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Sven Nilsen

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #50 on: November 08, 2022, 03:55:33 PM »
We now know that Pine Valley emerged from Colt's 1913 visit.


And here's the crux of the issue.  Pine Valley was in the works prior to Colt's involvement, and there are a slew of other names who influenced Crump (Fowler, MacDonald, Travis, etc.) or contributed to the final product (Tillinghast, Flynn, Toomey, Wilson and Maxwell).


The way you describe just doesn't tell the whole story.
"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

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #51 on: November 08, 2022, 04:00:59 PM »
We now know that Pine Valley emerged from Colt's 1913 visit.

And here's the crux of the issue.  Pine Valley was in the works prior to Colt's involvement, and there are a slew of other names who influenced Crump (Fowler, MacDonald, Travis, etc.) or contributed to the final product (Tillinghast, Flynn, Toomey, Wilson and Maxwell).

The way you describe just doesn't tell the whole story.


Of course this is true. PV would have happened without Colt. But it is fair to ask what it would have been like.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #52 on: November 08, 2022, 04:13:21 PM »
Where did we ever get to with the great blue line/red line drawing debate?
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

John Challenger

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #53 on: November 08, 2022, 04:17:45 PM »
Thanks Marty! Let's not get thread-jack this into the whole PV morass.

Sven Nilsen

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #54 on: November 08, 2022, 04:20:00 PM »
We now know that Pine Valley emerged from Colt's 1913 visit.

And here's the crux of the issue.  Pine Valley was in the works prior to Colt's involvement, and there are a slew of other names who influenced Crump (Fowler, MacDonald, Travis, etc.) or contributed to the final product (Tillinghast, Flynn, Toomey, Wilson and Maxwell).

The way you describe just doesn't tell the whole story.


Of course this is true. PV would have happened without Colt. But it is fair to ask what it would have been like.


Adam, that's not the point. 


No one is trying to undersell Colt or his influence at PV or elsewhere.  And I don't think, as John has asserted, any of us around here think his visits to the US didn't have an impact or have "been hiding in plain sight." 


Just like the Golden Age itself, PV had many players.
"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

Tom_Doak

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #55 on: November 08, 2022, 07:15:04 PM »

No one is trying to undersell Colt or his influence at PV or elsewhere.  And I don't think, as John has asserted, any of us around here think his visits to the US didn't have an impact or have "been hiding in plain sight." 



I will say, it never really occurred to me that Colt's influence on golf design in America was nearly as important as Ross's or MacKenzie's or Tillinghast's.  I came to that idea mostly on the basis of volume.


But I will agree that the impact of personal connections is very important, and trumps the common belief that certain courses have an outsized impact on what everyone else is building.


In the modern era, it's some of both.  Sand Hills is not nearly as influential as people say it is, because there aren't many other properties where you can build a course like that.  However, the "frilly bunkers" at Sand Hills and Pacific Dunes have been much-imitated by designers in the past 20 years, just like the waste bunkers and island greens of the TPC at Sawgrass were copy-catted by Jack Nicklaus, Arthur Hills, and others in the 1980's and 90's.


By the same token, the fact that Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and I have been friends for decades, and so many of the people we've worked with have gotten to know each other and work together, has been a big impact on a lot of courses in this era.  I'd like to think that depth of understanding is more important than the frilly bunkers others copy.

John Challenger

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #56 on: November 08, 2022, 10:13:06 PM »
Tom, What you say makes sense. Colt did not have much volume in North America. WW1 saw to that. Colt did come to North America with the message that copying even the best features and holes of other courses, i.e. template holes, was wrongheaded. It can't have been all wrong because that design philosophy became the underpinning for some of the greatest courses ever built.

When Harry Colt arrived in Chicago in April of 1913, the April issue of "Golf" had just been published. The Editor of "Golf" was Max Behr, who later authored his famous essays laying out his ideas on "permanent architecture" and "hiding the architect's hand." It was the rival magazine to Walter Travis' American Golfer.

Everybody in the golf world in North America - architects, intellectuals, constructors, golf club board members, and golfers - read these two magazines from cover to cover. Behr was an excellent golfer who had lost twice in the finals of the New Jersey Amateur in 1907 and 1908  to Jerry Travers. It seems likely that Max Behr leaned towards Philadelphia and Walter Travis towards Long Island. After the Amateur Championship in 1904, Travis was not enamored of the British and, as mentioned in an earlier post, he was aligned with Ross. Is it possible that Colt was forced on Ross, who had previously visited Old Elm (and Glen View Club) in February 1913, and on Crump by the persuasion of his friends? Perhaps, Colt hoped Ross or even Crump might be a good partner and collaborator in North America, but it was not to be. Too bad he didn't find Stanley Thompson when he was in Canada.

In his April 1913 issue, Behr chose for his long lead article, "Golf Architecture" by the Englishman Harry Colt. The second installment appears as the lead article in the May 1913 issue. The timing of the two articles coincides exactly with the dates of Colt's groundbreaking North American journey which started in April at Old Elm in Chicago and ended in May at Pine Valley in New Jersey.

During Colt's time in North America in 1913, his ideas about golf course architecture would have been on everyone's mind. Max Behr, who went to Lawrencevile in New Jersey, would have known everybody in the Philadelphia and New Jersey golf world. No wonder Colt found his way to Pine Valley.

There is one photo that precedes Colt's April article captioned "Humps and hollows at Mid-Surrey." Colt addresses these humps and hollows immediately; "now we have what is known as the Alpinization of courses, and the few rough mounds which have been made for many years past develop into continuous ranges on every new course. A good idea is worn threadbare in next to no time in golf course construction." It seems to be a distant echo of what you said about frilly bunkers, waste bunkers and island greens.

Colt addresses CB's template philosophy and then distills his own in this lucid and modest statement. "The attempt at reproducing well-known holes with hopelessly different materials is the most futile nonsense of the lot. How often have I seen a piece ground suitable for a good short hole spoilt by a silly attempt at reproducing the 11th hole at St. Andrews (this is the Eden hole). No; I firmly believe that the only means whereby an attractive piece of ground can be turned into a satisfying golf course is to work to the natural features of the site in question. Develop them if necessary, but not too much; and if there are many nice features, leave them alone as far as possible, but utilize them to their fullest extent, and eventually there will be a chance of obtaining a course with individual character of an impressive nature."

It seems like the great architects of today, you and Bill and Ben and Gil and others, and Pete, are descendants of Harry Colt more than C.B. MacDonald. To whatever degree the Oxcam design ideas that Colt developed and put into the dirt around the world and for a brief moment in North America were not lost in the fog and disintegration of time, perhaps they returned triumphant to inhabit the Second Golden Age.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2022, 07:57:33 AM by John Challenger »

Tom_Doak

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #57 on: November 09, 2022, 08:16:53 AM »

It seems like the great architects of today, you and Bill and Ben and Gil and others, and Pete, are descendants of Harry Colt more than C.B. MacDonald. To whatever degree the Oxcam design ideas that Colt developed and put into the dirt around the world and for a brief moment in North America were not lost in the fog and disintegration of time, perhaps they returned triumphant to inhabit the Second Golden Age.


Now you're telling me what my own influences are?  C'mon, man.


I believe the biggest influence on Ben Crenshaw was C.B. Macdonald.  That's whose work he talks about the most.


Both Bill and I would credit Pete Dye for teaching us how to build golf courses, but I don't think either of us would say he was the biggest influence, stylistically.  For me, it was Alister MacKenzie.  For Bill, it is Perry Maxwell.  For that matter, I heard Pete more than once describe the influence of Donald Ross on his work, and also Seth Raynor and MacKenzie and Maxwell and even Bill Langford, but I never heard him mention Colt as an influence.


That's not to say we don't admire (and borrow from) the works of many different architects, from Old Tom Morris to Mr. Dye.  We do.  And our work has evolved over time; mine looks less like MacKenzie's than it used to.  But if you grew up in America, Harry Colt is probably not going to be your main influence.

John Challenger

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #58 on: November 09, 2022, 09:14:49 AM »
Tom, Forgive me...just reached too far!

Niall C

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #59 on: November 09, 2022, 04:30:49 PM »
John


It seems to me you are trying hard to show Colt's visit as a eureka moment for gca in the US and in the process almost discounting what went before. Can I suggest that you look up an old thread on here on the Oxford Cambridge Tour to the US in 1903. There is some great stuff from Bob Crosby and others on Low etc. That thread alone will show you the connections running between the two countries, that were long established before Colt arrived in the US.


Niall 

John Challenger

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #60 on: November 09, 2022, 09:16:57 PM »
Thanks Niall. I will read that one...next. For the last 2+ hours, I have been reading the "Was Charles Blair Macdonald really the father of Golf Architecture in America" thread. I'm less than half way through. As a newbie, I can only say "wow."

PCCraig

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #61 on: November 09, 2022, 10:18:17 PM »

It seems like the great architects of today, you and Bill and Ben and Gil and others, and Pete, are descendants of Harry Colt more than C.B. MacDonald. To whatever degree the Oxcam design ideas that Colt developed and put into the dirt around the world and for a brief moment in North America were not lost in the fog and disintegration of time, perhaps they returned triumphant to inhabit the Second Golden Age.


Now you're telling me what my own influences are?  C'mon, man.


I believe the biggest influence on Ben Crenshaw was C.B. Macdonald.  That's whose work he talks about the most.


Both Bill and I would credit Pete Dye for teaching us how to build golf courses, but I don't think either of us would say he was the biggest influence, stylistically.  For me, it was Alister MacKenzie.  For Bill, it is Perry Maxwell.  For that matter, I heard Pete more than once describe the influence of Donald Ross on his work, and also Seth Raynor and MacKenzie and Maxwell and even Bill Langford, but I never heard him mention Colt as an influence.


That's not to say we don't admire (and borrow from) the works of many different architects, from Old Tom Morris to Mr. Dye.  We do.  And our work has evolved over time; mine looks less like MacKenzie's than it used to.  But if you grew up in America, Harry Colt is probably not going to be your main influence.


Tom -


This was the best post I've read on here in some time. Thank you.
H.P.S.

John Challenger

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #62 on: November 10, 2022, 08:14:28 AM »
As someone new to this online community, I hope you all might permit me, and I am asking for a lot of forgiveness in advance, to make some observations about this community because I am experiencing it for the first time.

There are some third rails here that I have touched upon. Two that I have run into are 1. saying something that could be perceived to be critical about Donald Ross and 2. examining the authorship of Pine Valley. I am sure there are more. It's healthy, isn't it, for a community to understand the subjects to be avoided, especially if we want to avoid groupthink and to determine what happened in golf history?

There is a hunger here for more history. In reading the debates about architecture from 2000-2010, and how heated they became, I can see why the history posts were so magnetic and why they have become more infrequent. Those were the early days of online conversation and rules of civility were ignored. Those "rules" are absent in open online communities like twitter but they can be managed in closed communities.

Also, it seems like many of the historians are for the most part not engaging. When I make an assertion such as "I think Behr leaned towards New Jersey and Philadelphia and Travis leaned towards Long Island," a Travis expert isn't responding "no; here is what I know and how I think about it." Where are the MacWoods and why aren't they participating as often? Is it all about the money or did they all stop posting as much when the debates became overly emotional? There isn't some other forum for open sharing of gca information and fierce debate. Golf Club Atlas, which has and will have its place in history in its own right, is where a search for historical truth of golf history can best take place today. Of course, the history has not all been written or locked in stone.

Writing about history is by definition going to be reductionistic. We pick out certain events or forces and look for themes. I know when I talk about Colt's trips and assert their lost importance to the history of golf architecture in North America, perhaps making an assertion that has not been made in quite the same way in this forum, then it is by definition ignoring all of the other people and trends that were developing pre and during the period 1911-1914.

Certainly there is more to be discovered about the history of the Golden Age, and the Second Golden Age, especially in this era of the digitization of newspapers and magazines. I have come to this history, perhaps in a fresh way, because I am relatively new to the subject and have been buried in the newspapers of 1913. I am grateful to Ran and Tom, and all of you that are passionate about golf history, to have a place to talk about it. When I talk about the history at my golf club, most people's eyes glaze over.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2022, 08:57:53 AM by John Challenger »

Tom_Doak

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #63 on: November 10, 2022, 08:57:49 AM »
John:


Tom MacWood passed away a while back.  A few others [including Sven] have stepped up to fill his role here.


The thing I struggle with about history is that most historians have a premise going into their research to find some sweeping narrative, instead of allowing that history might be made by lots and lots of people [both famous and not] making little contributions to progress.


It's very much the same way that a great golf course is built.  You've got lots of people contributing good ideas, but the architect usually gets too much credit, and then years later some self-appointed record-keeper tries to prove that contributor "D" [out of ABCDEFG who all contributed] was really the key guy behind the project.


Meanwhile, we're living in an age where history is being made in the field of golf design, and no one is doing a good job of documenting who did what, right now!  There are tons of people trying to grab more credit than they are really due for this project or that, because their future earnings depend on it.  I am doing as best I can to try and document who helped with my own work and where, but most other architects do not.

Sean_A

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #64 on: November 10, 2022, 11:20:37 AM »
John:

Tom MacWood passed away a while back.  A few others [including Sven] have stepped up to fill his role here.

The thing I struggle with about history is that most historians have a premise going into their research to find some sweeping narrative, instead of allowing that history might be made by lots and lots of people [both famous and not] making little contributions to progress.

It's very much the same way that a great golf course is built.  You've got lots of people contributing good ideas, but the architect usually gets too much credit, and then years later some self-appointed record-keeper tries to prove that contributor "D" [out of ABCDEFG who all contributed] was really the key guy behind the project.

Meanwhile, we're living in an age where history is being made in the field of golf design, and no one is doing a good job of documenting who did what, right now!  There are tons of people trying to grab more credit than they are really due for this project or that, because their future earnings depend on it.  I am doing as best I can to try and document who helped with my own work and where, but most other architects do not.

Tom

Its almost impossible not to present history as a sweeping narrative if we want to avoid getting bogged down. I think people naturally try to link a narrative to what they know or have experienced. I think (at least I hope) everybody understands that a relatively small amount of golf and any history is not fully understood, partly because people either don't know which questions to ask or which threads to pull. History is really just a bunch of loosely related data points. Its the narrative/PoV which brings the story to life. Some things won't be accurate, but thats ok so long as the author is willing to learn along the way.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 10, 2022, 03:14:17 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Jeff Schley

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #65 on: November 10, 2022, 03:05:09 PM »
John:

Tom MacWood passed away a while back.  A few others [including Sven] have stepped up to fill his role here.

The thing I struggle with about history is that most historians have a premise going into their research to find some sweeping narrative, instead of allowing that history might be made by lots and lots of people [both famous and not] making little contributions to progress.

It's very much the same way that a great golf course is built.  You've got lots of people contributing good ideas, but the architect usually gets too much credit, and then years later some self-appointed record-keeper tries to prove that contributor "D" [out of ABCDEFG who all contributed] was really the key guy behind the project.

Meanwhile, we're living in an age where history is being made in the field of golf design, and no one is doing a good job of documenting who did what, right now!  There are tons of people trying to grab more credit than they are really due for this project or that, because their future earnings depend on it.  I am doing as best I can to try and document who helped with my own work and where, but most other architects do not.

Tom

Its almost impossible to present a sweeping narrative wigthout getting bogged down. I think people naturally try to link a narrative to what they know or have experienced. I think (at least I hope) everybody understands that a relatively small amount of golf and any history is not fully understood, partly because people either don't know which questions to ask or which threads to pull. History is really just a bunch of loosely related data points. Its the narrative/PoV which brings the story to life. Some things won't be accurate, but thats ok so long as the author is willing to learn along the way.

Ciao
I like that Sean, maybe reality is similar to a quilt with each of us adding a patch. Without many patches the quilt is never formed. We have to be willing to accept other people's views and although we may not agree it adds to the narrative and knowledge. I mean threads are great, but we all know when some of us get together and bore any non-golfer to death with geeked out GCA talk.
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gifts."
- Steve Prefontaine

Michael Chadwick

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #66 on: November 10, 2022, 03:46:29 PM »


There are some third rails here that I have touched upon. Two that I have run into are 1. saying something that could be perceived to be critical about Donald Ross and 2. examining the authorship of Pine Valley. I am sure there are more. It's healthy, isn't it, for a community to understand the subjects to be avoided, especially if we want to avoid groupthink and to determine what happened in golf history?



John, a proper discussion group should never have third rails where worthy topics would be considered off-limits. I highly disagree with your suggestion of such, nor do I think your points #1 and #2 have even occurred in this thread. No one has rebuffed your claim that Old Elm should be considered a Colt design and Ross construction. At most, a few people might interpret a co-design from the primary sources (I don't, it's a Colt for me), but absolutely no one has commented on you being unfair or overly critical of Ross. It isn't until Reply 46 that you claim Ross gets credited for too much in the past, and yes, your club and Bloomfield both failed--for a period of time--to recognize their Colt heritage.
 
As for Pine Valley, Sven corrected you primarily because of the language of your claim, that PV "emerged" from Colt's 1913 visit. PV would've existed had Colt visited or not. The extent to which his involvement influenced what PV is today, however, is completely fair game.   



Also, it seems like many of the historians are for the most part not engaging.




Your thread has received detailed contributions from Sven, Anthony Gholz, Bret Lawrence, Dan Moore, and others. And by all accounts, everyone has accepted part of your central thesis, that Colt's visits to America formulated an important--and once overlooked--moment in American golf history. Where the community seems to remain unconvinced, however, pertains to your repeated assertion that Colt's visit can be designated as "the Start of the Golden Age in America" per your thread's subject heading. In the original post you write, "Perhaps it's hyperbole, but Coltís 1913 visit might be the most critical step in the history of golf architecture in the United States." All I've seen through this rewarding, educational, and thoughtful thread are community members informing you that, yes, this claim of yours is hyperbole, and you may want to rephrase the (agreed upon) significance of Colt's time in the US.
Instagram: mj_c_golf

Mike Bodo

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #67 on: November 10, 2022, 05:33:54 PM »
I first want to say I've thoroughly enjoyed this thread since it started. While I appreciate John's chronology of events to support his claim of Colt having ushered in the golden age of golf course architecture, I disagree with it for reasons previously stated by others in addition to one that's yet to be mentioned and that's the growth and influx of money during this period, which led to the formation of the upper and middle classes that made it possible.


The U.S. economy saw a boom like no other in its history during the 1910's and 1920's (the Industrial Age). There was a new millionaire being minted every day seemingly during this period. Golf, while still in its infancy in the U.S., became the sport of choice of the rich and well to do. Anyone with money and influence wanted a golf course, if not several, built in their backyards. This led to the unprecedented growth in the sport and untold opportunities for architects of all manner and ilk. Anyone competent and capable in the art form that wanted work, had work - Donald Ross being the biggest receipient as a result of his ability to churn out courses from topographical maps and hire crews capable of successfully executing his plans without him being on-site. The explosion of golf course development across the country during this period enabled architects such as Mackenzie, Thomas, Raynor, Langford, Park Jr., Tillinghast, Allison, Watson, etc. to establish territories in which they thrived. Each brought their own unique style and talents to the craft, which were influenced and informed by where they came from, what they had seen/experienced and who they networked with.


To assert Colt's influence above everything that took place before him in the golf architecture space is giving him too much credit, while diminishing the work of the great U.S. golf architecture pioneers that preceded him. Harry Colt no doubt left an indelible mark on the vocation that's felt to this day. His influence echoes and resonates with many of today's modern age architects. However, to give Colt top-billing as the impetus behind the golden age of golf course architecture seems to be based a bit more in fandom than reality, as this would have occurred with or without him.
"90% of all putts left short are missed." - Yogi Berra

Ira Fishman

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #68 on: November 10, 2022, 07:20:01 PM »
John,


This is a terrific thread. You had the guts to offer a bold thesis. Some of the best historians on this board thought it worthy of multiple detailed responses. They may not have agreed fully with your thesis, but the purpose of the discussion is to evaluate and amend based on the best available evidence. There really are no third rails here.


Ironically enough, to the extent that there has been a Colt v Ross undertone to the thread, I remember well another thread where Tom Doak stated that of the architects who designed more than a hundred courses, the two on which he would be glad to put his name are Colt and Ross.


Long way of saying, you should not shy away from posting. And others will not shy away from disagreeing. That is what makes threads like this one so engrossing.


Ira

John Challenger

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #69 on: November 10, 2022, 07:47:50 PM »
Thank you Ira and Michael C and Mike B! Hope it's ok not to close the book on this period from 1911 to 1914. Sven set me on reading Shack's book, "The Golden Age of Design" which a friend just lent to me.

In the first pages of the book on p.15, he says, "The first full-time architect to leave a lasting impression on the game was H.S. Colt, who...was also instrumental in the early planning stages of Pine Valley Golf Club, perhaps the benchmark design of the Golden Age."

It is reductionistic to say that Pine Valley is the benchmark, which is different than the high point, of the Golden Age.  Do you agree with Shackelford or do you think NGLA led the way?

If the Golden Age started between 1911 and 1914 and we want to look at those first years of the Golden Age with a wider lens  to identify the top golf courses that were launched or started up in this period, we could add Merion and perhaps Oakmont. Those four courses are really the primary ones we can see from our vantage point today. Chicago GC, Myopia, Garden City, Brookline, Essex County, Ekwanok, and Onwentsia all sprung out of the earlier era.

If we examine the newspapers and golf magazines from those four years, what other courses did the cognoscenti and the futurists of the time identify? It seems important because it would help to identify what we can no longer see as clearly.

Another question: what golf course was the benchmark of the Golden Age in the British Isles where the Golden Age might have started a little earlier? North Americans looked to the British Isles for the source code, firstly St. Andrews, and for an understanding of what was most current and state-of-the-art in new golf course design.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2022, 07:57:13 AM by John Challenger »

PCCraig

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #70 on: November 10, 2022, 09:27:28 PM »
John -


This is a great thread - thanks for starting and maintaining it.
H.P.S.

Mike Bodo

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #71 on: November 11, 2022, 03:16:29 AM »
John -


This is a great thread - thanks for starting and maintaining it.
Here, here!
"90% of all putts left short are missed." - Yogi Berra

Terry Lavin

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #72 on: November 11, 2022, 07:44:49 AM »
John -


This is a great thread - thanks for starting and maintaining it.
Here, here!


Hear, hear.
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.  H.L. Mencken

Sven Nilsen

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #73 on: November 11, 2022, 11:26:39 AM »
John:

Why start at 1911?  Copied below are a series of articles (sampled from what I have readily available as there are plenty more on this subject available from this time period) describing the transition of thought on golf architecture in America from the more penal school of design to a more natural and/or strategic thought process.  I particularly noted the description of what CBM was doing as a retention of "principles" as opposed to the formulation of templates, as I believe that more accurately describes the intentions and practices inherent in the development of his "ideal course."

There are also hints as to some of the more stoic architects evincing their own evolution.  The 1903 Spalding article was most likely penned by Tom Bendelow, who edited that publication.  In just about every article, the thought that you should work with what the land gives you is presented, and that natural features should be used in the most advantageous way.

Finally, the Emmet article included at the end has perhaps the best post mortem I've read on the evolution of the Golden Age of Golf Course Architecture.  Not only does he discuss a date earlier than 1911 as the impetus of the Age, but he spends some words on how courses should be accessible to all classes of players, perhaps suggesting that the zenith of course design isn't those courses that we see at the top of the rankings, but those that invite the weaker player to improve his game while still presenting enough challenge for the better player to hone his.

The term "Golden Age" in the world of golf really has two meanings.  The most obvious is the period of time when golf course construction was at its peak, which in the US was the 1920's.  But the exercise of an idea always follows its conception, and the articles above show when those ideas were first bantered about.

Let us not confuse when courses were being built from when the ideas that went into the designs of those courses first evolved.

April 29, 1897 The Amateur Athlete -





Feb. 1898 Golf Magazine -






Nov. 1902 Golf Magazine -





1903 Spalding Official Golf Guide -





Nov. 1903 Golf Magazine -






Jan. 1906 Golfers Magazine -


Oct. 1910 Golf Magazine -




Aug. 1917 Golf Illustrated -









« Last Edit: November 11, 2022, 11:37:28 AM by Sven Nilsen »
"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

John Challenger

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Re: Old Elm, Harry Colt and the Start of the Golden Age in America
« Reply #74 on: November 12, 2022, 08:01:10 AM »
Sven, In complete agreement with you that the underlying ideas of the Golden Age and their evolution preceded the building of new courses and that the Golden Age peak was the 1920s. I do believe the first Golden Age courses were launched or started before WW1 intervened and postponed the eventual explosion. NGLA, Merion, Pine Valley are most obvious examples. Oakmont was probably still too penal.

Hope you and others might consider posting about these questions:

In the actual newspapers and golf magazines of 1911 - 1914, what golf courses were the experts identifying as the best of the "new new thing" in golf course design? What did they identify as the best courses in those years, especially when they weren't looking to the earlier era?

Also, what golf courses started or launched in Europe between 1907 - 1914 were the benchmark courses of the Golden Age there, both in terms of what is visible today and in the newspapers and golf mags of the time?

The articles you posted are really extraordinary. It's great to read the Walter Travis article about the "good and weak" holes from November 1902. Is this the famous article from the early GCA debates about whether Travis preceded MacDonald in conceptualizing ideal holes and putting them into the ground? The Best Holes Discussion series started 2.15.1901. It does seem like Travis, whose career was mostly in remodels, is writing about how to upgrade old-fashioned courses rather than about building a course of ideal holes. It is an interesting question and is and has been worthy of its own thread.

Almost fell out of my chair when I read the Bramston article from November 1903. Could he really have been viewing the land Pine Valley eventually was built upon? Has this article been discussed elsewhere?

As you suggest, the pieces from Bendelow in 1903 and Emmet in 1917 seem to have a similar spirit and theme. Let the natural land dictate the golf course, bring down the expense, create more golfers. Do you think Emmet is reacting to Walter Travis' expensive remodels, esp Garden City?

Harold Hilton seems to be writing about the point Tom Doak made earlier. Bunkers became such a fad that many architects stopped using them judiciously. They overbunkered and indiscriminately spread them out all over the course and in the wrong places.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2022, 08:32:15 AM by John Challenger »

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