As someone who thinks about the state of golf pretty much every day, and thus worries about the health of the game I love so much, what with all of the doom and gloom stories emanating from the national press, I look for and grab onto reasons for optimism. Yes the number of participants is falling, the number of courses closing exceeds the number of new courses opening, we are approaching water shortages in many places, the equipment prices and green fees are getting astronomical, the boorishness of certain owner/developers seems to garner way too much publicity and overshadows the timeless standards of etiquette and decorum, and so on.
Time for a trip to Bandon Dunes! David McLay Kidd and Tom Doak have created masterpieces there, but it is the work of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw that really intrigues me. For me, they embody some of the best thinking and design work that golf offers. Bill Coore: “The human capability for imagination is vast, but it’s nowhere near as vast as nature’s in terms of variety, randomness, and surprise. A good course will fit seamlessly into the landforms the site provides.” Coore-Crenshaw move as little dirt as possible, thus reducing construction costs, and utimately reducing maintenance costs as well. Their courses simply look natural and organic. Or as Dr. Alister MacKenzie put it almost a century ago: “The course should have beautiful surroundings, and all the artificial features should have so natural an appearance that a stranger is unable to distinguish them from nature itself.”