Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"We're talking about a sport, something that's supposed to be fun..."

#11 at Oakland Hills-South:
The anti-thesis of what Turner's talking about.
An architect should never lose sight of his responsibility as an educational factor in the game. Nothing will tend more surely to develop the right spirit of the game than an insistence upon the high ideals that should inspire sound golf architecture.

- Wm. Flynn (1891-1945).

Last night I listened to episode 4 of an interesting new series of podcasts called 'State of the Game'.

In this episode, host Rod Morri talks golf architecture with guests Mike Clayton and Greg Turner. Both Clayton and Turner are Tour pros turned architects. Clayton has done some great work recently in his native Australia, and now partners with fellow Aussie, Geoff Ogilvy, in the design business. Turner is also a golf pro turned architect, who's doing some interesting work with fellow Kiwi Scott Macpherson. 

Geoff Shackelford has a link to this very interesting discussion, at his blog, here.

One of the most interesting bits of this 46 minute chat came from Turner, who says it's critical that golf architects play a role as educators. (I agree.) Some times it's not easy though. Turner adds: When working at clubs with means, architects are often dealing with people who are successful in their own walk of life and who, in turn, are some times disagreeable with views on golf and course architecture. Many of these people look at golf architecture simply as a way to penalize golfers for erring, he says. And, the more a golfer errs, the greater they think the penalty should be.

Turner recognizes that this is a rational, logical way to think about things, and a reasonable way to run a society. But, we're not talking about running a society, he says. "We're talking about a game. We're talking about a sport, something that's supposed to be fun and enjoyable."

Words of wisdom that more golfers need to consider.

I agree with Turner. A strictly penal approach to golf architecture results in making the game increasingly more miserable for those who are least able to deal with it. Sound golf architecture is not about penalizing poor shots. It's about making golf more interesting, fun and enjoyable.


  1. Jeff, I can't seem to locate the link to the discussion via Geoff's blog .. ?? I'm probably just getting older & blinder, but I still need help ...

  2. Gerry - click the word "here" at the end of the sentence where I mention the link at Shackelford's blog. That just worked for me.

  3. Jeff, I agree with Oakland Hills South as a whole as the antithesis of what Turner is talking about, but I think 11 is one of the better examples that works against that. There are options as in carrying the hill (which is awkward visually and deflects instinct) to gain the better angle, and it is not quite as penal to miss. The saddle green sits nicely and is pretty fun, though I think it would be more fun if short grass crept up the slopes more and the bunkers were re-thought.

    First time I've had access to blogspot in two months (aargh China), and enjoying catching up and seeing what you are up to. Good stuff.

  4. Good to hear from you, Brett.

    I don't disagree with your opinions on #11 @ OH-South... I guess it was just the most interesting photo of the course I had available!

    I'd like to hear about what you're up to in China. Let's connect by email soon.