Golf Course Architecture - Issue 70, October 2022

42 INS IGHT Once upon a time, it was quite normal for courses to be ‘finished’ after they were open for play – designers often left the placing of bunkers until they had had chance to observe where golfers were hitting the ball. Architects like Harry Colt would quite often route a course but not indicate where the bunkers were to go, before returning after the course had been played on for a time – and take note of the position of divots before placing the bunkers. From a strategic point of view, this approach makes a lot of sense. The essence of strategic golf, as described by thinkers like John Low, is to place hazards in or very close to the ideal line of play, so that the bold golfer, who is prepared to drive very near the hazard, is the one who reaps the biggest reward. But in our modern age, it really isn’t a practical approach. Developers and golfers alike expect courses to open in a completed state, and any architect who said ‘I’m going to leave the bunkers for later’ would be unlikely to secure many other jobs. That said, golf courses are living things, and change very slightly every day. Once the course is open, change is inevitable, whether it be implemented by the architect, the owner, or just by nature (for example, the growing of trees). You expect a course to evolve, but I’m trying to get the vision to be complete on opening day. The golf course is a prototype until people start to play it. But it would be difficult not to have planned out bunkers beforehand – you basically use them as strategic punctuation to organise the journey. I’m not quite sure how you could mentally divorce yourself from thinking about where they would go. You will always see things that could be better that you would not have seen until people start hitting balls, especially with my penchant for greens that move quite a lot – I often have sleepless nights wondering if I have gone too far. I say to myself, ‘Just build f lat greens!’ – but I can’t! Right first time? Architect Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design considers when, how and why a course might need tweaking just after opening ROB IN HI SEMAN