Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Prodigy versus Master

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Picasso (courtesy Wikopedia)
A prodigy is someone who is blessed with a clear artistic vision from a very early age. This is not to be confused with knowing that you want to be an architect since about half of all current architects talk about wanting to design holes from a young age. The prodigy is the artist who at an early age possesses a clear vision of what they are trying to do. They are often the ones who talk about what they don’t like and see themselves as the ones to bring change to the status quo. The wonderful aspect of a prodigy is they tend to acquire the skills they need at an early age and through the clarity of their vision often have great success right from the outset. A prodigy is the artist that we tend to pay the most attention to, particularly while they are alive, because they excite us through their personality and work. The prodigy has the rare ability to create and “walk away” without much backward reflection on the work. They see each built vision as a perfect expression of that moment and appreciate for what it is.

Golf architecture has almost no prodigies.

The Basket of Apples by Paul Cezanne (courtesy Wikopedia)

Most great architects are Masters. The Master is equal to the prodigy in terms of talent. But their route to a successful expression of that talent is much, much longer. Like the prodigy they also know what they want to accomplish, but unlike the prodigy they rarely understand how to get there. They usually begin the journey without clarity and much of the early work is setting the table for what is to come in the future. They obtain clarity through exploration. They learn, work, experiment, seek new ideas, create, assess, refine, create and so on, often for decades until through determination and inherent ability they find what they are looking for. The main reason for this drawn out approach is they seek perfection. Even upon the completion of their most successful work they will often be surprisingly self critical of what they have created. It’s the determination to find perfection that drives them to the heights of expression that we admire.

Golf architecture has approximately twenty Masters.


  1. Care to list them?

  2. I will try if I get time today - but it may require the week-end for consideration.


  3. Wikipedia, not Wikopedia! You could get sued for that!