By Design – Issue 51, Winter 2020

14 The gold standard Golf course architects from the ‘Golden Age’ of the early twentieth century created many of the world’s most admired courses. As Richard Humphreys finds out, their work and philosophies continue to inspire designers today DESIGN HEROES T he economic prosperity of the Roaring Twenties saw a sharp rise in the popularity of golf in the United States. People began to find the time and desire to participate in a sport that had emerged over the previous few decades. To meet this demand, golf courses were built apace. The profession of ‘golf course architect’ surfaced as men – often from Scotland and England – toured the country helping newly formed clubs identify suitable sites for their golf courses, for which they would create a routing and plans for greens and hazards. Without the bulldozers and heavy machinery that is available today, these early architects made the best of what the natural landscape offered. Designs from this era dominate rankings. Only one course in the top ten of Golf Digest’s latest list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses was built after the 1930s. The upper echelon reads as a who’s who of the Golden Age, with work by the likes of Harry Colt, Alister MacKenzie, William Flynn, A.W. Tillinghast, Perry Maxwell, George Thomas, C.B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor and the ASGCA’s own founding father, Donald Ross. Golden Age design lives on not just through the courses these men left behind, but also the influence they have on today’s golf course architects. “Golden Age creations are the inspiration for almost all of my work,” says Drew Rogers, ASGCA. “During these times where we’re all trying to produce more with less, it’s instructive to call on the works ASGCA Founding Fathers at the first ASGCA Annual Meeting at Pinehurst CC, including Honorary President and one of the Golden Age's most prolific golf course architects Donald Ross (fourth from left) Photo: ASGCA