Club Management Perspectives made an unusual request. They asked me to review my own
book, released in October of last year! So here goes! This book is unique in that it gleans nuggets of design wisdom from over 100 ASGCA members, assembled into an entertaining golf course architecture read. Our premises were:
- Golf architecture books typically use vague, flowery words and clichés that utterly fail to describe their thinking, i.e They use a lot of words to say nothing.
- “Great ideas are easily explained in a few sentences, bad ideas usually take more.”
- If Einstein summarized the complex theory of relativity as “E=mc 2, then golf course
architects should be able to explain their design thoughts much more concisely than they historically have – this isn’t rocket science, folks.
“Designs on a Better Course” strives to give concise answers to golf course architecture related questions commonly asked by green committees and others in charge of the care and potential improvement of a golf course. The questions are culled from my 44 years as a golf course architect, where I have never been asked, “Are you incorporating Old Tom Morris’ design philosophies of the Old Course at St. Andrews?” Golfers and course managers typically ask more practical questions, usually on a “need to know now” basis that will affect their projects, like, “How big should our tees and greens be?” or, “How wide can the fairways be?”
Sometimes, the questions are about how design can assist in more global issues, like:
- “Can design help us reduce maintenance costs or improve our pace of play?”
- “What is a master plan?”
- “How do we hire a golf course architect?”
- “What roles do various stakeholders play in a redesign?”
- “How do we initiate a construction project and how long should it take?”
- “How can we improve our practice facilities?” For that one, I provide one of my longer
chapters (18 bullet points over three pages), including a suggestion to have a visible clock, so golfers can get to the first tee on time!
As such, “Designs on a Better Golf Course” consists of over fifty short, single topic chapters, addressing the most asked design questions concerning improving your golf course. You can easily finish the entire book in a night, or just read chapters relevant to you right now. If renovating your tees, you might read the four specific articles dedicated to that (how big, what shape, how many and how far apart, and adding forward tees) and perhaps the chapters discussing the specifics of tee-related design and construction items including cart paths, irrigation, and drainage that you might not have considered.
“Designs on a Better Golf Course” addresses other current critical issues like water conservation and sustainability (both environmentally and business-wise) concerns, as well as guidance on the entire renovation process from master planning to turf maturation.
There is some flowery language concerning the importance of design to your golf enjoyment. One chapter defines a good golf course routing. (It has 18 good holes, and lists several other attributes that tie them together into a better golf experience.) And, the next chapter sums up, “What is a good golf hole?” with 12 bullet points generally agreed upon by dozens of top architects.
“Designs on a Better Golf Course” gives anyone interested in, or responsible for, their course an overview of both underlying golf course design principles and practical details that go into successful golf course construction or renovation. It emphasizes that everything on your course is designed, and the only alternative to good design is bad design. Bad (or no) design may make a hole unattractive, unfunctional or just vaguely unsatisfying. Since good design costs about the same as bad design to construct, and you’re stuck with it (or an unnecessary
reconstruction before it’s time) for the next 25 years or more, the book strives to illustrate the importance and value that good design brings to any project.
The book is intended to help you better work together with a qualified golf course architect to achieve your goals in the best possible way. While the golfer, pro, and superintendent each provide a valuable perspective on golf course design and renovation, the golf course architect
has the overall vision and artistic ability to pull all those threads together into the best possible design solution for your course.
In summary, “If you read one golf course architecture book this year, make it “Designs on a Better Course – Practical Answers to Common Questions for Greens Committees.” At just $24.99 on Amazon, “Designs on a Better Golf Course” would be a bargain at twice the price!
Of course, what did you expect the primary author to say?
-Jeffrey D. Brauer
Jeffrey D. Brauer/GolfScapes, Inc.
3809 Canton Jade Way
Arlington, TX 76005
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