Joshua Crane In The Golden Age, Part III
by Bob Crosby

The Behr – Crane Debate

Behr grasped more clearly than most the significance of how Crane had framed the debate. As will be recalled, Crane had given to his CP&P principles a central role in his analysis of golf design. His justification for that role was that those or similar principles were the keys to equitable sporting competitions generally and, as such, should also apply to the design of golf courses (mutatis mutandi). It was a simple and highly intuitive proposition. After all, Crane asked, golf claims to be a sport doesn’t it? That was at the heart of Crane’s rationale for making his CP&P principles the relevant metric in assessing the quality of a golf course. Only a course that “controlled” shots (the “C”), made playing outcomes predictable (the “P”) and had hazards that penalized misses proportionately (the other “P”), only those kinds of courses would pass Crane’s muster.

Trying to rebut Crane’s views by asserting that he failed to take into account a course’s   strategic opportunities, the fun of playing it or its naturalism (the tact taken by MacKenzie and others), missed the mark against Crane. Such arguments didn’t advance things because they didn’t reach what was most important to Crane – that equitable considerations so central to other sports should play a similarly central role in the design of golf’s playing venues. That was the high ground Crane had staked out. Even if a course were strategic, fun and natural, it did not necessarily advance the goals that mattered most to Crane. What was needed against Crane were reasons to think that his most important goals were misguided. What was needed were reasons to think that the CP&P principles (whatever their internal logic) should not be given pride of place in golf architecture.

That was how Behr saw the challenge presented by Crane. Behr understood that the issue was, at bottom, whether the most basic principles in golf design were reducible to equitable considerations that applied to competitive sports generally (again, mutatis mutandi). Which put Behr in a difficult spot. Unless Behr could rebut Crane’s case for a tight link between golf and other sports, neither Behr nor anyone else had a principled basis for objecting to the types of courses that would result from implementing Crane’s CP&P principles. That forced Behr to make what appears at first blush to be a very odd claim. To undercut Crane’s justification for the centrality of his CP&P principles in golf architecture, Behr had to make the case that golf was not a competitive sport like others. Behr had to make the case that golf was in important respects sui generis; [1] he had to argue that golf was unique and fundamentally different from other sports. That was the basis of Behr’s challenge to Crane’s idea that the CP&P principles ought to be the benchmark of good golf design.  

Behr’s case for golf’s sui generis status turned on a contrast he drew between “games” such a tennis, football and billiards and “sports” such as hunting, mountaineering and golf. How Behr made that distinction will be discussed in more detail below, but for the moment it should be noted that the two types of pastimes represented for Behr two fundamentally different kinds of human activity that called for fundamentally different kinds of venues and competitive psychologies. Playing, say, tennis and playing golf were for Behr qualitatively and irreducibly different sorts of things and for that reason their respective playing venues should follow qualitatively different design principles. If the CP&P principles made sense in the context of “games” such as tennis, they did not make sense in the context of “sports” such as golf.

Behr’s game v. sport distinction is often dismissed these days as a bizarre fuss over semantics or, worse, as a sign that Behr had a screw loose. But that is to misread badly what was going on. It is a recurring theme in much of what Behr wrote because it did important work for him.[2] In debates with Crane, Behr used the distinction to attack Crane’s crusade to align golf more closely with other sports. As noted, the point of the distinction was to discredit the notion that golf courses would be improved if the CP&P principles played a larger role in their design.[3]  But more was involved than just rebutting Crane. The point of Behr’s battle with Crane was not just to dislodge the central role Crane assigned to his CP&P principles. It was also to give a central role to a very different set of design principles.

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Behr and Crane banged heads over these and other issues in 1926 and early 1927 in a series of point-counterpoint articles the pages of The Country Club & Pacific Golf & Motor. There Behr set out different formulations of his view that golf was more like a “sport” such as hunting and fundamentally unlike a “game” such as tennis. Behr noted in one formulation that:

…[G]olf is not a game. It is a sport. And the very essence of a sport lies in the suspense between the commencement of an action and the knowledge of its result. The courses of the Penal School deny this. The golfer has merely to place his ball within the bounds of the fairway. Thus the expert, because his ball rarely strays, can anticipate knowledge. And the inexpert knows in short order whether his ball is safe or not…This is the status the Penal School has reduced golf to.

In another context, Behr draws the distinction slightly differently:

In a game the contest is for control of a common ball. Skill is opposed to skill, and hence is relative to the tasks which the opposition creates. But in all sports skill is expressed along parallel lines. That is to say, in sports there is a conceivably ideal way in which the task of skill might be accomplished by all contestants. We are conscious of this in the playing of a golf hole, and according to our abilities, we succeed or fail in paralleling this line. Thus golf belongs within the category of a sport. And in sport skill is comparative in solving similar problems. The actual opponent is golf is nature, the human opponent being merely a psychological hazard….

Two ideas inform Behr’s different formulations of the distinction. First,  a golfer playing on a well designed courses, like a hunter or a mountain climber, is engaged in overcoming natural obstacles. His primary opponent is “nature” (whether actual or made to appear so by an architect):

…when one attempts a great carry, or to direct one’s ball adjacent to danger to reap an advantage, one cannot anticipate what the result of one’s efforts to be. There is suspense during the period one is making up one’s mind just how much to go out for. There is suspense during the flight of the ball; and suspense ends only when it comes to rest… And if one is playing upon links land, the nature of the [ball’s] lie is also a mystery. And then again a decision must be made. And to gladden the heart of the true sportsman this period of suspense is sometimes lengthened by a blind shot.

Behr expresses this idea elsewhere:

…the unknown element in golf, against which the player contests, is the strategy of nature. To demand that this be a known quantity such as a billiard table, a tennis court or a polo field is a reductio ad absurdum.

For Behr a golfer’s belief that he is engaging nature is important for a number of reasons.[4] For one thing, it disrupts rational expectations about golfing outcomes. Uncertainty about outcomes means that “[golfers] can never, with all the skill in the world, fathom a sport, error is perennially with us.” Engagement with nature and its attendant deceptions, irregularities, unpredictability and even lack of visibility is what gives the “sport” of golf a “psychological” dimension that is lacking in “games.” It is what makes playing on naturalistic courses “an adventure of the spirit.” A propos Crane, Behr asks:

Is it possible then that one can compute the psychological reaction induced by a real golf hole? Must it not affect all golfers differently? Is it not, verily, its spirit reflected in him as in a looking glass? Hence may it not possibly be that the very imperfections of St. Andrews, discovered by this rational minded critic [that is, Crane], are doubtless, like those of a fascinating woman, the secret of its charm?

Behr’s “naturalism” is not about aesthetics. Whether or not a course appeals to the eye or satisfied the edicts of good landscaping were not terribly important to him. The point is that golf played on courses that appear natural transcend the limitations of a “game” by reason of the higher drama only such courses can engender. They engender that extra drama because on such courses players willingly forego rational expectations about playing outcomes and by doing so they accede to the notion that golf is an unpredictable adventure. That is, players perceive themselves as engaging nature and all the uncertainties that implies and not merely submitting to a man-made tests of their golfing skills.

If, for example, you spend an afternoon making perfect casts at a trout stream but catch no trout, you don’t complain that you were treated unfairly. A day in a dove field in which you make excellent shots but bag no dove does not elicit the response that the dove were too unpredictable. Indeed, to complain in such contexts about “fairness” is not just nonsensical, it is an egregious category mistake. Behr’s point is a similar one. If you believe you are engaging nature directly, things like  unpredictability, bad luck and quirk are willingly tolerated and understood as integral to the experience. On the other hand, “rationalizing” golf design by minimizing what is “elusive or unpredictable” is to deprive golfers of that sense of an engagement with nature. Which was not a minor deficiency for Behr. To the contrary, it was nothing less than an “attack on golf itself.”

If a golfer’s perception that he was directly engaging nature was one key to the game v. sport distinction for Behr, an equally important key was the linked concepts of strategy and freedom. For Behr the satisfaction of winning a “game” with superior physical skills was merely a first order reward. Behr fundamentally disagreed with Crane’s notion that “The higher test of skill that is needed, and the greater pleasure that is afforded, in playing a golf course, certainly justify every effort that can be made to advance toward perfection.” For Behr there were higher, better satisfactions and only “sports” offered them. Those higher order satisfactions were about the successful execution of voluntarily chosen strategies, or, as Behr called it, “managing freedom.”[5] And when it came to strategic freedom, the more freedom the better:

[A golfer’s wish] is to be his own master. What he desires most of all is freedom. And freedom implies the maximum of self -discipline with a minimum of government from without. He never tires of a golf course that calls forth the spirit within him. But when he is continually made to feel the birch rod of the rough with its bunkers for every wayward shot, golf becomes an exercise of caution rather than of courage…

Why, then, should we continue to think of the purpose of hazards as being that of a direct penalty for mere ineffectual strokes? Even if by littering the course with these [P]rohibition agents…, what have we gained in terms of the spirit of golf? Have we not crushed it?   

At the heart of Behr’s notion of freedom (and also at the heart of his game v. sport distinction) was that a player engages hazards as and when he elects to do so. And if hazards are engaged voluntarily, that engagement, as Behr put it, is “joyful” and “zestful” and not “compelled.” Golf is like hunting or mountaineering in the sense that the participant derives pleasure not just by exercising his physical skills, but also (and mostly) by exercising those skills in the execution of strategies of they player’s own devising against natural obstacles about which he will always have incomplete knowledge.

Behr also objected to the emphasis Crane put on proportional or graduated penalties. The issue was foundational for Crane, but it was equally foundational for Behr that equitable concerns be subordinated to others factors. The issue came to a head in their exchanges in late 1926 over the proper role of rough. Rough was one of Crane’s favored methods of “control” because Crane thought it among the most proportional and “fair”:

The popularity of golf and consequently the real charm is due to the improvement of its clubs, longer balls, better tees, better fairways, fairer rough, better control, better greens. …. Do we want to play a wide open expanse of lawn-like country, with no punishments for wild shots?

A month later Behr answered Crane’s question:

…The confinement of width of play by the rough precludes to a great extent the creating of future threats. And even where they exist, the player whose ball has found the rough has not a lie to make a direct attack upon them. He must content himself with a negative shot. And with it he either outflanks them or he plays his ball so close to them that they cease to be dangerous.

Crane responded in The County Club, noting that “I think [Behr] will agree with the writer that the true essence of a good tee short is that if it is placed properly in a certain area, it shall have the advantage of an easier second shot.” Behr countered a couple of months later, noting about rough that:

… the rough extracts punishment in the degree a player lacks skill in the mere perfection of striking the ball. But a “Bobby Jones” rarely, if ever, tops a ball, and, comparatively speaking, his ball will only rarely stray from the fairway. For whom, then, does all this trouble exist? For the poor player of course. Consequently the penal school opposes [sic] a minimum of hazard to a Jones, a Hagen or a Von Elm and a maximum of hazard to the great majority.

Behr had two problems with Crane’s affection for rough. First, rough meant that shot-making will be impaired and that impairment will dispose the architect to dilute the severity of hazards farther along on a hole. Second, any hazard whose main function was to punish mishits means by definition that it will be a bigger threat to weaker players than stronger ones. It followed that an architect who designed hazards that all players are forced to negotiate will feel a corresponding duty to assure that  punishments meted out are proportional. That is, he will feel a duty to design hazards that are “fair,” as Crane might have said. Which for Behr was precisely the problem. 

Behr thought proportionality was anathema to good golf design. He believed a designer should feel no obligation to make hazards proportional. As Behr put it, “the moral dimension” should have no role in golf design. Worse, he believed that there was a direct trade-off between proportionality and playing drama. It is the threat of inequitable, devastating hazards that accounts for the highest drama in the game, which for Behr the whole point of good golf architecture. Hazards ought to be nasty, brutish and, most importantly, perceived as such. And if a golfer is given the freedom to avoid them, there is no reason why they can’t be. An architect owes the player nothing in terms of equity if the player is given the option to play away from hazards. A primary pay-off of strategic freedom is the drama created by a player’s fore-knowledge that his failure to pull off an aggressive laying strategy might indeed have consequences that are devastating, disproportionate and “unfair.” For Behr that sort of “unfairness” was a marker of good architecture.

To sum up, Crane crusaded for a theory of a golf design that turned on the idea that competitions in golf ought to be more like competitions in other sports. Specifically, Crane wanted to see older, rougher links courses abandoned as models for architecture in favor of more “objective” designs – that is, designs incorporating his CP&P principles. Behr countered that other competitive sports were the wrong lens through which to see golf. Set against Crane’s notion of “control” was Behr’s notion of strategic freedom; set against Crane’s concern with well-conditioned courses that enhance “predictability,” was Behr’s notion that “natural” courses should be unpredictable and elusive; and set against Crane’s notion of “proportionality,” was Behr’s notion that equity can kill off the highest drama the game offers.

A Last Hurrah

Joshua Crane first took the stage in April of  1924 with the publication of his theory of rating golf courses. His follow-on rankings and analyses of courses in England, Scotland and the United States were extremely controversial, a controversy that reached a peak two years later in 1926, but  continued thereafter at a lower boil for a number of years.[6]  It seems fitting, however, that we give Crane the last word. After all, he started things.

In early 1934 Crane returned to his analysis of the Old Course, authoring a series of five articles in which he proposed “improvements” to the course’s first four holes.[7]  Crane’s introduction to the series  reprises much of the venom from a decade earlier, calling his opponents of his views “fanatical beyond hope of redemption,” “unbalanced” and “obsessed.” Nor was Crane above playing the victim card:

Do not think, gentle critic, that I am so besprinkled with bells that I hope that … any of these fanatics…will recede one jot or title from their cemented position, but I do hope that they will give me the credit of being sincere…  

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Crane went on:

…it is surprising strange that a few of us palisaders have survived the ordeal and can still discriminate between [the Old Course’s] blessed faults and its faulty blessings, its irritating charms and its charming irritations.

Fortunately for the sanity of mind of us palisaders, for if all the suggestions I am about to make were denounced by all the fanatical palers I would be compelled to believe that we palisaders were all insane, I have found in every change suggested at least one supporter from that chosen band of palers.

In other words, at least a couple of people don’t think I’m out of my mind, so up yours. Or something like that. Crane uncorked a vintage bottle of spleen from the bad old days.

But Crane didn’t write five pieces on the Old Course in 1934 just to vent. On the model of Colt’s revisions to Muirfield in the early 1920’s, revisions that Crane believed had converted an older links course into the best course in the world, Crane proposed “improvements” to the Old Course in the same spirit. His proposals are fascinating.

It’s important to recall that strategic considerations played virtually no role in Crane’s rankings at the time they first appeared. Strategy (or its synonyms) was not a category that he rated and Crane rarely mentioned it. How one shot was linked to the next, so important to Behr and MacKenzie, was largely absent in Crane. When Crane did refer to strategy it was treated as another form of “control,” a key criterion in Crane’s ranking system that could be satisfied in any number of other ways.

But by 1934 strategic considerations have taken on more importance for Crane.[8] While he continued to rely on his “P&P” criteria, his “C” or “control” criterion was now largely supplanted by strategic considerations that MacKenzie, Behr and others would have applauded. Thus the aim of his 1934 proposals for the Old Course was to improve holes strategically while “eliminating blaring unfairnesses,” a hybrid version of the CP&P criteria. Summing up his aims – while dishing out a bit more venom – Crane wrote:

…[A]s in religion, the unbalanced mind become fanatical and beyond hope of redemption, for it is no longer capable of unbiased thought. Such is the state of mind who are immovable in the belief that The Old Course is the foremost example of strategic golf. It is a living and panting example of the worst form of penal golf, and yet withal it is tactical golf in its highest and purest form. This is what confuses these admirable fanatics and causes them to fail to recognize its true character…, [they] fail to distinguish between strategy and tactics.

Crane’s drawing of his proposed changes to the first hole at the Old Course was as follows:

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Crane wanted to “introduce strategy into the playing of the hole without changing any of its apparent [?] features, and thus induce players to keep to the right so as not to interfere with those playing the last hole,” adding:

Not by introducing a bunker in line with the stone bridge from the tee, as is often suggested[9], which is pure penology (sic), but by changing the course of the burn itself as shown in the diagram, so that the player who places his drive on the right will have a distinct advantage over the one on the left.

Crane’s suggested revisions to the first hole would indeed seem to make the hole more strategic and, if that is what matters, such revisions would probably constitute an “improvement.” Behr might well have agreed. Others might have disagreed. Colt, for example, counseled nine years earlier that “improvements” to the Old Course should be resisted for reasons of history and tradition. But on purely architectural grounds Crane’s proposals have merit.

Crane’s proposed changes to the second hole at the Old Course highlight further his new emphasis on strategy and his de-emphasis of “shot controls.” Contrasting his 1934 analysis with his analysis of the same hole nine years earlier shows how Crane’s views had  evolved. Crane’s analysis of the second hole in 1925 went as follows:

The second hole is a more interesting one, perhaps merely because longer, but the surface of most of the fairway is hidden, the green is mostly invisible, the contour of the fairway is poor, the contour in front of green tricky, and the traps so placed as to catch some poor shots and not others, without really threatening good shots. Again, there is all out doors to hook into, which is one of the glaring faults of the whole course. If the fairway was of proper width with fair rough on the sides, then the arrangement of the small bunkers on the right and Cheapes (sic) bunker on the left would be exceedingly good,  the contour of the green make interesting putting when once on, and the quality of the turf is excellent, as on most o the greens. The bunker on left front corner of green, as well as the Wig bunker, is dangerous, but there is no penalty to right. Altogether a poor two-shotter.

By 1934 there is no more talk of adding rough. The “small bunkers on the right” that Crane liked earlier, he now wanted removed because they were as too “penal”.[10] If Crane had once seen Cheape’s bunker as a useful “control” on the tee shot, but by 1934 it was “a penal not a strategic bunker” that ought to be removed but for the fact that it protects players on the second hole from “those trying to keep well away from the sheds” on the seventeenth. Some aspects of Crane’s earlier analysis did carry over. He remained troubled by the lack of visibility of the green, and suggested that it be moved forward to the plateau in front of the present green. Crane’s concerns with visibility and related issues of the predictability of shot outcomes all continued to be significant issues for him.

Crane’s drawing of his proposed changes to the second hole at the Old Course was as follows:

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But perhaps the most interesting thing about Crane’s proposed changes to the Old Course was the reaction to them. There seems to have been none. Given the passive/aggressive tone of his introduction, Crane must have expected the worst, perhaps even something like the conflagration of ten years earlier. But this time around there was silence, nothing. Eighty years on it’s hard to be sure why. Not long after Crane’s articles appeared, many golf magazines closed their doors. Croome and MacKenzie had passed away. But Behr, Simpson and others were still writing on design issues. Perhaps people were preoccupied with the economic crisis around them at the time. Or perhaps people had simply tired of arguing with Crane.

We may never know for sure. But there is another possible explanation that also sheds light on the nature of the dust-up a decade earlier. Crane liked to dismiss criticisms of his ideas in the 1920’s as simply sour grapes over the low ranking he gave the Old Course. But the record indicates that anger over Crane’s treatment of the Old Course, though real, played a relatively minor role in the critiques directed at him. Indeed, many of Crane’s severest critics were quite happy to discuss the Old Course’s deficiencies. Abercromby and MacKenzie, for example, both submitted to Field drawings of proposed changes, both in response to Crane.

The absence of a reaction to Crane in 1934 would suggest that the vehemence of the earlier debates had less to do with Crane’s “maltreatment” of the Old Course than it did with Crane’s analytic toolkit. What was different in 1934 was that Crane had included in his toolkit strategic design concepts. Not unlike (at least in kind) concepts MacKenzie, Behr and others championed. So Crane’s proposed changes to the Old Course can be seen as a sort of test case. If the earlier reactions to Crane’s rankings were based mostly on his design criteria, given the new role he gave to strategic considerations in 1934, you would expect reactions his proposed revisions of the Old Course to be much more muted. And that is what seems to have happened. Crane had finally quieted his critics by, at least in part, joining them.

Conclusion

Rationalizing the link between execution and outcomes was at the heart of Crane’s project to “modernize” golf courses. A golf shot, whether good or bad, should have results that are both predictable and correspond with the shot’s quality. In short, Crane’s CP&P standards. In furtherance of those goals Crane attached importance to course conditioning, trees, water and out-of-bounds, all factors that might interfere with the equitable distribution of rewards and punishments.[11] If bad conditioning meant that similarly struck shots left one player with a perfect lie and the other player with a difficult lie, the goal of competitive equity was defeated. And so forth with other factors. 

Which is to say – and this was Crane’s central point – the design and maintenance of a golf course are reducible to a set of basic considerations that apply to the design and maintenance of any proper sporting venue. The design considerations that go into building a baseball diamond, a basketball court or even a billiard table – things like clear sightlines, similar outcomes for similar play, predicable and consistent playing surfaces, walls and boundaries, and standardized venue dimensions – are not qualitatively different the design considerations that ought to be important to a golf architect. Or, to put it differently, there is nothing unique about what a golf architect does, at least with respect to fundamental design objectives. A core set of principles (think Crane’s CP&P principles) govern any venue that purports to host equitable, competitive sporting contests.

Robert Browning’s magisterial A History of Golf captures the core issues stirred up by Crane during the Golden Age. Writing towards the end of his life, Browning worried about the future of the golf. His concerns were expressed in a vocabulary that could have come – almost verbatim – from the  debates about Crane’s ideas in the mid-1920’s. Browning, a prominent British golf journalist during that time, would have known all of the antagonists personally and was no doubt familiar with their debates. Reflecting on what made golf and golf courses different from other sports and their venues, Browning wrote:

Yet even while I admire the marvelous co-ordination between eye and muscle called for this modern [American] target golf, I cannot but regret that it has taken us so far from the original conception of the old cross-country game. One of the things which distinguished golf from every other past time was that while other games were imitations of war in miniature, golf was an imitation of life, in which the player had to thread his way among unexpected dangers and undeserved bad lies. Of golf, almost alone among games, it could be said that a man’s worst enemy is himself.

That is still true, but we have been so anxious, in the sacred name of fair play, to take all the element of luck out of the game, that we have to a proportionate extent destroyed its value as a test of each man’s ability to stand up to bad luck. Modern golf is a stiffer test of a player’s skill, but it has robbed the game of something of its charm as an adventure of the spirit.

The Golden Age was an unsettled time. Controversies covering a wide range of topics raged back and forth from the beginning to the end of the era. Unfortunately, most modern accounts of that time gloss over of those controversies. That’s a real loss, not only because such accounts are inaccurate as a matter of history. It’s a real loss because such glosses deprive us moderns of access to the thinking of a remarkable group of articulate, well-informed men engaged in close quarters combat over key architectural ideas. Those are the Golden Age’s lost subtexts and most remain to be  rediscovered. Many are still out there, hiding just behind the covers of long forgotten magazines and newspapers. One of the most important of those lost subtexts is the controversy stirred up by Joshua Crane.


 

[1] This is hard stuff so let me come at this in a different way. Crane’s appeal to “competitive equity” as embodied in his CP&P principles had (and still has) a deep, intuitive appeal. Such notions are hard-wired into us by the games we played as kids. Your instincts tell you that golf ought to be governed by the same sort of equitable principles that apply in other sports, right? Strategic design concepts, however, aren’t similarly intuitive. “Fair play” is not an important concept in strategic design theories. Strategic design theories tap ideas that are mostly unfamiliar (at least initially) to lay golfers. The meaning of things like “indirect tax”, “line of charm”, “playing options” and so forth are less than transparent. Which hints at the difficulty of the fight Behr had before him. It is not obvious, for example, how you convince everyday golfers that courses should be measured by their strategic virtues rather than by how well they resist low scoring. Or why equitable considerations should not be fundamental to golf design as they are to venues for other sports. These were (and are) serious obstacles in a contest for the hearts and minds of golfers. Especially so when your opponent was someone as articulate as Joshua Crane.

[2] Interestingly Behr firs used his game/sports distinction in debates over rules changes in the early 1920’s with John Low, then chairman of the Royal & Ancient rules committee.

[3] Crane recognized the importance of the distinction, but dismissed it – rather unconvincingly – with a simple argument from authority:

The first …. statement [is] that golf is not a game, but a sport. This is a clever idea on which to base a pyramid of conclusions, but unfortunately for the foundation of [Behr’s] arguments, golf is a game, is played under many (perhaps too many) rules, and the R. & A. itself calls it a game and has called it so for many years. If Mr. Behr is right, then everyone else is wrong.

[4] No attempt will be made here to elucidate Behr’s eschatological, existential and political concerns that appear in some of his writing. As best I can tell all that is irrelevant to the goals of this essay.

[5] The suggestion is not that there is no strategy in games, but rather that strategy in games is largely dependent on the actions and inactions of a human opponent. On a related note, one of the things that troubled Behr most about Crane was that Crane was, in effect, transposing the model of an active human opponent – an opponent, say, in a tennis match – into the design of the golf course itself. For Crane the closer a course came to functioning like a skilled, tough, but fair-minded opponent contesting for control of the player’s ball, the more ideal the course. Which for Behr was exactly how a golf course should not function.

[6] Arguably the last salvo was fired by Max Behr in 1952, only three years before his death,  in an article published in the USGA Green Section Bulletin. There Behr rolled out many of the same arguments he had used twenty-five years earlier against Crane, including a reminder that it was he who had coined the distinction between penal and strategic schools of golf architecture.

[7] There is a minor irony in his timing. Crane’s first essays on rating the Old Course appeared in 1924 at the about the same time MacKenzie published his famous map of the course. Ten years later, only a few days after MacKenzie’s death in January of 1934, Crane returned to the issue in his series in the British Golf Illustrated.

[8] Crane does not discuss the change. What prompted his new views remains unclear.

[9] I assume this is a reference to changes MacKenzie proposed for the 1st hole in 1925.

[10] John Low was responsible for the addition of those bunkers in 1905 and would have strongly disagreed with Crane’s views as to their penal nature.

[11] Conditioning percentages were frequently plugged into Crane’s ratings as simply a constant due to concerns about the variability of conditioning over time. As noted above, Crane often used only his “Layout and Design” percentages when doing his rankings.

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