World Forum of Golf Architects

As followers of twitter will probably know several EGD designers attended the World Forum of Golf Architects in St Andrews last week. Typically these types of events provide an ideal chance to debate current issues affecting the industry and last week was no different.

One of the key points that resonated with me was the ever increasing conflict between environmental sustainability and the continual advances in technology. As well as creating a sporting venue good golf design usually incorporates habitat areas for wildlife and creates an area where people can interact with the environment.

In a world where environmental issues are becoming evermore prevalent we, as designers, are required to put more emphasis on designing courses that provide more natural habitats, have less irrigated areas and integrate with the local communities. Unfortunately advances in technology are making this increasingly difficult. As the distance the ball travels has increased so too has the length of courses meaning more land is required for golf, and a larger area needs to be irrigated, in turn this can lead to reduced area for natural habitats. Longer golf courses also mean longer rounds which is seen by many as having a negative impact on the game as leisure time becomes increasingly precious.

There is no easy solution to this problem but the most positive thing to come out of last weeks conference was a general agreement between the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects to work together to try to find a solution. Ultimately though the answer to this will probably lie with golf’s governing bodies the R&A and the USGA who control the laws governing equipment.

Elie – Where it all Started for Braid

With his fantastic victory at Royal Birkdale Padraig Harrington became the first European golfer since James Braid in 1906 to successfully defend the Open Championship. Braid of course won the Championship 5 times in all and went on to become a prolific golf course designer.

A Scot, Braid learnt his golf over the links at the Golf House Club, Elie, a wonderful seaside course of great charm and character and the setting last week for a golf match between representatives of EGD and PGA Management.

Flying the flag for EGD were Ross and Rob, while Keith Haslam and Jonathan Pendry stepped up to the plate for PGAM. Elie has no par 5’s and only two par 3’s but probably has as good a variety of par 4’s as you are likely to see on any course. It demands good positioning from the tee and a fine short game to make a score. From the 12th the course steps up a gear with several holes well over 400 yards and long straight hitting is needed to reach the greens when the wind is from the east.

It may not be the most difficult golf course in the world but it is challenging enough for most, the setting is glorious, the greens are testing but fair and the course rewards good shot making. All in all, just what you want for holiday golf and a reaffirmation that modern day designers don’t need to resort to over complication and trickery. Golf is, after all, meant to be enjoyable.