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John Kirk

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Generational Tastes, Part 2
« on: October 29, 2018, 01:31:34 AM »
 (A continuation of the J.C. Jones thread "Generational Tastes", introducing some research about music tastes, and attempting to make a connection with tastes in golf courses and golf experiences.) 



Golf course ranking and evaluation has improved since the lists of greatest golf courses were first introduced.  More people participate in the rankings, with far greater exposure to golf courses worthy of recognition.  Furthermore, the prosperity of modern society, combined with a better (or renewed) understanding of what makes golf great, has raised the bar of excellence.  For sophisticated golfers, there’s never been a better time to be a connoisseur of golf courses.
 
Still, golf course evaluation remains a poorly researched subject.  Much has been learned through discussion, but it’s too small a field to merit a serious, sociological analysis about what golfers like.  Sophisticated designers and businessmen dictate course architecture and maintenance practices.  The industry might benefit from a large study with a detailed questionnaire asking players what they want, along with a basic analysis of each participant’s personality.  Until that time, recent trends in design and maintenance seem headed in the right direction to me.
 
Some of you know I’ve devoted a lot of time to studying popular music in recent years.  An essential part of social life, musical tastes and preferences have been studied at length, and the advent of “big data” analysis enhances the ability to understand what people like and why.
 
Over the last year, I’ve been stuck with writer’s block on my music project.  I need to write a few paragraphs about the modest research I’ve done about musical preference, mostly to show that tastes are varied and personal. I thought I’d break the ice by using a few insights to open a discussion on golf course preferences.  Again.
 
The Adolescent Peak
 
In “The Songs That Bind” (New York Times, February 10, 2018), Seth Stephens-Davidowitz uses data searches he requested from Spotify to show that one’s lifetime  music tastes tend to peak at 13-14 years old.  There is some modest variance, but it’s a powerful rule of thumb.  (In my case, there is a clear preference for music recorded between 1963 and 1973, when I was 5-15 years old)
 
The only way this fact might relate to golf might be a special fondness for golf courses played in one’s youth.  Age is a weak determinant of what golf courses we like best, but that might be more a matter of having greater opportunities in adulthood.
 
Personality Traits
 
In “Music Preferences and the Adolescent Brain: A Review of Literature” (National Association for Music Education, 2016, Vol. 35), Karen S. Walker discusses the connection between music tastes and personality type, and how music tastes serve as a means of identification to others for social purposes:
 
“Many teenagers identify with others who like similar music and tend to group themselves accordingly.  Social cliques are often formed in high school among teens with similar music preferences.  For example, teens who prefer heavy metal music are more likely to socialize with those who have similar tastes, as opposed to socializing with teens who prefer different styles, such as jazz music.  Many teens feel a strong need to fit in and be accepted socially, so their musical preferences may change depending on their social situation.” --  Karen S. Walker
 
Is taste in golf courses related to one’s social group?  I would say yes, to an extent, and add there exists some groupthink within golfing cliques.  GCA members tend to find friends within our group, which likely has some influence on their evaluation of courses and architects.  People tend to divide up by political affiliation, their social tendencies and by general professional careers.  And people are highly influenced by their trusted friends.  My best friends here tend to be nerdy and introverted, with most in engineering fields.  People find their own tribe.  For instance, do I favor modern courses and clubs over the classic Golden Age courses, because I have a thin resume and lack the political savvy to receive an invitation to a prestigious golf club?  At the same time, I find a significant part of golf club culture to be pretentious.  It’s a fine line between a resentment of the social hierarchy, and feeling left out.
 
The Big Study
 
By far, the most interesting and relevant study on musical tastes is “Music Through The Ages:  Trends in Musical Engagement and Preference From Adolescence Through Middle Adulthood”, published in July, 2013 by three British psychologists from Cambridge and one American scientist in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  A large study of over a quarter million people, the study compares musical preferences with both personality characteristics and age.  It’s a remarkable piece of work, and I felt some of the conclusions were relevant to our study of golf courses.
 
I will only include data I feel is relevant to GCA.   
 
First of all, music preferences were divided into five dimensions, cleverly using the five letters of the word “MUSIC”.
 
Mellow
Unpretentious
Sophisticated
Intense
Contemporary
 
These five dimensions of musical preference were correlated with 23 musical genres, as well as five personality types (The Big Five Inventory):
 
Extraversion
Agreeableness
Conscientiousness
Emotional Stability
Openness
 
The study followed participants for up to eight years, and were therefore able to make some strong judgments about age and musical preference.
 
1.  A desire for Unpretentious and/or Sophisticated music increased with age.
2.  A desire for Intense and/or Contemporary music decreased with age.
3.  The desire for Mellow music increases until age 25 or so, then decreases to age 55, and then begin to increase again.
 
With regards to personality traits:
 
4.  Mellow music correlates highly with Openness.
5.  Unpretentious music correlates to a moderate degree of Extraversion, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness.
6.  Sophisticated music correlates highly Openness.
7.  Intense music also correlates highly with Openness, but also to those with a low degree of Conscientiousness.
8.  Contemporary music correlates with Extraversion, which makes sense.  If you are extroverted and want to be sociable with others, it is sensible to like what is new and hip to establish one’s social credentials.
 
“By middle adulthood (age 40-65), the psychological stage that individuals face is the challenge of developing a career, raising a family, and maintaining friendships.  Preferences for Unpretentious and Sophisticated music were highest during this life stage.  Both music dimensions are perceived as positive and relaxing, but whereas Unpretentious is more simple and about themes of love and family, Sophisticated is more complex and indicative of high culture.  Thus, the relaxing and familial themes of Unpretentious music may be appealing among individuals preoccupied with the challenge of establishing social status and career success.”

Bonneville-Roussey, Xu, Rentfrow, Potter, 2013
 
Discussion
 
The five dimensions of musical preference closely parallel what is needed for a discussion of golf course preference.  In fact, only the Mellow and Intense categories are worth considering a change to reflect the ease or difficulty of play.  Unpretentious, Sophisticated and Contemporary are easily translated into styles of golf course design.  What one regards as Unpretentious or Sophisticated may vary.
 
Golf courses can be Mellow or Intense in terms of the physical and mental demands.  Even a flatter course with short green to tee walks might be a very Intense playing experience (Pinehurst #2, for example).  A golf course with challenging play tee-to-green play, while possessing gentle greens with uncomplicated short game play, might be regarded as enough of a mental break to be considered a Mellow playing experience.  Intense golf might be about the walk, or the relentless mental demands.  Pasatiempo is a course in my golfing sphere that is an Intense experience.


I’m going to change the terminology to Gentle and Demanding as better descriptors for the golf experience. 
 
Gentle
Unpretentious
Sophisticated
Demanding
Contemporary
 
I have clearly enjoyed Sophisticated golf courses more in recent years, with lots of variety and requiring significant thought.  To me, Sophisticated means lots of factors to consider, such as wind, hazards, and contour.  I like complicated golf courses.  My enjoyment of Sophisticated golf courses grew in middle age, but may now be waning.  I only played my two club courses this year (and only 10 rounds total), and playing your home club is generally a Gentle experience.
 
Weaker players would desire Gentle golf courses, while better players are more likely to desire Demanding challenges.  That’s an additional factor to consider, not related directly to personality type.  However, one might suggest that musicians have additional demands for the music they listen to, though not necessarily for a Gentle or Demanding listening or playing experience.


Contemporary golf courses are wildly varied.  In this context Contemporary might represent new, popular golf courses, ranging from Sand Valley to Sand Hollow to Common Ground.  I like modern golf courses very much, but I feel that golf course design lost its way in the late 20th century.  Is there a component of Contemporary course design where certain personalities love and embrace the newest trends in golf?  Our group has overwhelmingly Sophisticated tastes.   
 
Finally, Unpretentious is the most important trait of a golf course for me.  Or conversely, pretentious golf architecture and maintenance is the worst thing.  Pretentiousness is manifested in many ways, and means different things to different people.  For me it means water hazards with waterfalls, or courses with impossible green to tee walks so that carts must be used.  For others it may mean overly contoured and difficult greens.  I simply despise self-conscious attempts to make something fancy, which is why I like minimalism in golf courses and all things golf.  I can’t stand overt attempts to try and convince me something is fancy and special.



Thanks.  I realize this is long and tangential to golf course study, but it’s a serious attempt to generate a little more discussion, and perhaps a different way to see golf architecture.  Every now and then I try to approach the subject from a different angle. 
 
 

Sean_A

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2018, 06:04:56 AM »
John

Thanks for your efforts!  I wonder if I am like others in thinking that when I read definitions/examples of the terms, I don't feel as though they apply very well to me.  My favourite courses tend to have elements of all you write of.  I don't even mind pretentious stuff if it means a course will be better without too much added cost. 

One interesting thing you mentioned was long walks being pretentious.  I never thought of something like dead walks in that way previously.  While I hate to be overly harsh about any archie because they have bosses like everybody else, but perhaps the idea of mega tees in the hope that all can equally enjoy (or even enjoy) a golf course is pretentious. I mean, the idea that just plopping tees everywhere solves the problems of playability without serious knock-on effects is a bit trendy, which in and of itself is somewhat prententious.

One question...what is unpretentious music?

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 06:06:39 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Minehead, St Medan, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Brad Wilbur

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2018, 09:53:03 AM »
Sean,
An example of unpretentious music, from my formative years, would be The Monkees.  My older brother couldn’t stand them, which made playing their music even more enjoyable for me. 

Peter Pallotta

Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2018, 10:05:00 AM »
Thanks, John. Fine post and positive addition to the discussion board.
I'm glad you get to experience both music & golf in such a rich, nuanced way. As subjective experiences go, they're two of the best. And plus: you can still shoot great scores.
For me, your thoughts aligned with/fed into the article on wabi-sabi that Tom posted. Together they served as a very good 'last word' on what most appeals to me in gca (and music, books and films), and why. 
best
P

Steve Kline

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2018, 10:46:53 AM »
So perhaps my fondness for the Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, Bruce Hornsby, and Joe Russo's Almost Dead - all in a live setting only with lots of improvisation - equates to my openness and fondness for quirk on a golf course as well as my tolerance for the occasional blunder or poorly designed/built feature.


Also, there are wide variety of musical styles - rock, bluegrass, jazz, country, Motown, gospel, etc. - played by just these four artists. I do like a variety of golf course styles.


Great post John!

John Kirk

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2018, 11:50:12 AM »
John

One interesting thing you mentioned was long walks being pretentious.  I never thought of something like dead walks in that way previously.  While I hate to be overly harsh about any archie because they have bosses like everybody else, but perhaps the idea of mega tees in the hope that all can equally enjoy (or even enjoy) a golf course is pretentious. I mean, the idea that just plopping tees everywhere solves the problems of playability without serious knock-on effects is a bit trendy, which in and of itself is somewhat prententious.

One question...what is unpretentious music?

Ciao
Hi Sean,

The study divides music into 21 genres, and the five factors (MUSIC) are weighted using a statistical analysis called "quartimin rotation", which I would have to study for a while before fully understanding.

The least pretentious musical genres are, in order: Pop, Country, Religious, Gospel and Soul/R&B.
The most pretentious musical genres are, in order: Heavy Metal, Funk, Reggae, Punk and Jazz.

According to Merriam-Webster, the two primary definitions of pretentious are:

a:  making unusually unjustified claims (as of value or standing).  Example:  A pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him.

b:  expressive of affected, unwarranted or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature.  Example:  Pretentious houses, pretentious language


I can look at a golf course that wends its way through a housing development, requiring a cart to play because of long green to tee transitions, and augmented by ponds and other attention getting gimmicks, as cheap crap designed to maximize profitability, or I can think of it as pretentious architecture.  It's actually both, a crappy golf course that tries hard to make itself look more important than it is.  At some fundamental level, a golf course that is unwalkable is a pretentious fraud.

In the following post, Tom D. asks whether this is really pretentious, and in retrospect I think this is a poor example.  -- JK
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 08:00:29 PM by John Kirk »

Tom_Doak

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2018, 12:20:53 PM »

I can look at a golf course that wends its way through a housing development, requiring a cart to play because of long green to tee transitions, and augmented by ponds and other attention getting gimmicks, as cheap crap designed to maximize profitability, or I can think of it as pretentious architecture.  It's actually both, a crappy golf course that tries hard to make itself look more important than it is.  At some fundamental level, a golf course that is unwalkable is a pretentious fraud.


I just look at housing-development golf as courses where golf is not the primary motivation.


Is there really a parallel in music?  Other than teenagers who get into music for reasons other than "to make music" ?

John Kirk

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2018, 12:40:02 PM »
Perhaps you're right.  And I certainly don't want to criticize architects with the task of building a course through a development, often with inferior land.  That's a hard job.

However, in my opinion, there exists pretentious golf architecture, usually in some form of excess. 

Sven Nilsen

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2018, 01:06:56 PM »

I can look at a golf course that wends its way through a housing development, requiring a cart to play because of long green to tee transitions, and augmented by ponds and other attention getting gimmicks, as cheap crap designed to maximize profitability, or I can think of it as pretentious architecture.  It's actually both, a crappy golf course that tries hard to make itself look more important than it is.  At some fundamental level, a golf course that is unwalkable is a pretentious fraud.


I just look at housing-development golf as courses where golf is not the primary motivation.


Is there really a parallel in music?  Other than teenagers who get into music for reasons other than "to make music" ?


See John Tesh's music career.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQlZ4cmff1s
"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

Rob Rigg

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2018, 01:15:27 PM »
John - What a wonderful thought provoking post - Thank you!
What always fascinated me about music growing up through the 80s and 90s was the introduction of many new genres to add to those that evolved in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Grunge, Hip Hop, Gangster Rap, Drum & Bass, Progressive House, Trance, etc. were inspired by the late 70s and 80s but had their short lived Golden Age in the 90s (according to many). What was interesting about growing up in that time period were the many different types of music "around" and the ability of course to immerse yourself in one genre or many. Music, and GCA, was really pushing the envelope through this period.

Each genre provides the listener with a different experience, not only in the sound but the social experience that one tends to obtain while in a group setting - Classical at Symphony, Jazz Band at a small club, Rock Band in a stadium, Irish band at a pub, Grunge in a venue where everyone is moshing, Prog House at a club, Trance at a lounge, etc. One or a couple of these probably appeal to each of us as ideal and those choices probably differ greatly.

With age, I've recently started to think of golf experiences in a similar way. They are a combination of the type of course that you are playing and the social dynamics of that experience, because the social experience - at least in the US - is often somewhat dictated by the course.

Spending a weekend at Sand Hills, Ballyneal, Bandon or Sand Valley has always struck me as both Unpretentious and Sophisticated - then depending on familiarity of the course there is a range between Gentle and Demanding. The course, and certainly their environment, provides a setting that is combined with the social interaction aspect of spending time on the property.  Those days/rounds are always very special.
Having the opportunity to play at an "exclusive" club provides a different experience, which is accentuated by the quality of the course itself in the eyes of the player. Maybe Sophisticated and Demanding (at least if you aren't used to living in that world regardless of the course itself?). Playing Chicago Golf Club was like a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a famous band in a small club with only 20 or 30 people there. Or to go to mass in a famous european cathedral and absorb the energy of the organ and the choir singing hymns in latin that you will never experience again so you savor every second of it.

Your local home course or a round at a public with your mates is the norm, something that you love, but a different experience again. One that is certainly very personal though. For some that could be a modern course where everyone is playing music in their carts (Contemporary Golf?), while for others it would wandering a classic track having a chat with friends (Mellow? Unpretentious?).

By and large it makes sense that the desire for Unpretentious and Sophisticated increased with age. We often experiment less as we get older and embrace that which is comfortable and familiar. Or seek out experiences that will reinforce that which we prefer already (like the trip to Scotland that I desperately need to take - LOL).

Thanks again for the original post - Provided much food for thought and, per usual, I had to go on a tangent.


Sean_A

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2018, 01:27:00 PM »
John

One interesting thing you mentioned was long walks being pretentious.  I never thought of something like dead walks in that way previously.  While I hate to be overly harsh about any archie because they have bosses like everybody else, but perhaps the idea of mega tees in the hope that all can equally enjoy (or even enjoy) a golf course is pretentious. I mean, the idea that just plopping tees everywhere solves the problems of playability without serious knock-on effects is a bit trendy, which in and of itself is somewhat prententious.

One question...what is unpretentious music?

Ciao
Hi Sean,

The study divides music into 21 genres, and the five factors (MUSIC) are weighted using a statistical analysis called "quartimin rotation", which I would have to study for a while before fully understanding.

The least pretentious musical genres are, in order: Pop, Country, Religious, Gospel and Soul/R&B.
The most pretentious musical genres are, in order: Heavy Metal, Funk, Reggae, Punk and Jazz.

According to Merriam-Webster, the two primary definitions of pretentious are:

a:  making unusually unjustified claims (as of value or standing).  Example:  A pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him.

b:  expressive of affected, unwarranted or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature.  Example:  Pretentious houses, pretentious language

I can look at a golf course that wends its way through a housing development, requiring a cart to play because of long green to tee transitions, and augmented by ponds and other attention getting gimmicks, as cheap crap designed to maximize profitability, or I can think of it as pretentious architecture.  It's actually both, a crappy golf course that tries hard to make itself look more important than it is.  At some fundamental level, a golf course that is unwalkable is a pretentious fraud.


Thanks John...though I find it hard to believe that any music genre can easily be labelled pretentious.  It seems to me pretension exists in all styles of music just as it does in all walks of life. 


And of course, music is far more open in terms of what is possible compared to architecture.  I have become more and more willing to see, hear and try different styles and types of music and architecture compared to previous decades.  The two may be connected in that my willingness to experiment is driven from boredom at what I have previously experienced.  That said, at least on the music side of things, the vast majority of what I hear is uninspiring and lacking in originality and talent.  That isn't surprising because that has been the case since records were invented...its just that now there is more to pour through.


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

Rick Lane

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2018, 02:06:56 PM »
Really interesting thread.   Thanks for the deep thoughts! 

I too, am a huge fan of the Dead, (mostly) structured but improvisational within the structure.....to me that's like playing a golf hole many different ways.   Today, I hit a good drive, and pulled my second shot, and had to chip on and try to make a 10 footer.   Tomorrow, a lousy drive, but then a cut driver off the deck!   Got it hole high and made birdie.   And on and on.  Infinite variety of experience just on one golf hole played many times. 

An artist playing the same "song" night after night but within that having thrills and spills and getting out on a ledge and not quite knowing if they can get back to the "1" on the root note.    Seems kinda the same to me.  Starting off playing a song with your band not quite knowing how its going to turn out, but willing to takes risks, is like teeing off on a beautiful morning with your mates, footprints in the dew, not knowing whats about to happen, but loving the possibilities. 

Peter Pallotta

Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2018, 02:22:47 PM »
It might come down to the musicians' (or architects') main intention.
Our concepts and judgments are just that - our own: at best 'second hand' as it were, and serving as our own form of (legitimate) creativity; but, as with all language, reflecting *a* reality, not *the* reality -- a subjective experience not an objective fact. 
But the work itself: I think we can sometimes tell right away what the creators' intentions were, e.g. to entertain us, or to express themselves; to share deeply held personal beliefs, or to mirror the collective ones; to inspire us, or to enrich themselves etc. (And then later, depending on who we are and what kind of mood we're in, we label it 'pretentious' or 'sophisticated' etc.)
On some rare occasions, all those differing intentions seem to come together beautifully & pull in the same direction. And then you get Charlie Parker, or The Who (or, from what I read, Dr. Mackenzie and Donald Ross).
P     

Edit: lovely post by Mark, below.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 02:42:05 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2018, 02:23:30 PM »
My musical taste is classical and it is a far bigger field from Machaut in the 14th century to the present day. I briefly thought of making a list of favourite composers and soon realised that it would have thousands of entries. I have a particular love for the music of Schubert. He wrote over 600 songs, about 450 of which are good and about 350 world class. He also wrote gorgeous chamber music (not as challenging as Beethoven) and lovely piano sonatas (again well behind Beethoven). Most of the rest of his music (symphonies, overtures, opera, part songs) don't trouble the scorers much, but I've left out the Unfinished Symphony which is a masterpiece, and already I'm in trouble. And, of course, he's also up against Haydn and Mozart as well as Beethoven we are but scratching the surface. And then there are people like Deodat de Severac who wrote one little piece (that I know of), a tiny, little church anthem, but it's a gem. Even people like Satie wrote some great music in with a lot of kitsch dross.


I had the advantage of having a 50-year career as a professional singer. I also had twenty magical years as a BBC producer working with great people such as the Amadeus Quartet, Alfred Brendel, Hans Hotter, Elisabeth Soderstrom, Vladimir Ashkenazy, with world class symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras. early music groups and ensembles and even a hurdy-gurdy player. Something rubs off. I made 3,000+ programmes with these people in my twenty years there. 95% of it was wonderful, only 5% of it rubbish.


I had the great pleasure of being in charge of the BBC Philharmonic when it played a Henze weekend at the Barbican with a young German conductor Marcus Stenz. I knew nothing of Henze's music to start with, but after I had done my preparations it made a huge impact on me. You can be surprised in so many ways, and, of course, that surprise has remained with me ever since.


So, I only sang the music of Machaut once, in a concert in Rome, yet it was the focus of a discussion I had with the (Rumanian) Professor of English at Bangor University only the other day. Actually we had met to discuss the poetry of Jordan Fantosme (much older than Machaut), and so it goes on. You never stop learning, yet how much have I forgotten!

Ira Fishman

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2018, 04:36:21 PM »
(A continuation of the J.C. Jones thread "Generational Tastes", introducing some research about music tastes, and attempting to make a connection with tastes in golf courses and golf experiences.) 



Golf course ranking and evaluation has improved since the lists of greatest golf courses were first introduced.  More people participate in the rankings, with far greater exposure to golf courses worthy of recognition.  Furthermore, the prosperity of modern society, combined with a better (or renewed) understanding of what makes golf great, has raised the bar of excellence.  For sophisticated golfers, there’s never been a better time to be a connoisseur of golf courses.
 
Still, golf course evaluation remains a poorly researched subject.  Much has been learned through discussion, but it’s too small a field to merit a serious, sociological analysis about what golfers like.  Sophisticated designers and businessmen dictate course architecture and maintenance practices.  The industry might benefit from a large study with a detailed questionnaire asking players what they want, along with a basic analysis of each participant’s personality.  Until that time, recent trends in design and maintenance seem headed in the right direction to me.
 
Some of you know I’ve devoted a lot of time to studying popular music in recent years.  An essential part of social life, musical tastes and preferences have been studied at length, and the advent of “big data” analysis enhances the ability to understand what people like and why.
 
Over the last year, I’ve been stuck with writer’s block on my music project.  I need to write a few paragraphs about the modest research I’ve done about musical preference, mostly to show that tastes are varied and personal. I thought I’d break the ice by using a few insights to open a discussion on golf course preferences.  Again.
 
The Adolescent Peak
 
In “The Songs That Bind” (New York Times, February 10, 2018), Seth Stephens-Davidowitz uses data searches he requested from Spotify to show that one’s lifetime  music tastes tend to peak at 13-14 years old.  There is some modest variance, but it’s a powerful rule of thumb.  (In my case, there is a clear preference for music recorded between 1963 and 1973, when I was 5-15 years old)
 
The only way this fact might relate to golf might be a special fondness for golf courses played in one’s youth.  Age is a weak determinant of what golf courses we like best, but that might be more a matter of having greater opportunities in adulthood.
 
Personality Traits
 
In “Music Preferences and the Adolescent Brain: A Review of Literature” (National Association for Music Education, 2016, Vol. 35), Karen S. Walker discusses the connection between music tastes and personality type, and how music tastes serve as a means of identification to others for social purposes:
 
“Many teenagers identify with others who like similar music and tend to group themselves accordingly.  Social cliques are often formed in high school among teens with similar music preferences.  For example, teens who prefer heavy metal music are more likely to socialize with those who have similar tastes, as opposed to socializing with teens who prefer different styles, such as jazz music.  Many teens feel a strong need to fit in and be accepted socially, so their musical preferences may change depending on their social situation.”--  Karen S. Walker
 
Is taste in golf courses related to one’s social group?  I would say yes, to an extent, and add there exists some groupthink within golfing cliques.  GCA members tend to find friends within our group, which likely has some influence on their evaluation of courses and architects.  People tend to divide up by political affiliation, their social tendencies and by general professional careers.  And people are highly influenced by their trusted friends.  My best friends here tend to be nerdy and introverted, with most in engineering fields.  People find their own tribe.  For instance, do I favor modern courses and clubs over the classic Golden Age courses, because I have a thin resume and lack the political savvy to receive an invitation to a prestigious golf club?  At the same time, I find a significant part of golf club culture to be pretentious.  It’s a fine line between a resentment of the social hierarchy, and feeling left out.
 
The Big Study
 
By far, the most interesting and relevant study on musical tastes is “Music Through The Ages:  Trends in Musical Engagement and Preference From Adolescence Through Middle Adulthood”, published in July, 2013 by three British psychologists from Cambridge and one American scientist in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  A large study of over a quarter million people, the study compares musical preferences with both personality characteristics and age.  It’s a remarkable piece of work, and I felt some of the conclusions were relevant to our study of golf courses.
 
I will only include data I feel is relevant to GCA.   
 
First of all, music preferences were divided into five dimensions, cleverly using the five letters of the word “MUSIC”.
 
Mellow
Unpretentious
Sophisticated
Intense
Contemporary
 
These five dimensions of musical preference were correlated with 23 musical genres, as well as five personality types (The Big Five Inventory):
 
Extraversion
Agreeableness
Conscientiousness
Emotional Stability
Openness
 
The study followed participants for up to eight years, and were therefore able to make some strong judgments about age and musical preference.
 
1.  A desire for Unpretentious and/or Sophisticated music increased with age.
2.  A desire for Intense and/or Contemporary music decreased with age.
3.  The desire for Mellow music increases until age 25 or so, then decreases to age 55, and then begin to increase again.
 
With regards to personality traits:
 
4.  Mellow music correlates highly with Openness.
5.  Unpretentious music correlates to a moderate degree of Extraversion, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness.
6.  Sophisticated music correlates highly Openness.
7.  Intense music also correlates highly with Openness, but also to those with a low degree of Conscientiousness.
8.  Contemporary music correlates with Extraversion, which makes sense.  If you are extroverted and want to be sociable with others, it is sensible to like what is new and hip to establish one’s social credentials.
 
“By middle adulthood (age 40-65), the psychological stage that individuals face is the challenge of developing a career, raising a family, and maintaining friendships.  Preferences for Unpretentious and Sophisticated music were highest during this life stage.  Both music dimensions are perceived as positive and relaxing, but whereas Unpretentious is more simple and about themes of love and family, Sophisticated is more complex and indicative of high culture.  Thus, the relaxing and familial themes of Unpretentious music may be appealing among individuals preoccupied with the challenge of establishing social status and career success.”

Bonneville-Roussey, Xu, Rentfrow, Potter, 2013
 
Discussion
 
The five dimensions of musical preference closely parallel what is needed for a discussion of golf course preference.  In fact, only the Mellow and Intense categories are worth considering a change to reflect the ease or difficulty of play.  Unpretentious, Sophisticated and Contemporary are easily translated into styles of golf course design.  What one regards as Unpretentious or Sophisticated may vary.
 
Golf courses can be Mellow or Intense in terms of the physical and mental demands.  Even a flatter course with short green to tee walks might be a very Intense playing experience (Pinehurst #2, for example).  A golf course with challenging play tee-to-green play, while possessing gentle greens with uncomplicated short game play, might be regarded as enough of a mental break to be considered a Mellow playing experience.  Intense golf might be about the walk, or the relentless mental demands.  Pasatiempo is a course in my golfing sphere that is an Intense experience.


I’m going to change the terminology to Gentle and Demanding as better descriptors for the golf experience. 
 
Gentle
Unpretentious
Sophisticated
Demanding
Contemporary
 
I have clearly enjoyed Sophisticated golf courses more in recent years, with lots of variety and requiring significant thought.  To me, Sophisticated means lots of factors to consider, such as wind, hazards, and contour.  I like complicated golf courses.  My enjoyment of Sophisticated golf courses grew in middle age, but may now be waning.  I only played my two club courses this year (and only 10 rounds total), and playing your home club is generally a Gentle experience.
 
Weaker players would desire Gentle golf courses, while better players are more likely to desire Demanding challenges.  That’s an additional factor to consider, not related directly to personality type.  However, one might suggest that musicians have additional demands for the music they listen to, though not necessarily for a Gentle or Demanding listening or playing experience.


Contemporary golf courses are wildly varied.  In this context Contemporary might represent new, popular golf courses, ranging from Sand Valley to Sand Hollow to Common Ground.  I like modern golf courses very much, but I feel that golf course design lost its way in the late 20th century.  Is there a component of Contemporary course design where certain personalities love and embrace the newest trends in golf?  Our group has overwhelmingly Sophisticated tastes.   
 
Finally, Unpretentious is the most important trait of a golf course for me.  Or conversely, pretentious golf architecture and maintenance is the worst thing.  Pretentiousness is manifested in many ways, and means different things to different people.  For me it means water hazards with waterfalls, or courses with impossible green to tee walks so that carts must be used.  For others it may mean overly contoured and difficult greens.  I simply despise self-conscious attempts to make something fancy, which is why I like minimalism in golf courses and all things golf.  I can’t stand overt attempts to try and convince me something is fancy and special.



Thanks.  I realize this is long and tangential to golf course study, but it’s a serious attempt to generate a little more discussion, and perhaps a different way to see golf architecture.  Every now and then I try to approach the subject from a different angle.


John,


I am quoting your entire first post because as insightful as the exploring the analogies to music have been, I am at least equally interested in the potential cross walks to age and personality types.


I find your definitions of Unpretentious and Sophisticated GCA very close to how I would have defined them, and I too have found myself drawn more to both as I have gotten older.  By the music categories though, I should be Extroverted, Agreeable, and Conscientious plus Open.  I am quite Conscientious and pretty Open, but not very Extroverted  and definitely not Agreeable.


If you do not mind sharing, how would your characterize your character and does it match up to your tastes in music and gca?


Thanks for a great thread.


Ira
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 07:33:09 PM by Ira Fishman »

John Kirk

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2018, 07:43:19 PM »
Hi Ira,

I went ahead and took the personality test this afternoon, to see how I would be characterized.

I scored pretty highly on Openness and Conscientiousness.  The San Francisco Bay Area, where I was raised, may be exceptional for its openness, at least when I raised there.

I scored in the middle on Extraversion.  I think of myself as an introvert, but in some ways I am very sociable.

I scored in the middle on Agreeableness.  I can be a little crabby, a bit disagreeable.  This should be common among those of us who evaluate things with a critical eye.


There it is, since you asked.  Let's pivot quickly back to the topic at hand.


As far as my own music tastes, I tend to like traditional forms of popular music, with clearly sung lyrics and notable musicianship.  Unlike Mark Rowlinson, my music interests cover almost everything except classical and opera music, with a elderly person's disdain for modern popular music.  Variety and skill are key factors for me, though sometimes the simplest songs can be moving.  People listen to a lot of music.  In the study of over 250,000 music listeners, the youngsters averaged about 20 hours per week, while older adults still listened to 12+ hours per week.  I've evolved on the subject enough to believe that each person creates his/her own music palette, and adding new songs is like filling holes in their musical education.  Some people just want to hear different versions of the same kind of music, but for me it's a giant rabbit hole of discovery, searching to find another good song.
The greatest contributors to this site tend to be those who apply that philosophy to golf courses.  More responses tomorrow.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 06:37:24 AM by John Kirk »

John Kirk

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2018, 08:02:55 PM »
My musical taste is classical and it is a far bigger field from Machaut in the 14th century to the present day. I briefly thought of making a list of favourite composers and soon realised that it would have thousands of entries. I have a particular love for the music of Schubert. He wrote over 600 songs, about 450 of which are good and about 350 world class. He also wrote gorgeous chamber music (not as challenging as Beethoven) and lovely piano sonatas (again well behind Beethoven). Most of the rest of his music (symphonies, overtures, opera, part songs) don't trouble the scorers much, but I've left out the Unfinished Symphony which is a masterpiece, and already I'm in trouble. And, of course, he's also up against Haydn and Mozart as well as Beethoven we are but scratching the surface. And then there are people like Deodat de Severac who wrote one little piece (that I know of), a tiny, little church anthem, but it's a gem. Even people like Satie wrote some great music in with a lot of kitsch dross.


I had the advantage of having a 50-year career as a professional singer. I also had twenty magical years as a BBC producer working with great people such as the Amadeus Quartet, Alfred Brendel, Hans Hotter, Elisabeth Soderstrom, Vladimir Ashkenazy, with world class symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras. early music groups and ensembles and even a hurdy-gurdy player. Something rubs off. I made 3,000+ programmes with these people in my twenty years there. 95% of it was wonderful, only 5% of it rubbish.


I had the great pleasure of being in charge of the BBC Philharmonic when it played a Henze weekend at the Barbican with a young German conductor Marcus Stenz. I knew nothing of Henze's music to start with, but after I had done my preparations it made a huge impact on me. You can be surprised in so many ways, and, of course, that surprise has remained with me ever since.


So, I only sang the music of Machaut once, in a concert in Rome, yet it was the focus of a discussion I had with the (Rumanian) Professor of English at Bangor University only the other day. Actually we had met to discuss the poetry of Jordan Fantosme (much older than Machaut), and so it goes on. You never stop learning, yet how much have I forgotten!
Hi Mark,
Thanks for sharing your fond memories.

Ira Fishman

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2018, 08:15:59 AM »
John,


Thanks for the fulsome and honest reply regarding personality characteristics.  Like you I consider myself to have a fairly high degree of Emotional Stability, but also like you, found that turning 60 last year had a bigger impact on sense of self than prior birthdays or even life milestones.


As to Music, two from the Unpretentious list (Country and R&B/Soul) and one from the Sophisticated list (Jazz).  And those tastes do indeed reflect my preferences in golf courses.


Thanks again,


Ira

JHoulihan

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2018, 12:43:27 PM »
John,


Your question has sparked replies but I have a few questions.
1. When doing some research (quantitative vs qualitative) you must measure variables so that they can be compared. Are the studies you cited above qualitative (stories but no numeric value) only?
2. Is it imperative that during both quantitative and qualitative studies that the items being studied or measured are clearly defined...or is the job of the participant to define each term on their own?


I just find it a difficult task to compare 5 terms (gentle, unpretentious, sophisticated, demanding, contemporary) especially when each term has quite a spectrum of unwritten meaning to each participant.


If you had to split golf into 5 categories of study, are these the 5 you would choose, or would you switch one or more? Maybe swap a category that many here including me have become more attracted to lately ...FUN.


Justin

John Kirk

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2018, 01:16:01 PM »
After a night of excess rumination, mixed with the dread of excess self-analysis, I'm going to take one more crack at generational tastes.

First of all, let me revisit some general characteristics of golf courses, perhaps an improvement over the opening post.

Golf courses can be evaluated by:
Mental Challenge (scoring difficulty)
Physical Challenge
Aesthetic Beauty
Sophistication
Pretentiousness
Contemporary?

The first three pretty much cover all aspects of golf.  My theory is that one's enjoyment of golf is based on 1) how enjoyable the shots are?, and 2) how enjoyable is the walk?.  For me, the walk is very important, as I tend to spend a fair amount of time with my "head in the clouds" — looking at the scenery, watching for birds and wildlife, and generally checking out from golf until the next shot.

In my opinion, the greatest golf courses transition seamlessly into the native environment they reside.  Any aspect of the golf course that conflicts with the native environment is jarring to the senses.  That's why artificial water hazards, especially ponds, are offensive to the eye, and this doesn't even consider the discontinuity of the game when a player has to "put his hands on the golf ball".  Even worse may be waterfalls or loudly running streams that produce white noise discordant with nature.

Containment mounding is another good example of offensive golf design.  We have two courses at my home club.  The public course, Ghost Creek (Pumpkin Ridge) is a wonderful place to play, but has an odd opening and closing sequence where holes 1, 9 and 10 parallel one another, and are separated by 10-15 foot high man-made ridges (and some artificial water features to boot).  One reason given for the ridges was that of safety, but in many ways the ridges make it more dangerous, because you can't keep track of the players on adjacent fairways.  Once again, a visually jarring, unnatural looking part of the course.  It would have been really cool to have this part of the course be a wide playing field where cooperation between groups was sometimes required.

In each case, I find these types of hazards unsophisticated and pretentious.  When an architect introduces features that conflict with nature, it looks wrong, and is therefore unsophisticated.  To know that you are creating something that conflicts with nature is pretentious.  Sorry to be a stickler, but unless you have natural water features, golf is best played on grass and sand, with native trees and shrubs.  Nature is far more sophisticated in its choices, and has decided, over hundreds or thousands of years, what works best.

I'm not sure contemporary works in context with golf courses.  I tend to be a champion of new golf courses.  Much of my golf life has been lived at Pumpkin Ridge, which i joined when it opened, and at Bandon Dunes, which helped open the door for the more complex game of playing golf on firm turf in a wind environment.  Brand new courses are also fun because they have superb playing surfaces that tend to deteriorate, at least until they get better again over time.  But the contemporary factor in music appeals to sociable people who want to be hip and to enjoy the latest trends.  In golf, opportunity for enjoying the hip new course in golf is so limited, and over the years, various trends have come and gone, returning to the Golden Age principles of design.

Over the years, my tastes in golf courses have certainly become more sophisticated, and I am a good enough player to play challenging courses.  As I get older, it seems natural that playing difficult courses, with difficult walks or difficult weather conditions, will become less appealing.  More mellow and less intense seems to be the direction I'm headed.  I hardly played any golf this year; it's not certain I will continue to play.


Did I ever care about what's hip in golf design?  I certainly enjoyed following the career of my favorite architects, and relished the opportunities to play their courses.  They are so good at what they do, and the courses were almost always a thrill to play.  10-15 years ago, I was more the golf course snob, who evangelized regularly about what makes golf great, to the sometimes vacant nods of my friends at home. 


Hi JHoulihan,

The big music study used a questionnaire which correlated musical tastes to personality traits using a seven point scale to judge how much each participant liked the 23 music genres.

When it comes to golf, I am proposing in this thread a parallel framework for the sake of discussion, but what might work best is a questionnaire that asks people what kinds of shots they like to hit, what type of speeds and breaks they like to see when putting, how comfortable they are with bunker shots of various depths, etc. As I said before, the architects seem to have most of this under control, creating beautiful new or remodeled courses.    Extreme is out; moderate, toned down designs are in.   :D   
« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 05:24:55 PM by John Kirk »

Kalen Braley

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #20 on: October 30, 2018, 02:05:12 PM »
John,

This is a terrific thread topic and has me thinking about things I never considered with respect to golf courses...thanks for taking the time to think this thru and craft it together.

The one word I'm getting hung up on though is Pretentiousness. As the definition doesn't help to clarify much in this context, the synonyms have provided better meaning.  Merriam shows words like arrogant, cavalier, haughty, high and mighty, etc. And when I think about containment mounding or dug-out ponds that's not what comes to mind, but words that do are unoriginal, unimaginative, overused, artificial, fake, cheap, tacky, etc.

For me, Pretentiousness found on or near a course are more like:  Overbuilt clubhouse, snotty pro shop guys, forecaddies, fancy towels, luxury carts, exotic tee markers, in ground rake holders, etc, 
« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 03:40:31 PM by Kalen Braley »

Thomas Dai

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #21 on: October 30, 2018, 02:41:19 PM »
I've not thought of pretentiousness in terms of golf Clubs and courses before, probably should have, but now it's been highlighted I reckon it's a great way of describing some Clubs and courses.
The P-Scale, as in "So and so a Club is a 7 on the Pretentiousness Scale."
And things like overbuilt clubhouses, over-manicured courses, snotty members and staff and a general air of 'up their own backside' would certainly be factors in the awarding of a higher P-Scale rating.
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Peter Pallotta

Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2018, 03:15:53 PM »
John - indeed a fine thread, and I'm enjoying your thoughts very much. But they are challenging for me -- ironically, perhaps, more now than they would've been 3 or 4 or 5 years ago, both in personal & theoretical terms. (A musical aside: Charles Mingus was once asked why he seemed so angry. He answered that it was frustration, with his music: 'I'm trying to express my self. That's hard enough -- but it's even harder when the 'self' I'm trying to express keeps changing!')
If a musical work or a golf course isn't immediately accessible (ie easy to understand and appreciate) to a wide range of listeners or golfers, is it 'pretentious'? And the most understated and subtle C&C golf course (or tune by The Modern Jazz Quarter) imaginable: is it 'sophisticated' for those very reasons?
And whatever words we might use: did those architects and musicians *intend* their work to be perceived that way, or were they simply expressing their *own* tastes and talents honestly and simply?
(And is that in itself an act of non-populist creativity, this serving of one's own tastes instead of the collectives'?)
You've played a lot of Tom D's courses, built on various kinds of sites: is The Loop more 'sophisticated' than Pacific Dunes because it is less spectacular, or is the notion of a reversible course more 'pretentious' than the homage of/at Old Macdonald?
(A gca aside: from reading Tom's posts all these years, I'm guessing he wouldn't intend any such thing or use any such terms; he's just trying to do what he believes is 'good work', and would probably describe it in that way.)
Anyway: I didn't intend to have a post full of questions, but that's pretty much all I have. I think the more one embraces the subjective experience (without trying too hard or all the time to find language to communicate it with) the more one can see & appreciate that 'subjectivity' all around -- but it sure takes some getting used to (at least for me it does).
Finally: are you and everyone who has posted on this thread being 'pretentious' to even raise and discuss such thoughts? I've gotten to know you a bit, and in your case I'd answer "no"; it's simply and honestly the way you think and like to think. But I'm told there are many here who'd say exactly that about you/us/this thread -- a case of subjective worlds colliding.
Best, hope all is well
Peter


« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 05:11:01 PM by Peter Pallotta »

John Kirk

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2018, 07:16:04 PM »
(An aside:  Is anybody else having a tough time with paragraph spacing?)
Hi Peter,

I have to bring the definition of "pretentious" down here for an easy reference.

According to Merriam-Webster, the two primary definitions of pretentious are:

a:  making unusually unjustified claims (as of value or standing).  Example:  A pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him.

b:  expressive of affected, unwarranted or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature.  Example:  Pretentious houses, pretentious language


I've painted myself into a corner, and could be accused of trying to be important by attempting this thread, without really knowing what I'm talking about.  Fortunately, I'm making no claims as to my expertise.  It's hard to generate novel conversation, and my efforts in the last few years are hit and miss.


Peter, I don't think any of the three courses mentioned (Old Macdonald, Pacific Dunes, The Loop) are pretentious designs.  If I had to pick one, it would be Old Macdonald, for having the audacity to build a tribute to a famous architect.   But as JHoulihan suggests as a core quality for golf courses, it's fun to play, which is the best compliment a course can receive.  All three courses are built with minimum earth movement, and few if any unnecessary hazards.  They lay on land well contoured for golf.  They are all great places to play, with The Loop being particularly clever, devoid of any extra features that might negatively impact play in the opposite direction.


I'll take a shot at pretentious golf design one last time, swinging for the fences.  Is there any sport where men moved more dirt in order to play a game?  Has there ever been a sport played on land inhospitable to the game played on it?  Is it pretentious to build courses that require all that work?  Perhaps pretentious is the wrong word, and arrogant or grandiose is a better choice.

Name another sport that has decided it's OK to eliminate the primary exercise aspect of the game.


Every unwalkable design is pretentious and arrogant, under the definition "unwarranted or exaggerated importance".  A true golf competition as dictated by the USGA and the R&A cannot be played on an unwalkable golf course.  Lots of people can't walk a full round of golf because they are old, or they didn't take care of themselves, usually due to poor diet or overuse injuries.  There's a big market for carts and unwalkable golf courses, but it's not really golf.


My prediction into the future (20-50 years) is the closing of almost all unwalkable courses, plus many courses in inhospitable or remote regions.  The world will not be able to afford the energy to support them.  Conversely, people will be walking and playing tightly routed courses will be around for a long time.  Cart golf will be for the über-rich.

Clearly, some architectural features like waterfalls are ostentatious.  For other less egregious examples of course construction it's a gray area for what constitutes pretentious design.

Last thing:  The premise of the JC Jones thread "Generational Tastes" asked:
"So, who is right?  The golfers of the 60s-90s, or the golfers of today?  How could previous generations have been so wrong as to miss a seemingly clear top 10 course?"
Two thoughts.  First, earlier golfers, especially until the early to mid-1980s, played a significantly different game, where the ball spun less and didn't go as far.  Two generations ago, the players would likely be more critical of a course which discouraged balls from bouncing onto a green.  Just a speculation.

Second, I think the big change is the modernization of the rating panels and system.  I'm going to talk about our friend Tom Doak as if he's not here.  I can't remember if he started the Golf Magazine panel, or just took it over.  Regardless, his presence coincides with the contemporary consensus view of great golf courses.  Tom's desire to create an accurate, comprehensive list of best American courses seems to have revolutionized this exercise.  In general, Golf Magazine's top 100 lists identified the best courses a few years before the two other major American lists (Golf Digest and Golfweek) followed suit.  Not only is Tom a daring and successful architect, he's the most important evaluator of golf courses in modern history.  Which is great, because evaluating golf courses is really fun. 


Back to my buddy Peter,

I enjoyed the Charles Mingus anecdote.  I don't know that much about music either, but I've got a nice list of songs.  I learn about the best music the same way I learn about golf courses — by reading what the experts have to say.

Sean_A

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Re: Generational Tastes, Part 2
« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2018, 05:04:15 AM »
(An aside:  Is anybody else having a tough time with paragraph spacing?)
Hi Peter,

I have to bring the definition of "pretentious" down here for an easy reference.

According to Merriam-Webster, the two primary definitions of pretentious are:

a:  making unusually unjustified claims (as of value or standing).  Example:  A pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him.

b:  expressive of affected, unwarranted or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature.  Example:  Pretentious houses, pretentious language


I've painted myself into a corner, and could be accused of trying to be important by attempting this thread, without really knowing what I'm talking about.  Fortunately, I'm making no claims as to my expertise.  It's hard to generate novel conversation, and my efforts in the last few years are hit and miss.


Peter, I don't think any of the three courses mentioned (Old Macdonald, Pacific Dunes, The Loop) are pretentious designs.  If I had to pick one, it would be Old Macdonald, for having the audacity to build a tribute to a famous architect.   But as JHoulihan suggests as a core quality for golf courses, it's fun to play, which is the best compliment a course can receive.  All three courses are built with minimum earth movement, and few if any unnecessary hazards.  They lay on land well contoured for golf.  They are all great places to play, with The Loop being particularly clever, devoid of any extra features that might negatively impact play in the opposite direction.


I'll take a shot at pretentious golf design one last time, swinging for the fences.  Is there any sport where men moved more dirt in order to play a game?  Has there ever been a sport played on land inhospitable to the game played on it?  Is it pretentious to build courses that require all that work?  Perhaps pretentious is the wrong word, and arrogant or grandiose is a better choice.

Name another sport that has decided it's OK to eliminate the primary exercise aspect of the game.


Every unwalkable design is pretentious and arrogant, under the definition "unwarranted or exaggerated importance".  A true golf competition as dictated by the USGA and the R&A cannot be played on an unwalkable golf course.  Lots of people can't walk a full round of golf because they are old, or they didn't take care of themselves, usually due to poor diet or overuse injuries.  There's a big market for carts and unwalkable golf courses, but it's not really golf.


My prediction into the future (20-50 years) is the closing of almost all unwalkable courses, plus many courses in inhospitable or remote regions.  The world will not be able to afford the energy to support them.  Conversely, people will be walking and playing tightly routed courses will be around for a long time.  Cart golf will be for the über-rich.

Clearly, some architectural features like waterfalls are ostentatious.  For other less egregious examples of course construction it's a gray area for what constitutes pretentious design.

Last thing:  The premise of the JC Jones thread "Generational Tastes" asked:
"So, who is right?  The golfers of the 60s-90s, or the golfers of today?  How could previous generations have been so wrong as to miss a seemingly clear top 10 course?"
Two thoughts.  First, earlier golfers, especially until the early to mid-1980s, played a significantly different game, where the ball spun less and didn't go as far.  Two generations ago, the players would likely be more critical of a course which discouraged balls from bouncing onto a green.  Just a speculation.

Second, I think the big change is the modernization of the rating panels and system.  I'm going to talk about our friend Tom Doak as if he's not here.  I can't remember if he started the Golf Magazine panel, or just took it over.  Regardless, his presence coincides with the contemporary consensus view of great golf courses.  Tom's desire to create an accurate, comprehensive list of best American courses seems to have revolutionized this exercise.  In general, Golf Magazine's top 100 lists identified the best courses a few years before the two other major American lists (Golf Digest and Golfweek) followed suit.  Not only is Tom a daring and successful architect, he's the most important evaluator of golf courses in modern history.  Which is great, because evaluating golf courses is really fun. 


Back to my buddy Peter,

I enjoyed the Charles Mingus anecdote.  I don't know that much about music either, but I've got a nice list of songs.  I learn about the best music the same way I learn about golf courses — by reading what the experts have to say.

John

Thanks for the explanation, however, I still fail to see how golf courses can be pretentious.  I am reminded of the Doak 0 in this case.  The concept, which may really boil down pretentious as the definition of a 0, is extremely polarizing at best...myopic at worst.  I could even go so far as to say the idea of riding isn't golf is pretentious.   8)  That said, I too think that in my dotage unwalkable courses in far flung locations will come under pressure.  I think much of how we think of golf today will come under pressure and that less (far less) inputs, smaller land and smaller holes will be better.

Rating panels, maybe you are right and they are more sophisticated.  The system certainly portrays itself as more sophisticated and that could well be the most pretentious behaviour of all.  Living in an outpost of rating, I don't meet many raters and rarely discuss the nuts and bolts of rating with the few panellists I do meet.     

Finally, as an uneducated lover of music and golf, I learn the most about both through experience.  Experts can teach the language and the context of each subject, but they cannot teach appreciation nor admiration.  I learn this by trial and error.

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

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