Golf Course Architecture - Issue 61, July 2020

Photo: Mark Alexander Golf Photography OP INION A lister MacKenzie succinctly sums up the purpose and ideal placement of hazards on a golf course: “A hazard placed in the exact position where a player would naturally go is frequently the most interesting situation, as a special effort is then needed to get over it or to avoid it.” The varied landscapes over which golf is played allow for endless combinations of features – natural, man-made or a combination. If man-made features are thoughtful and artistic, and the combinations nuanced, this can present interesting, playful riddles for golfers to solve. I’ve been fortunate in over 20 years as a golf course architect to travel, study and to be inspired by some of the most interesting examples of classic and modern golf architecture. Here are a few of my favourite features. The straight line Some say straight lines have no place in golf architecture – except perhaps in the shaft of a golf club. In my opinion this couldn’t be further from the truth. Discovering and embracing those rare instances when nature and/or the human hand contrasts, blends or juxtaposes the irregular and unpredictable form with a consistent straight edge may open your mind to something you haven’t considered before. Courses that organically intersect with their built surroundings often have a functional yet elegant hard edge with which to contend, like ancient rock walls that ride atop a wavy landscape, or utilitarian channels that served the landscape prior to golf’s introduction. The opening tee shot at Prestwick is one of the most intimidating, jarring, yet fantastic experiences in golf architecture. The stone wall between the course and railway line runs down the entire right side of the golf hole, narrowing until it rests snuggly against the right green edge. Challenge the property boundary for the advantage or suffer the consequences with a poor angle from the left after a timid play. This sets up a wonderful strategy to start your round and serves as a precursor for good, funky things to come. Favourite features Brandon Johnson shares four of his favourite golf course features BRANDON JOHNSON 44