In January I also posted the culmination of 10 people’s research and produced an accurate list of Stanley Thompson designed courses. I had been frustrated by the lack of commitment from the Stanley Thompson Society to research and produce a definitive list. I always felt that this should be their primary role as a society. While I don’t think the list is “the definitive” list – it was produced with as a massive research file full of notations – and I hope others will pick up from here and help make the list more accurate.
The next highlight wasn’t about architecture. I had been to the RCGA’s conference on Player Development and managed to mistakenly end up at a meeting concerning the Future Links Program (my real interest any way). From some frustrations on listening to how things were being handled I decided that I needed to write about “Growing the Game” – particularly since nobody else seemed to want to. I touched on every program that I could find and then provided commentary on them – being the parent of a junior who was new to the game – I knew the frustrations in getting him involved and engaged in the sport. While some individual programs are great – I think unless the groups can come together – none of this will make much difference.
The First Low Point
In the spring I began to get increasingly busy and went through a period where the writing my writing became very erratic. This was the first time I thought about packing it in. There are a couple of gems that represent everything that I’m about. The first is a piece called “Spirit of Freedom” that describes the birth of my philosophy on how courses should play – based upon the writings of Max Behr. The other is the article called “Should bunkers be inside the fairway lines” which gives a great indication on where I’m heading with my own designs – particularly if they are public facilities.
The Best Series of All
I produced a lot of marginal articles for a while trying to write without a theme till finally I settled on an idea that really put me back on track – I decided to tackle the history of golf course architecture. I decided that if someone was going to follow all these ideas about architecture – they really needed to know how all the ideas came about, who were the key architects along the way and how did we get to where we are now.
It became the perfect set up for something that I wanted to do before – but was afraid to do – the top 25 architects of history. I thought I would be roundly chastised on sites like GolfClubAtlas for having the gall to do this. I thought people would question my qualifications and choices to the point that I would be roundly criticized and regret taking it on. The series was exceptionally well received and I think people took it in the spirit of exploring all the different architects rather than quibbling over who’s where on the list. It represents the best work done on the blog to date.
Stuck in a Rut
After that the blog went into the toilet. I was tired from traveling, working long hours and worse I had nothing that I wanted to write about. Since I lacked spare time almost every blog was written too quickly to have any lasting value. In hindsight, I should have stopped writing after the Top 25. The only highlight in the middle of this was the short lived experiments with video. I presented the holes of Saskatoon where I explained what I was trying to do through hand-drawn plans and an off camera description.
Trying to Get Back on Track
The most recent series was a logical one for me – I had spent most of the time explaining what I like and what influenced these ideas – so why not explain what I don’t like. When I go see courses – including my own work – I review what I like and why and what I don’t think works and why. I keep all these ideas stored and try to use both sides to help me make the best choices in my own work. So I presented the ideas that I don’t care for as a series to change things up. I’ve never had more comments than I did from that series – I think it’s easier for people to understand what they don’t like about a hole or a course than it is to understand why something works – so it’s easier to relate. I was tickled that I had a number of architects agree or point out how many of my list they had on the last project – all for fun. As I said at the onset – this is what “I” don’t like – which has nothing to do with whether an idea is good or bad.
The next series will represent what I want to build – I have often referred to it as my design book - using sketches, water colours (if I can find the guts to paint again after 20 years), computer illustrations, real examples and a clear written intent. I plan to take my writings – combine them with the images – so that what I want to do is not only concise but clearly illustrated too.
I’m also considering following in the footsteps of other architects and look at my own 10 laws or another similar intellectual exercise to define what I think and feel about architecture. I want to take the last two years of writings and take everything up a notch this winter.
The Final Series
I still – for now - intend to stick with this blog until I finally build my first “solo” course. The idea is to walk you through from getting the project, to design concepts, working drawings, construction in the field through to opening day. You’ll get an initial taste of that this summer with Saskatoon where I will walk you through the holes as they develop.