Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The flag of revolution.

Some golfers are very suspicious about golf course improvement plans. Usually without having heard the detailed rationale behind such plans, these golfers immediately have it out for the consulting architect. "Alright," they seem to be thinking, "who's this guy who's going to ruin our golf course."

While preparing for two upcoming presentations at clubs where I consult this past week, I happened to also be revisiting Bernard Darwin's classic tome, Golf Between Two Wars, originally published in 1944. Darwin includes an excellent chapter titled Architecture, in which he writes:

There is another difficulty in the way of the architects. The attitude of the general body of golfers towards them sometimes strikes me as like that of the public towards the police. Men know that they cannot get on without police and are in theory full of gratitude and admiration for them, but at the same time they are always on the watch to catch them out, and become on very slight provocation decidedly hostile. So the golfers are always ready to catch the architect tripping. They will not stand at his hands ingenuity that goes beyond a certain point. If he designs a hole with, as they think, too small a margin of safety; if the hole has too indistinct and baffling skyline; if it calls for too exact an achievement; if it debars them from doing what they want to do and makes them do something that they don't want, they shout in chorus "Away with it!", and that hole, sometimes rightly no doubt but sometimes wrongly, has to go. The average golfer does not appreciate subtlety and if he thinks he is being "got at" he raises the flag of revolution.

I guess we, golf architects, can take some solace from the fact that, apparently, things haven't changed much in the past 67 years (and more, I'm sure).

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