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Michael Dugger

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The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« on: January 25, 2011, 03:14:35 PM »
As an avid fan-boy of golf course architecture the past 15 or so years, I feel Iíve been privy to a very interesting age.  Iím old enough to know that Robert Trent Jones was THE name in golf course design for a long time.  I was alive when Pete Dye built his island green at Sawgrass.  I noticed former professional golfers making money as golf course designers even though I often thought their final product left something to be desired.

Iíve lived through the ďRenaissanceĒ fueled by Tom Doak, Bill Coore and the rest of the minimalists (and their copy cats.) 

The industry baffles me, sometimes; the process is disarming and perplexing.

My question to the treehouse is this: can you name another profession with similarities to that of a golf course architect? 

I struggle coming up with anything.  On one hand we might consider the golf course architect an artist, but if this is the case, how can one explain the ongoing success of the less artistic design firms (you all know who Iím talking about.)

There is a nuts and bolts aspect to designing and building a golf course, soggy fairways and bumpy greens are rarely smiled upon.  There is a ďmarketabilityĒ aspect associated with selling real estate and property values.  It seems a certain political element exists in the golf course development industry, to boot.

Can you offer up another profession that brings as many aspects to the table, and therefore requires as many varying skills, as that of the golf course architect?
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

Michael Moore

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2011, 03:39:27 PM »
An architect probably has to deal with a more bewildering variety of aesthetic concerns, building materials, safety measures, environmental regulations, subcontractors, etc. than a golf course architect.
Metaphor is social and shares the table with the objects it intertwines and the attitudes it reconciles. Opinion, like the Michelin inspector, dines alone. - Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First

Michael Dugger

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2011, 03:41:46 PM »
An architect probably has to deal with a more bewildering variety of aesthetic concerns, building materials, safety measures, environmental regulations, subcontractors, etc. than a golf course architect.

Ah yes, but a building architect produces an end product that serves a different purpose than a golf course architect's.

One designs buildings which house people, businesses, etc.

One designs for recreation...
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

David_Tepper

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2011, 03:57:53 PM »
Michael Dugger -

The money management business is similar in some ways. It encompasses a wide variety of styles, approaches and personalities.

Some firms are very marketing oriented and will promote heavily to bring in new business. Other firms wait for clients to seek them out.

Some firms are  almost a "cult of personality," based on the reputation of one or two "star" money managers. Other firms take a team approach to making their investment decisions.

Some firms are willing to grow their business indefinitely, hiring more and more people as needed. Other firms realize that, if they take on too many clients, hiring more people might dilute their product.

DT 

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2011, 05:03:36 PM »
Michael:

Filmmaking.

Ian Andrew

Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2011, 05:44:48 PM »
Architecture and Fashion seem to fit the bill well.

To a slightly lesser degree, Interior Design, The Movie Industry and even Modern Art

Greg Tallman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2011, 05:48:14 PM »
My question to the treehouse is this: can you name another profession with similarities to that of a golf course architect? 

I struggle coming up with anything.  On one hand we might consider the golf course architect an artist, but if this is the case, how can one explain the ongoing success of the less artistic design firms (you all know who Iím talking about.)


Michael, I find it interesting how you blow off certain designers as non-artistic when the vast majority of the golfing public would view them as Van Goghs and Picassos.  

With that in mind I woudl spin it differently... is there another profession where SO FEW determine what is supposedly great while the masses are left to wonder why? Interesting... the most logical answer is... ART. Or taking Tom's lead - independent films.

Philippe Binette

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2011, 05:54:20 PM »
Most design professions fits the bill

you're trying to make the most out of what you've got, according to your philosophy and in the end... it's always too expensive in the eyes of the client.

but when it's all done, timeless design cannot be priced

Michael Dugger

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2011, 05:55:11 PM »
My question to the treehouse is this: can you name another profession with similarities to that of a golf course architect? 

I struggle coming up with anything.  On one hand we might consider the golf course architect an artist, but if this is the case, how can one explain the ongoing success of the less artistic design firms (you all know who Iím talking about.)


Michael, I find it interesting how you blow off certain designers as non-artistic when the vast majority of the golfing public would view them as Van Goghs and Picassos.  

With that in mind I woudl spin it differently... is there another profession where SO FEW determine what is supposedly great while the masses are left to wonder why? Interesting... the most logical answer is... ART. Or taking Tom's lead - independent films.

Greg,

Are you saying there isn't a single architect out there whose work you find unartistic?

I didn't name any names here...
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

Michael Dugger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2011, 06:00:55 PM »
Okay, let's take a building architect, since that was the profession Michael Moore brought up.

I ask the following:

Is the property value of the corresponding dwellings/lots increased because the newly designed/built building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright?

In other words, "They are building a Frank Lloyd Wright house down the street, all of our property values are going up!"

Such is the case with golf, however, and a "Architect X Signature Design."

Now, let's say the Frank Lloyd Wright house is ugly, a real eyesore.  Does it affect people's property values?

Let's say the building is ugly, terribly designed, but has a great restaurant in it.  I find this analogous to the crappy "signature design" course that has great conditioning and great service, but is devoid of artistic value!
« Last Edit: January 25, 2011, 06:03:19 PM by Michael Dugger »
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

Jaeger Kovich

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2011, 06:09:03 PM »
Tom - I had an architecture professor who said that film schools often look for architecture undergrads because of the background in guiding people through space, and their understanding of visual perspective.

Greg Tallman

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2011, 06:14:52 PM »
My question to the treehouse is this: can you name another profession with similarities to that of a golf course architect? 

I struggle coming up with anything.  On one hand we might consider the golf course architect an artist, but if this is the case, how can one explain the ongoing success of the less artistic design firms (you all know who Iím talking about.)


Michael, I find it interesting how you blow off certain designers as non-artistic when the vast majority of the golfing public would view them as Van Goghs and Picassos.  

With that in mind I woudl spin it differently... is there another profession where SO FEW determine what is supposedly great while the masses are left to wonder why? Interesting... the most logical answer is... ART. Or taking Tom's lead - independent films.

Greg,

Are you saying there isn't a single architect out there whose work you find unartistic?

I didn't name any names here...

I would imagine I could finf something redeeming on most courses:
In Cabo we have:

Jack - plenty to love including the new holes here at Cabo del Sol
Fazio - his Chileno course will be very well received
RTJII - some cool stuff as part of an average product
Norman - a few cool things among an average/scenic course
Nicklaus Design(Bowman) - some very quirky funky greens on a decent track
Love - some great stuff on a very good course
Weiskopf - very artisitic in fact... his course here is a keeper

I would concede that much of what Player and Palmer have done is uninspired but has some artistic merit within

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2011, 07:01:38 PM »
Tom - I had an architecture professor who said that film schools often look for architecture undergrads because of the background in guiding people through space, and their understanding of visual perspective.

Jaeger:

Yes, that, or because somebody's got to build the sets.  ;)

When the crew for Golf In The Kingdom was out in Bandon, the day I went on set, the producer talked a bit about how it took so many young and aspiring kids willing to work the gypsy lifestyle (for a while) to actually get a movie made ... and I told her that I was very familiar with that concept.

paul cowley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2011, 07:14:13 PM »
The yin is the golf course...the yang is what's outside of it. A good designer recognizes this.
paul cowley...golf course architect/asgca

Peter Pallotta

Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2011, 08:53:29 PM »
Michael - I was going to say film directing.  I'll leave others to connect the dots to gca, but here's five directors:

Frank Capra; Orson Welles; Sidney Lumet; Martin Scorcese; Steven Speilberg

All of them know how to use a camera; all of them know how to block a scene (and use space and locations); all of them know how to direct actors; all of them understand narrative (most were co-writers) and how to maifest that narrative in form; all of them understand pace and drama; all of them know how to open a movie, how to make a splash, and how to end a movie, how to leave lasting impressions; all of them handle large crews; all of them use other people's money, and lots of it; all of them entertain and elucidate; all of them were serious students of the art; all of them made movies that mattered; all of them strove to weave a personal vision through even the most populist work.

Frank Capra won Oscars and made several classics -- but was considered out-moded/old fashioned long before his well and talent had run dry, and wasn't asked (by the money men) to make even one movie during the last 40 years of his life.
Orsen Welles  made his first movie exactly the way he wanted it and turned in a staggering and lasting accomplishment; but the powers that be tried to run him into the ground starting with his very next film, and never stopped.
Sidney Lumet made dozens of terrific films about all kinds of subjects, but he had a light (in my mind, wonderful) touch and not some overpowering style that dominated the movies, and so today hardly anyone mentions him as one of the greats.
Martin Scorcese grew up a sickly kid in New York watching every single movie he could from every era in Hollywood, finding something great and something he could learn from even in B-level Bibilcal costume dramas -- and then turned around and used all he learned to filter through his own psyche and vision and produce Mean Streets and Taxi Driver and Raging Bull -- and most of America (at last at first) winced in horror.
And Steven Speilberg - even as a young man a master of his craft and in the mold of the great old studio directors like Ford and Hawks; and he's made several truly excellent and wonderful films that deserve all the accolades they have gotten -- and yet, for some reason, I can only watch each of his movies once, and never felt a desire to watch them again.      

Peter
« Last Edit: January 25, 2011, 09:08:05 PM by PPallotta »

BCrosby

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2011, 08:51:39 AM »
Filmmaking is an interesting analogy, though I think it misses something.

Film viewers are passive in a way that golfers aren't. The analogy ought to be to making a film that allows each viewer to pick from a range of possible scenes and endings.

Which is to say that the challenges confronting a golf architect are much more daunting than those confronting a filmmaker.

Bob


Mike_Young

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2011, 08:59:45 AM »
Filmmaking is an interesting analogy, though I think it misses something.

Film viewers are passive in a way that golfers aren't. The analogy ought to be to making a film that allows each viewer to pick from a range of possible scenes and endings.

Which is to say that the challenges confronting a golf architect are much more daunting than those confronting a filmmaker.

Bob


Bob,
And would you say this site is comparable to an art film cinema...never to be caught in a normal theater?

As we have discussed in the past...I'm not sure that golf architecture is no the figment of someone's imagination....we have spo many doing so much to give it legitimacy when almost no one in the last 100 years has made a living solely from design....they either needed construction or another profession in the golf industry.....
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Peter Pallotta

Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2011, 09:13:59 AM »
Filmmaking is an interesting analogy, though I think it misses something.

Film viewers are passive in a way that golfers aren't. The analogy ought to be to making a film that allows each viewer to pick from a range of possible scenes and endings.

Which is to say that the challenges confronting a golf architect are much more daunting than those confronting a filmmaker.

Bob



I agree in part, Bob, but I'd say that within the spectrum of passivity that is the medium, it is the mediocre (and by far most common) movies that proscribe the audience's reactions most, and do so most often in the most predictable and banal ways; while the great films allow for a dialogue of sorts with the audience, the particpation of each individual member in his/her own unique way (while, granted, still tending to engender a collective experience).  The Seventh Seal, for example, allows me to bring myself to the table in a way that The Titanic doesn't.

P.S. - Mike Y, I think thou protest too much. Come on, you're amongst friends here, admit it: you ARE a art-house sort of fellow; and I bet you've had more than a few discussions over the years with attractive brunettes about "cinema" while sipping on a latte...   
« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 09:17:00 AM by PPallotta »

Mike_Young

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2011, 09:24:16 AM »





P.S. - Mike Y, I think thou protest too much. Come on, you're amongst friends here, admit it: you ARE a art-house sort of fellow; and I bet you've had more than a few discussions over the years with attractive brunettes about "cinema" while sipping on a latte...   
[/quote]

Peter,
Did you ever see me say I did not go to the art cinema....actually it is the closest to my house....real close...I can even discuss those films with BC...right now am hanging at art cinema watching the trilogy of the Girl w Dragon Tattoo....I thought there would be some naked scenes....
"just standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona"

Philippe Binette

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2011, 09:29:36 AM »
Tom Doak said:
When the crew for Golf In The Kingdom was out in Bandon, the day I went on set, the producer talked a bit about how it took so many young and aspiring kids willing to work the gypsy lifestyle (for a while) to actually get a movie made ... and I told her that I was very familiar with that concept.


that's the best description of golf course architecture I've heard in a while

BCrosby

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2011, 09:30:45 AM »
Pietro - Agreed about Bergman, Fellini, Truffault and others. Their films are certainly thought provoking. (BTW, never make the mistake I made once by taking a first date to see the Seventh Seal. Whew.)  Certainly film viewers have their own, individual take on movies. And better movies tend to ask better questions and make for more interesting, reflective reactions.

But film viewers ultimately have to react to what they are given on the big screen.

On the other hand, golfers play a Doak or a Young course the way they want,  Doak and Young know that, and Doak and Young have to design their courses to take that into account. They are dealing in a participatory art form, which is hard.

Bob

JMEvensky

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2011, 09:39:02 AM »

(BTW, never make the mistake I made once by taking a first date to see the Seventh Seal. Whew.)  

Bob

There's a scene for a Woody Allen movie.

Was your date Swedish?

BCrosby

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2011, 09:44:26 AM »
It was indeed like a scene from a Woody Allen movie.

But before we get too esoteric here, my date was from Long Island.

Bob

Bruce Katona

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Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2011, 10:00:10 AM »
Real estate Development is another example.  What does it take to be a developer: deep pockets and brass b*lls.  What does it take to be a successful and profitable real estate developer:  More brains than money, the ability to acquire the correct site for the corrrect price, the ability to deliver the end product on-time and on-budget, a receptive sales and financing market to deliver the product to  & luck/timing.

Peter Pallotta

Re: The Yin and Yang of a Golf Course Architect
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2011, 10:00:33 AM »
Jeff - I'd like to imagine that this took place before Bob got his fancy, ivy-league education....

Peter

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