Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

Jay Blasi is helping to guide the restoration of Dr Alister MacKenzie’s Sharp Park layout in San Francisco 49 Photo: Brad Knipstein With governments around the world under pressure to save money, can municipal golf survive? I t is a common criticism of golf that it is a game for the wealthy. And, let us not beat the bush about it; through most of golf’s history, that has largely been the truth. The early Scottish clubs – consider the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers – were posh because, in the days of the featherie ball, only the wealthy could afford the equipment. A skilled ballmaker could make only a small number of featheries in a day, so they cost between two and five shillings – ten to twenty US dollars each in modern money – and thus golf was largely confined to the elite. It was only after the invention of the much cheaper gutty ball in 1848 that golf became a true game of the people in Scotland. And it is not a coincidence that the second half of the nineteenth century saw the first great golf boom. A lot of the oldest Scottish courses are located on common land, and are therefore essentially public – famously,