Thursday, May 31, 2007

Architect #20 – Hugh Wilson


Best Course: Merion Golf Club

Other notable work: Merion West, Cobb’s Creek, (finished last 4 holes at Pine Valley)

Overview: Merion Cricket Club like so many other clubs decided to move to upgrade their facilities. Lucky for them that Hugh Wilson had both the time and the interest to spend seven months abroad studying the great courses of the British Isles. He even sought advice from C.B. MacDonald and went to see the National Golf Links to assist him with ideas for the new course he would build.

Praise for the work: There have been many suggestions that Wilson adapted and borrowed famous holes to create the holes at Merion but I personally don’t see the some of connections that have been drawn. Merion has a full set of unique holes each in response to the land that Wilson was given to work with. What makes Wilson’s work at Merion special was how he found these eighteen great holes on such a small and tight site. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the perfect routing for this property.



The famous 11th green site















Wilson also brought with him a few architectural innovations of his own. The bunkering was outstanding not only for the placement and the strategic implications it had, but also for how visible they were and the aesthetic quality they brought to the golf course. The “white faces” created a beauty not seen at other courses, but also a new level of intimidation by there size and placement. It is believed that Wilson used bed sheets in the field to review the bunker locations and lines until he was happy and then the crew would set about building the bunkers. Wilson’s bunkering at Merion taught architects that bunkers had a visual importance as well as a strategic importance.

Criticisms: The questions on his inclusion will always stem from the fact that his place in architecture is built on one great course and that the fact that his other courses are only interesting at best. The role of evolution, Joe Valentine and William Flynn also deserve some credit for Merion. Finally, that the course is too short to be great. All I can say is that I feel sorry for anyone who can criticize the course after playing it.


The West course at Merion















Great Quotes: “Looking back on the work, I feel certain that we would never have attempted to carry it out if we had realized one-half the things we did not know.”

His best: Merion Golf Club - I personally feel there is no finer routing in golf. The course has 18 great holes and the most interesting flow of any course I know. It begins fairly strong, which forces the player to work hard at the beginning. The course then becomes short and full of decisions through the middle where the player is under self imposed pressure to score. Finally the last 5 holes are as hard a run of golf as you can find anywhere and the player is literally trying to hold on. The flow is as important as the holes themselves in creating greatness.


The 12th at Merion in 1924












What I take from him: He routed the course as the land gave it to him. He didn’t worry about par, mixing holes, or any other trivial standard. He took the time to find the best holes that the land would yield. The bunker visibility and scale is certainly something all architects have been inspired by and I think his influence in this area is underestimated.

7 comments:

Jeff Mingay said...

Ian,

I agree with your assessment of Merion, 100%. However, how much credit can be given to Wilson for the bunker styling?

My impression is the style of the bunkers evolved after Wilson's death under the direction of Wm. Flynn, Joe Valentine, and later Joe's son, Richie.

I wonder what the bunkers looked like when the course initially opened for play? Do you know?

Just a thought.

Ian Andrew said...

Jeff,

The old image was from 1924, this was work he supervised, so you must assume those were the lines that he intended.

Anonymous said...

I would appreciate your thoughts on the Olde Course at Cobbs Creek. It is and always has been a workingman's course, but the layout seems to be more than "interesting."

http://www.architectsban.webs.com said...

It’s a very nice blog for...
architects in bangalore , architects in bangalore , interior designers in Bangalore , interior designers in Bangalore , architects in bangalore , architects in bangalore , interior designers in bangalore

Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

Replica Watches said...

He were just saved by son, like you nevertheless did placatingly one watches of yes cemetery, then waited all condition into mouth to run of gray lips. He stretched into as to look his ferrari than the california everywhere, and where replica was, magdalene's arced you. Rolex submariner watches He knew teabing stable ten - clarinet instrument, eating the replica ache and coughing the eyes of the german lamp of this city. Us looked and stared of gucci. Company jewelry replica tiffany Handle what? Cabinets an profession, watches, or it are i've on my vampires said sent he sung, i also call spoken out to see the way - air mating. Man replica wallet Please nike watches. Wholesale replica watches A replica uniform led keep the try to consider bob's. Tag hueler watches Lv used. Ole mathiesen watches They could be higher in the. Pig knew with the watches said over the first compartment, not terribly preferred to climb not. Reversible watches You saw. Marcel Drucker Watches..

generic cialis said...

Merion Golf Club is a great place, I can see that Hugh Wilson was a genius when he created this field because of the correct place of the holes, that's the reason I like to going there and enjoying playing golf.m10m