Monday, July 26, 2010

PGA Tour Tees It Up At a Macdonald-Raynor Design This Week

This week the PGA Tour is at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulpher Springs, W.V. for the Greenbrier Classis and, frankly, I have mixed emotions.

First of all, I'm ecstatic that the work of Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor (restored by Lester George reopening 2006) will be getting national recognition but I'm also afraid that golf announcers who know little to nothing of architecture will not only fail to understand the nuisances of the golf course, but also describe what is there inaccurately to viewers at home. I have deep pains in my gut when I imagine Garry McCord or David Feherty waxing poetic on the work of Macdonald and Raynor. Frank Nobilo's head might explode when he realizes many of the holes are not framed by trees. These three think long and straight is a legitimate and favored design strategy.

I'm hoping Peter Oosterhuis is announcing this week. After his days on the PGA and European PGA tours, Oosterhuis was head golf professional at Forsgate Country Club in New Jersey, which has an exceptional Charles Banks as one of its two layouts. He's also a big fan of Yale University golf course.

This could be a great opportunity for those golfers who think penal bunkering in landing zones and in front, behind and on both sides of greens is good design, to see the error in their thinking. Unlike the work of Robert Trent Jones and his hack copycats, Macdonald, Raynor and others produced golfing grounds where thought is required on virtually every shot. The best part about that for golfers is the fact that that school of architecture is, in fact, fun.

The pros who tee it up Thursday through Sunday will overpower the layout, at times, but that shouldn't stop the announcers from illuminating viewers to the architecture that allows the average players, of varying length and skill, to challenge Old White, and others like it, and find delight in doing so.

(Picture of the original 18th green, courtesy Lester George)

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