Golf Course Reviews
by: Rick Baril – 2015
I’m curious to see any and all golf courses. For me, it’s an ongoing quest to learn as much as I can about golf courses and golf architecture.
I’ve thought about writing about the courses I’ve visited. A few years ago, I even made a serious effort to start, and found it difficult immediately.
I’ve been designing courses for more than 35 years. So, I understand the myriad of issues which can influence the design and development of a golf course. It’s this knowledge which hampers my ability to write a golf course “review”. Without knowing all the issues and influences which actually shaped a project and the design, I find it illogical to judge the outcome. There are writers comfortable with critiquing and judging the work of others, often without understanding what it actually takes to navigate the entitlement process and accomplish the work.
A GOLF PROJECT includes; Designing a golf course, securing entitlements and then constructing the golf course. It’s a process which involves local, regional and national regulations and environmental concerns. It involves literally dozens of people, and regulatory agencies, municipalities, environmental considerations, etc. All of these entities have specific regulations and protocols which affect the process and ultimately the golf course design. Today, designing a golf course requires navigating all the regulations and agencies and delivering a unique venue.
I suppose my angst associated with writing a golf course review emanates from knowing all it takes to successfully deliver a golf course project. I sometimes think it would appropriate to require reviewers and critics to work a reasonable amount of time in the field or profession they critique? After all, how can you judge a thing, if you don’t actually comprehend what is required to accomplish the work? This would make reviews more meaningful. I suspect, it would also tend to make reviewers more equitable.
Perhaps I’ve read too many golf course reviews judging the value of something; while pretending to convey knowledge about what was accomplished, why it was accomplished and the most curious one; the designers intent. This is not intended to sound cynical, even if it might.
Design Philosophy is not a static thing. It evolves over time. The longer a designer’s career, the more evolution occurs.
Being a golf course architect for more than 35 years, I can attest that; 1) my thoughts about design, 2) my “style” and 3) my “design philosophy” continue to evolve. I’m sure all artists and designers experience the same thing. This combined with the unknown external influences of developing a golf course, would make it hopeless for an outsider/writer to translate and convey – “what the designer was thinking”.
When I see a golf course, I attempt to imagine what hurdles it needed to overcome in order to be built. Ultimately, I understand I am seeing the course through “my eyes”; including my unique bias, aversions and preferences. I will find aspects to admire, and things which prompt questions.
In the end, mine is just another opinion. And, you know what they say about opinions….