Arts and Crafts Golf (Part V)
by Thomas MacWood

The Converging Arts in America

The phenomenon was not exclusive to Britain, there was a fusion of the new artistic movement and golf design in America. Following the British model of being an approach rather than an identified style, the American Arts and Crafts movement reflected its varied regional traditions. And there were a number of locations where the movement thrived – Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and California – the very same places that progressive golf architecture flourished.

Boston was the first, Harvard art professor Charles Eliot Norton, a friend of John Ruskin, formed the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts. And ironically the Boston area is where interesting golf-architecture first emerged in this country, rugged and rustic designs, such as Myopia Hunt, Essex County, The Country Club and Ekwanok, reflecting the qualities of their environment. Throughout New England new summer colonies developed in the mountains and along the coast, the common denominator being an appreciation for the Shingle Style of architecture and excellent golf. The Shingle Style was an American fusion of Old English and the native Colonial style, wooden structures with a skin of shingles which became the region’s universal resort style. Charles Follen McKim, Stanford White (CB Macdonald’s good friend), HH Richardson and Bruce Price were among the most prominent proponents of this style which stretched from Bar Harbor to the Hamptons, and examples include the Shinnecock Hills clubhouse and Donald Ross’s Rhode Island cottage Quaker Hills Farm. A combination of native golf architects and imported talents brought excellent golf courses to many of these summer colonies, men like Ross, Herbert Leeds, Walter Travis, Devereux Emmet, JD Dunn, Willie Park-Jr., CB Macdonald and his protégé Seth Raynor.

Shingle style--McKim, Mead and White, Low house, Bristol, RI (1887).

The rugged Northeast style--the 13th at Ross's Salem CC.

In New Jersey and Upstate New York, Gustav Stickley and Elbert Hubbard created two separate Arts and Crafts cooperative communities — Craftsman Farms and Roycroft. Both men had traveled to Britain where they were introduced to the English Arts and Crafts movement, Stickley had met both Charles Ashbee and CFA Voysey in 1898, while around that same time Hubbard had met Ashbee and William Morris — both men became admitted disciples of Morris. From their workshops they produced simple furnishings which were an extreme departure from the overly decorated Victorian styles which had been popular with the upper and middle classes.With architectural tastes evolving, their plain, solid oak, rustic furniture became extremely popular throughout the nation, and were assisted no doubt by Stickley’s new magazine the The Craftsman, which promoted his simple furniture as well as the numerous Arts and Crafts architectural styles. The Craftsman had a profound effect on the American psyche, and on the success of the Arts and Crafts ideal in this country.

William Price, Stephens house, Rose Valley, Pa (1905).

The Philadelphia style--the par-3 11th at Fynn's Spring Mill.

Another center of Arts and Craft activity was Philadelphia. The Quaker city had a long tradition of artistic and architectural originality, epitomized by Frank Furness’s uniquely American expressions of the late 19th century. Furness’s followers — William Price, Wilson Eyre, Arthur Meigs, Arthur Mellor and Frank Miles Day — inspired by the British A&C movement formed the T-Square Club and from that created an independent Philadelphian Arts and Crafts style. With many relocating away from the city, these men were responsible for the designs that formed the new stylish suburbs. Will Price created two utopian communities in the region, Arden and Rose Valley both in the surrounding countryside. He also designed the home Edward Bok in Merion. Bok and Cyrus Curtis were the equivalent of Hudson and Rydell in the States. Curtis was a publishing giant and Bok the editor of Ladies Home Journal, both were promoters of contemporary architecture and golf. The quality of Philadelphia architecture was only eclipsed by the quality of golf design. Local designers included the already mentioned duo of Hugh Wilson and George Crump (whose father and only brother were architects), creators of the landmark designs of Merion and Pine Valley, joined by George Thomas, AW Tillinghast, William Flynn, Alex Findlay in addition to the universally active Ross—an awesome group of talents forming the so called Philadelphia School of golf architecture.

Another hotbed of the Arts and Crafts movement was Chicago. In fact it could be argued that Chicago was where the most important American movement emerged. The Prairie School was developed in Chicago by Louis Sullivan and group of younger architects — Frank Lloyd Wright, George Elmslie, Walter Burley Griffin, William Gray Purcell, Dwight Perkins and George Washington Maher — all trained in his office. They created a distinctly regional style featuring ‘refreshingly open interiors and strong horizontal lines, the Prairie House clearly evoked the freedom and sweep of the limitless midwestern landscape.’ Ironically it was Ladies Home Journal that first exposed Wright and the Prairie style to the nation. And as Wright and his colleagues were spreading their Arts and Crafts designs throughout Chicago and the Midwest, Charles Blair Macdonald was creating a similar golf movement. It was his design for the Chicago Golf Club in 1895 that would influence the entire Chicago golf tradition. Those who followed included the Scot H.J. Whigham (Macdonald’s future son-in-law), H.J.Tweedie of Hoylake, Donald Ross, CH Alison, Seth Raynor and William Langford. The early designs of Chicago GC, Onwentsia, and Midlothian exhibited a geometric quality not unlike the Prairie School designs, and that general style continued for decades. Although Macdonald was clearly the genesis for this style, one can not discount Harry Colt’s influence at Old Elm and his assistant on the project Donald Ross, who produced a number of outstanding Chicago designs, including Beverly, Oak Park and Evanston. Oak Park was the home of Wright and many of his most famous works, it is only fitting that Ross’s course would be graced by a club-house in the Prairie style designed by William Drumond.

The Prarie style: Frank Llloyd Wright, Willits house, Highland Park, Il (1901).

Raynor's Short hole at Shoreacres--the Chicago style melding with nature.

Although not the first, California is where the Arts and Crafts movement was perfected. The climate was ideal, the naturally beauty was extraordinary and the numerous local traditions provided ample inspiration, including Spanish, Native American, Asian and English. In southern California the architects Irving Gill and Frank Mead created designs influenced by Native American and Spanish traditions; Charles Greene and Henry Greene created striking Japanese inspired designs of native redwood on the edge of Pasadena’s beautiful Arroyo Seco — the ‘ultimate bungalows.’ The Arts and Crafts movement was equally popular in the north and San Francisco. It started in the hills of Berkeley with Charles Keeler and Bernard Maybeck, creating simple wooden structures that seemed to have evolved naturally from the hills. The Bay Area style was made famous by Maybeck and his Berkeley colleagues John Hudson Thomas, Julia Morgan, Louis Mullgardt, among many others.

Greene & Greene, Charles Greene house, Pasadena (1906).

Bay Area style--Bernard Maybeck, Mathewson cottage, Berkeley (1915).

It was under this idyllic atmosphere that California golf developed, although lagging a few years behind the other arts. The first distinguished California designs arrived around 1917-1918 with Wilfred Reid’s Lakeside, AW Tillinghast’s San Francisco and Neville&Grant’s Pebble Beach, although Pebble Beach’s early expression was somewhat crude. But following WWI the Golden State produced a succession of landmark designs and redesigns created by Herbert Fowler, Norman MacBeth, Willie Watson, Max Behr, George Thomas, Robert Hunter, H.Chandler Egan and Alister MacKenzie — a period of designs possibly unmatched anywhere at anytime. And the Arts and Crafts connections were numerous. Robert Hunter lived in the Arts and Crafts colony in the Berkeley hills until the great fire of 1923, when he relocated at Pebble Beach. Hunter was instrumental in bringing MacKenzie to California, resulting in the incomparable Cypress Point and Pasatiempo. (Incidentally Hunter made his own study of Britain’s courses in 1912, inspired by his friend CB Macdonald) MacKenzie eventually made his home at Pasatiempo, a home designed by William Wurster another Arts and Crafts disciple from Berkeley. But probably the most unusual case of the arts converging involves Tasmanian born painter Francis McComas. McComas came to San Francisco in 1898, studying under Arts and Crafts architect and artist Arthur Mathews, and eventually moving to Carmel in 1912 where he became an important A&C painter in his right. He was asked to design the interior of the simple Spanish Colonial club-house at Cypress Point (George Washington Smith), which he did shortly after its completion. McComas, an avid golfer, was also responsible for designing several green complexes at Pebble Beach including the wild fourteenth, one of the most interesting greens in the world — perhaps his greatest work of art.

Each locality had their own distinct regional tradition and style, and this was reflected in the golf-architecture as well as conventional architecture. These designs reflected an appreciation for ‘fidelity of place’, one of the most important tenets of the Arts and Crafts movement. It seems apparent that many of these golf-architects were aware of this regional phenomenon, accepting it and adapting their own designs to reflect the local flavor. As an example Tillinghast’s San Francisco GC is quite different than his East coast work, but of a very similar style to other California designs, the same could be said of George Thomas. Ross’s flashy bunkering at Seminole is very much different than his more subdued bunkering in the North and East, but seems completely natural among the dunes. CH Alison’s Japanese work exhibits an Asian flair as compared to his more conventional American work found in the Midwest and East. It even seen it Britain with Colt’s inland work exhibiting an irregular and broken appearance, in contrast to his seaside designs which reflect the traditionally grass-faced look found on the ancient links. Certainly some of the differences in character can be attributed to the use of local labor, but these architects certainly didn’t fight it. In the true spirit of the A&C movement they appear to have accepted the regional traditions; adapting it to their own designs to produce superior results.

Arts and Crafts Golf

The Golden Age of golf architecture conjures up images of masters like Charles Blair Macdonald, Donald Ross and Alister MacKenzie. A wonderful image no doubt, and as a result the term ‘Golden Age’ has now become a regular part of our golfing lexicon. But one of the difficulties with the term is that it is not descriptive. Obviously it signifies a high point or a period of great achievement, but it does not describe the period’s characteristics. In fact if you reflect on the three greats mentioned above, there can hardly be three more distinctive styles. And we are now confronted by those who claim we are now enjoying a second ‘Golden Age.’ That remains to be seen, but let us hope there will eventually come a superior era — and then what, Golden Age I and Golden Age II? At that time they didn’t have a name to describe their golf design movement, and if they had I’m not certain they would have chosen ‘Golden Age’, or even ‘classical’, both being derived from the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations which promoted symmetry and formality, the antithesis of their naturalistic expressions. I am not suggesting that the term ‘Golden Age’or ‘classical’ be rejected or erased from our golfing literature, they have served us well to this point, only that there will come a day when a more relevant term will be needed. And considering the historical circumstances and the powerful influence that this artistic movement had on all aspects of life including golf-architecture, ‘Arts and Crafts’ would not only accurately describe this golf design era, but it would allow golf-architecture to take its rightful place among the other arts.

Art is a difficult concept to grasp. It is particularly difficult to comprehend in a golf context. From our modern perspective it is not easy to visualize how an artistic or architectural movement could possibly effect golf course design. The Arts and Crafts movement, however, was more than an artistic movement, it was new way of looking at the world — actually a new old way of looking at the world. Sparked by a rejection of the modern industrial condition, it promoted artistic expression, craftsmanship, past aesthetic traditions and above all an appreciation for nature. The golf design revolution did not occur in a vacuum, it did not develop out of thin air, there was a source for its inspiration. And that source can be traced back to Horace Hutchinson. As an influential author, he was responsible for popularizing the game in England and as golf editor for Country Life, he was responsible for introducing a philosophy to the task of golf-architecture. Country Life was the one source where the Arts and Crafts movement and golf-architecture could be found side by side. Country Life provided heavy doses of the A&C ideal through its vivid images of county homes and gardens, while at the same time, under the guidance of Hutchinson, celebrating golf’s beautiful images exemplified by the ancient links. It was under these cultural and aesthetic circumstances that Willie Park sparked this revolution south and west of London at the turn of the century. And it was under these circumstances that the revolution spread first through out Britain, then to America and finally to the rest of the world.

Arts and Crafts golf, like other artistic expressions, was not a style, it was a philosophy. And in the writings of Hutchinson, and his disciples Park, Fowler and Colt, that philosophy is apparent. A philosophy that is remarkably consistent among the many of the golf-architects and theorists of this era. Their design styles may have differed and strategically they were not all in agreement — some preferring the use central hazards, some bunkers ‘en echelon’, some promoted the use of trees, and water, others did not, some were clearly strategic in nature and others leaned toward the penal. But yet the Arts and Crafts message was clear.

Golf Architecture is a new art closely allied to that of an artist or sculpture, but also necessitating a scientific knowledge of many other subjects My reputation in the past has been based on the fact that I have endeavored to conserve the existing natural features and, where these were lacking, to create formation in the spirit of nature herself. In another words, while always keeping uppermost the provision of a splendid test of golf, I have striven to achieve beauty.~~~The finest courses in existence are natural ones. Such courses as St. Andrews, and the championship courses generally, are admitted to provide a fine test of golf. It is by virtue of their natural formation that they do so. The beauty of golf courses in the past has suffered from the creations of ugly and unimaginative design. Square, flat greens and geometric bunkers have not only been an eyesore upon the whole landscape, but have detracted from the infinite variety of play which is the heritage of the game. ~~ Dr. Alister MacKenzie

Alister MacKenzie's Lake Merced.

This chapter will not be a discourse on golfing architecture in general, even if I were qualified to write one, because its coming into being as a distinct and recognized art belongs to a period before, though not very long before, the first war. It was then that its principles were formed and began to take visible shape on many fine inland courses. At the same time those principles have enjoyed a peculiar continuity because of the distinguished artists who gradually evolved them all remained after the war. ~~~Even on the National Golf Links of America, where several great holes from Scotland and England have been carefully reproduced, there are no black sheds to catch the sliced drive at the hole which is copied from the seventeenth at St. Andrews; there is nothing but a wilderness of sand and rough. In such cases the architect is right; anything sham is surely bad art, and we do not to-day approve of the ingenious Mr.Kent, who put dead trees into some of his classical re-creations of nobleman’s gardens because they were dead trees in classical landscapes. ~~ Bernard Darwin

The point was emphasised by Ruskin many years ago that the demand for perfection was invariably a ‘sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art.’ As for architecture (in his day such a thing as the minor art of architecture was almost unthinkable), he even went as far as to lay down the seeming paradox that ‘a work of man cannot be good unless it is imperfect.’ This application of this principle does not imply that all imperfect golf courses are necessarily admirable; but it does suggest that in the absence, fortunately, of any existing course that confounds criticism, some imperfect courses are amongst the most interesting and amusing to play.~~~The point, however, which we have to consider is that although golf architecture may be a curious and irregular form of architecture, it is architecture none the less. It has to do with building, planning, constructing in as true sense as the most ambitious works of genius with which the art is usually associated. Cathedrals, bungalows, gardens and golf courses may appear to be conflicting examples of constructive ability, yet the principles governing them follow precisely on the same lines. ~~ H.N. Wethered and Tom Simpson

Tom Simpson's New Zealand.

To my mind, the most important thing in the Championship course is the terrain, because no matter how skillfully one may out the holes and diversifying them, nevertheless one must get thrill from nature. She must be big in mouldings for us to secure a complete exhilaration and joy of golf . . . So the truly Ideal course must have natural hazards on a large scale for superlative golf. ~~~In golf construction, art and utility meet; both are absolutely vital; one is utterly ruined without the other. On the artistic side, there is the theory of construction with the main fundamental that we copy nature; in this all seem to agree . . . The contours of our tees, of hazards, of our greens, should, except when otherwise necessary, all melt into the land surrounding them, and should appear as having always been present.~~~As noted before, diversity, and yet again, variety, is the spice of a golf course. ~~ George Thomas

George Thomas's 11th at Los Angeles Country Club.

Golf architecture is not an art of representation; it is, essentially, an art of interpretation. And an interpretative art allows freedom to fancy only through obedience to the law which dominates its medium, a law that lies outside ourselves. The medium of the artist is paint, and he becomes its master; but the medium of the golf architect is the surface of the earth over which the forces of Nature alone are master. ~~ Max Behr

The charm of the course lies in its diversity, the excellence of the lengths of each hole, the physical characteristics, the well-concieved system of hazards . . .and putting greens, mostly undulating.~~~The chief idea seems to have been that if the green was suitably situated and properly guarded with natural hazards, or, lacking the existence of these, the artificial creation of the same, that a good golfing holes would be had. And the aim also was to secure as much diverstiy as possible, so that no two holes would be alike, but each should present a new problem for the player.~~~Nature herself anticipated all this and has done her part nobly. It was in her kindest mood that she fashioned every dune, every gentle hollow, every foot of the entire surface and fringed it with the lapping waters of Bull’s Head Bay and Peconic Bay, wholly and solely in the interests of the true lovers of real golf. ~~ Walter Travis

Nature must always be the architect’s model. The lines of bunkers and greens must not be sharp or harsh, but easy and rolling. The development of the natural features and planning of artificial work to conform to them requires a great deal of care and forethought . . .it is good to have an eye for the beautiful. Often it is possible, by clearing away undesirable and unnecessary trees in the margin of fairways, to open up a view of some attractive picture.~~~Strive to retain as much of the natural ground formation as possible. The most beautiful courses are the ones that hew most closely to nature. ~~ Stanley Thompson

The magestic beauty of Thompson's Banff.

The principle thought in designing a course is to produce 18 interesting holes with variety of play. A course has variety of play and character in its natural state can readily be made even in more interesting by the installation of a limited number of man-made hazards.~~~The most important consideration in conjunction with the designing of a green is to create naturalness. Of course this condition can only be brought about as construction progresses, but the frame work must be right in the beginning. Naturalness should apply on all construction on golf courses, greens, tees, mounds and bunkers alike.~~~Natural topographical features should always be developed in presenting problems in the play. As a matter of fact such features are much more desired than man made tests for they are generally more attractive. ~~ William Flynn

By natural hazards, we refer to ravines, broken faces of the land, brooks, and the like, each of which should be used to its best advantage. There is something so undeniable pleasant about a natural hazard that it seems out of the question to duplicate it artificially . . . Should you have a creek running through your property, a very interesting treatment is that of having it run across the line of play on some hole and parallel with the line of another. Don’t, however, make the creek the only hazard, as frequently done by running the holes parallel to it just for the sake of getting the creek on all possible holes. Avoid such monotony. Variety is the spice of golf, as it is of life.~~~The distinct charm of British golf lies in their environment and natural attractions. In the first particular, they possess something we cannot hope to rival: a certain sense of fitness, which is harmonizes with the ancient Scottish game. From the latter, however, we can certainly learn much by taking our course less artificial, for the fascination of the most famous hazards in the world lies in the fact they were not and could not have been constructed. ~~ Donald Ross

It is my theory that nature must precede the architect, in the laying out of links. It is futile to attempt the transformation of wholly inadequate acres into an inadequate acres into an adequate course. Invariably the result is the inauguration of an earthquake. The site of a golf course should be there, not brought there~~~Many an acre of magnificent land has been utterly destroyed by the steam shovel, throwing up its billows of earth, biting out traps and bunkers, transposing landmarks that contemporaries of Genesis. ~~ Perry Maxwell

In most cases too little is yet given to the beauty, harmony, and grandeur of the finished product. When we build golf courses we are remodeling the face of nature, and it should be remembered that ‘the greatest and fairest things are done by nature and less by art’, as Plato truly said. What garden of the world equals some of the pictures nature paints? What modern golf course equals in beauty the seaside courses, and especially those which have been left from the touch of the architect? If there has been improvement in the art of constructing golf courses, it has been largely due to the willingness of the best architects to imitate humbly and lovingly what nature has placed before them . . . And when the finished product appears it so blends itself with the surrounding landscape that few can tell where nature ends and art begins. ~~ Robert Hunter

Ask whether every green is so placed as to take the fullest possible advantage of every natural feature which the land affords; whether anything has been done artificially to increase the interest of approach play by means of slope or hollows at any hole which is dull by nature; whether every bunker is placed and constructed in such a manner as to give maximum excitement and the minimum pain to golfers of high handicap.~~~From the landscape point of view he will ask whether every artificial feature blends with its surroundings, whether every bunker creates maximum of impression on, and gives maximum thrill to, the mind of the golfer who is seeking to avoid it; Whether the aspect of all the constructional work increases the pleasure and stimulates the interest of the golfer who views it. ~~ C.H. Alison

Hugh Alison's Japanese masterpiece - Hirono.

Architecture is one of the five fine arts. If the critic’s contention is true, then architecture must be a ‘fetish’, as the basis of it is the copying of Greek and Roman architecture, Romanesque and Gothic, and our own times among other forms, Georgian and Colonial architecture. One must have the gift of imagination to successfully apply the original to new situations. Surely there is nothing ‘fetish’ about this. I believe that in reverencing anything in the life of man which has the testimony of the ages as being excelled, whether it be literature, painting, poetry, tombs—even a golf hole.~~~There should be every variety of hazard. Variety is not only ‘the spice of life’ but it is the very foundation of golfing architecture. Diversity in nature is universal. Let your golfing architecture mirror it. ~~ Charles Blair Macdonald

The difference between the golf courses of America and of Great Britain can be best expressed by two words ‘artificial’ and ‘natural’ ~~~All natural beauty should be preserved, natural hazards utilized, and a minmum of artificiality introduced. ~~ Bobby Jones

The creator of golf holes must not only possess imagination but a keen appreciation of the offering of nature, and the art of landscaping must be allied closely with that of architects.~~~Some years ago, in a city far from here, there was a famous old club. The clubhouse represented the growth years. It was a low rambling structure and from time to time, as was necessary, additions were made until the whole was Topsy-like than the original. Yet the place had lost none of its individuality. Roses rambled along the wall and riotously clambered over the doorways and roofs. Within there was an indescribable charm. It was cozy, comfortable and dignified. Finally, the lovely old place was destroyed by fire, and soon after a massive building was erected on the site. It was planned along the most modern lines and nothing that might go to make the comfort of man complete was omitted, so far as the architect, builder and decorator were concerned. But the old atmosphere was gone. From without, the stone structure suggested to many the walls of a prison or hospital. Within, it was cold in its appearance, vault like, uncomfortable. Without, there were lacking the roses and honeysuckle, the bees and the humming birds. Within, the hearty salutations and chatter of men, who were thoroughly at ease, were absent. ~~ A.W. Tillinghast

Although Tillinghast’s final quote doesn’t even touch the subject of golf-architecture in many ways it is the most illustrative, it speaks to a state of mind that lies at the heart of the Arts and Crafts ideal. After reading all these reflections, one is struck by the consistency of the message, and how it differs from many of today’s most successful practitioners. That unanimity of thought is even more remarkable when considering the message is coming from such an extraordinarily diverse group: physician, artist, sociologist, farmer, solicitor, historian, journalists, horticulturist, stockbroker, socialites, banker, businessmen and carpenter. Their common characteristics were intelligence, analytical ability, artistic appreciation and a need to express themselves in writing (much like architects and craftsmen whose writings dominated the books and periodicals of the time). And though their backgrounds may have differed their message was clear: a profound appreciation for the natural and the artistic. They all shared a universal respect for the beauty and variety found in nature, they believed that not only should it be preserved and maximized, but that when intervention was needed nature must be the model. They saw themselves as artists — artists who were collaborators with Nature. As opposed to those designers who see Nature as something that needs to be conquered or overcome.

There has always been a certain romantic quality to this era, so many colorful personalities, so many wonderful courses. Many feel this romanticism has led to an over evaluation, that this period may not be all its cracked up to be. They will tell you that these men were presented with nothing but outstanding sites and they didn’t have to deal with modern environmental restrictions. That their designs benefit from decades of maturity and improvements. The reason they are called ‘classic’ is simply because they are old — there is a certain appeal to all things old and we are all effected by the history made on those fairways. And finally they claim that due to technological limitations their designs are flawed; these men would have moved dirt if they could have, and in the process eliminated those odd holes that always seem to pop up on every course.

I will grant some of these points — there is no doubt a romantic factor, maturity can be a benefit (but not always), and history may effect one’s judgment — however, even taking these potential prejudices into account, the Arts and Crafts’ golf courses still remain the greatest expression the game has ever known. Some courses have certainly improved, but a great many were as dramatic the day they were born as they are today, and in several cases more dramatic. The reason these courses are so appealing and the reason they thrive today is because their strength is fundamentally derived from Nature — it is quite simple, these men understood that the truly great golf courses must be in accord with Nature. They understood the appeal of variety and haphazard disorder, and because of that it is doubtful they would have moved earth as frequently or as eagerly as many of our modern men, and the truth is they had the ability. They knew the occasional odd feature or odd hole reflected Nature’s unpredictability, and added interest to an organic experience. If anything the lesson learned is that modern technology should be used judiciously. Take our inner cities as an example, technology and Modern architecture has given us high-rise low-cost mass housing to replace the neighborhoods of old Brownstones. There was belief that these sparkling modern structures would improve the quality of life, but it resulted in a cold empty de-humanizing existence and the loss of individuality, and these neighborhoods have deteriorated. Might there be some parallels between modern architecture and golf design? A lack of respect for the old work illustrated by too frequent ‘modernization’; a reliance on machinery at the expense of the individual craftsmanship. Modern tools have given golf designers unprecedented capabilities, but should it be at the expense of individuality? Is it a coincidence that many of our most appealing modern designs are those where the individual craftsmen’s importance has been stressed?

I wrote this piece for two reasons. First, I needed to satisfy my own curiosity. Why did this era begin, what circumstances brought about this revolution? What did these men of such diverse professional backgrounds and design styles have in common, if they had anything in common? The second reason was to compare and contrast the past with the present–not only from stylistic standpoint, but also from a philosophical standpoint. Many modern designers express an admiration for the ‘Golden Age’ — suggesting they are emulating this era’s finest features. Perhaps incorporating MacKenzie or Thomas bunkering, or borrowing the Macdonald/Raynor look, or some other ‘classic’ feature and wrapping it all in waves of fescue. However many times these ‘tributes’ are often disappointing, the features and the look might be there, but there is something just not right. Arts and Crafts golf was more than a collection of superficial features or any particular style, it was an approach — ‘its fascination as a movement lies in its extension beyond the physical limits of design.’ These men each had their own distinctive style, however they shared a foundation of the Arts and Crafts approach, and those today who wish to pay tribute might consider looking ‘beyond the physical limits of design.’ I understand the Arts and Crafts era can not be re-created, the reality is that we live in a more complicated world. But their common approach needs to be explored, I do not believe it is idealistic or unrealistic, the effort would be worthwhile considering the product of that sensibility is still the most beautiful the game has produced. My hope is that modern golf-architecture will benefit from the eloquence of the Arts and Crafts argument.

Colt’s fifth at Sunningdale New.

The End