I like them because to me, they are the absolute core of the game, the reason for playing.
In the eyes of some, however, this apparently makes me a ‘snob’. Not for the first time, I saw this term used last week during some discussion about Bellerive, host venue of the PGA Championship.
Many (me included) felt Bellerive was not a particularly interesting course and not worthy of hosting one of the men's game’s four most important events.
Others disagreed and posited the theory that as long as the golf was entertaining, the venue is of no consequence.
That was, and still is, an interesting debate but it is a topic for another column. More fascinating was the notion that those with an interest in golf course design are somehow elitist.
It’s not the first time this accusation has been made and for several reasons I find it a baffling position.
As far as I can tell, the only thing that truly separates golf from all the other sports/games/recreational pursuits is the diversity of the fields upon which it is played.
1. I saw a lot of backlash this past weekend against golf architecture “snobs.” That’s expected, I guess. People can be overbearing about this stuff.
But the principles of good course design come from Scotland, where the game is affordable and democratic. Not snobby.— Garrett Ford (@gfordgolf) August 14, 2018
Let’s be frank, and no disrespect meant, but a tennis court is a tennis court no matter where in the world you find it.
The same is true for rugby and soccer and even cricket, where the field may vary in size but not shape.
Golf, on the other hand, is unique. There are - literally (to use an all-too-often incorrectly and generally overused word) – no two courses alike.
Now before we go any further, let’s deal with the notion that there are golfers in the world who have no interest in course design.
There is no doubt many give little thought to the ground in front of them beyond navigating from tee to green in the least number of shots possible.
But this doesn’t mean they have no interest in course design. It merely means they find it less important than other facets of the game, such as whether they are swinging from the inside or how the bounce on their new wedge feels.
The easiest way to decide whether one has an interest in course architecture is to answer this simple question: Do you have a favourite golf hole?
Even the most strident ‘anti-architecture’ type will generally admit that somewhere in the world exists a golf hole that they extract more joy from playing than others.
And that is the point. It’s fine not to want to study the topic or discuss it in depth.
It’s okay if you don’t care who Tom Doak or Dr Alister Mackenzie is.
But to label those of us who do find it more than a passing interesting ‘snobs’ is as dumb as saying equipment junkies are ‘bogans’.
Just like clubs and balls, golf courses are an integral part of the game. Without them, we might as well just be at the driving range.
And I think we can all agree there are very few golfers who enjoy THAT.
SIGNATURE HOLES: 13TH AT WYNNUM (QLD)
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