Sunday, 2 January 2011

Spirit of Freedom

I have provided you with one of my favourite quotes I know in regards to the spirit of the game:

“The concern of the architect should be positive and have solely to do with what a golfer should do. His mission is not that or a moralist, the principle word of whose vocabulary is DON”T. The golfer should not be made to feel that he must renounce, that the primary object for him is to conquer his faults. It is not for the architect to inform him he played badly. That is for the professional. No, the mission of the architect is that of a leader. By the development of his hazards he exhorts the golfer to do his best, enticing him at times ‘to shoot the bones for the whole works.’ Thus he instills the golfer a spirit of conquest by presenting him with definite objectives upon which he must concentrate. It is for the golfer to stamp his law upon the ground. It is no way the business of the architect to stamp his law upon the golfer. But thus it is in most cases. The penal school of golf spells death to that spirit of independence, life and freedom which we are all seeking, and which we should find in all places of our recreation.” – Max Behr

I will always prefer to play holes where I have clear alternatives. I’m not talking about a hole where I can try cutting a corner to gain a better angle in, but a hole where I can play it a multitude of ways in order to secure a score. Think of the 14th at St. Andrews as a prime example, the hole is full of optional routes and favors no particular type of player. You can choose so many different lines in order to suit your own ability and set up your preferred selection on the approach. Holes like this can be played so many ways that it would take 100’s of rounds of discovery to figure out what work best for you – and even that would depend on the wind and how you’re playing. Discovery and freedom are two aspects that I enjoy as a player, it why holes like this have caught my imagination as a designer.

The goal of the architect is to provide an interesting a playing experience as possible. There is nothing more interesting than having an optional way to play a shot or to play a hole. When a decision doesn’t make itself for you and you truly have to choose – these are the moments of freedom that captures the spirit of the game describe by Max Behr.

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