But golf architecture isn't pure art, it is business, providing product for business.

If you look back at the 50-60's, there was a lot of renovation work done in the name of modernization.  Yes, some due to technical advances, but also some caused by architects finding flaws in the old way as part of promoting (their) new way, and hence, some major renovations.  There is economic incentive to do so.  If you look at Pete Dye, he unabashedly admits he looked for an alternate style to RTJ as a means to being known.  Even the entire restoration movement had some economic incentive for those who chose to specialize in this new niche.

So, it may very well be that the design community, in combination with outside forces, will simply design for the then current needs (or if you are cynical, fashions) and in so doing, the collective mindset will simply be that 1990-2020 era designs may have been great "for their time" this is now, and then was then.

It just seems to happen that way. 
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #30 on: October 04, 2016, 05:15:39 PM »

So, it may very well be that the design community, in combination with outside forces, will simply design for the then current needs (or if you are cynical, fashions) and in so doing, the collective mindset will simply be that 1990-2020 era designs may have been great "for their time" this is now, and then was then.

It just seems to happen that way.


Jeff


I agree 100%.  People wouldn't be people if they didn't change things.  Much of the good works of today won't be seen as such in 25-50 years (if that long) and the shovels will hit dirt.  Its the way with people, especially wealthy people who love to make a mark.  These folks will come up with any bogus excuse (these days its courses are too short) to justify "what needs to be done."


Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Minehead, St Medan, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Peter Pallotta

Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #31 on: October 04, 2016, 06:07:40 PM »
Yes.
At least in the golden age the very, very wealthy (the old money) were so wealthy and self-assured that there was no one to keep up with, and so they were content to leave well enough alone. Nowadays money just isn't what it used to be...
« Last Edit: October 04, 2016, 06:09:26 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Jeff_Brauer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #32 on: October 05, 2016, 10:58:55 AM »
Peter,


Yes, over time, there are more golf courses to compete with, to top (difficulty, visuals, etc.)  It was much easier to stand out when America had only a few hundred courses, rather than 15,000.


Keeping up with the Jones is a factor in the continued evolution of golf course design.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #33 on: October 05, 2016, 12:42:42 PM »
If you look at Pete Dye, he unabashedly admits he looked for an alternate style to RTJ as a means to being known. 


I do not agree with this.


There are lots of things Mr. Dye said to me, one-on-one, during my construction stint at Long Cove, that I later quoted him on in some venue or other, and that he has later re-told in his biography or other places.  But when he told me his story about Palmetto Dunes [which is almost across the street from Long Cove] and Harbour Town, his emphasis was clearly on a belief that golf needed someone to build something different, instead of everyone copying Mr. Jones forevermore. 


Pete's trip to Scotland had highlighted that for him, that golf architecture came in many shapes and forms, and mine did the same for me. Additionally, Pete's little speech made clear to me that it wouldn't be honoring him to copy his style -- that I should find my own.  Yes, I did realize that copying Pete's style would do little to separate me from his sons and from his many imitators, but that wasn't my prime motivation, and I am pretty sure it was not Pete's, either.


I would not be at all surprised if "Doak greens" are criticized twenty years from now much as MacKenzie's were back in the day ... hell, even one of my own clients seems to be on a campaign to make me flatten them.  However, when I watch people play golf, the golf holes work as I intend them to, so I can handle a little criticism from people who don't know them so well.

Jeff_Brauer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #34 on: October 05, 2016, 02:58:55 PM »
Tom,


Like you, my statements come directly from conversations with Mr. Dye.  One came while playing Prestwick with him.  He walked to the ditch on the right of the fairway, pointed at it and told me that was what was giving him the inspiration for straight lines.


But, I have heard him compliment Jones but follow up with the statement that HE needed to do something different, as well.  I am sure he figured some new style was needed in an overall sense, too.  It all gets wrapped up into many similar thoughts, I am sure.  No architect was ever totally altruistic about only the architectural needs of golf, and truthfully, there is no one single need.  There are niches, and we all  are considering how to best take advantage of some niche or another we may carve for ourselves.


Ditto any discussion on your greens.  For every other architect in history, most of their wildest greens have been softened as green speeds got faster.  Or, as in Mac's case, before!  Majority of folks don't get the wild greens, and they are the customers and owners, and they may or may not care if they play the way you intended them, only about playing it the way they like.  The courses no longer belong to the architect once you hand over the keys, as you well know.


So, because of your fame, and because maybe greens are as fast as they can get, you have a decent chance of more of your greens surviving more or less untouched, but I am sure some will change.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2016, 03:01:47 PM by Jeff_Brauer »
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #35 on: October 05, 2016, 06:32:15 PM »

So, because of your fame, and because maybe greens are as fast as they can get, you have a decent chance of more of your greens surviving more or less untouched, but I am sure some will change.


Apparently you don't know about the clever clause in my contracts ... if clients change any of my greens without my permission, their heirs are contractually placed under a curse for three generations   ;)

Jason Topp

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #36 on: October 05, 2016, 08:46:51 PM »
I find it interesting that the golden age guys (Mackenzie and Tillinghast) wrote optimistically about the effect of more automated machinery.  It would have been interesting to see what those guys would have done with bulldozers.

Sven Nilsen

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Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #37 on: October 05, 2016, 10:33:17 PM »
Jason:


There were bulldozers in the late 20's, they were basically invented in 1923.  They certainly changed over the years, and it probably took a little while before they caught on for golf course construction. 


What is interesting is that both Tillie and MacKenzie probably designed courses before and after their advent.  Anyone know the first course built using one?


Sven
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

Jeff_Brauer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #38 on: October 05, 2016, 11:12:51 PM »

So, because of your fame, and because maybe greens are as fast as they can get, you have a decent chance of more of your greens surviving more or less untouched, but I am sure some will change.

Apparently you don't know about the clever clause in my contracts ... if clients change any of my greens without my permission, their heirs are contractually placed under a curse for three generations   ;)

I'm an old Cubs fan....sounds a lot like the Billy Goat curse to me!
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Jim Lipstate

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Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #39 on: October 09, 2016, 11:54:04 AM »
One difference that comes to mind is that the golden age courses were designed for walking and generally were not built with the requisite compromises that comes with residential courses that became prevalent in the latter half of the 20th century. Something seems so natural with a course friendly to the walking golfer. The advent of the golf cart allowed building on more extreme terrains and also facilitated long distances between greens and tees but those compromises often dent the natural flow and continuity of the course. Something is lost.


I like the trend toward building a self contained course keeping residential construction to the extreme perimeters. It just seems nice to have an oasis for golf and nature free from concerns about a misplayed shot shattering a window or denting someone's Porsche. This doesn't address directly the differences between strategic vs penal designs but in someways it explains the differing ethos of the eras. I am glad to seen the pendulum swing back to appreciate the designs of the golden age masters.

Jud_T

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Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #40 on: October 09, 2016, 03:00:50 PM »
I think Mike's point about courses being built on land that wouldn't have been used during the golden age is an important one.  We went from guys putting sticks in the ground on sandy links land with subtle, and not so subtle, contours, that didn't have much other use to imposing our will with large machinery onto otherwise uninteresting land as the popularity of the game and prime real estate prices rose in unison.  Additionally, contours are most interesting if the ball bounces or rolls off them sufficiently to have a real benefit/penalty.  If your ball plugs in mud after every rain the contour has less of a marginal utility/dollar.   Today when someone develops, say, a Sand Valley we all wet ourselves because there are so few great sites available that are economically viable.  In the old days it was just the obvious place outside town to lay out a course.
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

BCowan

Re: After the Golden Age - What was really lost?
« Reply #41 on: October 09, 2016, 08:42:28 PM »
  If I'm not mistaken CBs lido was a massive undertaking and he did another course on very rocky ground if I recall.  we know how well he is regarded here so I don't agree that golden age archies would not have built on heavy soils. They did in the past.  Also the notion that clay tracks like oakmont and others built on heavy clay don't play firm after a little rain is bs.  They used ditches, common sense solutions.
I played yest on WPJ built on pure sand and it was really soft (fairways) with no rain in 5 days.  So it comes down to member owned clubs vs dictators with ur sand valleys.  Plus people wet themselves to play Sand Valley the same way 5th graders did and do when the air Jordans came/come out.  Some never grow out of it.

I think more then a few golden age guys would be pro sand capping courses with good population density, pro ditxhes and drainage verse this retail golf model everyone is shooting for.  Heaven forbid courses with solid bones spent money of various drainage technics verse dropping million into clubhouses that drain the core asset.  One horror story after another.

End of rant

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