The World Atlas of Golf might just be the most important golf architecture publication of all. Since the first edition was released in 1976, the book has probably been responsible for kindling more interest in course design among golfers than any other volume.
Part of the attraction of the World Atlas is its sheer scope. For many readers, the book represented their first exposure to some of golf 's greatest venues, and the new edition continues that theme. With detailed profiles of eighty of the most famous courses anywhere, the book covers the history of golf and the evolution of course design admirably.
It's not comprehensive, of course.
How could it ever be so when, even in these strained economic times, new courses are opening every week. Perhaps few of these new courses will qualify for inclusion among this select company, but the balance of courses has changed significantly from previous volumes. Modern venues such as Pacific Dunes and Cape Kidnappers have made the cut: who is to say that a course not yet open won't find its way into the book in future? A stellar list of golf designers and writers have collaborated on this new edition. The original 1976 publication boasted two of golf 's greatest ever chroniclers, Pat Ward-Smith and Herbert Warren Wind, but the 2008 version doesn't suffer by comparison with architects Tom Doak, Mike Clayton and Martin Hawtree on the list, and GCA contributors Mark Rowlinson (the book's general editor) and Richard Goodale among the list of writers.
This writer can find only one real criticism, and it will be echoed by most every buyer, who will surely find a favourite course is missing. Where are Machrihanish and Royal Cinque Ports?
This article first appeared in issue 14 of Golf Course Architecture, published in October 2008.