Monday, 27 December 2010

1920-1930 - Part 2- America

The decade opened with a course called Pebble Beach (1919), and like the landmark courses discussed before, it was also planned by a first time architect named Jack Neville along with Douglas Grant. The golf course features some very great holes – revised by Mackenzie, Egan and others – but what made the golf course great was the amount of ocean front and its influence on so many holes. Samuel Morris planned housing around Pebble Beach, but instead of being on the ocean, he set it back and let the views out be over the course and out to the ocean instead. Pebble Beach was a great example for future integrated golf and housing projects where the golf did not have to be compromised to maximize the value of the housing.

The next course built in this massive development was Cypress Point Club by Alister Mackenzie where once again the golf course features the most ideal land. Where Cypress Point was clever was how Mackenzie used his architecture to integrate the trees, the dunes land and the ocean frontage. It is a remarkable lesson in the importance of transition and how this is accomplished. Anyone trying to integrate two completely different environments should look at this example. Cypress Point also does a wonderful job of teaching us about how the best holes are far more important than meeting convention, back to back par threes and fives are lost within this paradise.

George Thomas
would start Riviera in 1927 with a simple box canyon that was not overly spectacular and would go on to eventually create one of the greatest courses the game has to offer. The amazing thing about Riviera is the amount the course rewards a player who can work the ball. Thomas balanced fades and draws even occasionally asking for both on many holes. He used trees, bunkers and slopes to influence your decisions, but also used carry bunkers and options to encourage thoughtful play. Riviera is almost a flawless example of a golf course that is fair and interesting for the average player, while an exacting an clever test of a great players ability to work the ball and use their head.

There were other architects regional architects including Langford and Moreau who were all busy at work building 100’s of new courses throughout the United States trying to fill the demand for new courses. One particular architect bares specific mention for the influence he would eventually have. William Flynn was a Philadelphia based designer of a series of golf course that were not as aesthetically pleasing as Mackenzie or Thomas work, but Flynn was a master strategist. Flynn carefully laid out his holes so that the golfer had to make shots in order to score. He used a combination of green slopes, fairway slopes, trees and bunkers to force the player to shape and work the ball for position. He often completely dictated playand became the basis for the modern school of architecture.

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