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Jeff Fortson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Has jumped the shark?
« on: August 10, 2010, 09:27:26 PM »
I've been a member of since 2000.  Tommy Naccarato introduced me to the site after a random meeting at a golf course in the Palm Springs area.  When I joined, I was thrilled to see that there were other people out there interested in the importance of course architecture.  There was a common vibe that we were the few people in the golf world that cared when a great course would get destroyed by a renovation or saw the beauty in an unknown or forgotten about gem that time had left behind.

I was active on this site for many years.  I could be immature at times and get involved in OT topics frequently, but it was always about the IMO pieces, course reviews and the educating and intellectual debates and discussions of the DG for me.  I have learned more than I could have ever hoped on about many things re: gca.  From this website I learned about architects I had never heard of out here on the West Coast.  When I moved to NYC for four years I spent a good deal of my free time playing and inspecting golf courses I never knew existed.  Something which would have never happened had I not joined

Through this website I met a host of people.  Some were architects, some were supers, some were golf pros, some were just avid lovers of the game.  Some of these people I still consider to be friends to this day. I played golf in three KP Cups and met a lot of great guys.  I even got to meet Ran once, whom I respect very much.

But something happened.  Something happened on this DG that I can't really put a finger on.  In many ways this DG is dead (at least to me it is).  There is still great content in the interviews, the IMO's, the course reviews, but the DG just isn't the same.  I know I'm not the only one that feels this way.  I can't speak for their personal reasons for not being on here but there are some very good people that no longer post on here and that is a shame.  Some of these guys contributed so much more than all but a select few that still post and to see them not contribute saddens me.  

Is it the "Access Whoring" that goes on?  

I can tell you from experience, that in the short time I was an Assistant golf pro at Riviera, that once the emails and IM's started to come at me for access I started to shut down on here.  It was appalling.  An element had gotten in here that was less concerned with discussing gca and more concerned with getting access to high profile clubs.  Only once did I accept an invite to play a course from a member and it was very enjoyable.  It was unsolicited and I still feel a member should wait to be asked.  If you actively write people IM's and emails to ask if you could be their guest at their club... I feel sorry for you.  You are the lowest life form on this DG if you fit that description.

Was it the pissing contests that sprung up?

Obviously, I am referring to the Merion threads and others of the same ilk.  Fortunately, I never got sucked into that one!  But, all the political bickering that I took part in I totally regret.  It should have never been brought up here.  I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I see people saying stuff I completely disagree with.  That's a fault of mine and I removed myself in many ways from the DG to stay away from it.  I knew I was detracting from the website and was embarrassed for playing a part in it.

Was it something else?

Maybe, I am the only one here that feels this way.  Maybe some of you think the DG is going strong right now.  I can tell you, that I spend a lot more time at a site created by an ex-member here that fits my needs and wants out of discussing course architecture and golf in general.  Like I said, I still come here often and check out everything but this DG is dysfunctional.  Just look at all the great contributors that have left.  I know I am kind of rambling but I truly find it sad that this DG has turned into a gossip board that talks more about Tiger Woods than St. Andrews or who's got a bigger brain on the Merion threads.  I'm sick of the elitist mentalities, the groveling access whores, and relatives of famous golfers telling us how the game should be played.  

Bring back Tommy Naccarato.  

Jeff F.  

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2010, 09:37:01 PM »

That really sucks that you feel that way.  Seriously. 

Those things are frustrating to me as well, but I try to find the positives of the site and, for me, those positives far outweigh the negatives.  Mainly that has been finding a handful of people who I hope will be life long friends.

Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

John Moore II

Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2010, 09:51:00 PM »
I'm sick of the elitist mentalities, the groveling access whores, and relatives of famous golfers telling us how the game should be played.  

That is perhaps one of the best lines I have seen written in regards to what we see on here sometimes. I, myself, have contributed to much of the off-topic stuff that has been seen on here recently, most likely not for the betterment of the site. Perhaps I should take a while off and just disappear.  :-\


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2010, 09:56:27 PM »

I think this board has a life of its own. We feed on the energy of others by its nature, so sometimes when it starts tilting negative, it keeps going that way for a while, and vice versa.

In the end, the board is not a monolith, its 1500 people. It probably tends to "average" if such a thing could be measured and your personal circumstance and mood is skewing your opinion of it temporarily. At least, that is what I find.  I am interested here in ebbs and flows.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

K. Krahenbuhl

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2010, 09:56:56 PM »
I'm sick of the elitist mentalities, the groveling access whores, and relatives of famous golfers telling us how the game should be played.  

Spot on.

Brad Swanson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2010, 10:06:49 PM »
   I agree with you post and attribute the change to a number of things.

1.  Access whoring (hence my avatar).  I think there are in general more people that are looking to gain access through GCA connections than there used to be, or they are more overt about it.  I spent the better part of 2 full summers trying to convince GCAers to join me on one of my several summertime trips up to Marquette to play Greywalls and got one taker.  I'm guessing if it was a private course, there would've been many more takers.   

2.  Fewer new courses to discuss.  The classics have been covered in microscopic detail, and the run of fantastic new courses that opened in the past decade or so has slowed considerably.

3.  Participant turn-over.  Some contributors of thoughtful content are no longer participating for various reasons.  It happens.



Phil McDade

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2010, 10:10:25 PM »

Oh, I sometimes feel this way -- I mainly wish some folks who posted in the past would do so more often now.

But like a lot of things in life, we see what we want to see, and perhaps you're seeing a lot of the forest and not looking for some really wonderful trees in there.

To me, the most valuable part of the discussion board -- by far -- are the photo threads posted by contributers here, who continue to amaze me with their travels and interests in golf architecture. Just in the past month, we've seen threads on Harbor Shores in Michigan (Nicklaus), Worplesdan, Hackensack (Banks), Blue Mound (Raynor), and Moraine (Campbell), plus revitilization of threads brought back from folks who have recently played courses, such as Camargo and Culver Academies, plus a bunch of others I haven't mentioned. (Just yesterday, someone posted a great photo thread on a course not far from where I live, one I'd never heard of by an architect I've heard little of -- and it looks really interesting. Isn't that what this site is best at doing?) And sitting on the front page right now is probably the definitive thread on Sand Hills, full of incredible pictures, and despite some pissing and moaning in the middle of the thread, a lot of lively discussion about this course, in the tradition of the kind of vigorous debate that I think Ran envisioned.

Sure, Tiger gets his share of thread mentions (and I'll take my share of the credit/blame for these) -- he's the biggest story in golf right now, and to expect a bunch of golf nuts not to comment on golf's most famous golfer seems unrealistic. Besides, the Tiger threads are obviously marked that way, and easily avoided.

I think it was Shivas who said it best a while back -- despite all the bickering and back-and-forthing here, GCA remains by far the best website around for discussion and debate about golf architecture. I learn something nearly every day.


Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2010, 10:27:51 PM »

I think GCA is just fine for the most part.  I don't enjoy the personal character attacks, but the moderators must tolerate them for some reason.  I suspect they are popular entertainment?  Utopia isn't always what it's cracked up to be.  I admit to finding myself on here less and less, but every now and again there are some great posts & discussions.

I confess to missing the contributions of Rich Goodale.  Always enjoyed his thoughts.

Gary Daughters

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2010, 10:32:06 PM »

I wander away from here every now and then and always find there are kindred spirits waiting when I return, and for that I have to say I'm grateful.  It also helps to be mindful that the only person whose conduct I can reasonably control is me, and it's much more fun being here if I'm not acting like a juvenile myself.  This is a nice little refuge but in the end it can't be any different than the rest of the world.. nothing's perfect.  Where else can you read a post like Tom Doak's Lyle Lovett riff?  And that's just today.
THE NEXT SEVEN:  Alfred E. Tupp Holmes Municipal Golf Course, Willi Plett's Sportspark and Driving Range, Peachtree, Par 56, Browns Mill, Cross Creek, Piedmont Driving Club

Rob Peterson

Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2010, 10:59:21 PM »
I've been reading this website for years now, but as someone who is brand new to this forum and very excited about it, I would say don't give up.  See if you can influence the masses to change their behavior.  The original poster knows much better than I do that this is an amazing resource, but there are a lot of things on the Internet that need to be taken with a grain of salt...particularly in forums where people are passionate.  The only other forum that I regularly read is about the college football team I root for and the feeling is VERY similar (any Iowa Hawkeye fans out there?).  Some weeks everyone loves each other and agrees on everything and life is good.  However, sometimes worlds are colliding at astounding rates and it is miserable.  Overall, in good times and bad, I continue to participate because of the passion of the group and the knowledge of the group...both of which are certainly prevalent here.

I learned a lot from the original post about the culture of this board (i.e. what annoys the masses), but a little more constructiveness would have been more useful than simply venting.  My guess is that a lot of people simply venting and arguing would lead to a pretty negative and hostile environment, which is no fun.  Just my two cents.

Is there a general GCA etiquette guide that would help people understand the rules of the road?  It might be something that would be worth sticking to the top of the board.


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2010, 11:18:54 PM »

1.  Access whoring (hence my avatar).  I think there are in general more people that are looking to gain access through GCA connections than there used to be, or they are more overt about it.  I spent the better part of 2 full summers trying to convince GCAers to join me on one of my several summertime trips up to Marquette to play Greywalls and got one taker.  I'm guessing if it was a private course, there would've been many more takers.   

Implicit in that post is the solution to access whoring. Don't join a nice club. If you're a member of a 9-hole, below average, semi-private course, you'll have very few people harassing you for access. I've found it works quite well and haven't had a single person on this site bother me with an avalanche of emails or IMs, trying to get on my good side. I'm sure if I was a member of Myopia, my life would suck with the onslaught of favor-seekers, so I steer clear of that club and others of the same ilk and pedigree.

But seriously, are there really actually people on here who are crass enough to track down members of private clubs and beg for entry? I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's really hard to believe. If true, that sucks.


  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2010, 11:22:19 PM »

We miss you.

It's always been each person's duty to ignore the b.s., but it's getting harder nowadays.  The b.s. seems to be expanding at the speed of light.

Still, you can ignore it.  I spend far too much time here, but I only look at maybe one thread out of every five.


Of course there are access seekers.  Some are crass, some are not at all; sometimes it's hard to tell in advance, but they usually leave clues.

Charlie Goerges

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2010, 11:58:44 PM »

May I inquire as to the identity of the 'below-average, semi-private' club you're a member of. And I want to say you're looking very dapper today!
Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee of this. - Marcus Aurelius

Doug Siebert

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 12:07:50 AM »
There would be a relatively easy solution to the access seekers...  Some online forums like this have a 'spam' button to report spam to the moderators.  There may already be support for it in the software being used to run GCA, it was just disabled since it wasn't needed as only members can post or send PMs.

Get that set up, and encourage those who receive unsolicited PMs asking for access to use it to report them.  It won't really help if someone finds out how to contact you by means other than GCA, but its mere presence would probably dissuade those who are doing this now from trying it!  First time someone is reported they are warned, second time they are booted.  End of problem.


I just noticed the "report to moderator" button below every post.  I don't see it in the PMs, but I assume it could be easily added.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 12:09:58 AM by Doug Siebert »
My hovercraft is full of eels.

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2010, 12:39:54 AM »

I'm sorry that your friends have gone away. This forum, for me, is a nice place to come and share ideas.  It is a shame that you no longer feel that way.

I made an effort to get a bunch of people together for a New York state day's event (an actual NYSGA function) at Links at Hiawatha Landing this summer.  After initial interest, no one signed up, so I bagged it.  That's life.  Too short to sweat the small stuff.

I don't have a private club to offer anyone. I also don't expect people on this forum to need the same things I do.

For about six or seven years, I was the assistant golf coach at my school to a fellow who differed immensely from me in a number of ways.  We had a shared love of golf and coaching.  Colleagues used to ask me how I could coach with him.  My response always was, imagine if we were identical in our much could I learn from him?  He was successful using viable coaching techniques that did not naturally occur to me.  Over time, I learned much from him and he learned a good bit from me.  We won't always agree, but we will respect each other.  It seems to me that you have lost that respect for many on this site.  You may never regain that respect.

On behalf of the site, I will ask you in what language this access whoring is taking place.  My English is very good, yet I don't recognize what folks consider to be inappropriate advances and requests.  I recall one recent thread where a fellow asked where forum members might play in a certain region and another participant got all up in arms about old history of access whoring.  That outburst surprised me then, just as your insinuation that GCA has jumped the shark.

I still have a lot to say and a lot to learn on the topic of golf course architecture, so I'll be on this forum as long as Ran keeps it going.  If it's time for you to go, godspeed.  I miss Tommy N. quite a bit, not nearly as much as you probably do.  He was only back on for a year or so when I started.  We still keep in touch, albeit off forum.

I would really like to know which recent threads would be considered access whoring.  Please feel free to private message me with instances of this.  If it is primarily a PM issue, as Doug Siebert suggests in his post, then that is an individual matter and not your concern.  This site has two sheriffs in Ran and Ben; it doesn't need any more telling members how to behave and what to ask in private messages.

And, if you haven't noticed, we have some fine recent additions in Mac Plumart and Kevin Lynch, to name but two.  I'm happy to share air time with them.
Coming in August 2023
~OSU Scarlet
~OSU Grey
~NCR South
~Lake Forest (OH)
~Sleepy Hollow (OH)


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2010, 12:44:31 AM »
Re: access seekers.  Years ago I received a PM from a board member who I didn't know, asking me to sponsor him for a nonresident membership at my club.  He traveled to my area frequently for business and he explained that it would be great to have a local club to play when he was in town.

That, I imagine, is about as crass as it could get, but I managed to survive it.   

Jason Topp

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2010, 12:56:23 AM »

I do not go as far back as you but for me the DG has evolved, and my interest in the topic has evolved.  Some positive and some negative.
The biggest negative for me is the people that have left.  For some that was probably a healthy change.  For others I have no idea what happened.  

The second biggest negative is that I feel like I have learned architecture 101 but also have learned that most aspects of building a golf course relate to issues that do not interest me a ton - the mechanics of actually building the stuff, drainage, environmental permits, making the course safe and easy to maintain, and making a business profitable.  As to the concepts behind golf holes and my preferences between those concepts, I really do not think the topic is all that complicated.

The third biggest negative are the repeated nasty battles over what exactly happened in 1910 at Merion, Pine Valley or other venues.  It does not matter that much and the discourse is embarassing.

I also think many of the best writers have left - which is what really attracted me to the site in the first place.  A Gib rant is always a worthwhile read even if I have no knowledge of the subject of his diatribe.  I miss those.

Finally - there aren't many courses being built so the live issues and new opportunities so prevelant in the early 2000's are greatly diminished.

Much of the change, however, is positive:  

I focus a fair amount on maintanence issues from the DG.  It seems to me that the roster of superintendents has grown substantially and we get great information on that front.

Some interesting new concepts arise - Choi's current thread about statistics is a terrific example that could potentially provide an approach to design that could make courses more interesting if used correctly and in harmony with nature.

The quality and quantity of photo tours has improved exponentially. The tours combined with on-line aerials from other sources has made it a valuable resource on that front.

Mucci (and others) provide very valuable perspectives on actually accomplishing goals associated with the care and modification of an existing course in the bewildering world of club politics.  That sort of input has really helped me in pushing to improve (or more often limit damage) to my course by adapting concepts to my particular environment.  

I have now attended every major gathering (as well as some minor events).  I have had a great time on every trip.  I don't think that
positive aspect of the DG has changed much other than a percentage of the participants.  My wife now does not even look at me strangely when I discuss travelling across the country (or the Atlantic) to play golf with people I know through the internet.

A ton of the new participants inject fresh energy and interesting ideas.  Often the ideas are repeats but that is inevitable.

Some issues seem the same to me:

I don't think access issues have changed much.  Access issues have always been a concern and must be a huge hassle for those belonging to or working for places like Riviera.  Most people want to play the best courses and have no idea how to do so.  One does not make connections to high end clubs while playing the local muni and the method of getting on such courses is arcane and by design elitist.  I love hosting people at my club and have made a number of very good friends in that manner.  Then again my club is not on many people's wish lists.

There have always been people slightly (or well) off their rocker on this site.  Sometimes it is entertaining but often it is not.  Maybe that issue has gotten worse but I suspect not.

Has the site jumped the shark?- yes.  Is it a worse shark? - not sure.  

Other sites have their quirks as well.  Bombsquadgolf has essentially evolved into a porn site.  Instructional forums tend to be taken over by golf machine devotees.  Other architecture sites have shortcomings also.

I check this one out first.


Powell Arms

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2010, 02:52:20 AM »
Whoa, there is porn on the internet?!  Thanks, Jason. I'm out of here - for at least 5 minutes.

Seriously, is like anything in life. You get what you give. Access. Insight on remote courses. Insight on different perspectives on course renovation. It's all here. At times, maybe the filter needs to be adjusted, but there is no place better for a knowledgeable discussion. And sometimes none better
 for an irrelevant argument!

Melvyn Morrow

Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2010, 04:39:13 AM »

Good for you to have the strength of your convections (hot air) and submit a topic all about your opinion on the sites DG.

You made your case well and relased some of the tension and frustration that certainly seems to have built up within you over the years.

Nevertheless you post screams of hypocrisy, why is it your right to voice your opinion no matter how strongly, yet you condemn others for doing the very same. You also have no balls in that you clearly make the following statement I'm sick of the elitist mentalities, the groveling access whores, and relatives of famous golfers telling us how the game should be played    yet will not name names having said that you have clearly single me out for your criticism.

As it’s a DG you have the right to an opinion whether we agree or not, that’s the point of a DG. The DG is a golfing forum for free ideas and opinions to be discussed or ignored by the members of the forum. In truth you are criticising the very right of others to have a say or voice, just because they do not go along with your way of thinking.

As for my point of view, it has always been just that, my point of view, my opinion on a DG. Its based upon a sincere belief that the game is moving away from its core traditions established over centuries. This DG is about golf and so I have every right to offer up my opinions on the subject.  How others interoperate my tone in my posts is down to them, all I say is that it is from the heart as golf, its people and its history including Prestwick and St Andrews have been ever present all my life. Clearly this is something I can only share with other members of my family who also care about the game. I have a unique insight to the game and so my opinions may well differ from those of others, yet I have no power to change anything, no authority just the freedom that this site offers me to post my opinions.   

You are a coward for not having the bottle to openly attack me or others by naming names but you make it very clear that you are sick of me and my right to free speech.

If I feel something is wrong at least, like it or not I voice my opinion and try and share my concerns with others who I was lead to believe were like minded.

Jeff, John Kyle and any others who feel the same way, let me state that whether I agree or not with your opinions or decided to debate the points of your topic, I still most sincerely believe that you have the right to that opinion, pity you don’t show the same courtesy and share that same value with others.

« Last Edit: August 11, 2010, 04:44:52 AM by Melvyn Hunter Morrow »


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2010, 05:19:22 AM »
Sure, some good guys have left that are not replaceable, Rihc Goodale being the first one to come to mind.  Why these guys leave is to a large degree irrelevant.  We all have our melting points and bug bears and will stand no more when the time comes, but leaving isn't necessarily related to digust.  While I will never understand the Merion like trash talk, its the emotion behind that nonsense which drives this site.  Anyway, its all part of group dynamics which like it or not, rules the roost.  We need this sort of stuff to keep things fresh.  The problem is these folks don't change their subjects of disagrement nearly often enough and it becomes boring and pointless.  The fruits of their labour are lost morass of bullshit.  If things could be kept to 15 rounds all would be much better. 

I often hear of access whoring, but I rarely come across it.  I am sure that some of this is down to differing perceptions about what folks are asking - at least on the publlic forum.  I have said it before, but I shall say it again.  I don't mind in the least if guys ask me to have a game.  If it works out fine, if not, thats life - there is no harm in asking.  The way I see it I can't guess if folks want to have a game so its easier if they just ask me.  That said, I completely understand if others don't want to be harassed for access and all I can say is it is a personal issue.  I won't be asking anybody for access unless it is offered or I am at least reasonably good friends.  So, if anybody wants me to access their clubs - please ask - tee hee.     

I will say that I am disappointed when stupid Tiger threads speculating on his life and game (or the like or even multiple threads on a the same course) dominate the first page when good photo tours or other threads slip away to oblivion in less than a day.  Sooner or later guys will stop taking the time to post these tours/discussion points if folks don't look at them and at least offer some sort of comment - if only a thank you. 

All in all, is what you make of it, but it sure is easier if more people contribute properly.

New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Anthony Gray

Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2010, 05:52:47 AM »

  I don't read the threads I just look at the pictures.



  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2010, 06:10:44 AM »
can someone explain what "jumped the shark" means? :-\

Scott Warren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2010, 06:15:58 AM »
can someone explain what "jumped the shark" means? :-\

There was an episode of Happy Days where Fonzie, waterskiing, jumped over a shark. It was roundly viewed as the point where the series was on a downward spiral and was destined to never be as good ever again.

Some people focus on the "doing something zany and ridiculous to get attention" side of the scenario when they say "that was the point where such and such jumped the shark", others just mean "that's the point where it all went to shit".


  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2010, 06:22:36 AM »
And Richie had grown up into Mr Ron Howard....
thanks Scott - that is gold.

Is it that widely understood in the US?

JC Jones

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Has jumped the shark?
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2010, 06:25:03 AM »

Thanks for starting the annual "has jumped the shark?" thread.

The answer is no.  It is easy to romanticize the past but if you take a look at some of those threads "in the early days," there was as much bickering, fighting, access whoring, etc., etc., etc. as there is now.

Also, you'll notice there was much less actual research going on back then and much less in the way of interesting philosophical discussion., like anything else in this world, can only be what you make of it.  If you think it sucks, don't hang around.  We'd like your contributions, though, as I am sure they are great.  But please quit with the tired old "good ol days" routine that we get every year, usually from some disgruntled former poster....
I get it, you are mad at the world because you are an adult caddie and few people take you seriously.

Excellent spellers usually lack any vision or common sense.

I know plenty of courses that are in the red, and they are killing it.


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