Golf Course Architecture - Issue 61, July 2020

15 MA I L BOX Dear Editor The discussion about slow play in your pages recently caught my attention. It seems to me that, since we were able to start playing golf again after the Covid-19 shutdown, courses have been extremely busy, but play has been moving at an excellent speed. What is the secret? Two-ball play! At the older established British clubs which demand that all play is in two- balls, pace is always extremely rapid. I am not suggesting that every course should go two-ball only – I recognise that it’s not practical for most, especially those that are run on a commercial basis. But it seems to me that setting aside some times for two- ball play would be a good thing for virtually any course. If, for example, courses said that all play on Saturday mornings before 11am should be in twosomes, then the busiest day of the week would not get as terribly slow as it so often does. It is worth a try! Steven Thompson Yeovil, England Dear Editor I am glad to see that so many golf clubs now seem to have grasped the importance of getting the landscape on their courses to be more natural. It seems to me that we have mostly emerged from a phase of so-called ‘beautification’ where clubs have thought that a golf course is a large garden, and that massive amounts of ornamental planting is a good idea. How wrong they are! The best courses are the ones that most feel like going for a nature ramble. It doesn’t matter whether it is a hike through heath, sand dunes, desert or prairie – the wild feel of great golf is a central part of its appeal. To walk round a great links with the wind whistling through the dunes and the sound of the wild birds twittering is among the best experience that golf can provide. Maybe most courses can’t offer this much, but they can all seek to be the best they can be. Devon Mitchell New York City, USA Dear Editor I understand why the professional tours want to get back into action as soon as possible after the coronavirus pandemic, but I really do not think that playing sport without spectators is very sensible. For sure, gate money is not an especially important part of the economics of professional sport, but without fans, where is the atmosphere? The idea of a behind-closed-doors Ryder Cup is one of the most stupid I have ever heard – the fans are the Ryder Cup. Without them what is the point? James McKeown Durban, South Africa We are delighted to receive letters from readers, and the best in each issue will be rewarded with a golf shirt. Send to 6 Friar Lane, Leicester, LE1 5RA, UK, or email us at Our last Gopher Watch proved more difficult than we expected – perhaps due to the recent removal of the sleepers from the famous bunker on the fourth at Royal St George’s. Congratulations to Lynne Marwood, who was first out of the hat. A bit of a departure for this issue, as Sandy has been in lockdown and only made it as far as the local country park. He’s identified a great spot for a short par three to a raised green in front of a royal residence. For a chance to win a GCA golf shirt, tell us which Queen was born there? Answers to GOPHER WATCH