“They steal upon the sleeping mind while winter steals upon the landscape, sealing the inviting cups beneath sheets of ice, cloaking the contours of the fairway in snow.”
John Updike - opening line to Golf Dreams
As a golf architect in the Northeast, I am often asked by folks that don’t know the industry, “What do you do in the winter?” Honestly, I enjoy the break from the game of golf itself and welcome as much snow as possible between December and February. Come March, I am longing for warmth and sunshine. But January and February are wonderful times to hike, snowshoe, or ski in the winter landscape while working on next seasons designs. “Hibernation Design” I call it. And it can be one of the most creative times of the year for me. Blowing snow and rounded forms provide inspiration much in the same way blowing sand and beach forms can. The process of nature is visible, and the palette is clean in new fallen snow. Rough forms are softened. There is also purity in the light that illuminates relief in the simplest of undulations. Those of you who are familiar with my work, know that much of my design inspiration comes from natural forms. So, I often photograph snow forms in the winter, and a few I have posted above. Good stuff.
And for those of you that have never read Golf Dreams by John Updike, it’s the perfect time of year to do so! Though not related to golf design forms, it is a most enjoyable winter read and often humorous view of the game we love.
Source: Hand drawn to scale (1"=200') Black ink on trace / colored marker on back of trace / color pencil accents on the front.
Comments: This is a portion of a plan that was done to evaluate adjacent parcels for a golf course expansion. The club wanted to add another nine holes, practice area, and cottages. Alternatives were prepared to see what each parcel would yield prior to pursuing acquisition.
I am often asked by students and others what books I recommend for a foundational understanding of golf course architecture. The following four books are the ones I recommend:
The Links, by Robert Hunter (1926)
Golf Architecture in America, George Thomas (1927)
Golf Architecture, Alister Mackenzie (1920)
Golf Has Never Failed Me, Donald Ross (1996)
These books will be a good start to anyone’s library on the subject matter. The books written in the 1920’s are all fine reads. The Donald Ross book is a collection of his lost manuscripts and contains brief commentary on various aspects of golf design. If I had to pick one book to start with, it would be the Links by Robert Hunter. I first read this book in graduate school while studying golf course architecture in 1994, and it remains my favorite. Hunter also references Alister Mackenzie’s book within it and many of his principles. There is also a good collection of drawings and photos of other architect’s work.
Source: Sketch book; ink and colored pencil
Comments: There are many types of drawings conducted for golf course construction. This sketch was done in the field during the construction of a par 3 green complex in Saugerties, New York. It was prepared for the golf course shaper (Scott Hall) to communicate refinements during the rough grading of the complex, prior to root-zone placement.
Source: Hand sketch to scale; trace laid over survey – ink and color pencil on front with marker colored on back of trace.
Comments: In this design sketch I was working out a clubhouse area and a par 3 (9th hole). The short hole allowed me to push the idea of having a “theatric” finish to one of the nines. Design sketch included clubhouse site, parking, circulation, bag drop, and guest cottages - as well as the golf hole. A watercourse flowed from right to left in the drawing and was impounded in the area in front of the green. I also suggested a series of small falls to create visual interest and “white noise” at the green. Having a dramatic hole viewing from the clubhouse ties clubhouse architecture and golf course together and increases the chances for players to linger - spending more time and money - after their rounds.
Barry Jordan is an authentic grassroots