Do you golf (or are close to someone that does)? I read recently that golf courses are struggling….many finding the recession and increasing demands on our time to not be conductive to the sport. The time thing I totally get, but I was completely surprised by the report of how much it costs to play the game. I honestly had no idea that a single round of golf usually costs hundreds of dollars! Wow – who can afford that!?! Sticker shock aside, I guess it sort of makes sense as the properties require a lot of attention — I assume that is where much of the expense lies?
The report got me thinking about why I am not a fan of the sport….Do find it boring to watch?…yes…but I also find baseball a bit boring, but I am more than happy to be part of that scene. It seems like something I would enjoy, (I am fairly sporty) — but I think in contrast to the way that I am often drawn to the physical nature of the land….golf courses have this tendency to repulse me. In thinking about it, I just realized that when I look at a golf course I tend to feel a little dispirited. I never feel invited or curious, which seems a shame. Cultivating the land and making something beautiful is noble cause, and one would think that courses groomed to an extreme would bring me some level of joy, but more often I see golf greens as a complete anomaly to their surroundings, they look forced, and I find nothing nice about that at all.
I read about Crenshaw golf courses in the Wall Street Journal. I am fairly sure I haven’t been to a Crenshaw course, but I am intrigued visit one. The idea behind the course construction is to move as little dirt as possible in crafting the place with the intent to highlight the land and its natural intrigue.
From the WSJ:
“Even if most golfers will eventually be taking carts, the route the course takes through the land should seem natural, aligned with how they would instinctively traverse the land if they were on foot,” – two-time Masters champ Ben Crenshaw.
Instead of bulldozing landscapes, they look for sites that are “naturally gifted for golf,” in Mr. Coore’s words. Then they will move as little dirt as possible in crafting the finished product. Construction itself, including turf grow-in, usually takes a couple of years. The architects’ fees can be a million dollars or more.
Well, that explains the cost. HA! I dream of those kind of garden design fees, and I wonder if golfers would find value to a garden design mentality applied to golf courses. (Clearly these Crenshaw courses are prized!) If made more garden-like, would perhaps the sport become more appealing to women?
Have you ever been to a Crenshaw course? Can you tell the difference? Do you think you would golf more if the courses were a bit more garden-ish?
And lastly– I am in love with the plan graphics that Josh created after an inspired visit to the Old Sandwich Golf Club. He calls it a ‘yardage book’ — I call it the prettiest thing to come out of golf.
images from Joshua C.F. Smith Golf Paintings.