By Design – Issue 51, Winter 2020

16 navigate, I find myself reaching for anything penned by Tom Simpson, Robert Hunter or MacKenzie. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the writing and the courses of that time were so equally full of character. When one can so clearly articulate their thoughts on design, it implies a deep understanding of their subject. Ultimately the architect needs to communicate his ideas in two important ways: to paint a vision to the client and to convey this vision.” Layton highlights a quote from Hunter’s 1926 book The Links . “Do not let certain standards become an obsession. Quality, not length; interest, not the number of holes; distinction, not the size in the greens – these things are worth striving for.” Allowing the site to dictate the design was second nature to the architects of the Golden Age, says Tom Clark, ASGCA. “They developed their own design style truly based on what nature gave them. Their routings required imagination as most often there were no topography maps and required good old-fashioned footwork to avoid drainage problems and take advantage of unique features. “Abrupt slopes were often a byproduct of limited earthmoving, which made for some incredibly difficult recoveries, and green contours would often rely on Mother Nature for grow-in, which made for some very irregular humps and bumps.” Some of these humps could be substantial enough to obscure the golfer’s target, leading to ‘blind’ holes – the likes of which most modern designers go to great lengths to avoid – where shots would be played over a hill or rise with little idea of their fate. “Good visibility is indispensable if the holes are to present a problem which needs to be thought out with thoroughness in the matter of attack,” wrote Simpson, in his 1931 book The Game of Golf . “But visibility should not be unduly stressed, and blindness of a kind can be a virtue.” Layton notes that Simpson leaves himself room to break one of the unwritten rules of golf DESIGN HEROES At his Cutalong layout in Virginia, Tom Clark, ASGCA, has included interpretations of many holes from the Golden Age, including (above) a version of James Braid’s famous ‘Het Girdle’ (hot griddle) par-three fifth at Gleneagles, Scotland. Following a successful golf career which included five Open Championship victories, Braid designed more than 200 courses in the UK Photo: Mike Klemme