Feature Interview with Tom Paul

Part Two – Page 2

Beginning around and just after WW1, professional golf course architects for the first time began devoting themselves strictly and solely to the creation of golf course architecture. At that time they even began to try organizing into an association for the first time. Previous to that point, most of the so-called “professionals” were basically multi-tasking journeymen who were involved in multiple areas of golf (golf professionals, teachers, club and ball makers, green-keepers etc). That all began to change after WW1 and therefore the necessity for the likes of Leeds, Fownes, Wilson and Crump to do it the way they had done it previously was gone. This, however, was not the case when those glorious courses like Myopia, GCGC, Oakmont, NGLA, Merion East and Pine Valley were done by those then and now famous “amateur/sportsmen” architects.

To me the implication, suggestion and contention that those early “amateur/sportsmen” architects heretofore mentioned who have for so long been credited with producing such imaginative and enduringly respected golf courses and architecture were too much the novices and therefore must not have been capable of doing what they have been credited with doing, and that consequently someone else must have essentially done it for them, is perhaps one of the best examples, in my opinion, of a fundamental misunderstanding of not just what some of the most significant early courses and their architecture were really all about, but also what their “amateur/sportsmen” architects were all about. Tom MacWood particularly has referred to some of those “amateur/sportsmen” architects as ‘legends’ and what they are often given credit for as ‘lore.” I believe in Tom MacWood’s mind the term legend and lore are quite synonymous and to him mean a certain degree of historical inaccuracy. I disagree with him historically and otherwise, and I always have. I believe they were famous then and that they are still famous because they deserve to be!

It is provable that almost without exception they were all well educated and intelligent men and they were all, almost without exception, extremely fine players for their time. The term “expert” in those days was as often tagged to a fine golf player as a potentially capable architect. Their contemporaries and the commentators of their time generally referred to them as “experts” that back then meant not just their ability to play golf well but their abilities to create golf course architecture. At least that’s the way they were thought of back then even though some today might not want to look at them that way. In that vein, I think—-or should I say, I fear—that today too many, and particularly too many in the profession of golf architecture today, would prefer not to look at them that way. The reasons why are probably quite obvious—it might begin to seem that professional architects are not the only ones who possess some special talents to create great golf course architecture!

Ran, I hesitate to say this because obviously it sounds self-serving and self-promoting, (but when I mentioned it to you, you did say to go ahead and mention it), and frankly I had not exactly thought of it before—-but from what you said in your opening post of Part One of this Feature Interview, do you not detect some parallels in the following remarks on the Ardrossan project and that time of those early “amateur/sportsmen” architects? Ran, you wrote, “However, his interests began to change for good when he became involved in working out a land swap arrangement between Gulph Mills GC (which his family had helped found) and several hundred acres known as Ardrossan Farm with the Montgomery Scott family. Tom’s attempt to help orchestrate the move of a long established private club is a little bit like Don Quixote jousting at wind mills – and equally as noble as he was but a ‘HaHa’ away from actually pulling it off! I saw the plans that Bill Coore and he developed for Ardrossan Farms when I went on tour of the property with Tom nearly a decade ago. Hard to call something that never happened a loss but if something could qualify as such, Ardrossan Farms is it as it would have been a very special design.”

It is certainly hard to say, and perhaps only presumptuous to say, that something that never happened would have been a very special design. However, many on GOLFCLUBATLAS would admit that you are certainly an extremely intuitive and experienced analyst of golf course architecture. I’m aware it has been a fascination of yours and of your familys for many years. Most people I know admit your course reviews have been some of the finest ever done, and after-all you are the one who started this interesting and probably seminal website on golf course architecture.  If you can honestly say what you said in that last sentence above, how could you not also admit that what I was doing at that time was remarkably similar to what the likes of Leeds, Emmet, Fownes, Macdonald, Wilson and Crump were doing when they first began their special projects, that still are so enduringly respected today? You saw Ardrossan’s land and its architectural plan and you know it was never done. What do you suppose you would say if you could’ve seen the land and the architectural plans of the likes of Leeds of Myopia, Emmet of GCGC, Fownes of Oakmont, Macdonald (and committee) of NGLA, Wilson (and committee) of Merion East and George Crump of Pine Valley before any of them went into construction?

In sumary, I think that whether one is an amateur or professional architect isn’t the most important factor in getting a really cool/good routing. It’s the person (or people) that spend the most time getting to know the land that can produce the best results, even if it takes several years. History has shown this to be true.


George Crump deserves full credit for the formation of Pine Valley. As it relates to the ultimate design that emerged, he consulted with numerous people. Who primarily deserves credit for the final design in addition to Crump? Please list them in order of significance along with their main contribution.

I agree with your statement that George Crump does deserve full credit for the formation* of Pine Valley. I believe he deserves full credit for the idea of the type of club and course it would be and while he certainly did consult with an unusually large group of people on its architecture, I believe he deserves full credit for most of the architecture of the course as long as he was alive.

If Pine Valley could only list one architect, it should definitely be Crump. If they list or are encouraged to list another with Crump, I believe it should definitely be Harry Colt. The reality is they seem to list both, and they have done that on and off over the years. Of course a great deal has been written about Pine Valley and consequently some writers may’ve mentioned just one architect and when that was the case it was always George Crump. I doubt Pine Valley ever exercised complete editorial control over those various magazine and newspaper articles or even thought to, so it’s possible some thought they unfairly excluded someone such as Harry Colt.

One problem with the discussions on GOLFCLUBATLAS on the origination and creation of the architecture of Pine Valley was that some seemed to contend that of those two, Crump and Colt, Colt should receive more credit for the architecture of Pine Valley than George Crump. From my experiences on those discussions it seems the reason was a few thought Harry Colt routed Pine Valley, and, consequently, considering how important a routing is to the architecture of a golf course, Colt should get most of the credit for the course. It may not be coincidental that one of the people who made that contention was the same one of two who made the same contention about Hugh Wilson and Merion East. I believe that the routing of Pine Valley was developed over time and the two who did it all in an alternating timeline were Crump and Colt. Of all the holes that were built and put into play I think the only one that may be an exception is #14, but even that one is very hard to determine.

That it was only Colt who routed Pine Valley is a contention with which I completely disagree and I can prove in specific detail why and how Crump and Colt were involved in the routing. By saying this, I in no way intend to imply that Colt’s contribution was not significant and important, because it was. I will try to explain in some detail below what it was and what I mean by my statement that the routing was not just Colt. Frankly, at this point, I believe attribution for the routing, at least, of every hole can be assigned to either Crump or Colt, and in the case of some holes to both of them.

But I certainly would say of the many hands and minds that were involved in one way or another with the creation of Pine Valley, Crump and Colt are the most significant because essentially they were the two who seemingly developed the vast majority of the routing of Pine Valley. If there was anyone else involved in some significant way in the development of the routing of the course that was created, I am unaware of it and have never heard another’s name mentioned (other than Jim Govan with #14). However, it should be pointed out that the development of some of that routing was done in turns by Crump before Colt first arrived, and then together during that week or so they were at Clementon which was the only time they were together there, and then by Crump again in various ways after Colt left and never returned.

Most good analysts understand how important a routing is to golf course architecture. On the flip side of that coin, it appears a good deal less understand or appreciate what a routing sometimes is and more importantly what it sometimes isn’t; particularly those not in the business or who’ve had no routing and designing experience.

A basic routing on paper is often called a “stick routing” and they were fairly common in the old days. On paper it included tee position, generally a line indicating direction and length to a green position. Often on a basic stick routing a tee position is marked with an X, the line demarking the direction and length of the hole may break or turn at the tee shot and next shots and the green may be nothing more than a number. On the ground a stick routing’s indications generally only include stakes at the tee position, tee shot position (for the representative good player) in the center and green position. The point is a basic stick routing generally does not show the width of holes, the bunkering arrangements or other architectural features, and most importantly it does not show the size, shape and orientation of the greens, including their contouring.

After basic routing, I’ve called the next phase of architectural creation and development, the “designing up” phase. This step includes hole-widths, fairway sizes and shapes, the bunkering and other architectural arrangements and the developed green sizes, shapes, orientations, contouring etc.

The most interesting aspect to me of the creation history of Pine Valley’s architecture is it had an original stick routing plan, and then another plan that was used for years in the so-called “designing up” stage. And even more interesting is those two plans were done on identical PRE-construction topographical survey maps. One must note the word “topographical” here. That indicates those two site survey maps have PRE-construction contour lines on them; in other words, one can tell exactly what the topography of the site was before a golf course was planned and built on it.** In addition to those, another plan of Pine Valley was discovered within the last 5-6 years. That plan has a legend on it that reads; “Scheme for The Pine Valley Golf Course as Suggested by H.S. Colt.”*** That plan does not have contour lines on it.

At first thought or at first sight anyone might assume those three plans were done independent of one another and that they may’ve been generated by different people independent of one another. In my opinion, that assumption would not be close to the truth of the architectural origination of the course. The fact is all three plans have origination dates (surveyor’s date) and their own distinct timelines which taken together tell the over-all timeline and the over-all story of the architectural origination of the course, at least regarding Crump and Colt in the beginning. Added to this is the fact that Harry Colt was only at Pine Valley once, therefore it is quite easy to analyze what was done before Colt first arrived, what he did while he was there and what he left there, and how the architecture developed after he left is different or distinct in various ways from what he suggested and left there. As one puts these three assets together and compares and contrasts their details, it is possible to establish a basic timeline of events and who was responsible for them.

And what of Harry Colt and Pine Valley; what did he do there, what did he leave with Pine Valley and most important, what credit should he get and how much? In my opinion, Colt should get a good deal of credit and I also believe, given the foregoing, it is quite easy to establish in specific detail what he suggested that was actually implemented.

Colt first arrived at Pine Valley at the end of May or the beginning of June 1913 and he traveled home to England on or around the first week of June (his departure date from America and/or his arrival date in the UK can be determined by ship manifests). He did return to America in 1914 but there is no record of him returning to Pine Valley. A somewhat conjectural record has him remaining with Crump at Pine Valley for a week or perhaps a bit more at the end of May and beginning of June 1913. He left a small notebook containing drawings and instructions of every hole. The Colt “Scheme for Pine Valley,” mentioned above, is a whole course map which is identical to the holes in his booklet. Since the date on that map is July 1913 when Colt was back in England and since that map shows the same “boilerplate” markings of the March 1913 maps (whose legends read; “Property of George A. Crump”) that were used for the original stick routing and for the map I’ve called the “Blue/Red Line Topo map,” I believe that Colt map was one Crump had his surveyor do from Colt’s hole by hole booklet.

When Colt first arrived in late May/early June 1913 I believe Crump presented him with his original stick routing he’d done on a March 1913 (surveyor’s date) topographical survey map.

One might ask why Crump even hired Colt since he had apparently already created an eighteen hole stick-routing for the golf course? That question has no easy answers. Some of the possibilities might be Crump may’ve hired Colt before he began but just couldn’t wait to get going before Colt came to America in 1913 (he had a number of visits around parts of the country and Pine Valley would be his last in 1913). That Crump may’ve hired Colt before he began or before Colt came to America in 1913 doesn’t make much sense, though, because Pine Valley president Howard Perrin wrote a letter to prospective members on April 1st, 1913 stating that for a $1,000 contribution prospective members could have an opportunity to design a hole. I doubt that suggestion was an April Fool’s joke but it apparently never happened—or it could’ve been the first good example of George Crump’s willingness to collaborate freely. Another possibility which I have long subscribed to is that Crump had essentially gotten stuck with some aspect of his initial routing and on hearing Colt would be in America for a few months, asked him to come to Pine Valley and help out. There is a story written by Crump’s good friend, Joe Baker, who he went abroad with him in 1910 to play and study architecture that Crump paid Colt $10,000 for that one week visit. Baker wrote that story almost forty years after the fact and it seems unlikely anyone in that day and age would pay any architect that much money for that limited amount of time. Perhaps the more likely scenario was that Colt made $10,000 for all the design work he did around the country during his 2-3 months visit to America in 1913. Golf historians of H.S. Colt can at least be sure that in America he was paid for his designs and not his overseeing of the construction of his designs. In his three trips to American (1911, 1913 and 1914) he just wasn’t over here or at any one project long enough for that.

And that question evokes another interesting side-bar issue and question—–did Crump know Harry Colt before he first visited Pine Valley? The record is hazy on an answer to that question but it seems quite likely that Crump not only knew Colt previously, he may’ve even visited him in England in 1910. If he did that very well might mean a few really interesting things that could highlight just how collegial and collaborative the so-called “Philadelphia School of Architecture” could be at that time.
Merion Cricket Club was in the process of moving their golf course from Haverford to Ardmore between 1910 and 1913 during which time the great Merion East would be done by Hugh Wilson and his committee. Hugh Wilson and his brother Alan would be significant members of Pine Valley and would make some significant contributions to the development of some of its architecture and particularly to its agronomy. Hugh Wilson would make his own architectural study trip abroad in the spring of 1912 before Crump bought Pine Valley and it appears to be provable that Wilson not only met Colt abroad, he stayed with Harry Colt and his wife in 1912.****

On that March 1913 stick routing plan the first four holes were eventually built and put into play as they were planned apparently before Colt first arrived. The 5th was from the area of the existing tee but it used a much shorter green site tucked into the hillside to the left above where the driveway turns right up to the clubhouse. From there Crump had a series of iterations for the next few holes. One iteration for the 6th had the tee shot going up over the 9th hole ridgeline to a green approximately 20-30 yards to the right of the present 10th green. From there the 7th hole went diagonally across the present 9th to a green about where Mayor Ott’s house is to the left of the present 9th fairway. The 8th was identical to the present 6th and the 9th was the present 7th except it was a shorter par 5 with its green angling into the first part of the present 8th hole. Crump’s 10th was similar to the present 12th but it looks to me to have been planned as a very long par 3 and it was slightly to the right of the present 12th hole. #11 was a 300-yarder from the present 13th right tee to a green in the middle of the first fairway of the present 13th. The 12th was a medium length downhill par 3 that dropped off the present 13th ridgeline to a green around the beginning of the present 15th fairway. The 13th and 14th paralleled each other in opposite directions up to and back off the present 12th ridgeline. Crump’s 15th got quite interesting and I believe it served to confuse him for the rest of his life about what to do with not only his 15th hole but also his 16th hole. His tee for his stick routing 15th was about the middle of the present 15th to a green site where the 11th green is today. From there his 16th hole was a long par 5 to the present 16th green. His 17th was longer than the present 17th because there was no waterworks behind the 17th tee in 1913 and the green was slightly to the left of the present 17th green. His 18th hole was the present 18th and along with his #2 it was his favorite hole.

If you can digest and understand the foregoing which I suppose might not be easy, and you compare it to Colt’s scheme on the July 1913 map, it is not hard to begin to give some provable credit to Colt where he really deserves it (what was used of his original suggestions that was not preexisting before he arrived or something done different from his suggestions after he left). It has long been my belief that what Colt imagined and suggested for #5 was what essentially unlocked the problems and confusions Crump was apparently having with his initial routing. I also believe that this very well may be one good reason Colt always got so much credit for conceiving of the great par 3 that is #5 (and even at the exclusion of some of the holes he conceived of that would follow it at various points down the routing progression).

Comparing Colt’s map against Crump’s initial routing (and what Crump would change following Colt’s departure) I believe the holes that are very likely wholly Colt’s are #5 (other than the tee), #8, #9, #10 (remember Crump had a green very close to #10 green but it was the par-4 6th) and #11.

Therefore, I have the routing attribution between Crump and Colt breaking down this way:

Hole #1—Crump
Hole #2—Crump
Hole #3—Crump
Hole #4—Crump
Hole #5—Colt: (from Crump’s tee)
Hole #6—Crump: (it was his 8th on his initial routing)
Hole #7—Crump: (it was his 9th on his initial routing but he moved the green to  considerably lengthen the hole).
Hole #8—Colt
Hole #9—Colt
Hole #10—Colt
Hole #11—Colt

Beginning at #12 and ending at #15, George Crump ran into other problems or confusions with his routing and some of his hole-designs. It would last, at least with #14 and #15, for the rest of his life (he died on Jan. 24th 1918). For a few years before he died the course first played as an eleven hole course (#1-#10, #18) and a bit later as a fourteen hole course (#1-#11, #16, #17, #18). The latter sequence worked well as #1-#4 could be played over again making an eighteen-hole sequence and the players were at the clubhouse at #4 green. That convenient temporary sequence may’ve also contributed to the fact that Crump may not have felt that much pressure to complete #12-#15 and put them into the eighteen-hole sequence. I believe #12 and #13 were built and playable before Crump died but #14 and #15 were not finished off before he died. Therefore, even though #12 and #13 were built and playable they could not be used because when players finished #13 the next tee (#16) was almost 600 yards away. George Crump’s initial stick-routing and Harry Colt’s July 1913 routing plan did not come within 200 yards of the present 13th green, 14th hole and 15th back tee.

Hole #12—Crump:
Remember the 10th on Crump’s initial routing (stick routing) looked something like the present 12th but it appeared to be a very long par 3 slightly to the right including a green to the right of the present 12th green. I think it was a very long par 3 because I’ve measured it off the scale on the original stick routing plan, and remember that when Crump did his original routing before Colt first arrived there was no really long par 3 like #5. It would also make sense as a very long par 3 rather than a short par 4 because also remember Crump’s #11, the next hole, was a short par 4. Colt’s #12 was considerable longer (400 yards) than present #12 (his tee was close to the 11th hole) and his green was to the right of the present 12th green.


*Even though Crump was initially a one man search party for the site and he bought the original site himself, he did not want to be its president. For that he tapped his friend Howard Perrin who would remain Pine Valley’s president long after Crump’s death. It seems all Crump was truly interested in was designing and creating the golf course.

** It is possible with those pre-construction contour lines on those survey maps to actually compare the contour lines of the golf course to determine almost precisely what was built and what the preexisting grades are (apparently some localized topographical mapping was done before the “Holding the course together” program perhaps as a guide to what to recreate if certain areas shifted). Although I have no doubt those PRE-construction topographical survey maps of Pine Valley are not the earliest ever done for golf architecture development, they still are the earliest I have ever seen. Ironically, there is no question that Merion East had one done pre-construction and before Pine Valley’s, and they used it in the development of the architecture of that course but despite searching long and hard, unfortunately we have never found Merion East PRE-construction topo map on which they apparently designed that golf course.

***The Colt map due to many “boilerplate” similarities to the other two survey maps appears to have been done by the same surveyor and it appears it represents a “whole course” plan of Colt’s hole by hole booklet that he left with the club.

****I have a letter from Harry Colt to Hugh Wilson from the early 1920s in which he writes they haven’t seen one another for so long he hopes he remembers him. And in a post script he mentions that Mrs. Colt wishes to be remembered to Mrs. Wilson. Through additional research it appears that during Harry and Mrs. Colt’s visit to America in 1913 is the only possible time Mrs. Colt and Mrs. Wilson could have met each other. It gets even more interesting. Colt mentioned in that letter that he and Mrs. Colt have moved their residence and he believes that Hugh Wilson would like it even more than his previous residence. That seems to suggest Hugh Wilson stayed with the Colts during his spring 1912 trip to England, and it appears he returned the favor a year later and asked Harry and Mrs. Colt to stay with he and Mrs. Wilson in Philadelphia.