News:

This discussion group is best enjoyed using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.


John Challenger

  • Karma: +0/-0
C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses
« on: September 03, 2023, 05:58:05 PM »
Throughout "Scotland's Gift," Macdonald refers to "classical" and "ideal" courses. I thought his meaning for "classical" referred to holes or their features created in Great Britain sometime before 1900. Sometimes, he seems to use these terms interchangeably, but I am sure they are distinct terms in his mind. In the penultimate chapter, called "Architecture," he says, "Yale is classical; St. Andrews, the National Golf Links and the Lido, the Mid-Ocean are ideal." It's not what I expected. I thought St. Andrews must be the definition of classical. So what does he mean?
« Last Edit: September 03, 2023, 06:00:30 PM by John Challenger »

Phil Young

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2023, 09:47:05 PM »
Why can't something "Ideal" also be "Classical" or something "Classical" not be "Ideal" in CBM's mind?

Bret Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2023, 10:18:31 PM »
John,


I think Macdonald makes the distinction in his book:


 No course can be ideal which is laid out through trees. Trees foreshorten the perspective and the wind has not full play.  To get the full exaltation playing the game of golf one should when passing from green to green as he gazes over the horizon have an limitable sense of eternity, suggesting imagination and contemplation.


Yale is a classical course, because its inland. Laid out through trees!


Bret






John Challenger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2023, 08:04:08 AM »
Bret, Thanks for that great quote and it reminds of this one. Macdonald asks John Low about what is it that separates the very best golf courses from the good ones.


"Mr. J. L. Low somewhere says that most courses are too physical and mathematical, while only the best introduces as well the philosophical and strategical element. Doubtless there are many professionals who do not appreciate the subtle aspect of golf and do not care for that which is temperamental in the game."

When Macdonald talks about Sandwich, one of the things he says is: "surely there is no better soil or turf or more attractive undulations on any green--the fundamentals of a good golf course."

I am wondering if these qualities, the physical and mathematical ones such as "soil and turf" and "undulations," are found in classical courses, and the "philosophical and strategical" and "that which is temperamental in the game," are found in the ideal platonic courses. I wonder if Macdonald thought of template holes in terms of Plato's theory of forms and ideas.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2023, 04:36:47 PM by John Challenger »

Ken Moum

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2023, 02:41:54 PM »
Macdonald asks John Low what is the best course.

"Doubtless there are many professionals who do not appreciate the subtle aspect of golf and do not care for that which is temperamental in the game."


My oh my, and he never even met some of the guys on Tour today.


 ::)
Over time, the guy in the ideal position derives an advantage, and delivering him further  advantage is not worth making the rest of the players suffer at the expense of fun, variety, and ultimately cost -- Jeff Warne, 12-08-2010

Bret Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2023, 08:33:54 PM »
Bret, Thanks for that great quote and it reminds of this one. Macdonald asks John Low about what is it that separates the very best golf courses from the good ones.


"Mr. J. L. Low somewhere says that most courses are too physical and mathematical, while only the best introduces as well the philosophical and strategical element. Doubtless there are many professionals who do not appreciate the subtle aspect of golf and do not care for that which is temperamental in the game."

When Macdonald talks about Sandwich, one of the things he says is: "surely there is no better soil or turf or more attractive undulations on any green--the fundamentals of a good golf course."

I am wondering if these qualities, the physical and mathematical ones such as "soil and turf" and "undulations," are found in classical courses, and the "philosophical and strategical" and "that which is temperamental in the game," are found in the ideal platonic courses. I wonder if Macdonald thought of template holes in terms of Plato's theory of forms and ideas.


John,


I think classical courses would have all four qualities.  What separates classical courses or classical holes from ordinary courses or holes are likely these qualities mentioned by Low. The physical and mathematical I understand to be shot requirement type of holes. Think back to the Victorian style of courses with holes laid out like a steeplechase course.  These courses were too physical and too mathematical.


 Every course today has a healthy dose of holes that require specific shots from a golfer, whether that is a forced uphill carry or a high-lofted iron, or gauging the distance properly on an island type green. These shot requirements bring out the physical and mathematical aspects of a golfers game, but 18 of these can get kind of boring, so you have to mix in some holes that are strategic and/or philosophical.  It creates a different kind of variety in the holes that challenges the golfer while keeping their interest. Yale has physical, mathematical, strategic and philosophical holes.


Bret

John Challenger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2023, 10:06:17 AM »
 
John,

I think Macdonald makes the distinction in his book:

 No course can be ideal which is laid out through trees. Trees foreshorten the perspective and the wind has not full play.  To get the full exaltation playing the game of golf one should when passing from green to green as he gazes over the horizon have a limitable sense of eternity, suggesting imagination and contemplation.


Yale is a classical course, because its inland. Laid out through trees!

Bret







Bret, I think you are right. I've read the book carefully and I was making it more complicated than necessary. Perhaps there might be more qualities of a golf course that CBM might place under one of the two categories of classical or ideal. I do think Macdonald sees a fundamental difference between ideal courses and classical courses. An essential element of the ideal golf course is location next to the sea on open, dune-covered land. I wonder if CBM would have considered the new Lido an ideal golf course?


Here's the paragraph which contains the quote you mentioned.

"I read much about ideal and classical courses; I used both these terms when I dreamed of the National, but I should like to make this distinction--no course can be ideal which is laid out through trees. Trees foreshorten the perspective and the wind has not full play. To get the full exaltation playing the game of golf one should when passing from green to green as he gazes over the horizon have an unlimitable sense of eternity, suggesting contemplation and imagination. This does not mean that a classical course cannot be laid out where trees are or where there is not the Atlantic, the Pacific or the North Sea to contemplate; but there is a vast difference between the ideal and a classical course (my italics and bold). Yale is classical; St. Andrews, The National Golf Links and the Lido, the Mid-Ocean are ideal."


The ideal courses all are on the linksland next to the ocean or the sea and not laid out through the trees. They are both ideal and classical. Yale is in inland course so it's only classical.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2023, 06:21:25 PM by John Challenger »

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2023, 07:57:20 AM »
In other words, trees make a course less than ideal, so it's a comment on the location of the course relative to trees rather than about the design of the course itself. Or at least that is how I'd interpret that passage.


I wonder then what CBM would make of the increasing amount of development flanking many of the classic links, TOC and NB among them. When CBM played those courses there was a lot less building flanking the inland holes. If trees are 90% air then buildings are 100% brick, stone, glass etc. Trees also have the advantage of being natural.


Niall

John Challenger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: C.B. Macdonald and "Classical" v "Ideal" Golf Courses New
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2023, 08:47:57 PM »
In other words, trees make a course less than ideal, so it's a comment on the location of the course relative to trees rather than about the design of the course itself. Or at least that is how I'd interpret that passage.

I wonder then what CBM would make of the increasing amount of development flanking many of the classic links, TOC and NB among them. When CBM played those courses there was a lot less building flanking the inland holes. If trees are 90% air then buildings are 100% brick, stone, glass etc. Trees also have the advantage of being natural.

Niall


Niall, I think Macdonald would not be at all happy with the increased development flanking many of the classic links, though he built his own home on NGLA and he had one on Chicago Golf too. If only you could take the question to him about why he granted the buildings on the Road Hole a pass. They do "foreshorten the perspective and the wind has not full play." They are 100% solid and unnatural but those buildings do possess some other essential element that outweighs the foreshortening matters, though I wouldn't worry too much about the loss of wind on that course!
« Last Edit: September 08, 2023, 07:13:56 AM by John Challenger »

Tags:
Tags:

An Error Has Occurred!

Call to undefined function theme_linktree()
Back