BrianL99, on 09 June 2017 - 05:55 AM, said:
To suggest all these courses that were built in the days of Hickory, without the use of bulldozers or modern earth moving equipment ... and hardly changed since, compare with the work of Rees Jones, Gil Hanse, Tom Fazio, Crenshaw/Coore or Pete Dye, is just pretentious BS.
I'd like to explore this notion for a bit If you'd indulge me.
There is a clear slant in both rankings and the selection of tournament venues towards older courses. Which in today's world is a bit puzzling, how is it that so many modern architects and newly constructed courses are just not as good as their counterparts from 100 years ago? One would think that, much like the art world, having the ability to study the great masterpieces of yesterday would only help the designs of today surpass them, but that still does not seem to be the case.
Recollection often leads us to ignore the weak or inferior and only highlight the strong, so when discussing the courses from the golden age we often ignore courses like Marion Golf Course in Massachusetts for the Marion Golf Club in Pennsylvania. The same thing happens in music, We remember the hits from yesterday but not the failures, while anything presented to us today the failures seem to stand out the most. As the cream rises to the top recollection seems to help us look more favorable on these courses. But I think this is only a piece of why.
7 or 8 years ago I began playing hickory golf, At the time I was reading a lot of text written by golden age architects and authors and I wanted to better understand the design decisions they made in the context of how the game was played at the time. Playing golf with hickory shafted clubs has given me an extended appreciation for why we often find the older courses so charming and endearing. It is with this more ground dependent game common with hickory golf that I believe has set the older courses apart from their modern counterparts. The pliability and options that were so prevalent in golf became lost over time as the game became one played more exclusively through the air. It was during this period of post war america through the mid 1990's that courses were build towards a new aerial strategy. While at the time they were viewed as tremendous, time has slowly shifted back in favor of the still older courses and only a few example from this period are still kept in high esteem. The stark contrast between playing styles really separates the era of courses, while this may not be as apparent for the highly skilled player, it is critically important for the average player and is reflected in the evaluation of modern vs. classic golf courses.
Now, over the last 20 years we've seen a resurgence of course construction that has returned some of the principles commonly found on the classic course, but it's going to take quite a bit of time for these course to finally establish themselves in the same light as the classics. They need more publicity and more people seeing them before their due recognition is given.
I believe the affordance in post war construction to build anything anywhere allowed architects to build courses for a new era of golf, but we have learned that many of the fundamentals they were relying upon have been found not to stand the test of time.