Our great new movement in Golf Course Architecture
We are starting to see a peak in golf course design; an epic peak. It’s the kind of dramatic change for the better that we may not see again for an age but which changes much that happens afterward for the better.
Bandon Dunes, Tobacco Road and Black Mesa are not merely golf courses. They are part of a larger phenomenon; a movement away from over-marketing and price gouging, worthless, meaningless superlatives and self-aggrandizing billionaire developers. Playing these courses at the turn of the millennium, when they were young and raw and undiscovered was a singular experience. It was an experience which unified, galvanized and energized everyone who was there as a witness. It meant something. No explanation, no flowery prose, no physical memento can match the feeling of knowing that you were there at that time in that place and joined by others just as unified, galvanized and energized by the course as you were. It was as though our energy and love of the game had struck sparks and roared into flame time and again.
More than that, there was a fantastic universal sense among Golfers (true Golfers - capitalized, in italics – not merely people who play golf) that the philosophy underlying these designs had begun to spread.
We were winning. After decades in the dark, the tide had turned. There is now a sense of inevitable victory over the outdated and addled forces that have compartmentalized, overpriceded and homogenized our noble, egalitarian game. With men like Engh, Silva, Doak, Spann and Strantz and many others, (forgive me if I left your name out) we are riding the crest of a beautiful wave.
Now, with just a few dollars and a few days, you can head west or south or whatever direction and with the right kind of eyes, you too can see the crest of that wave – see the high water mark that has been set.
Happily, I do not doubt that many new courses will be built in the coming years that will require further exploration and analysis. In the meantime, it gives me great pleasure to think that generations of golfers will have a fuller knowledge of Tobacco Road, Bandon Dunes, The Rawls Course and Black Mesa to match their exposure to the greatness of TPC Sawgrass, World Woods and PGA West. Some of these courses you know well, but many may be obscure. You may have never even have heard of the existence of some. But each one is magnificent deserve full exploration and should be shared with as many people as possible.
Full many a flower may be born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air, but not if I have anything to say about it. That's why I am a golf writer.
The picture is 16 at Black Mesa outside Santa Fe, courtesy of Eddie Peck and Black Mesa.