By Design – Issue 66, Summer 2024

20 COPYRIGHT DESIGN Silicon Valley, California, is known for being a global center of technological innovation. I live and work in this bustling area, so am keenly aware of how important regulations and protections are to new developments. Golf course architecture is an art form – interactive with those who play the 500-year-old sport of golf. All other art forms have copyright protection in the United States, such as music, writing and photography; basically, any original work created by a human and not a machine. After I authored Golf by Design, copyright 1993, published by Little Brown, the interactive nature of the game of golf became more apparent. The thesis of the book was instructions to players on how to beat the strategies of the architect by reading the features of the golf course. Subsequently I was invited to assist in the first virtual golf game, called SimGolf, which allowed the user on the computer to move obstacles on the course as well as play a game of golf over the internet with another SimGolf user. We had a similar experience with Chambers Bay in Washington. RTJ II designed the golf course for Pierce County, and the USGA chose Chambers Bay for its Amateur Championship in 2010. After observing the competition, Mike Davis, who was the executive director of the USGA, asked RTJ II to refine certain holes and gallery areas for the US Open that was held there in June 2015. We then cooperated with USGA on the creation of an electronic game of the course that was offered during that championship. These experiences have proved useful for our role in supporting the BIRDIE (Bolstering Intellectual Property Rights against Digital Infringement Enhancement) Act. The BIRDIE Act simply follows suit of the copyright protection ASGCA Past President Robert Trent Jones, Jr. provides insight into the BIRDIE Act and what it means for golf course architects. Protecting design for the benefit of all Robert Trent Jones, Jr. ASGCA Past President Robert Trent Jones, Jr. was asked to write this piece because, for more than three decades, he and his firm have carried the banner for copyright protection for golf course design. RTJ II’s individual agreements with clients – including with Washington’s Pierce County, owners of Chambers Bay – has led to recent Congressional legislation to amend the Copyright Protection Act of 1990 to include golf course architecture.