“This list is so horrible I don't know to begin so I won't because there's too much to talk about.” One of the first comments on the 50 Greatest Fighter List
I have enjoyed reading the 50 Greatest Boxers of all Time – a feature presented on ESPN.com – written by Kieran Mulvaney. The link is here for the curious:
The list is highly controversial - and heavily criticized – but compelling all the same. The film clips presented with the article must be seen. I’m not a boxing aficionado by any stretch of the imagination, but even I was nostalgic watching the clips of fighters like Roberto Duran and Muhammad Ali.
This got me thinking that there must be a list of the top 10 or 25 greatest or influential golf course architects. Apparently there was something in Golf Week that mentions Mike Strantz – since he had mentioned it on his web site - but I was unable to come up with that list. I couldn’t find anything and it had me wondering could I dare come up with an actual list. I like lists – hell everyone likes lists – but this one seemed a tall order. I think the idea of one person putting together a list of the greatest architects of all time is kind of silly since none of us could possibly have the knowledge to really do this by ourselves and we all bring specific bias that will shape the list to suit out tastes.
The next problem is familiarity, since most people have a closer association to one or two particular architects and will have very limited exposure to work by others due to geography or time. This is where their reputations and the written opinion of others will end up shaping the list more than one person’s experience could. To do this you would need to go out on a limb at times - Kieran certainly did – but it would open you up to criticism for even trying.
I was able to put together a quick tentative list of my personal top ten architects, but that seemed to be too few. I then decided to list all the architects who did something that shaped golf course architecture and I found I was quickly up to 35. I ended up with an arbitrary list of 25, since that seemed to include all the really great architects in history and a few worthy of mention for their contributions to the art form. After I formed my initial list of 25, it wasn’t who made the list that drew my attention, but rather the quality of architects left off.
The next question was where to place people single course architects with one incredibly great course to their credit? Would that be fair to compare them to an architect who built 100 courses with only one that was considered the equal of the greatest - but the rest of his work was clearly not?