Monday, 27 December 2010

1940-1950 - The War Years

Biarritz, with the ocean holes long gone

Just as the golf industry seemed poised to recovery fully, the war completely stopped the progress of golf architecture. Not only did nothing get built, but the demand for the limited supply of oil and gas caused many courses to close and go to pasture. Both Maidstone and Augusta two courses belonging to the elite in society were forced to shut down till the end of the war.

To many of the seaside course the results were far more permanent. Turnberry was paved over to become an airstrip for the air force, the scars are still visible even today. Others like Princes and the famous Biarritz course in France were bombed out of existence. Oahu in Hawaii and Kawana Fuji in Japan were also severely damaged through bombardment. There were many smaller courses that were used for military training and even turned over for the production of vegetables to help make it through. Many courses disappeared for the greater good and rightfully so.
Paraparaumu and its wild undulations

The war would end in 1945 and reconstruction began, but golf was not an immediate priority. One early exception is also one of the only significant courses built. Paraparaumu in New Zealand was designed by Alex Russell (Royal Melbourne East) and made use of the severe and rolling terrain to make an exciting (and wind swept) golf course. The fairways feature pitch and roll with many greens set on natural plateaus placing a premium on shot-making. The course is the first of a slow trickle of new projects that came at the end of the decade, but many began to look different that their predecessors.

The end of an era saw Trent Jones make some changes to Augusta including the relocated 11th green and major change to the #16 hole. Both holes were clearly built to the new heroic school of architecture. This also brought the two “Bobby” Jones’s together, which led to the 1948 collaboration on the new Peachtree Golf Course in Atlanta. While this was supposed to combine the two talents, it became a pure expression of Robert Trent Jones instead. Peachtree marks the definitive end to the Golden Age and the definitive beginning to modern golf architecture. Robert Trent Jones built a course that featured huge tees and greens, huge flexibility in set up, including very defined pin positions built into very large greens. This architecture was very maintenance friendly with its ability to spread wear and offer massive flexibility in set up. It was flexible in the set up from long to short and from hard to easy depending on tee markers and pin positions. It also reflected Trent’s philosophy of a hard par and any easy bogie. It was the beginning of a new era.

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