Teachers’ Comments: I would have liked more depth, and more illustrations.
Over the last couple of years, there seems to have been increased interest in the art of golf course architecture. From Geoff Shackleford’s fine Grounds For Golf to articles in the mass market magazines that are more serious than the usual travel advertisements masquerading as reviews.
It’s a good trend. I strongly believe that understanding what an architect is trying to do on a course can lead to greater enjoyment of the game, as well as improved scores.
Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects adds to the increasing literature by revealing a little more of the lives of the people who design our playgrounds. “Secrets” is composed of a series of vignettes by and about leading golf course architects, such as Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones Jr., and Arthur Hills. It also includes some celebrity designers, such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. There are 118 short pieces, each describing a telling incident, a favorite hole or course, a particularly problematic design problem they have faced, or just a humorous event.
In truth, there aren’t’ a lot of “secrets” here, and you’re really not going to learn much that will help you play the game. But the stories do, for the most part, serve to put a human face on the (mostly) faceless designers.
Aside from the lack of depth, the one criticism that I have of the book is that there aren’t enough illustrations. While there are 150 photos and drawings, not every one seems to be associated with a story. I rather thought that in a book with stories on golf course architects, each should be accompanied by an illustration indicative of his work.