Forrest Richardson has urged his fellow golf course architects to ramp up creativity as he begins his term as president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.
In a newly released film titled ‘Ahead of the Game’, Richardson said: “We need to keep looking at new formats for courses. We’ve had such a great run of looking at designs that break the mould. Our creativity needs to ramp up as we define what a golf course is and what it can be. Exciting stuff is happening across the world, but I’m certain not everything has been done or considered when figuring out how we design golf holes or how these new courses are going to look.”
These words relate to the first of three areas of focus Richardson highlights for golf course design: ‘Keep thinking’.
The second area of focus is ‘Less is More’: “Playing the game does not rely on hundreds of acres,” said Richardson. “That model will live on, but we need to plan smaller footprints or even not leave a footprint at all… rethink the water, the materials, the labour, the resources we use to build and maintain a golf course. In doing so, we will also be giving back the greatest commodity of all – time. We need more flexible courses that can be played in different ways, with fewer or shorter holes. The same creativity holds true with practice. Whether indoors or out, fun is now a part of the program.”
Richardson’s third area of focus is ‘Design the Game’: “When you are designing a golf course you are designing the game,” he said. “There may be no better group than the world’s few hundred golf course architects to dig deep into the game itself. We’re the part of golf that has the creative DNA to design and invent what’s next. We have become so accustomed to standards, norms, policies and rules that, unfortunately, our courses have taken on some of these same characteristics. Does golf only happen when we have clubs and balls? Are courses only made up of what we call ‘golf holes?’
“Let’s start asking whether there are new ways to play the game, and also the wheres, the whens and the who? The game itself is where we can make a difference, and creativity is where we will help mold the game to fit an entirely new generation that has yet to come to golf. Golf courses of the future should be different, and they will be. We have the opportunity to ensure that difference will be more fun, more enjoyable, more diverse and inviting.”
In the film, Richardson also shares details of his entry to the profession, his relationship with mentor Arthur Jack Snyder and the evolution of the golf courses. “The game of 400 years ago was nothing at all like it is today,” said Richardson. “The term ‘golf course’ meant nothing at all until the game had been played for several hundred years.”
The full film can be viewed below:
Richardson officially became ASGCA president on 2 October at the society’s 2020 virtual annual meeting.