Thursday, March 29, 2007

So....What’s in the Future?
















Well I’ve either entertained you or bored you to death with a three week out look at the history of golf course architecture. This wasn’t an accurate history, but rather a look at the key players and key developments along the way and how they shaped the current state of golf architecture.
I’ve identified Coore and Crenshaw both as the leading architects and the most influential designers of this era. I’ve also pointed to Tom Doak, who looks to be trying his damn hardest to be considered the greatest architect of his generation. While he’ll certainly build more than Crenshaw and Coore, that may also be his undoing since he also tends to spread himself too thin at times. His work in the southern hemisphere has certainly turned all heads in his direction though. Coore and Crenshaw’s insistence on handling no more than two jobs at a time means they will remain more selective of properties and projects and put more personal time into each site. That is the recipe for greatness.

The Minimalism movement will begin to dominate golf course architecture and slowly push aside a few of the older modern architects as times get a little tougher. The cheaper to build “minimalist” course will continue to make more economic sense and minimalism will continue to get more critical support as time goes forward. Golf will have a recession in the next few years and this will also help to push the Minimalist design style as the logical answer to continuing to build. Golf will go through some harder times in the near future but as usual there will be more building on the other end beginning with the more sensible economic models first and then getting back to some more ambitious projects later on. The driving force in new projects will be the value of real estate – either surrounding the courses – or the value of land under the course.

In my heart I want to believe that the infatuation with celebrity designers will stop, but society is so celebrity obsessed that I don’t hold out any hope. Britney Spears will design her first course….just kidding. Tiger Woods will become the biggest designer of the next era. Tiger will quickly topple Jack Nicklaus from the king of the player designers and Jack will retire at the end of this decade due to health. Tiger will employ half of the existing Team Fazio, at first as a partner and 10 years out as the owner when Tom sells the business to Tiger. Tiger will build far more courses than anyone else beginning about 5 years from now.

The greatest architect of the next decade will not have played professional golf. They will not come from a large office. They will be able to run a dozer and a computer, but do neither in the end. They have already interned or worked with an architect. They are not yet 30. They won’t move much earth. They will be fluent with philosophies and principles of the Golden Age. They will know the entire history of golf course architecture and have built their personal design style on that knowledge. They will not be a minimalist but have a style completely different from Coore and Doak. They will start the "next movement in golf course architecture."

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ian: Very much enjoyed your series. Have you seen enough of Donald Steel's work to suggest where his style fits into those you have identified?

Matt said...

Brilliant series Ian. Easily among the best things you've written thus far.

Anonymous said...

didn't steel effectively retire, apart from a few consulting gigs?

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