Great golf courses were built without the use of computer-aided images showing three-dimensional models. Time was in favor of the golf courses built during the Golden Age of Architecture. Golf courses were crafted in the field, making adjustments as the course was constructed. Ideas were massaged and strategies mulled over; always evolving in the field.
That approach made golf courses designed during this era unique. Mackenzie, Macdonald, and Maxwell are all golf course architects whose work has contributed to the game of golf. By not designing hundreds of courses, these men had time to craft their designs and create works of art. I have great respect for them and their methods.
Start with a good foundation and let the rest come over time. This sense of craftsmanship is not found in a pencil tip or on a computer keyboard. When I was just beginning my career, one of Pete Dye’s very first instructions to me was, “Jim, let’s play with it a while.” Designs can't be forced, they must evolve. It is the philosophy that I have used for the last 35 years.
You have to be careful how you go about the building of the course from the very first day you step onto the project. Knowing what to clear and what to save. Knowing how all of the vehicle traffic affects the sub soils. These are just some of the keys to protecting the land
Controlling the construction process, understanding the people and realizing that everything you do from the start affects the ending.
I consider myself very lucky to have worked on the sites I have. With that luck I have come to understand not to destroy the landforms during construction. I value every feature big or small. I realize from the very start, it is important to evaluate what is worth preserving and what can be transformed into something more usable.
It starts from the very first day you step foot on the land. Recognize the important features, preserve when possible, and restore when applicable. It is the key to maintaining that natural look.
Alister Mackenzie once wrote that " The successful negotiation of difficulties is a source of pleasure to all classes of players" Careful study of the natural features is critical in laying out the routing of the golf course. Routing a golf course that is walkable is first and foremost.The top twenty-five golf courses in the world are all an enjoyable walk. " A good golf course is like good music or good anything else; it is not necessarily a course which appeals the first time one plays, but one which grows on the player the more frequently he visits it”
" Golf Architecture"
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