RTJ renovated/redesigned Golden Age courses while rarely considering that what was originally in the ground needed TLC rather than wholesale changes that fit his design style. He certainly isnít the only one that took this tact but the one that comes to mind first. The current generation of restorers have mostly tried to recreate original design features where routings remained intact and allowed for same. The best designers of the New Golden Age may escape this fate at least as long as most on this board are still around.
I've said this before, but after WWI, Depression, and WWII, nobody really wanted to look back on almost anything, including most design fields. They wanted a whole new look and I feel like today's restoration proponents disrespect that fact or view them in proper historical context. Or, basically, IMHO they really need to study history to broaden their perspective.
I agree with Mark Fine that any master plan ought to study the course's history, and maybe not just its first iteration, or highlight period from some long ago major. What the RTJ generation did to the course ought to be studied too, rather than just be dismissed as "the Dark Period." This site presumes that they all had bad intentions, but in reality, most fixes probably addressed long recognized problems in the original design. Or were forced by highway expansion in some of the most obvious cases.
These guys were form follows function kind of guys, and the world of golf was changing quite a bit during the post WWII period. Yes, the emphasis was on distance....longer drives off the tee, but also in shorter drives to the first tee from the house. Making golf accessible was the great push in the 1950's....they succeeded in their prime objective, even if the mostly housing projects and munis they did were never going to host a major. Maybe the biggest problem of RTJ and DW was it seems they did design most courses as if they were true championship courses, but difficulty was what they seemed to want post WWII.
Not too mention the courses probably looked like crap after decades of neglect due to economic reasons, and probably didn't look like restoration was worth it. I recently saw a photo of NGLA from 1952, and it looked a bit rough, including it being obvious that some sand bunkers had been allowed to go to grass, probably due to costs. Golf was a tough biz in the 1950s, and the thought of designing for easier machine maintenance made a lot of sense.
And, going back on topic, I believe that all these hard to maintain bunkers will be eliminated over the next few recessions, just as hard to maintain features always have been eliminated if not practical when money is tight. Combined with the inevitable changes in taste, any course that can afford it will probably be totally redone again, as we all know, good design is just an opinion.....