Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jeff Mingay's Article on Architect Arthur Macan

There is a wonderful piece about Canadian designer Arthur Vernon Macan in this month's issue of Golf Course Architecture written by Canadian architect Jeff Mingay.

Macan's first design opened in 1913 and he continued to create courses for over five decades. In fact, his last course opened in 1965, the year after he died.

The majority of Macan's layouts were in Western Canada with a number in the Western United States. His most famous design might be Victoria Golf Club just outside of Vancouver. Pictured here is the course stretching from the 7th green in the right hand portion of the photo, with the 8th tee in the far right hand side, to the 10th tee in the bottom left corner.

I was familiar with Macan's work since one of the chapter is Haunted Golf revolves around Victoria GC. What I did not know is how well Macan wrote about golf course architecture. As one of the view designers to work on both sides of World War II, he had a front-row seat to the deterioration of thoughtful architecture starting in the 1950s.

Macan did a wonderful job succinctly criticizing one of the new design trend promulgated by such architects as Robert Trent Jones.

“Today, the uninformed believe a green should be constructed with the slope from back to front, so that it will retain the ball,” Macan wrote. “In brief, this suggests the shot should be a mechanical operation and the result a mathematical certainty. This is not the game of golf. Golf was not conceived as a mechanical operation but rather full of fun and adventure. Many things could happen to the ball after it pitched on the green. The ill-happenings were not regarded as ill-fortune or ill-luck, but part of the adventure, and the more skilled found methods to overcome the risks of ill-fortune.”

Macan also levels some much-needed and spot-on criticism of the defiling of the Oakland Hills-South Course by Robert Trent Jones prior to the 1951 U.S. Open.

The entire article is well worth the read.

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