Golf Course Architecture - Issue 66, October 2021

44 INS IGHT A ll things change. Most things veer to the right, a move that comes with either age and experience or spent dreams and a hardening heart depending on your point of view. The head-on rush to embrace conservatism affects all walks of life: a socialist starts to question his youthful values; a wild child becomes an established member of the bourgeoisie; a links golf course removes its quirky edges as successive generations conform to some arbitrary ‘norm’. Aside from having their pick of the land, early course architects had one huge advantage over their modern equivalents; they weren’t bound by pre- conceptions of how a golf course should play and what it should look like. These days, we have 150 years of history, millions of consumers and nearly as many administrators reminding us what they expect to see and pay for in their golf courses. But back in those halcyon days of the late 1800s where the motto may well have been ‘anything goes’, holes were laid out because they amused and cajoled those that would play them. “Look at that huge sandhill there!” one could imagine Victorian golfers saying. “Let’s play straight over it. Wouldn’t that be a laugh?” How things have changed. The rough and ready side of golf course architecture slowly diminished through the twentieth century. By introducing the strategic school, the virtuoso architects of the roaring twenties were innovative with hole routings and hazard placements, but they were already moving away from lay-of-the land green sites to a more built solution, ‘modern’ design as Bernard Darwin called it. Colt, MacKenzie, Ross et al introduced the concept of the golf course as we know it today. Links courses had their greens relocated from low- lying punchbowls to visible and water shedding high points. Many of the more outrageous dune carries were eradicated for a more sensible, more mature, less maverick alternative. Think the original Maiden at Sandwich for one. We’d be hard pushed to find anyone – save perhaps a direct descendent of Old Tom himself – that would argue Change for change’s sake? Ally McIntosh offers a plea to links courses to resist the trend towards homogenisation of design ALLY MC INTOSH