Friday, February 09, 2007

Some Writings that Shaped Me

Golf Architecture In America by George Thomas

This was the first golf course architecture book I ever read. I had to read a photocopy of the book because I had no idea of how to get one and the reprint had not yet come out. The basics of routing and design are found in this book. Through his courses he also teaches you about creating strategy and uses wonderful illustrations of many ideas which help make the concepts easier to follow. Nothing can match the photos that accompany the text and provide us with a window into another era. Still my sentimental favorite.

Some Essays on Golf Architecture by Colt and Allison

Rather than a manual on how to design a golf course, I would consider this more a series of lessons. The essays work well to allow Colt a little more freedom to explain some of the views on subjects on the periphery of golf architecture. The writing is excellent as anything he writes since he tends to clear and concise with his thoughts. Short and expensive, the book is still worth it.

Toronto Golf Club Field Notes

Within the notes is a one page explanation on how to build a bunker. Very short and very concise, but if you can’t figure out how to make great basic bunker forms from this, then accounting is your calling.

Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak

Even though by the time I had read this book I was already a practicing golf course architect, I still found that Tom’s thoughts were interesting enough to spur on my thoughts about convention versus less conventional holes. The book, while mostly an excellent step by step walk through what you have to think about to design a golf course, also contains many thought provoking moments about strategy. Slightly less technical that Thomas book, and clearly based on it, this may be the best starting point for anyone interested in golf architecture.

The Confidential Guide

For me personally, this book is a source of clever insights along with some very pointed criticism. The lessons on architecture are found in both. While criticism hurts people’s feelings, often some of the greatest lessons come from when someone explains what not work and why. In older versions the why is covered in much greater detail than the current ones. The real joy of the book is the 31 flavours where he offers many clever little insights into some really great architecture, occasionally on courses you didn’t know, from my perspective there needs to be more courses covered in the future reprint.

Golf Architecture by Alister MacKenzie

Conceptually this was the book that most shaped my perception of the game philosophically. His view that a course should challenge the player yet give them the room to play struck a cord. I also love the concept, which I somewhat borrowed for my personal philosophy, that a bunker is not meant to punish shots but to make the game interesting. There are great quotes throughout the book like, “a hazard placed in the exact position where a player would naturally go is frequently the most interesting situation, as then a special effort is needed to get over or avoid it.” This could arguably be the best book to understand all the facets of the game including the philosophy of golf architecture, while some of the nuts and bolts of the other great books are missing, his explaination on how the architecture influences and effects the player is essential reading.

The Spirit of St. Andrew’s by Alister Mackenzie

The explanation of the contours of the 16th green at St. Andrew’s and how they effect play all the way from the tee changed my perception of the value of great green contours. The Old Course is the foundation of architecture, and this is the best short course anyone could provide into the subtleties and intricacies of that magical ground.

Mike Strantz – Golf Club Atlas Interview

This is the one interview that I have turned to multiple times for inspiration. In the beginning I read his interview before seeking out Monterey Peninsula so I can understand how he thinks. I read the interview again after playing Tobacco Road an found what he had to say inspirational. I don’t want to design like Mike, but I appreciate the conviction he had for what he believed and I enjoyed that he had a well determined philosophy on what he was trying to do. Mike helped me clarify my own philosophy and to add to my palette of options.

Other Influences:

The Architectural Side of Golf by Wethered and Simpson
The Links by Robert Hunter
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The Future of Golf in America by Geoff Shackelford
The Golf Course by Cornish and Whitten
There are a lot of articles by Walter Travis and A.W. Tillinghast not mentioned here from Golf Illustrated and American Golfer that also had an impact too.


Anonymous said...

great list ian. question is, where can the average man access the confidential guide?


Anonymous said...


Although the game is played tee to green I think all the great architects designed the hole from the green to tee.

The tee shot was the opening gambit, stratigy, to attack the pin, queen just like playing chess, IMHO.

Good blog, Ian

Snowman 8

Ian Andrew said...


My next blog was influenced by your comment on the Confidential Guide.


Well said. You want to beat a "good" architect, walk the course backwards and you will be better prepared.

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بلاك بيري said...

Ian this is the best list i have ever seen