Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

55 Muirhead also told Prichard that none of his predecessors influenced his work. “Desmond’s influences were modern artists,” Prichard adds. “He was influenced by people like Constantin Brancusi and Henry Moore… sculptors. Desmond thought of himself more as a land sculptor than a golf architect.” In contrast to the works of their predecessors, Finger, Muirhead and von Hagge emphasised length and difficulty. Inspired by Jones’ work at Oakland Hills, which was carried out in preparation for the 1951 US Open, this new legion of architects favoured comparatively narrow courses flanked by penal hazards off the tees. They elevated greens to thwart terrestrial approach shots. During the 1950s, the ‘best’ golf courses were considered to be the longest, most difficult ones. Existing layouts were being redesigned accordingly. The power of televised golf had an effect, too. Beginning in the 1960s, television brought views of a dashing young Arnold Palmer and the lush, leafy fairways of Augusta National into millions of golfer’s homes. Suddenly, golf course owners and club members wanted their courses to be like Augusta. Theirs was a skewed perspective, though. Early television technologies could not accurately convey the massive width of Augusta’s tree-lined fairways. This is the environment Prichard was working in during the 1970s while mostly supervising the construction of new courses designed by Finger and Muirhead. But Prichard’s thinking couldn’t have been more different from his bosses’. “Growing up in northern New Jersey, the history, architecture and art of New England had a big effect on me,” he says. “I developed a pretty strong sense of history at a young age. I find that too many people these days think that we’re now the Photo: Vaughn Halyard The sixth at Cedar Rapids CC, whose Donald Ross course was restored by Ron Prichard in 2018