Golf Course Architecture - Issue 74, October 2023

38 RON FORSE INSIGHT As a kid growing up in New Jersey I was always fascinated with the quirky, randomly formed dunes down the Shore as well as the more inland pitch-pine-laden landscapes that quickly rise and fall as knob and kettle formations. Closer to home, I would recruit buddies for war games in a sand pit with gnarly bumps and ridges and even an ancient, depressed roadway, which served as a rampart to hide behind and attack. These landscape features resembled bombed-out battlefields. As golf caught my imagination, I started to notice that perhaps the most interesting courses are those that share some of the same topographical characteristics that many battlefields tend to have. There is a visceral, as well as historical, connection between golf and the fields of battle. Indeed, the great Alister MacKenzie famously learned principles of golf architecture – visual, topographical camouflage and earth-shaping techniques – by observing those built by the Boers of South Africa in the Boer War. So, one of the great geniuses of golf design learned his craft substantially on the battlefield. The nomenclature of golf and military is often common. The Redan hole gets its name because of its resemblance to a V-shaped fortification where the British fought the Russians in the Crimean War. The words ‘bunker’ and ‘trench’ are descriptions of features on both courses and battlefields. The narrow bunkers at the tenth of the Myopia Hunt Club in Massachusetts truly resemble World War One trench works. There are instances where actual American Civil War ramparts and earthworks were used as part of a modern course. Golf architecture writer Ron Whitten has pointed out the many examples of these which can be found up and down the East Coast and all the way out to Texas. Before the venerable Newport Country Club (the venue for the 2023 Senior Open Championship) was constructed, its tenth and eleventh holes were tent encampments for Rochambeau’s troops during the American Revolutionary War. Rows of parallel swales and ridges can still be seen in the holes, along with a rampart fortification off to the side. An interesting aspect of all this is how American golf architecture started out looking more like a civil war battlefield than the strategic, natural courses that came into vogue in the early 1900s. This Victorian era of architecture so often featured flat-top berms, six feet high Ron Forse explores the crossover, in reality and in language, between golf and warfare. Golf as war