Reading St Andrews, Part 1: Introduction

I’m no golf historian. Maybe that’s why, until recently, I hadn’t known that the discovery of strategic golf architecture was likely accidental.

According to Keith Cutten’s new book The Evolution of Golf Course Design, the Old Course at St Andrews was once a narrow affair, a ribbon of grass bordered by shrubland. The line of play was clear and non-negotiable. In the 1840s, golf got more popular, and the Old Course became busy. Probably in an effort to accommodate the increased traffic, Allan Robertson, the keeper of the links, widened the fairways and greens, clearing swaths of gorse and other scrub.

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A 2019 Viewer’s Guide to Architecturally Intriguing Tournament Golf Venues

After reading my article on Le Golf National and the danger of abandoning strategic course design in professional golf, a Twitter user named David Knight made a suggestion:

Great idea, I thought, stupidly.

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