Arts and Crafts Golf Part III
by Thomas MacWood

Country Life

One day in 1896, Edward Hudson owner of a successful family firm of printers, Hudson & Kearns, was playing golf at Woking with one of his business partners, George Riddell, a solicitor with financial holdings in the magazine publishing business George Newnes Ltd. After the round they talked about Hudson’s latest venture, the weekly Racing Illustrated, which looked good but unfortunately was floundering financially. It was then that the idea of relaunching it as a magazine of general interest for lovers of the countryside. And so on January 8, 1897, there appeared the first issue of Country Life.

George Riddell & Edward Hudson

Hudson and Riddell typified the energetic and enterprising set of Victorian London, they were urban commercial animals out to make their fortune. George Allardice Riddell (1865-1934) was enjoying a meteoric career, the son of a Brixton photographer, he was able to push his way up through the legal profession from nothing, making his fortune first as legal adviser and then chairman of the Sunday sensation, The News of the World. Although his reputation was far from savory, he was an influential force within British politics and eventually became Lord Riddell of Walton Heath. He was head of the Newnes publishing company when Country Life was unleashed, and he was also passionate about golf.

But of the two it was Edward Hudson (1854-1936) who would become the dominant force, guiding the magazine for its first thirty-five years. He clearly had a touch of genius about him, despite an awkward nature. ‘Ill educated and apparently inarticulate to a degree that surprised those who knew his gifts as connoisseur and entrepreneur’, he nevertheless exercised an eye for quality. In the same way he collected furniture and art, he collected talented people. From the beginning the emphasis was on quality — in photography, writing, printing and block-making — Hudson took a paternal interest in every aspect of his magazine, according to veteran contributor Bernard Darwin, ‘ his love for it was so palpably moving that to show, even for a moment, a lack of interest in anything to do with Country Life would have been an impossible brutality.’

Country Life billed itself as ‘the journal for all interested in country life and country pursuits’ at a time when eighty percent of the population was urban based, this focus on the country was well timed. Housing within inner London, and the other industrialized cities, was quite bleak and the view of the tranquil countryside, offered by prominent writers and thinkers such as John Ruskin, was a positive alternative. That view followed a long literary tradition, one with which every public-school educated reader of Country Life would have been familiar. That age old image of landed gentry — country gentleman, ancient manor houses and their gardens, tranquil views of an unspoiled landscape — was a powerful one. But by 1897 the aristocracy and gentry were a defeated class, the Third Reform Act had given the vote to the non-propertied working classes, the agricultural depression of the late 1870’s had severely eroded the profits of their great estates and the Death Duties of 1894 had negatively impacted the ease of inherited privilege, the landscape was changing both figuratively and literally. The new rich from the commercial and professional classes could now aspire to that romantic aristocratic lifestyle and Country Life took full advantage of the circumstances, the magazine‘was directed at readers who might well be members of a Surrey golf club. The electric underground and more reliable motor cars provided opportunities for the prosperous to build houses in the still unspoiled rural landscape and enjoy the conventional pleasures of country life, gardening, riding and golf.’

From its first issue, Country Life‘s formula was apparent. A full-page portrait of Lord Suffolk occupies one page. There are illustrated historical account of a country house, sports reports, and a golfing feature. Most prominent were ten full pages of equestrian news, mainly racing and bloodstock gossip. This soon gave way to regular reports and features on other sports, including polo, hockey, cricket, rowing, yachting, rugby, soccer, and cycling. ‘The magazine would carry articles on country houses and gardens, antiques, natural history, traditional country pursuits (most of which seemed to involve killing something) and sporting occasions frequented by high society.’

In the early years the magazine’s impact was primarily visual rather than literary, it was ‘looked at more than read, a consequence of the expertise of the magazines photographers.’ As Bernard Darwin wrote in Fifty Years of Country Life, the magazine was designed to be ‘a weekly illustrated paper of the highest quality that should get the possible results from the half-tone blocks.’ Exacting about quality ‘expense was an entirely secondary consideration,’ Hudson was fortunate in securing the services of two great photographers who established the magazine’s style — Charles Latham and Frederick Evans. Their brilliant images compensated for any initial shortcomings in writing and created Country Life’s reputation for superb photography. Photos that show a remarkable sensitivity to atmosphere and space. Enhanced by the even light and crystal sharp detail achieved by a long exposure, inspired by the English landscape artist Turner.

Soon the quality of writing would match the imagery. The early ‘flowery evocations had been supplanted by historical scholarship based on original research in the case of old houses and by professional architectural criticism in the case of the new. The lead was now taken by the writers rather than the photographers.’ And Hudson had a extraordinary ability to attract contributors whose influence lasted well beyond their own active involvement in the magazine. One of the earliest and most famous contributors was Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) whom met Hudson in 1899 and was already a well established figure in the gardening world. Jekyll, an apostle of the Arts and Crafts movement, edited ‘Garden Notes’ for Country Life for thirty years, becoming a landmark figure in the history of twentieth-century gardening with designs that integrated house and garden, architecture with nature. Blessed with painter’s eye, she lifted gardening to the status of fine art — not a surprising result considering her relationship with Ruskin, Morris and many of the well-known artists of the period. She personified the A&C ideal of unity in the arts. Through Jekyll, Hudson met the young architect Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), who immediately commissioned to build Deanery Garden, his first country house in Berkshire. Jekyll laid out the garden, achieving a perfect marriage of architecture and nature. Icons of an English way of life, Lutyens and Jekyll would team for nearly two decades, creating a new standard of excellence epitomized by the phrase ‘a Lutyens house and Jekyll garden.’ Hudson would again call on Lutyens on three more commissions: Lindisfarne Castle (1902), the Country Life Building (1904) and Plumton Place (1928) in Sussex. The Country Life connection was a tremendous benefit to Lutyens, and resulted in several golf related clients including Alfred Lyttelton’s Greywalls on the Muirfield links and George Sitwell’s club-house at Dr.MacKenzie’s notorious Sitwell Park — ironically Lutyens didn’t play the game. The seductive images presented by Country Life of Lutyens and Jekyll’s work not only ignited their careers, but also fueled appreciation for Arts and Crafts aesthetics in general.

Jekyll's home--Edwin Lutyens, Munstead Wood, Godalming, Surrey (1896).

There were many other important figures in the early years of the magazine, including H. Avery Tipping (1855-1933) an authority on English interiors, furniture and architecture. He was ‘the first to apply methods of historical research to the subject’ and his articles were genuine contributions to architectural history. His influence brought the country house and garden center stage with the magazine. CL Cornish wrote on natural history. L.March Phillips was a prominent art historian and writer of color theory. Lawrence Weaver (1876- 1930) was another architectural writer. Although Hudson was an great advocate of Lutyens work, the magazine showed little commitment to contemporary architecture. Under Weaver’s guidance, Country Life championed the architects of the Arts and Crafts movement, and sponsored architectural competitions featuring informed architectural critique. He, more than anyone earned the magazine’s title, as ‘the keeper of the architectural conscience of the nation.’ Percy Macquoid was the contributor in the antiques field, he would go on to write the landmark study The History of English Furniture. Editor from 1900 to 1925, Peter Anderson Graham wrote numerous columns, including ‘Country Notes’, ‘Agricultural Notes’ and ‘The Book of the Week’, he was described as ‘a leisurely man of letters rather than a working journalist . . . a dignified unpretentious figure in baggy country clothes.’ And of course the golfing correspondent was Bernard Darwin (1876-1961), the grandson of the naturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin was simply the greatest golf writer the game has ever produced. For nearly fifty years, beginning in 1908, he contributed to the weekly golf column ‘On the Green’, and he also authored the history of the magazine on the occasion of its fiftieth birthday in 1947. Like his architectural colleagues, he too organized a ‘golfing architectural competition’ in conjunction with C.B. Macdonald (judged by Darwin, Horace Hutchinson and Herbert Fowler), with Dr.MacKenzie taking home the first place prize for ‘the best original two-shot hole.’

Tom Simpson's entry after the fact.

In a few short years not only was Country Life financially successful, but it was successful in depicting a vision of rural life that had enormous popular appeal. ‘Country Life represented a potent image of national identify, embodied in the beauties of the countryside and the past.’ Thanks to the quality of its printing and production, the quality of advertising in attracted and the ability of its writers and photographers Country Life was successful in creating a vision of England that William Morris and the proponents of the Arts and Crafts movement had sought — ironic, considering this vision of a rural utopia was targeted at the privileged. But despite this paradox, the Country Life era was a marvelously optimistic one in which ‘all the arts seemed to moving to a minor Renaissance creating in the process a distinct English style.’

The Guide

Bernard Darwin wasn’t Country Life’s first golf editor, that distinction goes to Horace Hutchinson (1859-1932). The very first issue of January 8, 1897 featured a serialized version of After Dinner Golf, a book written by Hutchinson the previous year. For the next two decades, Huthinson was contributing editor of the weekly golf column ‘On the Green’ — and he was an intelligent choice for not only was he England’s foremost expert on the game but he was also something of a Renaissance Man, well versed in natural history, literature, as well as fishing and shooting, and he contributed pieces on all these subjects. As Darwin wrote, ‘Mr.Hutchinson was a good shot and good fisherman, a capable player of several games and really a great player of one game; but he was much more than this. He was a man of wide reading and culture and of varied interests, to which he was constantly adding to the end of his life.’

Horace Hutchinson

Horatio Gordon Hutchinson was born on May 16, 1859, the third son of a military man — General William Nelson Hutchinson. Horace first attended school at Charterhouse, where his grandfather had been headmaster. He was forced to leave due to poor health and later transferred to the newly established United Services College at Westward Ho!, two miles from the family home in North Devon. As a boy his family had been introduced to golf by his Uncle Fred, Colonel Hutchinson, who lived in Scotland and was Adjutant of the Fife Militia. ‘I used to hear a great deal of talk about this wonderful game, between my father and my uncle, the former having scarcely a more clear-cut idea of what it was like than myself.’ It was about this time that some North Devon locals proposed the golf course at Westward Ho!. ‘The course, as designed by those primitive constructors . . . started out near the Pebble Ridge, by what is now the tee to the third hole. Those pioneers of the game did not even go to the expense, in that instance, of a hole cutter. They excised the holes with pocket knives. The putting greens were entirely au naturel, as Nature and the sheep made them. Assuredly there was no need for making artificial bunkers. Nature had provided them, and of the best. Besides, were there not always the great sea rushes?’

Westward Ho! by Harry Rountree

As a boy Hutchinson was given his first golf club by his Uncle Fred. Horace’s anxious mother asked Fred, ‘At what age do you think my little boy should begin golf: I want him to be a very good player?’ ‘How old is the boy now?’ his uncle asked. ‘Seven,’ his mother replied. ‘Seven! Oh, then he lost three years already!’ Horace went on to build a great reputation at Westward Ho! — at the age of sixteen he committed the ‘blazing indiscretion‘ of winning the club medal and by rule was named Captain, obligating him to chair all the club’s general meetings — the rule was amended the following year. In 1878 Hutchinson enrolled at Oxford where he proved to be an excellent all around talent, winning the University Cue at billiards, playing cricket and football, and together with the Scotsman Alexander Stuart made Oxford practically invincible in golf. During extended vacations from school he went on golfing pilgrimages, traveling north to Scotland and St. Andrews, and touring the handful of courses that existed in England — Hoylake, Blackheath, Wimbeldon, Felixtowe and of course North Devon. It was while on vacation from school that he often had as his caddie a young local lad who was also employed in the Hutchinson home — future golf great John Henry Taylor.

In 1882 Hutchinson left Oxford with a degree and the goal of reading for the Bar. Just prior to completing the Bar he began suffering from severe headaches, a continuation of a condition that plagued him his final year at Oxford. The doctors advised that he give up all reading for a time, ‘an instruction which I have observed rather faithfully up to the present’ he would write forty years later. ‘Their very wise counsel gave me all the more time for golf — the rules were not quite so headachy then and a man could play golf, or so it seems to me, with a lighter heart.’ His convalescence was spent at home on the links of Westward Ho!, as well as extended visits to Hoylake and St. Andrews, winning his first of eight St.Andrews medals in 1884. The following year Hutchinson reached the finals of the first Amateur Championship at Hoylake, falling to Alan Macfie, but in 1886 at St. Andrews he beat Henry Lamb by 7 and 6, and in 1887 he won again, this time by a single hole at Hoylake, in a magnificent match with hometown favorite John Ball.

It was in 1886 that Hutchinson launched his writing career with Hints on Golf the game’s first book of instruction. He would later write, ‘I perpetrated a book on golf. The only excuse to be made for it is that it was a very little one.’ Hutchinson originally sent the manuscript to a Mr.Blackwood and who consented to publish it, ‘for I am sure there must be something in that book. Ever since I read it I have been trying to play according to its advice, and the result is I’ve entirely lost any little idea of the game I ever had.’ The first and second edition soon sold out, and they decided to illustrate the subsequent volumes. Hutchinson later wrote that he was dancing with a young lady in London when he asked her if she played the game and she replied, ‘Oh, yes, we all play, and we learn out of a most idiotic little book.’

Hints on Golf was the first of over fifty books that Hutchinson would author. He may have began with golf, but he would ultimately write about almost every conceivable subject — including cricket, shooting and fishing; the subjects of natural history, dreams and mysticism; he was an essayist and a novelist; he attempted detective fiction; he was also very interested in history and wrote numerous biographies; and finally he expressed many of his most personal and intimate thoughts in Records of a Human Soul. It has been said that Hutchinson’s multitude of interests may have actually worked against him, preventing him from concentrating on his strengths.

And as wide and varied as were his interests, so to were his friends and acquaintances. Bernard Darwin wrote, ‘few men have been known to a larger circle or had more affectionate friends than Mr.Horace Hutchinson: he seemed to have been everywhere and to know everybody, and with his handsome presence and graceful kindly manner he had great power of making people fond of him.’ Prime Minister Arthur Balfour was a dear friend, they stalked deer in the forests of Strathconan and played many rounds together at North Berwick. He was very close to Old Tom Morris — Hutchinson’s unorthodox playing style reminded the old man of his lost son Tommy. Famous sportsman, Colonel Secretary and a political adversary of his uncle the powerful Prime Minister William Gladstone, Sir Alfred Lyttelton was a good friend and golfing comrade. Dr.Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Wolseley, esteemed military man and the ‘ill-destined genius’ Oscar Wilde were all acquaintances. The renowned banker, statesman and naturalist Sir John Lubock was another golf partner, Hutchinson would write his biography. He knew the scientists Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley. He was very close with Sir Thomas Brassey the son of a railroad tycoon. Brassey was a well-known yachtsman and world traveler, as well as a long-time member of Parliament, and ultimately Governor of Victoria — Hutchinson often sailed aboard his famous schooner Sunbeam. And Hutchinson once found himself on the ground and ‘in an eleven’ with the great W.G.Grace, the storied cricketer and quite possibly the most famous man in all of England.

Another of Hutchinson’s very good friends was Cormell Price. Price attended Oxford in the 1850’s where he, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones met and formed a bond that would last their entire lives. They had fallen under the spell of Oxford’s medieval beauty and John Ruskin’s newly published The Stones of Venice. From that point on they would follow their love of the arts, moving to London after obtaining their degrees, studying under the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and joining the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood — the group of artists formed in opposition the formulaic approach of the Royal Academy. Hutchinson wrote the PRB’s objective was ‘to present on canvas what they saw in Nature.’ In 1874 Price became the headmaster of the United Services College at Westward Ho!, the same year Hutchinson began his schooling. It is not surprising that Price as headmaster ‘recommended Ruskin’s books to the boys under his charge at Westward Ho!‘ (Rudyard Kipling was also a student at USC, and he credited Price with fostering his literary ability) The two became lifelong friends and Price’s influence can not be understated. It was through Price that Hutchinson was introduced to Morris, and although two were not friends, Hutchinson became a great admirer of Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. Hutchinson wrote, ‘If you look here, there, and everywhere you will hardly rest your eye on an object created since the day of Morris, which is at all worth resting it upon, that does not owe something, and very often the most important thing about it, to his genius. I say this, with full realization that it is saying a great deal. I do not believe that it is saying too much . . . But, apart from this or that form and colour that Morris has given for eyes to dwell on round about us, it is a bigger gift than this, a gift not of details but a general point of view . . . the appreciation that there is actually beauty which can make a difference in our lives. It is an appreciation which we know quite well to have been hid from the eyes of very many of our forefathers.’

In 1890 Hutchinson published what many feel was his greatest literary accomplishment and certainly his best known, Golf from the Badminton series. Bernard Darwin wrote,‘in 1890 he attained his full of stature as golfing prophet with the Badminton. I suppose his teaching is now [1955] largely outmoded, but if other teachers wrote half as well, they would not be nearly such bores as they often are.’ Ironically the publishers of the Badminton Library of Sport, which was a series on sports and pastimes, originally asked Hutchinson to contribute to a volume on Scottish sports, where golf would be included with skating, curling and tossing the caber. He convinced them golf was ‘of sufficient importance to carry a volume to itself’ Hutchinson’s Golf ushered in the golf boom in Britain.

That same year Hutchinson ‘took up rooms in London, near a studio, and began the serious study of anatomy and sculpture as a profession. It was an idea that conflicted a good deal with the whole-souled devotion to golf.’ Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for golf, he was struck ill and traveled to Biarritz that winter to recover. Even though maintenance of the course was crude to say the least, the golf at Biarritz — up and down immense cliffs — was invigorating. And although Hutchinson would continue to battle poor health through out his life, the holiday at Biarritz must have provided the medicine he required. When he returned he began work on the first book to depict the great golf courses of both Great Britain and Europe — Famous Golf Links — published in 1891. This beautifully illustrated book evidently satisfied his artistic urges, and golf again became his focus.

Hutchinson’s competitive career also continued. In the 1892 Open Championship at Muirfield he led by several strokes after the first 36 holes, it was the first year the championship was expanded from 36 to 72 holes, he tired and fell away on the second day. He continued to be a fixture at the Amateur championship, as well as contributing periodic articles to newspapers and magazines, and in 1896 he wrote After Dinner Golf in which he created the fictional character Colonel Bogey. At about this time Hutchinson also became involved in the formation of the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society. The idea for the Society was suggested at a dinner following a match between some former University players and the team from Oxford. It was modeled after the ‘wandering cricket clubs’ of the time. As Hutchinson described, the Society ‘had no club-house, no green, only a corporate existence and they said to the various Clubs, ‘Now, you give us the free run of your course and a free luncheon and other entertainment, and if you do this we’ll be so good as to come down and play a team match against your members and probably give them a jolly good beating” Horace Hutchinson was the Society’s for president, Johnny Low was the captain, Arthur Croome secretary, H.S.Colt and Eric Hambro were members of the original committee and Bernard Darwin took part in the first match.

It was in 1897 that Hutchinson joined the fledgling periodical Country Life. Writing a weekly column for what would become the lifestyle magazine of Britain — from this platform his influence was immense. And although he covered all aspects of the game — competitions, rules, equipment, etc. — Hutchinson soon began to concentrate on the state of golf-course development, with the games popularity exploding he felt it important to focus on the new art of golf-architecture. Very little had been written about golf design, Willie Park-Jr. had briefly covered the subject in his The Game of Golf of 1896, and the relatively new magazine Golf Illustrated and its editor Garden Smith had touched the subject in 1898, but both were still advocating the formality common in the 1890’s — the static Victorian approach to golf design.

Hutchinson began in 1898 with a fascinating series on Britain’s great links in which he both analyzed and illustrated with photographs the qualities of these venues. The first installment was St. Andrews, followed by Prestwick, North Berwick, Sandwich, Hoylake and Westward Ho!. The final article was devoted to ‘Inland Golf’ and it was at this point that Hutchinson began to exert a critical eye. ‘There is no good reason why the putting on inland greens should not be as good as on any of the classic links . . . You cannot make your bunkers quite as good as the sand-pits by the sea, for these later have the peculiar charm of being Nature’s handiwork, which man can only imitate to a humble degree. If one may be allowed to criticise those shown in our picture (a photo featuring the artificial ramparts at Stanmore), one might say their imitation of Nature’s curves is scarcely as successful as it might be. They err, perhaps in being too stiff and straight. An irregular or S shape of outline would seemed more natural, and also it would have been better for strictly golfing uses . . . rather too uncompromising are these stiff and straight bunkers: and this not a criticism of those seen in the picture particularly, but of the great majority of bunkers artificially planned, for it seems that in only a few instances have our links gardeners had the gift of the artistic eye, or even of the unspoilt natural eye, for Nature abhors a straight line almost as much as a vacuum.’ A diplomatic, but clear critique of the state of golf design; first extolling the virtues of the natural links, followed by an illustration of the current trend’s weaknesses.

From this point on Hutchinson used ‘On the Green’ as a forum to analyze the finer points of design, publicize the work of the new breed of designers and generally promoting his vision of golf-architecture. Certainly there were numerous articles covering all aspects of the game, all the major competitions with special attention to the Amateur and Open Championship, rules and maintenance issues and a major emphasis on the effect of the new golf ball, but a significant percentage of the articles was devoted to new golf courses and the men who created them. Hutchinson brought on Scotsman A.J. Robertson, a talented writer and former editor of Golf Illustrated and a young Bernard Darwin from the Evening Standard. Hutchinson also invited numerous talents to contribute — Herbert Fowler was a regular guest, as was Harry Colt and the foremost greenkeeper Peter Lees, and many of the games great players, including Taylor and Braid. The trio of Hutchinson, Darwin and Robertson, along with the many contributors, provided Country Life with perhaps the greatest golf-writing talent ever assembled — and golf-architecture was a major beneficiary.

In 1906 Hutchinson edited the first book completely devoted to the science of golf-architecture and maintenance — Golf Greens and Green-Keeping. The book, published under the Country Life Library of Sport, gave Hutchinson an opportunity to explore the ideas and theories of the new movement in golf-architecture. H.S.Colt, Herbert Fowler, Peter Lees, C.K.Hutchison, Harold Hilton all contributed, with Horace Hutchinson adding three chapters of his own and providing a comprehensive analysis — weeding through and clarifying any of the inconsistencies of opinion among the contributors. In the book Hutchinson cited his most important tenets in laying out a links, as well as a providing examples of golf holes that illustrate those principles — Eden, Long, and Road hole at St. Andrews, the first at Hoylake, the 17th at Prestwick and 16th at Littlestone among them. At this same time Hutchinson wrote a similar piece for Country Life, a four part series entitled, First Principles In Laying Out Courses, some excerpts:

A question which will be asked is what the ideal mode and disposition of bunkers though the green (as distinguished for the moment, from which guard putting greens) may be. The easiest answer to this is, that variety is always pleasing, and that we do not wish always to have the same kind of shot to play.

Another of the principles which the layer-out of a course ought to place among the guiding maxims is the merit, especially as a guard to a hole, of a bunker running out diagonally into the course.

Bunkers guarding the greens should be deep and small, those through the greens by preference wide and shallow — yet not so shallow as to impose no penalty and make no demand on skill. We do not want to make the game less difficult than it is — rather the contrary — but we want to make the difficulties of such a kind that they give scope for skill in avoiding them and in getting out of them.

Take ‘Hell’ at St. Andrews as a good example of a bunker through the green. It is irregular in form, fairly large in size and has many outlets.

A certain amount of attention has been paid of recent years, in laying out courses, to give some reward to a correct placing of, as distinguished from the more correct directing of the tee shot, so as to make the second shot more easy, or to the correct placing of the second shot, in case of a long hole, in order to make the approach more easy, that is to say, to enable the player to get a run up ‘the entrance’ to the hole, instead of having to loft one or another of the guarding bunkers.

Very little attention indeed has been paid to the value of particular levels and gradients of the ground as practically performing the work of bunkers.

The Chalk Pit at Royal Eastbourne

Sound advice no doubt, but Hutchinson was more than a fine golfer and superb intellect, he was also an experienced designer. In 1886 his father had moved from Devon to Eastbourne in Sussex, and the following year Horace assisted a local gentleman in laying out the original nine of what would become the Royal Eastbourne golf course. The downland course was dominated by two natural features the cavernous ‘Chalk Pit’ and a bordering wood known as Paradise. Eastbourne was also infamous for its wild greens, Darwin would say —‘To putt at Eastbourne is art of itself. It is not that the greens are not good, for they are excellent, but the hidden slopes in them are . . . ‘extensive and peculiar.” One green in particular, the devilish ‘Paradise Green’, was noteworthy for its severe undulations — where according to Hutchinson, one could putt ‘ till the cows came home.’ Hutchinson collaborated with Holcombe Ingleby in the design of Royal West Norfolk in 1892, justly proud of the results he remarked ‘its distinguished features are the absence of artificiality and the great variety to be found in the holes.’ He would go on to design the nine hole links Isles of Scilly (1904) and was twice involved in revisions of Ganton (1905 & 1911), both occasions as part of some sort of gang action, involving the likes of Vardon, Ray, Taylor, Braid, Hilton and later Colt and Fowler. He was also involved at Le Touquet in France. His final design efforts can be found at Ashdown Forest where Hutchinson lived in lovely cottage Shepherd’s Gate (with garden designed by Jekyll) adjacent to the Royal Ashdown Forest course. Early on the banker Hambro, who controlled the land, asked Hutchinson to revise the old course, in fact there is some indication the cottage was a part of his payment, and several years later he would design what became known as the new course. Like Eastbourne, Ashdown Forest was known for its ‘very curly and puzzling putting greens.’ This experience provided Hutchinson with credentials beyond just that of a great player, it was from this foundation that Hutchinson the golf-architectural theorist and critic was able to influence:

The laying-out of golf courses is such a perpetual process that we need offer no apologies for a further hint or two on that inexhaustible subject. There is one point which even the most advanced of the links architects seem often to have missed. It is in respect of the right placing of bunkers through the green for the punishment of the indifferent tee shot. Very often we see bunkers place on the right-hand side of the course and another on the left-hand side, with a channel left between them down the centre . . . This is an arrangement which has neither equity nor interest. If one of these bunkers, it does not matter which was pulled back some fifty yards nearer the tee, so as giving a chance of carrying it, it is obvious at once — that the shot would gain interest.

Natural features dictate play at Royal Ashdown Forest.

Too much of a dead level is unprofitable, and here and there, say twice in the round, we may even do with a ‘blind’ shot. If it be a long one . . . And then we should remember that, since we seldom play in a dead calm, we shall get much more variety from a course which dodges here and there, with holes across and right angles to one another, than on one which goes straight out and in so the that the wind is coming at the same angle all the outward half, and, again, at the same angle (opposite the former) all the inward half.

‘A good natural course’ is rather a hackneyed expression by this time, and yet to apply it is, on the whole, to praise highly. We know that if we go to a course that is so described we shall almost certainly have a pleasant day . . . Naturalness in a course also implies holes guarded by natural hazards, and more particularly by natural turns and twists in the ground designed by the hand of Providence to tease the cut-and-died approaches.

We are in danger of monotony on the course which any one of these, or other, artificers plans for us, because they follow good principles too religiously. My view is that a bad hole here and there, such as a pot hole — say, the seventeenth at Sandwich — is not out of place at very rare intervals. Even over a golfer who is all good we rejoice when he makes a lapse. Some years ago the idea was at every hole to give a man a cross bunker to pitch over. Then it was realised that this was not a good principle for repetition eighteen times in succession. There was an outcry against such bunkers, and now the tendency is never to give us one at all. That is a mistake. We want at least a couple of them in eighteen holes, according to my way of thinking.

Schools of golf architecture are divided into the disciples of those who make grass-sided bunkers and those who make them with a steep cliff of the local soil. But why make all of one kind or the other? Why not a mixing up and variety?

The first thing to appreciate, by way of shield against this danger, is that the sauce of golf is its variety. When you hear this wiseacre and that saying that there ought to be no cross bunkers, another that there ought to be no running-up shots, and so on, you may know at once they must all be wrong. Such worlds as ‘none’ and ‘all’ should not appear in the laws laid down, for these matters. We want a little of each — ‘two pen’orth of all sorts,’ like the cabman’s morning drink — some lofting approaches, some run-up and so on with the rest of the puzzles.

In any case that is the right end, that a tee shot, if placed correctly, shall give an easier second, than if not correctly placed. It is an idea to be held in my mind by all planners of greens, second in importance to one other, namely, that no one idea shall be allowed to obsess the mind in so planning to the exclusion of others. It is the following, without relaxation, of one idea, however good in itself, that makes courses dull with all the dullness of artificiality; it is only by combining all ideas that are not bad that one can get anything like the infinite variety of Nature.


Hutchinson’s theories can be summarized as follows. He believed that a limited amount of blindness was acceptable, but never blind approaches, but then excuses an occasional blind approach if they are ‘full shots’ or long approaches for the ‘sake of interesting variety’ , he felt there was place in the game for what he called ‘pleasurable uncertainty.’ He condemns as a rule cross-bunkers, promoting diagonal bunkers and bunkers en echelon (or staggered bunkering) because of the choices they provide, but then at the same time he says don’t take this too literally because the aerial shot is exciting and variety is king. He believed that a well designed course should give the accurate driver ‘the just value for the correctly placed shot,’ but at the same time was not opposed to severely punishing an inaccurate approach. He promoted the use of ‘floral hazards’ — especially as side hazards and the corner of doglegsat time when a tree on a golf course was thought to be blasphemy. He promoted the incorporation of the native surrounds, the use of whins, heather, long tussocky grass and other native growth between tee and fairway ‘to catch and punish a topped drive’ and around the margins of the ‘mown and well-kept sward, between the ‘pretty’ as modern people are in the fashion of calling it, and the ‘ugly’ original jungle.’ Hutchinson was a was major proponent of the idea of ‘the ugly original jungle‘ — ‘the bent grass looks a bit artificial and regular, but no doubt in time it will look as wild and terrible as need be.’ One could almost conclude that Hutchinson contradicted himself on almost every important point, but that apparent paradox is understandable when you consider his overriding rule for interesting golf-architecture was variety. He believed the ancient links were interesting because of their variety, variety which was a result of a natural evolution, and that man-made rules for design must be flexible to account for the haphazard nature and unpredictability of Mother Nature.

Not only was Hutchinson instrumental in elevating the art of golf design, he was also actively promoting the artists whose work he admired. ‘What I should rather like to see is a golf course laid out and bunkered by consigning six holes to Mr.Colt, six to Mr.Fowler and six to Willy Park. I name these because they seem to me to have the most distinct and different styles.’ Hutchinson also provided a forum for many architects to express there thoughts and observations, allowing them to contribute on a regular basis. Fowler was a frequent guest, writing about every thing for plastisine models to analyzing the Open venue at Deal to defending the criticisms of his work at Westward Ho!. Colt was equally active, interestingly even contributing an article on club-house architecture. Harold Hilton, J.H.Taylor, Tom Simpson, Alister MacKenzie, C.K.Hutchison, John Low, Stuart Paton, John Abercormby, and C.B.Macdonald were either contributors or the subject of major features. James Braid produced a three part series on ‘The Planning of a Golf Course’, in which he put forth his very formulaic approach to design, which was followed the next week by a short rebuttal by Hutchinson, ‘We are becoming a little wiser than we used to be, and Braid’s recent articles show especially how much wiser our professional brethren are becoming than they used to be, in the problems of laying out courses. We have hunted the matter much closer down to its first principles and realise much more fully the qualities which make a course difficult, interesting and a good and just test of golf. There is only the fear that as we become more scientific we may fall into the worse pit of becoming altogether undramatic. It is not the least necessary that it should be so: if the science is applied properly it ought to have the effect of adding more than a little to the dramatic interest; but unless that interest is kept before the eye of the linkscape gardener he may turn out a good, but deadly dull job.

During the coverage of the 1906 Amateur Championship, Hutchinson introduced what would become an on going feature, the National Golf Links of America project and its founder C.B.Macdonald. Macdonald had been inspired by the‘Best Hole Discussion’ article in Golf Illustrated to create his ideal course. He had competed in that championship at Hoylake (along with Hutchinson, Colt, Fowler, C.K. Hutchison, C.H.Alison and Guy Campbell), but his main objective was the study of the finest holes in Britain in preparation for his dream course. Macdonald spent a great deal of time interrogating Hutchinson and his influence is apparent in many of the holes Macdonald ultimately chose to replicate. In 1910 Hutchinson came to America to visit his good friend, starting his journey in England with Lord Brassey on his yacht Sunbeam, they first dropped anchor at Dornoch, followed by Iceland, New Foundland, New Brunswick and finally Montreal. After a golf tour of Quebec, he met Macdonald in Boston and proceeded to play Essex County, Myopia Hunt, The Country Club, Baltusrol, Garden City, Maidstone, and finally the National Golf Links still under construction. Macdonald would recall, ‘Together we made a study of the National, and I received much valuable advice. I listened attentively to everything he suggested — where the bunkers should be placed, where the undulations should be created on the putting-greens, etc, etc. I know he impressed on me that the human mind could not devise undulations superior to those of nature, saying that if I wished to make undulations on the greens to take a number of pebbles in my hand and drop them on a miniature space representing a putting-green on a small scale, releasing them, and as they dropped on the diagram place the undulations according to their fall. This I did for some of the National greens where I had no copies of the original undulations which nature had made on the great greens of the world.’

C.B. Macdonald

When Hugh Wilson and George Crump separately sought Macdonald’s advice for their respective projects of Merion and Pine Valley, he advised both to travel to Britain to survey and study her great courses, which they both did in 1910. It would seem reasonable that Macdonald assisted both in planning their tour, recommending outstanding courses and individual holes for study, just as Hutchinson had recommended to him, and it seems very likely he brought them into contact with the great man himself. A third man journeyed to Britain in the summer of 1910, Donald Ross took three months to visit family in Dornoch, to compete in the Open at St. Andrews, and to study. ‘While abroad he intends to play most of the leading courses and not only that, but to make a study of them, seeing for himself their best features and seeking information from members, greenskeepers and others about their construction, upkeep and other details.’ That likely involved looking up Hutchinson, who had produced the pre-eminent book on the subject — Golf Greens and Green-Keeping — Hutchinson was a member of St. Andrews, as were the other important contributors Colt and Fowler, and they were no doubt on hand for the Championship. Having recently moved to Essex County, it is also quite possible that Ross may have crossed the touring Hutchinson and Macdonald’s path prior to his trip abroad.

The decade before the Great War was bitter sweet for Hutchinson. In 1908 the Royal and Ancient elected him as their Captain — the first Englishman to be so honored. ‘As one of my wife’s relations was good enough to say— ‘ I’m glad they’ve made Horace that — it will look so well in his obituary notice’.’ Unfortunately that humorous note was not the far from the truth, Hutchinson’s health had always been a concern, he was constantly battling bouts of ‘influenza’ and his competitive game suffered. In 1909 he was stricken with his worst attack to date, and in 1913 Horace Huthinson had a very ‘severe operation’, so serious that it was thought he would not survive it. He did survive but it made it impossible for him to play golf again. It also forced him to leave his home in the country Shepherd’s Gate, the pretty house overlooking Ashdown Forest and move back to London. In 1914 he would write his reminiscences of golf — Fifty Years of Golf — published after the war in 1919, it was the last book Hutchinson would write on the game he loved so much. Horace Hutchinson died in 1932.

When considering the great theorists who influenced the art of golf design, Horace Hutchinson normally gets no more than passing mention. He is not known for complex theories on strategy, his ideas were simple — provide the golfer with choices. Above all he preached the importance of nature and variety, the same message sounded by Ruskin, Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. Strategy, naturalness and variety were all alien to those early golf courses of the Victorian era and Hutchinson was responsible for rescuing the game from what might have been a fatal deterioration. You might ask why is he not better known, and the answer is partially due to timing, his impact was very early and after the Great War many of his simple views were considered antiquated and old-fashioned. His theories had been expressed just after the turn of the century and Hutchinson had long abandoned his platform by the 1920’s when many of the most prominent essays on design were being written. But his impact can not be overlooked; his simple theories still hold true. Horace Hutchinson is the father of the art of golf-architecture.

The Guide

Hutchinson said this just prior to the Great War, ‘It would be very dull and futile business to go into all the development of the inland golf which went on during these years. Enough has been said. But you could not draw anything like a full picture of the golf of the last fifty years without noticing this development. The inland Clubs, and especially those about London, have become a force. As their members go forth to play from the big City which is the common centre they are the better able to make their opinion felt; and their word has become of importance in modern golf. It is possible that is destined to have a larger importance yet. But I have no business with prophecy.’