Thursday, July 19, 2007

Current Architects that Would Make the List Now - Part 2

This will be the end of the series, but may bring the most discussion.

There are 100’s of architects practicing right now, but only two current architects would make my list if all work ended today and we took the time to evaluate careers. There may be others, but I would need more time to reflect on that.

Sand Hills 4th

Bill Coore’s place among the great architects is already guaranteed at this point. His work at Sand Hills became the defining course for this generation – the ripples still continue to influence even the biggest names in the business. Sand Hills was a great natural site featuring massive rolling hills, natural sand blowouts, and long views out to the horizon. When presented with the site, Coore realized that there were hundreds of natural holes in every direction. Rather than change the site or link the very best holes he could with long paths - he patiently walked and walked the site till he found a progression of 18 natural holes. He let the flow of the land lead him around the property. The blowouts became the primary strategy and the unique quality that sets this course apart from all others.

Friar's Head 10th

Coore recognized that these blowouts had the size and scale to compete with the wide open space and chose to swing his fairways around these features with large lateral movements. This approach was most appropriate since the wide lateral movement fit the monumental scale of the site. The course is strategically outstanding, sits in complete harmony with the scale of the site and blends perfectly into the surrounding landscape – think Prairie Dunes on a grand scale. There is more to Bill Coore than one project – in fact there is a string of great project – but this one does such a good job explaining why he is among the elite.

Old Sandwich by Coore

The second architect is far more controversial and the wild card. If he hasn’t said his goal is to be the greatest of his generation, he certainly gives you that impression. Doak – by plan or not - has followed Alister MacKenzie’s career path - from writing a book on golf architecture to working in foreign lands to have an international impact. Tom has spent time restoring MacKenzie’s courses and producing a book on the doctor’s life’s work as a tribute. He even shared his stance on criticism of other architects work - he can be quick to compliment a peer and just as quick to condemn work he doesn’t like. Since MacKenzie is often cited as the greatest architect of all time – what better role model to chose?

Pacific Dunes 13th

Tom came to prominence with his work at Pacific Dunes – while he did other wonderful courses – this was the one that brought all the attention and acclaim. In contrast to most new courses it was shorter, had a quirky routing, all while seeming to get the most out of the site. The course was beautiful, strategically compelling, the use of width with interior bunkering was a clever approach to high winds, the greens were more contoured than most modern courses, and it was down right fun to play. Tom had built a course that brought comparisons to Cypress Point something that must have brought him a great deal of personal satisfaction.

Barndougle Dunes 5th

Since I’m trying to avoid any negatives about living architects I choose not to write about why I didn’t consider a few big name architects.

The Final List:


henrye said... Steel, Fazio, Nicklaus? I think Jack should makes it by virtue of him being a trendsetter among celebrity tour players moving into golf design.

Ian Andrew said...


I'm avoiding specific criticism for living architects.

Jack's a maybe - the others are a definate No - I'll leave it at that till I see you for a beer.

bogeyboy said...

Ian, drinking the Kool-Aide again? While I would expect guys who play rather than design go gaga over Sandhills, you really have to agree that from a designers satandpoint, it was kinda a no-brainer. While Bill has done some interesting work, his course done at Talking Stick in Scottsdale left me completely underwhelmed. Knowing that before construction the site was a flat cotton field, one can understand the lack of interest but a "great" architect could have created something more.
The same for Tom Dork. Given a vast track of unencumbered virgin land in Globe, AZ, Doak almost got me divorced when I dragged my better half out to play Apache Stronghold. Especially since we had just played The Boulders and Desert Mountain. If you want to talk about a great Living architect, look at Jay Morish. Henrye - who do you think made Jack what he is, or any of the other Names he scribed for? In case you haven't figured it out yet "celebrity tour players" are design parasites who just Pimp the architects who actually do the work. PS Doak should be likened to C.B. Macdonald rather than Mackenzie. Afterall, Macdonald was an egotistical, abrasive personality who looked to previous work to copy or emulate.

Anonymous said...

Well Done Ian!

I couldn't agree more with your 3 picks for living architects and it was a pleasure to read your list of the top 25 from our past. The Dye resume speaks for itself, his work contained so much originality and he was a strategic genius at times, his impact will live on. The team of Coore and Crenshaw have produced some wonderful and memorable golf courses with their ability to expose what mother nature had already produced being their special touch. Finally, I am 100% convinced that Tom Doak is the greatest living designer. His courses have finally brought about a new movement in the design world and the minimalist philosophy is the only to consider when it comes to the future of golf course architecture and development. We should be sick by now of playing overpriced manufactured golf courses done by the likes of the Nicklaus' and Fazio's out there.
Thanks Ian for sharing your list and your thoughts on design.