Feature Interview No. 3 with Paul Daley


The success of Paul Daley’s first two books – Links Golf and The Sandbelt – ledhimto create Full Swing Golf Publishing in Victoria, Australia for the purpose of producing additional high quality books on the subject of golf course architecture.Full Swing Golf Publishing’sfirst effort is entitled Golf Architecture – A Worldwide Perspective and it is a handsomely produced compilation of 42 essays from golf course architects, writers, and critics from around the world. Volume Two is due in August, 2003. Please refer to Paul’s Feature Interviews in March 2001 and February 2002 for additional biographical information.

1. What inspired you to undertake such a project?

You have to love rock! Sitting on the rocky coastline between Apollo Bay and Lorne in late November 2001, pencil and notebook in hand, I was deliberating how to follow up The Sandbelt: Melbourne’s Golfing Heaven (2001)-a collaboration with Melbourne golf photographer David Scaletti. Any ideas pertaining to golf course architecture were jotted down: curiosities; controversies; and associated issues regardless of being the past, present or future state of play. Within thirty minutes I got quite depressed wondering how I was going to write a book with over 100 essays. ‘Well, there goes the next three years of my life,’ I internalised. I realised that such a book would be too bulky and it would surely be too expensive to produce. However, being aware of the excellent Wolffe/Trebus Tillinghast trilogy, sub-dividing into a similar manner began to make sense. But who was going to write this War and Peace?

Somewhere along the line, the penny dropped that I should leave it to the stars to do the writing, freeing me up to tackle the compilation and editing. The skies lifted as soon as the way forward had been established. Thereafter, a volley a 5,000 plus emails to architects, writers, photographers, golf clubs, printers, and other parties, was instrumental in producing the material for Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective.

Two people (one unwittingly)had a definite influence on the planning stage. As an admirer of Geoff Shackelford’s Masters of The Links (1997) the idea of a golf architecture book with quaint essays really appealed. Not needing to reinvent the wheel, I borrowed from Geoff’s concept, but added an extra layer seeking more of an international perspective. To acknowledgement his influence, he was among the first invited to write an essay.

Considering Tom Doak’s past experience in writing books and knowledge of golf architecture, I eagerly sought his opinion on the project. It was a pleasant surprise when he mentioned that some years ago, he too, had contemplated undertaking a project of this scope. The advice that Tom passed on proved fruitful, and his essay ‘What is Golf Architecture’ presented itself as the logical essay to open the book.

I don’t like to single out essays, but even today I’m struck by the irony of one essay, Canadian architect, Tom McBroom’s, ‘Rock into Design’ on account of the project being hatched among the craggy rocks just off the Great Ocean Road.

From initial thought, through to building the beast and end-stage binding and printing, the entire process took nine months.

2. There are many architects around the globe, how did you decide who went in the book?

Competition in the golf course architecture industry is rife and so many architects have websites, and nearly all have email addresses. Most sites contain a CONTACT ME invitation, and so I didn’t hang back. Should any architects be reading this interview I do apologise for the Standard Letter, but one has to be practical and conscious of time. Tom Doak confirmed my intuition to offer the opportunity to everyone and see who responds.

3.Through the compilation process, did youever gain a sense that the bookwas indeed on a goodtrack?

Until a well-written Foreword by a golfing luminary is obtained, a project of this magnitude can never be thought of as ‘off the ground’ or fully legitimised. On account of co-writing The Golf Course (1981) whichfor many is still the architects’ bible, his untold years of lecturing at Harvard University and elsewhere, plus the unusual distinction of maintaining the link between a by-gone era and today’s practitioners, Geoffrey Cornish seemed the number one choice. I was elated when the Emeritus Professor of Golf Architecture accepted my offer via fax. Unlike the PGA tour, there was no lake nearby my office to jump into so I jumped into the work instead, in spite of it being in the dead of night.

4. Are the essays any specified length?

The majority of essays are between 1500-1800 words, but several go up to 2500 words, and one essay by Pete Dye is barely 250 words. In this book: size doesn’t matter! The aim was around 1500 words per essay, but rigidity in essay-making works about as well as it does in golf architecture!

5. How much editing was required on your part?

I didn’t view my role as agreeing wholeheartedly with everything that was written, indeed, some passages raised an eyebrow or two. Notwithstanding, once the general theme of the essay became apparent, the editing was easy enough. With each essay the editing strokes varied from a light comb to a heavy industrial brush, but thankfully, the latter scenario was not too prevalent.

Overall, I was impressed by the essayists’ passion, quality of writing, and their conviction. It came through loud and clear. As editor, my goal was to not change the essence of what the essayists wrote, only make it a little clearer where needed.

6. The range of topics covered within the 42 essays is truly remarkable – did the essayists come up with their own topics and/or did you help steer some? Did anyone propose a topic that was a poor fit for the book? If so, how so? Conversely, did two essayists want to cover a topic that was too similar to the other?

Regarding the impetus for the topics, it really was a mixed bag: after being contacted some essayists requested a certain topic only to find it had been taken overnight; others emailed and showed initiative by suggesting 3-4 ‘special interest’ topics, perhaps essays they already had in the kitty and were waiting to publish in one form or another. Typically, then, I would be asked whether it fitted in with the book’s goals and usually this prompted a positive response.

After checking the schedule again, I would nominate the one that was available and another gap was filled. Other times, an essayist would list 3-4 topics, but firmly take the lead and convince me why one in particular should be adopted. If it was still available, or not too similar to one already taken, it was placed on the schedule.

A few architects inadvertently left off the invitation list heard about the project on the grapevine. Praise to them: they emailed me and welcomed themselves on board with a suggested topic. A few beauties were picked up in this manner.

On several occasions, essay topics suggested were too closely matched and discarded.

Hats off to Neil Crafter, President of the Australian Golf Architects Society at the time, who recognised a stellar essay topic: ‘Mackenzie’s 13 points and relevance today’ – quickly pouncing upon it. Within hours, 5 other architects requested the same topic only to have their hopes dashed. I tell you, the humble teeing ground must have evolved with a personality bypass! A poor salesman, I couldn’t convince anyone to write a treatise on this vital golfing ingredient. I guess Hogan was right: ‘If the tees are in bad shape I’ll play … ‘ It just can’t be sexy enough! Should volume three eventuate, I’ll try again, maybe even write a piece myself on the history, strategic link, and construction issues surrounding the teeing ground.

Pleasingly, none of the suggested essays by architects were ‘off the wall’ and unsuitable for publishing. Humorously though, one event happened from time to time: an absorbing and well-written essay would be emailed for consideration, only to find that the nominated ‘working’ title had absolutely nothing to do with the content. In these instances, there was no need to rehash the whole essay, but merely apply a new appropriate heading.Voila!

7. How did you go about sourcing the images?

The aim was to get a range of images: free-hand sketches; line drawings; aerials; black and white; sepia and colour images. Some of these were provided by the architects themselves, however, there was still a need to source pics directly from many professional photographers. I would like to publicly thank Ronald Whitten who generously provided some great images, as did all the professional photographers. The golf club’s were also helpful in sourcing the images, either providing directly, or making the appropriate enquiry.

8. Briefly, what countries and architect societies/institutesare represented?

Designers/architects from eleven countries took part: Japan; South Africa; England; Ireland; Spain; France; United States; Canada; Australia; Germany; and Denmark, and pleasingly, representatives from the four major bodies took part: The Japanese; Australian; and American Golf Course Architects Societies; plus the European Institute. In addition, excellent contributions were received from non-Society designers/architects.

Given the breadth of the project, it was also considered important to enlist the opinions of leading golf architecture writers. Essays by Brad Klein, Jeff Mingay, and Geoff Shackelford help to nicely round out the balance of perspectives.

Volume two will contain just as many essays by architects, but the book’s extent has been lengthened to accommodate excellent contributions from writers and golf architect enthusiasts: Chris Clouser; Noel Freeman and Jim Reilly; George Bahto; Mark Guiniven; Daniel Wexler; Dunlop White 111; Henry Whiting 11; Richard Wolffe; David Goldie; David Dobby; Neil Noble; Mark Lawrie; and five students working on the ground staff at Kingsbarns, Scotland.

9. When looking at the list of contributors one notices a few stark omissions. Did you approach Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw,or Mike Strantz?

Most certainly, but you can’t win them all. Each was contacted: Mike Strantz was unwell with health concerns and a contribution was not possible; Tom Fazio was pleased to be invited but declined, intimating that all his important architectural thoughts are contained within his book Golf Course Designs (2000); Ben Crenshaw was immersed in other projects; while Jack Nicklaus could not contribute due to contractual issues with his own golf architecture book recently released. And of course, there were architects who never responded, possibly thinking it was junk mail, or being nervous about their writing ability and worrying about having something worthwhile to contribute. And people are so very busy. No matter, I was delighted with the quality and diversity of the contributors.

10. MacKenzie appears to be the architect that is most mentioned and singled out for praise by the contributors to your book. Do you think MacKenzie’s influence on other architects is as strong (or stronger) today as it has ever been?

Alister Mackenzie receives more airplay throughout the book than any other architect: dead or alive. Interestingly, there are more urban myths surrounding him than all the rest put together. Few golf architects have had their body of work examined to the same degree, along with delving into unmentionable private territory. This is a wonderful compliment to the man, his methods and convincing (plus unique) style of communication – both oral and written form, and his allure. He could be gruff, and called a spade: a flaming shovel!

But such idolatry caused some concern at my end. Each architect was writing their own piece independently and so key points in essays would invariably be bolstered with a Mackenzie quote. All well and fine, but when the same quotes kept re-appearing … they had to be edited out for repetition purposes. Simpson & Wethered, Ross, Thomas, Hunter, and CB Macdonald were also oft-quoted.

The lingering ghost of Mackenzie proves a few things, mainly, that his influence today is strong and is getting stronger by the year. Owing to the reprint of Golf Architecture (1920) and the relatively recent release of Spirit of St. Andrews (1995), few architects would be without these books in their libraries. Though long gone, the English architect – curiously marketed and thought of as Scottish – is hot property. Clubs clamour to be associated with his name, and in truth, this applies equally to Donald Ross. Mackenzie’s enduring popularity must have something to do with having designed three courses generally considered among the top-ten in the world, and a fourth not too distant. It also authenticates that a style leaning towards liberal fairway widths – though definitely with a preferred side to approach from – is the enduring design. Other design fads come and go, but it appears that both golfers and architects are voting with their feet.With this design trait, Mackenzie most definitely got it right.

11. Was there any attempt to trumpet a particular cause or theme throughout the essays?

No, I decided there was no point in collating essays that only pushed one theme, one point of view, to gain a desired end. In fact, some of the essays were included particularly for their ability to challenge conventional wisdom on a given aspect of the industry. Because there is much disagreement among architects as to what constitutes good architecture, why should the contents of this book be any different? Everyone has their own tastes in golf architecture, and I am no different; there are passages that personally go against the grain, but the trick was to remove myself from the narrative.

12. Broadly speaking, how would you categorize the essays?

A wide range from: esoteric; architect profiles; course issues; futuristic; course profiles; pleas for help and attention; engineering based; technology-based; artistic based; and a few were angst-ridden. Other essays sought to modernise and redefine hoary old chestnuts. Course design and strategy was embedded in most essays-either deliberately or inadvertently, and the legendary figures of the Golden Age of course design received much attention throughout, none more than Alister Mackenzie.

13. How forthcoming were the architects in donating essays?

I was greatly impressed by the willingness of the architects to put pen to pad, most leapt into their task with relish. For some essayists, the prospect must have been inviting being presented with the opportunity of writing an advertisement to the developers of the world, in promoting one services and architectural philosophy.

Being offered an honorarium to write may have provided some incentive, but on account of the small fee on offer, I doubt it. At any rate, each essayist received four gift books in lieu of payment, which seemed to be well accepted. Part of the motivation for this was to distance myself from the shabby treatment doled out by one high-profile publisher of golf architecture books, known to begrudge furnishing their writers with ‘freebie’ copies!

14. Did any awkward issues arise when compiling the essays?

There was one issue that temporarily threatened the harmonious tone of our email communication. Looking from the essayists’ point of view, it was only natural their preference would be to include website and email addresses. But from a publishing standpoint, doing so would ensure the book appeared tacky and date prematurely. Some were more vocal than others, but most accepted this as a condition of involvement and I didn’t hear too much about it after we got into the project.

15. Having read this book, is there one thing, above all else, that the readership will come away with?

Yes, that the industry is not all glamorous. For instance, we are all guilty when day-dreaming of building our next ‘all-world’ golf course, of focussing upon its configuration of holes; the seamless blend; flow, variety and sequence; the elation golfers will experience when playing here; the glorious scenery; the peerless putting surfaces and their fascinating contours; the building of intricate green complexes; strategic merit, and so forth.

No-one in their right mind fantasises about the less glamorous aspects of the industry: drainage pipes; permits and regulatory authorities that seem intent upon delaying the project; seedbeds; grass selection; irrigation; and earthmoving equipment; even quarrelling between contractors and architects-all issues long forgotten when the club dignitary nervously drives off on Opening day.

Golf architecture enthusiasts are perhaps too quick to dismiss the vital roles that geology, science, agronomy, landscaping, engineering, chemistry, and other disciplines play in the overall mix. These aspects have been accorded sufficient airplay throughout the book, and this is only natural on account of being day-to-day considerations of the golf architecture industry. Pleasingly, the feedback suggests this information has not been presented in a dull and boring manner.

16. Given that the aim of this bookis to provide a worldwide perspective on the golf course architecture industry, have youalso set upworldwide distribution?

Yes, there are three streams of distribution:

Pelican Publishing (USA)-released 1 March 2003

Email: office@pelicanpub.com

(I can’t supply US citizens with ‘regular’ edition books right this moment in January, on account of Pelican publishing (Louisiana) releasing the book on 1 March, 2003. All things considered it would be deceitful to pinch US sales away from my local publisher. We now have an agreement that allows me to supply my previous small US customer base, but that is all. However, the leather-bound Limited Edition (40/100 remaining) is only been sold through my company, Full Swing Golf Publishing, and is available should anyone be interested.)

Full Swing Publishing (Australia)-released 15 November 2002

Email: fswing@bigpond.net.au

Aurum Press (UK)-released 1 January 2003

17. When can we reasonably expect volume two be released? How will it differ from the first volume?

All writing, editing and production deadlines have been set to bring about a release date on 1 August 2003.

In basic design, it won’t from the first! However, there will be just as many surprises in V2 as V1. A thought-provoking new Foreword (Donald Steel) has been penned, a new front cover picture, different sketch work by Barry King, and even higher quality photography. New essayists (both architects and writers) will be featured, plus several V1 contributors have found time to write a second essay.

With Barry King’s V1 artwork, a style was employed to ensure his drawing style was delightfully non-specific, but definitely ‘golfy’ and mood elevating. I’m told that some readers have been wracking their brains to guess which famous hole/courses have been portrayed. If anyone could accurately nominate ten of the thirty sketches included, I would be most surprised. For the second volume, Barry has opted for watercolours and unlike V1, these are highly specific and will be recognisable to golf aficionado’s. More of his brilliant artwork will be reproduced at full-page size.

18. Is there any chance of a volume three?

While it is only 35/65 at this stage, I am reminded of a famous Australian band called the Seekers who first retired around 1970. Ten reunions and subsequent retirements later, they have titled their latest comeback tour: Never Say Never Tour. I feel the same way about your question Ran. The book’s design allows that decision to be made at a later date, but if demand for a third volume exists I would seriously consider it.

The End