Sunday, 1 May 2011

Golf’s Most Influential Architects

Walking the 18th at Quaker Ridge with Gil Hanse
Bob Vasilak wrote a recent piece for Golf Inc. titled “Golf’s Most Influential Architects”
I was interviewed and supplied some background information and a few quotes on Tom Doak and Gil Hanse. I did not offer comments on others largely because many are not an influence on me.

The piece can be read here:

In it he listed the 15 Most Influential architects in this order:

1.   Pete Dye
2.   Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
3.   Tom Doak
4.   Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt
5.   Jack Nicklaus
6.   Robert Trent Jones Jr.
7.   Ron Fream
8.   Kyle Phillips
9.   Tom Fazio
10.   Greg Norman
11.   Rees Jones
12.   Gil Hanse
13.   Steve Smyers
14.   Richard Mandell
15.   Charles Blair MacDonald

Coore and Crenshaw's 17th at Bandon Trails

I'm influenced by Coore, Doak and Hanse (and lots of old dead guys like MacDonald too).

In the 16th spot he listed a number of American and foreign architects who received mention. I was a little surprised to see that I got a mention in the foreign group that included Nick Faldo, Michael Clayton and Martin Hawtree. Not bad company for a little Canadian architect who specializes in hostorical restoration.

We had a lengthy talk on the phone and Bob asked me to write one of the five sidebars on the course that had the greatest influence on me. While selecting St. Andrew's may be a little predictable, it was an honest selection. That particular experience convinced me that Max Behr was right and playing freedoms were the most important basis premise of my design philosophy.

11th Hole at St. Andrew's

Here is the piece I wrote:

After finishing an enjoyable round at St. Andrew’s Old, played in strong wind, I had an epiphany about the experience. I realized that the style of the architecture at the Old Course had little to do with punishing poor shots and had much more to do with encouraging intelligent play. It’s greatest attribute was the freedom to choose.

I had always appreciated how the course provided me with the option to select an appropriate route and the opportunity to play a variety of shots. I’m still thrilled by the unlimited options throughout the round, but it took a round played under difficult conditions to drive home the importance of having the freedom to set your own path.

I played well that day despite the wind. While I was pleased with the results, I knew that to improve my score that I would need to take on much more risk the next time out. St. Andrew’s Old is one of the few courses I know where you can have this sort of experience regardless of weather. Ever since that day, I have tried to provide the same freedom to choose in my own architecture.

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