Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Words of Charles Blair Macdonald

I was flipping through Scotland's Gift - Golf by Charles Blair Macdonald. Published in 1928, the year after he died, it contains so much wonderful advice and observations of golf course architecture that remain pertinent today as when he wrote them. Here are a few of my favorites.

• Motoring to Southampton, I pass a goodly number of new courses. As I view the putting-greens it appears to me they are all built similarly, more or less bowl or saucer type, then built up toward the back of the green, and then scalloped with an irregular line of low, waving mounds or hillocks, the putting-green for all the world resembling a pie-faced woman with a marcel wave. I do not believe any one ever saw in nature anything approaching these home-made putting greens.

•Variety is not only "the spice of life" but it is the very foundation of golfing architecture. Diversity in nature is universal. Let your golfing architect mirror it. An ideal or classical golf course demands variety, personality and, above all, the charm of romance.

•Errors in play should be severely punished in finding hazards, but now the golfer wants his bunkers raked and all the unevenness of the fairway rolled out. A player does not get the variety of stances or lies that in olden times one was sure to have. A hanging lie or a ball lying in any position other than level is a blemish to the modern golfer. The science and beauty of the game is brought out by men having to play the ball from any stance. To play the game over over a flat surface without undulations leaves nothing to the ingenuity of the player, and nothing is presented but and obvious and stereotyped series of hits. To-day there seems to be a constant endeavor to make golf commonplace, to emasculate it, as it were, of its finer qualities.

(Pictured is the 18th hole at the National Golf Links of America, Charles Blair Macdonald's masterpiece.)


  1. Beautiful words about a beautiful game. Its too bad the nuances and idiosyncrasies of golf are lost on so many of today's players.

  2. I agree Chris, but don't give up trying to educate all levels of golfers, but especially focus on the newcomers so they can learn to fully enjoy a golf course as well as learn the difference between good architecture and bad.