Golf Course Architecture - Issue 61, July 2020

48 INS IGHT BRETT HOCHSTE IN Asking questions at Askernish Ten years on, Brett Hochstein reflects on an experience that changed the way he viewed golf design and construction T en years ago this spring I went on a journey. Not just any journey, but one I had been fantasising about for over a year and, more indirectly, my whole life. The destination was Askernish Golf Club on the Isle of South Uist in Scotland’s far-flung Outer Hebrides, the purpose multi-faceted. Sponsored by the R&A and available to its scholarship students at Elmwood and Myerscough Colleges, the trip contained a number of components, most of which were educational. The first was to develop a sense of sustainability in golf course greenkeeping and design. The second was to get a look into the real origins of the game. And the third was simply to experience an incredible golf course and faraway land, creating new friends and a lifetime of memories along the way. For me, the trip exceeded all of those goals and then some. We began with a long and scenic ferry ride through the Sound of Mull and out to what seemed like the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Many go by plane to Benbecula, but I felt the ferry offered not only great scenery but also a sense of connection to the experiences of Old Tom Morris and his time, where he would have taken a similar sea route to the Isles. The characteristics of Old Tom and his era would be a strong recurring theme throughout the week, and rightfully so. He is perhaps the most important and influential figure in our game’s history, his contributions to greenkeeping, clubmaking, playing, and golf course architecture all significant in their respective departments. Particularly though, we would be focusing on the greenkeeping and golf design elements of Old Tom’s skillset. Old Tom’s relation to Askernish is direct. Documentation shows that he was present in 1891 to lay out a links in fantastic dunesland. He described the land as “second to none in the various elements that go to make a very good golf course,” and what you see today is exactly that. It wasn’t recently like that though. Some time in the 1930s, a large portion of the land near today’s