Feature Interview with Samuel Ingwersen
Part Two, Page Two

Thank you for those four examples. Let’s resume with a looking at the remaining dominant landscape components.

2. FAIRWAY as a Dominant Landscape Component. In an American Society of Golf Course Architects interview Thomas Fazio, American course designer, was asked: “What contribution has America given to golf course design”? Fazio’s answer was not about grand course designs in America, but more about obsession with the color green: “If we could accept golf in the color brown and program in our minds that brown is good we could do things differently in design and maintenance … less water and fertilizer. Unfortunately, Americans go to Scotland and other arid climates … and see rough-hewn courses, brown and sparse and they talk about how great it is. Then they go back to their home courses and if they see brown spots they think the superintendent is not doing his job.” Fazio’s answer was not as expected. It was an indictment of present day expensive, wasteful course maintenance practices and indulgent tastes that have succumbed to the power of a fatal beauty that drives such practices.

Of all components and artistic features of a golf course landscape, the determinant of a pleasurable visual experience is not form, pattern or composition but color. Green is only one color; there are other shades of green grasses and other colors upon which the ball sits up nicely and is environmentally well adapted. Color is a feature of landscape components but when a color is devised to achieve a certain look at the expense of other attributes, the component’s qualities are compromised as well as the original designer’s work.

Attractive, mixed color fairways are depicted in Wild Dunes, No.18, Marshside Sea Island, No.4, Arizona No.3 and Bandon Dunes No. 3 paintings shown in my book. Many fairways with original delightful contours that ebbed and flowed over mixed colored grasses have succumbed to committees indulgent taste for landscape effect and obsessive taste in the color green. “Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing. Taste is the enemy of creativeness.” (14)

Pinehurst CC, Two Course, No. 10 Pinehurst, NC

Many scenes of Pinehurst are beautiful because of their simplicity and for the variety in the simplicities. The play is also a beautiful experience. There are no exaggerated earth forms but rather the lovely fairway undulations as seen in the painting of No. 10 above. Many experts claim they can identify a Ross course. That is a myth, because there were many designers, all the way back to Old Tom Morris’s era who pursued simplicity, cost effectiveness and purpose of the game without landscape effect.

According to Pete Dye, who credits much of his course design approach to Ross stated: “there’s no such thing as “a” Ross course.” (15) Long shadows cast over the ground bring out the contours of Ross’s elegant work. With light at low angles we are able to see, not possible without long shadows, the most subtle of shapes flowing through his fairways. The lush, green color fairway grass is suspect and begs the question: Is this the best grass for this environment, its maintainability, cost and its purpose or is it the best in regard to its appearance?

3. BUNKER as a Dominant Landscape Component. Early designers cited the enormity of arguments relative to the subject of bunkers. C. B. Macdonald exclaimed: “When one comes to qualities of bunkers … we pass into the realm of dispute and argument. Whether this or that bunker is well placed has caused more intensely heated arguments than outside of the realms of religion.”(16)

By the latter part of the 1800’s, bunkers, the most unaesthetic looking things on early inland courses, figured prominently in discussions of the scenic movement to improve looks of the so called dismal looking golf courses. By the mid 1900’s bunkers with benefit of new earth moving technology to move vast quantities of earth economically became a dominant landscape effect. Bunkers logically availed themselves of more and more extreme creative expression in a variety of forms, sizes, shapes and repetitive patterns complimented with various ornamental structures around their perimeters.

Frank Lloyd Wright, (1867-1959) famous architect, faulted architects for confused choices of contrived, applied decorative materials with which they covered their architectural works. Wright’s tort became: “When in doubt plant,” a phrase that aptly applies to course designers who feel compelled to apply some form of decoration to their work but are indecisive by the many choices available to achieve a decorative landscape effect. The easy, versatile choice for course designers in pursuit of that quality of illusive beauty, justified by defensible ignorance, is: “When in doubt bunker.”

There are millions of possible combinations of aesthetic landscape effects reviewed in Chapter 1. Bunkers are the most capable of extreme looks, adaptable to all land conditions and rationales. We have already discussed the example of the dull looking bunkers at The Golf Club, Ohio. Another similar circumstance happened at Bandon Dunes, Oregon.

A debate took place at Bandon Dunes concerning choice of a landscape effect for the Old Macdonald 17th hole amongst Mike Keiser (1958), owner, Tom Doak and Jim Urbina, co-designers, a hand-picked group of golf writers and advisors. The discussion came down to whether or not it would be nice to create a Scottish burn in the fairway? Doak said he would sleep on it. Next day, his choice having been made, he said: “I got rid of the big hill on the left side of the 17th fairway and replaced the burn with a nest of bunkers.” (17) “When in doubt, bunker.”

Bethpage Black Course., No. 4
Farmingdale, NY

Bethpage Black Cse., No. 4. Many of the bunkers on the Bethpage Black Course, hole after hole, are exceptional for their harmonious rhythmic patterns. Although many sets on the course are over designed, the 4th hole, shown below, is as fine a set of bunkers, without equal anywhere. Upon arriving at the 4th tee one is captivated by the scene, before a thought of any kind is given of the shot. The bunkers appear brutal with high walls. It is an illusion. Their side hill construction gives an illusion of exaggerated depth because more sand area is exposed to the eye. The pleasurable excitement of expectations, ample landing areas suitable for a wide range of skills and the visual pleasure make No. 4 an exceptional hole.

There are only three sets of bunkers at Bethpage Black, shown in the book, that I would consider a landscape effect; bunker sets at Nos.10/11, No.17 and 18. Once in them, a fair recovery attempt if hit into another bunker should not be penalized. Their extravagance in pursuit of beauty does not justify license for such severity.

4. GREEN as a Dominant Landscape Component. Greens consist of putting surfaces, aprons and collection areas that may vary in size from narrow grass collars to broad undulating areas that may reach to the edges of fairways and roughs. Putting surfaces and aprons are the distinctive identities of every hole and the discriminators of every golf course.

Greens, more than any other landscape component, hold the fate of skill and chance and subsequently the fun in pleasurable excitement that players seek. Greens are a large factor in the challenge/skill balance for players of all skills. The putting surfaces, aprons and collection areas constitute half of the game. But, where aprons are preempted by green side landscape effects such as bunkers, water, steep and high earthen banks built tight to the edges of putting surfaces they deny green side apron play, chipping and inventive run-up shots. The high handicap players have more fun in play of green complexes with aprons and collection areas and have more opportunity to experience the element of luck, simply because they miss more putting surfaces than do low handicap players.

Camargo C, No.11 and Cherry Hill C, No.11. Examples are shown of two ends of the spectrum of different types of greens, No. 11 Camargo by Seth Raynor, shown below with no chipping area and No.11 Cherry Hill by Walter J.Travis with fascinating chipping, collection areas and putting surfaces. A landscape effect is no fun for that majority of players who are wont to slightly miss-hit an approach shot that bounces into deep, steep bunkers or a water hazard.

Camargo C, No. 11
Cincinnati, OH

Cherry Hill C, No. 11,
View from right rear of green. Ridgeway, Ontario

5. TREE as a Dominant Landscape Component. British designers of inland courses exploited artistic use of trees. C. B. Macdonald and W.J. Travis were opposed to trees, being partial to early experiences with links type courses where there were no trees. MacDonald said no course could be ideal which is laid out with trees. He stated that his National Golf Links was the ideal, of the highest rank, while his tree populated course at Yale could only achieve a classic rank. (18) Macdonald insisted that trees denied the full effect of wind upon play. Travis stated that a golf course was no place for a tree. Tillinghast, a proponent of trees, claimed that he influenced Travis on the importance of trees and ultimately prevailed.

Beautiful literary expressions of trees are found in poetry, but no matter how poetry may describe a lovely tree, words fail. Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918), poet, expressed a similar thought in his poetry: “I hope that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.” A painting may come close, creating an illusion just as lovely, but never lovelier than the tree. Specimen trees should be accommodated on a course. One or two, adjacent to play are not an indulgence, often an element of luck.

Hole No.16, Cypress Point Club, shown below, is one of the most photographed holes in the world. My interest was mostly drawn to the lone cypress tree leaning on a crutch. Its saga stirs one’s emotions. The tree had given years of pleasure. Without a replacement the scene would be lacking. To test my proposition, place one hand over the lone cypress as you view the painting. Remove your hand and a pleasant feeling is regained. The colorful ice plant is another delightful experience. The powerful ocean does not escape one’s attention either, the ocean’s moods are separated by the peninsula lacking the force of the dominant, majestic tree.

Alister MacKenzie considered Cypress Point his masterpiece. He claimed that it was the most difficult and most beautiful of all his courses: “…It is the only course I know where one literally gasps with astonishment at its beauty.” (19) Until MacKenzie’s time, few writers or designers other than Horace Hutchinson wrote about scenic beauty. Hunter and MacKenzie wrote not only about aesthetic beauty but about the fitness of purpose of the courses they designed.

Cypress Point Club, No. 16
Pebble Beach, CA

Cypress Point Club, No. 16, The Old Stag Shielding its Offspring

The lone cypress was past its glory the last time I saw it, viewed from the left side of the fairway. A slatted wood crate covers a new cypress shoot at its base. It is an expression of caring; what was and is to be.

Webhannet GC, No 9 The two scenes of the ninth, one from the tee, the other from rear of the green, below, are attractive because of two majestic oak trees bordering the green. The sun is low and the late afternoon light is enchanting. The two trees contend with all manner of assorted chip shots allowing for good luck, bad luck and imaginative play. If by chance behind one, the trees offer players long odds, their trunks occupy less that 2% of the green perimeter.

Webhannet GC, No 9 Front & No. 9 Rear
Kennebunk Beach, ME

6. ROUGH/MARGINS as a Dominant Landscape Component. The painting of Sunningdale New Course, hole No.5, below, is an interesting scene with ornamental landscape effect of heather in line of play as rough/margins. H. S. Colt’s original design of No.5, Sunningdale New Course, circa 1923 shown below, had no heather around the green. Colt’s firm was now the world’s leading design firm. His progressive work was influenced by the art of landscape gardening. Historian F. W. Hawtree remarked that Colt grew up in a part of England where stretches of the country side were rich in exceptional landscapes which were not ignored by young Colt. When Colt took on new partners, he arranged for his new business stationary to clearly state on the letterhead, that they were “Experts in landscape work.”

Business Letterhead of Colt, Alison & Morrison Ltd.

This was a tip off of where the direction of course design had been and where it was heading; more beautiful landscape effects for better looks, a pleasure to behold but not as much for play.

After construction in 1923 of Sunningdale’s New Course, committees evidently in possession of extra heather sprigs, sought holes on both the new and old courses to beautify. Horace Hutchinson’s quest to enhance experiences of the golf by improving scenery had gained considerable momentum. Unfortunately the visual experience would be far less delightful than predicaments one experienced as a result of a foozled shot. Heather, here, yon and in line of play is but another obstacle of play, even with the blooms cut back. The book shows other indulgences of heather on bunker cops of the old course. It is 2017 and Sunningdale now has a heather farm.

Sunningdale GC, New Course, No. 5, circa 1923 – Before planting heather

Sunningdale GC, New Cse, No. 5 Berkshire, England

7. FOLAIGE as a Dominant Landscape Component. Noted art historian Brent Brolin, observed: “…From the beginning, beauty through ornament has been an integral part of most all cultures. With rare exception, when ornament could be used, it was, and in most cases in proportion to wealth.” However for golf clubs involved with profitable TV contracts, their wealth has little to do with affording ornamental landscape effects. It is more likely the fans, advertisers and TV interests that pay for beauty aggrandizing landscape effects. Fox Sports is reported to have entered into a contract for TV rights of tournaments from the USGA for $95 million a year for 12 years according to Links Magazine Winter 2015. However it is gratifying to see that of the past several major tournaments that the USGA has staged that they appear to moving away from over indulged lush green colored fairways, margins/rough and ornamental foliage.

Of all the scenes at Augusta I am especially attracted to is hole No.13, below. Most scenes of the 13th show the azalea foliage in the background. The scene is most stunning with the azaleas in the foreground. Augusta National is famous for its “strategic problems,” as the designer Alister MacKenzie preferred to characterize his design ideas. Augusta National is now more famous for its visual beauty.


Augusta National GC, No. 13 Augusta, GA

Blooms at Augusta aspire to peak every year at Masters Tournament time. It has been a recent practice that if blossoms appear too early ice is packed around their roots. But, if blossoms lag, electrical generators are used to power banks of incandescent lamps that shine all night to speed up nature’s blossoming process. Augusta National is not the cause of mankind’s instinctive pursuit of beauty; it is only the most publicized and indulged.

Those who care about the future of the game would be pleased to see high visibility courses set an example of progressive maintenance that achieves beauty in their fairways with combinations of multi-colored yellow, tan, and green grasses.

8. STRUCTURE as a Dominant Landscape Component. The view of Harbour Town’s No.17 bunker at left green side, shown below, includes a structure. Whatever it is, it produces unplayable lies near the wall. The structure, constructed of colorful pieces of lumber, is a playful Pete Dye whimsy. It is a retaining wall retaining air on both sides. I entered the bunker; I touched it and found it so wobbly only air was supporting it. So what of it, if it strikes one’s fancy? I liked its entasis along the top. By any other name it is a landscape effect, and another obstacle. However, every straight course should be entitled to one landscape effect, if only for bringing more luck and chance back into the game. But if viewers look close they will see other landscape effects. The attractive water is an encroachment to play. Being in the bunker is no challenge for scratch players. But lo, the absence of an apron and collection area on the left deny the opportunity for inventive run up shots of all levels of skills; particularly difficult to scratch players if short sided. Nevertheless it is beautiful, successfully devised for looking rather than playing.

Harbour Town G Links, No. 17
Hilton Head Island, SC

One of the more important questions that I am asked in Part Three of this interview is about the convictions of my conclusions. Ran has peeled the veneer off of plausible statements. The key to my convictions is that “landscape effect” is a fact. To that end Interview Part Three goes into a great bit of historical background about the cultural forces that have driven the mindset of golf’s design ideology in pursuit of beautiful, unique and individualistic creations of landscape effect. Also coming up, Interview Three suggests an approach that could turn the decline of the game around. The approach involves a proven, cost effective, implementation process for outcome-orientated evaluation projects. The goal is to quickly turn the decline around and develop a continuous improvement process for sustained future growth of the game. The projected outcomes include course design measures that would improve costs, delays in play, challenge/skill (C/S) balances for low and high levels of handicap players and more fun. This approach is defined in the Golf Logic Model.

End of Part II

14. Picasso, Pablo, Artist, Quotation
15. Klein, Bradley S., Discovering Donald Ross, Sleeping Bear Press, Chelsea, MI, 2001, page, Introduction
16. Macdonald, Charles Blair. Scotland’s Gift – Golf, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928, reprint Ailsa Inc.,
1985, page 181
17. Goodwin, Stephen, Dream Golf, The Making of Bandon Dunes, Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, NC, 2010, pg. 287
18. Ibid, 16, page 299
19. Ibid 12, Chapter 2, page 53