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Michael Chadwick

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Is Augusta to Blame?
« on: March 23, 2023, 05:15:55 PM »
Calling the historians among us.


Successful restorations of Golden Age designs are typically noted for the amount of tree removal, reclamation of green sizes/shapes, as well as fairway width. In the US, this predominantly has occurred on parkland style layouts, where decades of arboreal and vegetal growth worked in concert with an era of enthusiasm for increasingly narrow playing corridors, smaller greens, and intimacy between holes. 


The restoration of Oakland Hills South, for example, did not change the overarching style of the golf course. It was always, and remains, a parkland course, though the detailed expression of what that means changed dramatically.


A different phenomenon occurred in the Western US, where Golden Age designs not immediately on the coastline were laid out among far more arid, dusty, oftentimes treeless and rugged terrain. Whether the land was an orchard or a canyon floor with occasional water running through it, these courses did not begin as parkland. They would've appeared more links like, regardless of their soil or the quality of their playing surfaces, because the edges of their turf ceded to dry scrubland and roughened dirt instead of forests or meadows.


Yet after WWII, and in the decades that followed, many of these designs, including Southern California's best examples like LACC North, Riviera, and Bel Air, underwent transformations that changed their original identities. They became parkland courses. Native flora was eliminated, and in exchange maintained rough and non-native vegetation was planted. Their ruggedness was domesticated until it was tamed like a garden, and the player experiencing wall to wall sod would have to look beyond the club's property lines to get a glimpse of the gnarled, baked out Los Angeles landscape through which these courses were initially routed.


What do you think were the primary contributing factors for the parkland-ization of Western US golf courses?


Were there significant improvements in irrigation technology, scalability, and cost?


Was it part of a broader post-WWII industrial and economic boom that carried with it an enthusiasm for overpowering and engineering nature?


How influential has Augusta been on this subject? Its first airing on live television was 1956, and since then, committee members of other clubs have had annual exposure to what might've represented in their minds how an American golf course should look.


What separates how remarkable the restorations of Cal Club, Bel-Air, or LACC with, say, Oakmont or Oakland Hills South, is that these California courses had to be restored not only to how their greens where shaped and sized, or how their bunkers appeared, but crucially how they were suited to their own natural environments. Their aesthetic identity had to be pulled away from the parkland style forced upon them in order to reconnect to their mediterranean climate of California.


There are countless Western clubs with pre-1930 histories that remain rooted to their postwar misrepresentations, with Lakeside being chief among them. Fortunately the clubs that have risked returning all the way to their Golden Age originations, and in doing so re-naturalizing their sense of place as a Western golf course, has been met with acclaim. One can only hope more inland clubs follow suit, as I have to imagine that reincorporating native landscape and vegetation in the long run will improve a course's standing with water usage, which will only become a more contentious topic.   


 

« Last Edit: March 24, 2023, 09:07:19 AM by Michael Chadwick »
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Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2023, 05:43:52 PM »
Not sure you can “blame” Augusta. We like to blame them for many things. Maybe the easterners that moved west wanted to bring their tree lined courses with them. I have nothing to back that up. Just a thought.
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

"Deep within your soul-space is a magnificent cathedral where you are sweet beyond telling." Rumi

Lukas Michel

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2023, 06:51:21 PM »
Many (or most) Australian golf courses have gone through the same "parklandification" that you describe of Western US courses. Photos of Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath from 30-40 years ago are stark comparisons to today's more authentically natural appearance.


I wonder if it ties back to the desire to create something familiar. The Europeans that settled the Australia and the Western US (or even the Americans that migrated west) would have grown up in a far more treed, greener environment than the dry and rocky landscape where they moved to. I'd imagine there was an urge to "beautify" the land to line up more closely with their idea of what an attractive landscape is = more trees and lots of irrigated turf.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2023, 06:53:13 PM by Lukas Michel »

John Emerson

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2023, 11:50:30 PM »
Water and irrigation were harnessed. Virtually nothing is green (naturally) in Southern California. It is a desert. This the answer to “why?”.
“There’s links golf, then everything else.”

Craig Sweet

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2023, 12:16:12 AM »
Nothing is green naturally in Montana...
LOCK HIM UP!!!

Sean_A

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2023, 03:15:08 AM »
No, it isn't the fault of ANGC if random clubs radically alter the playing characteristics and aesthetics of their courses. Nor is ANGC at fault for clubs adding yards to their courses. Why not look instead at the memberships? Each club makes their own decisions. Why is there a need to absolve memberships of their decisions by blaming ANGC or equipment?

Ciao
« Last Edit: March 24, 2023, 11:45:45 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Alnmouth & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Michael Chadwick

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2023, 09:17:32 AM »
No, it isn't the fault of ANGC if random clubs radically alters the playing characteristics and aesthetics of their courses. Nor is  ANGC at fault for clubs adding yards to their courses. Why not look instead at the memberships? Each club makes their own decisions. Why is there a need to absolve memberships of their decisions by blaming ANGC or equipment?

Ciao


No desire coming from me to absolve memberships of the decisions they make for their clubs. My question pertains to whether Augusta has been a contributing factor, among others listed, to the subject.


The thread's subject title is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but I went ahead and rephrased the Augusta question in the OP so respondents can debate how Augusta's influence might be notable and historically relevant, not directly blameworthy.
Instagram: mj_c_golf

Tom_Doak

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2023, 10:08:57 AM »
It's not Augusta's fault that Riviera and LACC have more irrigation and are more "parks" than when they were built.  A very large city has grown up around them, and multi-million dollar homes border them.  That's why it has happened to those places but not to Ballyneal or Sand Hills.

Kalen Braley

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2023, 11:05:26 AM »
Nothing is green naturally in Montana...

Well is that true thou?  Just like Spokane it has various species of Pine and other bushes that have no issue with the summer temps and relative lack of rain.  Although yes the grasses will certainly go brown..

Utah thou, they could benefit greatly with reduced irrigation and reduce the wall to wall grass on many of its courses by probably 1/3.

Rory Connaughton

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2023, 03:11:12 PM »
What about the installation of first generation single line irrigation as the culprit?


My home course is parkland and was virtually treeless for the first twenty years.


In 1941 single line irrigation was implemented. Aerials depict fairway widths shrunken by half
leaving expansive areas of rough.


Tree planting was commenced in areas that had previously been fairway. I suspect for beautification and out of an urge
to create PV like separation between holes. (I have no factual basis for the second conclusion but there was a decent sized population of PV members at our club at that time and they went deep on pines for nearly 60 years after). By 1960, the place was an arboretum.

Ian Mackenzie

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2023, 03:23:02 PM »
This has been discussed at length here over the years.


I can recall at least three dedicated threads about ANGC - Good or Bad for golf...?...etc.
Maintenance budget, greenness, green speeds, trees, even flowers....


The Masters is the Masters and ANGC is sort of a freak show outlier.


I think there's a Mac O'Grady story somewhere where his perverse fanatasy was to have a 6" putt on 18 to win the Masters and, just as he is about to tap it in, he calls "time out" and asks that ANGC "management" disclose all their dirty secrets or something around budgets and expenses.


That would be more interesting, IMO....;-) ;D

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2023, 03:35:10 PM »
Maybe Augusta isn't to blame, but one could say that they provide a permission structure.


There might be something to the single-row irrigation, but I suspect then you're going to start getting held up with "if you don't want a bunch of trees, you'd better do triple-row irrigation" rather than just cutting back expectations on conditioning.
Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee of this. - Marcus Aurelius

Garland Bayley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2023, 04:22:41 PM »
...
What do you think were the primary contributing factors for the parkland-ization of Western US golf courses?
...

Women and sissies.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Garland Bayley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2023, 04:24:08 PM »
Nothing is green naturally in Montana...

Well is that true thou?  Just like Spokane it has various species of Pine and other bushes that have no issue with the summer temps and relative lack of rain.  Although yes the grasses will certainly go brown..

Utah thou, they could benefit greatly with reduced irrigation and reduce the wall to wall grass on many of its courses by probably 1/3.

Elevation Kalen, elevation!
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Kalen Braley

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2023, 05:24:40 PM »
Nothing is green naturally in Montana...

Well is that true thou?  Just like Spokane it has various species of Pine and other bushes that have no issue with the summer temps and relative lack of rain.  Although yes the grasses will certainly go brown..

Utah thou, they could benefit greatly with reduced irrigation and reduce the wall to wall grass on many of its courses by probably 1/3.

Elevation Kalen, elevation!

Garland,

Montana is a big state, but in general the western half is both higher elevation and on average has cooler summers in most places than Spokane.  Ditto for basically the entire top half of Idaho.

I was just there at the end of the last summer and took some beautiful lesser known highways thru Montana from Spokane to Butte.  Still very green even after years of prolonged drought in the West

Erik J. Barzeski

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2023, 06:04:47 PM »
I think there's a Mac O'Grady story somewhere where his perverse fanatasy was to have a 6" putt on 18 to win the Masters and, just as he is about to tap it in, he calls "time out" and asks that ANGC "management" disclose all their dirty secrets or something around budgets and expenses.
Like many Mac stories, I think though they may have a grain of truth… that's about it.

I've heard that about the Players Championship (because he didn't like Deane Beman) and about the U.S. Open/USGA.
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
Author, Lowest Score Wins, Instructor/Coach, and Lifetime Student of the Game.

I generally ignore Rob, Tim, and Garland.

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2023, 03:41:39 AM »
Once upon a time a golf tournament was played in Augusta in April. I used to look forward to watching it on TV. I no longer do.
Instead over the years there seems to have developed a talking heads media-fest surrounding a vaudeville botanical show.
ANGC have allowed this to happen, and by doing so other courses, events etc have jumped on a similar band-wagen, so ANGC must take a hit.
atb

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2023, 12:09:27 PM »
It’s the Boomers who started the war against trees while continuing to propagate climate change. I personally have a long love affair with shade.


As far as Augusta goes she woke me from my golf slumber every spring of my youth. This has led to a lifetime of supporting the game. Multiply that by a few million other golfers and you get a net positive.

Garland Bayley

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2023, 11:15:46 PM »
Nothing is green naturally in Montana...

Well is that true thou?  Just like Spokane it has various species of Pine and other bushes that have no issue with the summer temps and relative lack of rain.  Although yes the grasses will certainly go brown..

Utah thou, they could benefit greatly with reduced irrigation and reduce the wall to wall grass on many of its courses by probably 1/3.

Elevation Kalen, elevation!

Garland,

Montana is a big state, but in general the western half is both higher elevation and on average has cooler summers in most places than Spokane.  Ditto for basically the entire top half of Idaho.

I was just there at the end of the last summer and took some beautiful lesser known highways thru Montana from Spokane to Butte.  Still very green even after years of prolonged drought in the West

Craig lives in western Montana all the time. How does your road trip stand up to that?

You call out the pine trees for your example of green. They grow on slopes above the tree line, or near some water source. They don't grow naturally in the general landscape without help. Elevation on the mountain slopes catches the moisture necessary for pine trees to survive.

How many pine trees grow on Sagebrush GC? Rock Creek Cattle Company? Does not the unirrigated land on these courses you've played consist of dryland grasses and scrub brush?
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2023, 01:27:59 AM »
Once upon a time a golf tournament was played in Augusta in April. I used to look forward to watching it on TV. I no longer do.
Instead over the years there seems to have developed a talking heads media-fest surrounding a vaudeville botanical show.
ANGC have allowed this to happen, and by doing so other courses, events etc have jumped on a similar band-wagen, so ANGC must take a hit.
atb

Again, why is ANGC responsible for the decisions of other bodies? That logic doesn't make much sense to me.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Alnmouth & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Craig Sweet

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2023, 08:56:52 PM »
Kalen, there is very little green in Montana after late June.  To be green here in Summer you need irrigation or elevation. Missoula averages 13 inches of precip. a year.  Most of Montana is a high desert
LOCK HIM UP!!!

archie_struthers

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2023, 08:16:11 AM »
 8) 8)


Some of us are members at private clubs. For most of these entities there is a natural yin and yang between what they would like to spend and what the members can afford or justify. The very best ones , similar to the best universities, are awash in cash but are not in a position to distribute same to the "owners" due to their tax status.


Every year these clubs have to spend this money and what better way than to tinker with the course. How many new practice facilities can you build?  Unfortunately for architecture , the stewards on the golf committee might not have the acumen to handle this charge.

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2023, 08:19:45 AM »
People tinkered with Mid Century modern architecture until they were living in McMansions. It’s no one’s fault.

Charlie Goerges

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2023, 08:41:49 AM »
People tinkered with Mid Century modern architecture until they were living in McMansions. It’s no one’s fault.




It's fine if you want to do the no-blame thing, but then you have to be ruthlessly honest about what has happened. Like truth and reconciliation. You want to drag old greens committee chairmen in front of a commission and make them admit yes I voted to raise dues, yes I cut corners elsewhere, yes I shamed our superintendent, all so I could feel as powerful as the guys at ANGC?
Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee of this. - Marcus Aurelius

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Is Augusta to Blame?
« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2023, 02:11:43 PM »
No one should ever shame a superintendent. That aside, I’ve never been at a club where I even knew who was on what committee. That’s the kind of information unhappy members require.

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