By Design – Issue 64, Winter 2023

14 GOLF HERITAGE Working on a layout that is steeped in history can be just as rewarding for a golf course architect as creating a new design of their own. As living organisms with features that have a finite effective lifetime, even our most cherished layouts from the past will require some attention, from time to time. And while faithful restoration may seem the obvious approach to a Donald Ross masterpiece, for example, how can a course design from 100 years ago present a worthy challenge today? “There is hardly ever a bona fide opportunity or warranted need to completely restore a golf course in the truest sense of the word,” says Drew Rogers, ASGCA. “If we are to interpret the past quite literally, that may mean that the course had hardly any trees, much wider fairways, no cart paths, no practice area, bolder bunkers and features, and stronger strategic options. So, more appropriately, the architect needs to evaluate what aspects of the past continue to be relevant now and into the future – and whether they should be expressed in the same or different way. “Most courses are now experienced by golfers of a wider range of ability, so we have to determine how the past design intent can be evolved and translated authentically, but in ways that provide enjoyment for a broader spectrum of players.” Developing a balance “Do we reference the past in our work?” asks Rogers. “Certainly. Do we sometimes channel some of the specific design intent that may have eroded over time or was misinterpreted by past influences? Yes. We sometimes identify aspects that may have made it distinctive at some point – or may still do today – and that may play a large part in reclaiming aspects of the historic identity of a course. “It’s vital for historic venues to understand who they are and value their history, but they also have to go forward and acknowledge that not everything can stay the same. It goes without saying that golf courses are going Golf clubs with a rich heritage may favor a restorative approach to their courses. But, asks Richard Humphreys, can a design from the past accommodate the game played today and in the future? making in the History