Monday, 27 December 2010

1900-1910 – Part 2 – The United States

The 9th at Myopia Hunt

In the United States golf course architecture took dramatic strides with three particular courses.

Herbert Leeds was dissatisfied with state of American architecture. He convinced the members of Myopia Hunt to let him design them a much better golf course than they had. The course he laid out then is still largely intact today and features some of the greatest natural green sites and rolling green contours you will find anywhere. He was the first to build a great course in the United States, using the land to full advantage and the addition of some very deep bunkers to create superior strategies. Even by today’s standards some of the original holes are still some of the best in the United States. The other interesting feature was the famous chocolate drop mounds created by burying the stone walls found on site, these mounds certainly had future influence on the use of mounding to add definition.

A Travis addition to Garden City

Garden City was a built around the same time as Myopia Hunt. It was initially routed and planned by Deverault Emmett using shallow bunkers and cross hazards, but the course also made great use of the land and feature frequent changes in direction to catch different winds on each hole. The course came into major prominence when Walter Travis filled in many of the cross bunkers and deepened all the green side bunkers to make the course much more difficult for the US Open. It was Travis’s changes that completely changed the nature of the course and largely made it what it is today. Travis was one of the first men to write extensively on architecture and was a huge proponent of strategic design. He was often misinterpreted to be from the penal school because of his belief about the depth and penalty of bunkers. His ideas and writing, were even influential than his later career as an architect, since he helped change the early perceptions on what golf architecture should be and helped shape the game.

The spectacular National Golf Links of America

The final course to shape the era was the National Golf Links of America designed by Charles Blair McDonald. He set out to build the greatest course in America and went across to Europe to study the best holes the game had to offer. He reviewed and wrote about their strategies and drew his own conclusions upon what elements of what holes that he should adapted to create the perfect golf course. And by god he nearly did, since his adaptations were so good that most exceeded the quality of the original hole including the great Redan from North Berwick.

What all three of these architects did is set the new standard for expectations in the United States. Each one was able to create something even better than the last architect and showed America that they could have their own great course equal to the greatest courses of Scotland.

A Scotsman named Donald Ross also came to the Boston area and began to design or revise a few of the courses around the area – but he’s a subject for another decade.

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