The 2013 class of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects’ vocational qualification course has recently returned from a study tour to the Fife area.
The three students, Alex Hay of European Golf Design, Dannis Nieuwpoort of Mastergolf and Michael Terech from Czech firm Golfer, were invited on the study tour by EIGCA partner Toro, whose corporate accounts manager Andy Brown accompanied the trip.
The tour is the final part of the EIGCA programme and gave the students an opportunity to examine how traditional links courses have developed over time and how they have coped with changes in club and ball technology, as well as the introduction of modern maintenance techniques. Following the tour, each student will prepare a paper on aspects of links design, which will be presented at next year’s EIGCA conference.
Gordon Moir, director of greenkeeping at St Andrews Links Trust, hosted the group during a walk on the Old Course and at the Castle Course. The final visit was to Elie The group was met by secretary Gordon Fleming and Alan Mackie, past captain and club historian, who described how the course has changed since the earliest known record of an official layout in 1770.
EIGCA past president Ken Moodie, who accompanied the students, said he found the opportunity to play the Jubilee course at St Andrews with hickory clubs and replica gutty golf balls the most interesting experience. “This gave the students a first-hand demonstration of the shorter distance the ball could be hit with old technology and underlined the reasons that a good grasp of the running game was required in order to play the links courses well. Tee shots had to be strategically positioned in order to find an opening to the green to allow a ball to be run into the flag. The students also experienced the difficulties of getting the ball in the air with a long shot and the challenge of controlling a smaller and lighter golf ball in the wind. It was very noticeable how the break of the ball was affected by the breeze during putting, especially in the last few feet of its roll.”
Terech said: “Hickories and gutties make it an entirely different game! It is the architectural elements and strategic solutions – within superficially similar courses – which is truly astonishing. Seeing the classic and the modern really shows the universal greatness of links courses which lies in fine details of the land.”