Golf Course Architecture - Issue 72, April 2023

54 One of my pursuits has been to discover how ‘firsts’ were brought to the game by golf architects. I recall reading with interest about George Thomas and William Bell’s bunker in the middle of the sixth green at Riviera, and AW Tillinghast considering ‘bumps’ of tall grass on and around the putting surface. Then there’s the horseshoe green, Biarritz, plateau, punchbowl and so on. I suspect many were accidents – the punchbowl is a good guess – while others were painstakingly formed by workers herding mules with ploughs. In the past 90 years there has been very little in the way of new green design ideas. Most of what we do is re-execute, adapt and copy. I’m guilty of that as well. My attempts at something completely different, to coin Monty Python, have included a thumbprint and a groove. My thumbprint debuted at Peacock Gap in Northern California, where I worked out the drainage and created a twofoot-deep pocket that was about 15 feet or so in diameter. It was carefully placed, slightly offset, within the otherwise flat and large green. The owner filled it in after only a few months of play. I was crushed. Ten years later I brought it back from the tombs at Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley, Arizona. It’s still there, and I’m happy to report it’s well enjoyed as an interesting green hazard; one to be avoided unless, of course, the cup is set within the thumbprint itself. My groove design was simply too severe. I admit to misjudging the long and narrow ravine running from the back of the green all the way to the front. It looked awesome but got bulldozed as well. Someday I’ll try it again, only this time around it will be better executed. For many years I’ve experimented with replicas, changing up the Biarritz (sideways) and having fun with plateaus, plus variations on waves, Once in a new moon It’s rare to find unique green designs in golf. Forrest Richardson describes his quest for something completely different at Promontory in Utah FORREST RICHARDSON INSIGHT