Golf Course Architecture - Issue 63, January 2021

63 We are predisposed with the hope that it doesn’t suck. A new school success, the first X Games welcomed over 198,000 spectators. Within four years, the ratings for the upstart X Games began to eclipse those of a number of f lagship sports programming. ESPN tripled down year over year investment and began to expand programming to multiple seasons. The Winter X Games became a media darling that not only expanded advertiser revenue, it increased traffic to previously suffering ski areas married to stagnant snowboarder-banning business models. It also increased sales of equipment and forced ski manufacturers to alter their design and engineering to deliver a more ‘snowboard like’ experience. Old School adapts to New School. A new new school of golf design Since the days of Old Tom Morris, arguably all subsequent golf architecture is more modern than Old Tom’s. But in golf, we argue about everything. Minimalist, classic, modern, MOI, coefficients of this and that, left hand low (right hand low if you are a lefty), Stimp, and of course, ‘The Ball’. We love it all. Minimalism stands out as it likely saved the modern golf industry from itself. It placed investment in golf architecture in the driver seat. Meticulous architectural restoration has blossomed in the wake of minimalism. A classic that has been corrupted, neglected, overgrown or abandoned does not necessarily retain the right to be known as a classic. One universal trait across places like Bandon, Ballyneal, St Andrews, Ballybunion, Royal St George’s, Sand Hills, Old Town Club, they are all about golf first. That is not to devalue resultant lodging and membership benefits, but the main attraction, the raison d’être is the quality and unwavering commitment to lead with the golf architecture. The golfers will follow. Like the X Games, Sweetens is a descendant of previous forms of sport. It is most definitely a beneficiary of minimalism’s renewed focus on golf architecture. It’s just louder. Nebraska The excellence of the remote golf business in Nebraska is legendary. From the cloistered Sand Hills, to the popular and public Wild Horse, Nebraska has an organic golf trail. In an odd way, golf in Nebraska mirrors the Colorado ski industry. Aspen, Vail and Telluride were remote before somebody said: “Hey, this could be a recreational business destination.” Telluride the town was a quiet remote abandoned mining locale. Telluride the ski town is now a remote billionaire playground grown from an obscure steep powder skiing paradise populated mostly by hippies. The approach to the second green at King-Collins Design’s Landmand layout atop of the Loess Hills in Nebraska Photo: StoryLounge/Vaughn Halyard