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The golf course in print: Books to own

By Derek Duncan, Contributor

Golf ArchitectureIn golf publishing there are at least three bankable commodities: instruction, equipment, and tour coverage. Head to your nearest Barnes & Noble or Borders and you'll notice that whether it be books or periodicals, swing tips, the hottest new ball and clubs, and coverage of the latest or next PGA major dominate the pages.

Chances are, however, that if you've been glossing through the links at Travelgolf.com or reading this article in particular, you are the type of person that is more interested in finding out about where you're playing next than the minute details of why you chili - dip chip shots or what Tiger Woods is wearing.

Although information about golf courses (at least objective, analytical information) still struggles to find space in magazines there are dozens of wonderful and well - written books about the invigorating and diverse grounds we play upon. The following is a suggested sampling of what one author believes to be the best books on golf courses and golf course architecture. Most are widely available and can be ordered online at Clocktowerpress.com, Amazon.com, and elsewhere.

The Golf Course: Nuts and Bolts

Golf Architecture in AmericaGolf Course Architecture: Design, Construction & Redesign by Dr. Michael J. Hurdzan - Want to build your own golf course from scratch? This hefty tome by architect Hurdzan doubles as a six semester class in landscape architecture and teaches everything from drainage to excavating bunkers to growing turfgrass.

Driving the Green: The Making of a Golf Course by John Strawn - A behind the scenes look at the often tedious business and permitting nightmares of building a golf course, in particular the Arthur Hills designed Ironhorse Golf Course in West Palm Beach.

Golf Architecture in America: It's Strategy and Construction by George Thomas - The architect of such legendary courses as Riviera and Los Angeles Country Club wrote in 1927 what is still arguably the finest and most engaging book on golf course construction. Every practicing architect should be made to read or reread it.

The Strategic Primer - Thinking Your Way Around

Golf by Design by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. - A solid introduction to the interplay between strategy and golf course design, perfect for those unfamiliar with concepts such as the Redan, angles of play, and the illusions of depth perception (with nice photography too).

The Anatomy of a Golf CourseThe Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak - One of the business's most talented architects, Doak dictates in somewhat scholastic but riveting manner the subtler points of design and strategy using his in-the-field experience and encyclopedic knowledge of the world's finest courses as guide.

Grounds For Golf by Geoff Shackelford - An absolute must-have for the thinking player and architecture aficionado, Shackelford wields a broad knowledge base to illuminate the essence of strategic course design and set-up.

The Spirit of St. Andrews by Dr. Alister MacKenzie - In this lost-and-found again manuscript on the nuances of course design the Good Doctor uses his own jovial anecdotes, opinions, and experience to educate the masses on the "correct" way to view a golf course, set against the backdrop of the Home of Golf.

Around The World

The Confidential Guide to Golf by Tom Doak - Quite possibly the most useful and consuming book ever published about golf courses. Doak has traveled the world to study the greatest courses and here writes some of the most candid and concise reviews ever put to paper.

The World Atlas of Golf by Pat Ward, Herbert Warren Wind, Charles Price, Peter Thompson - A classic primer on the legendary layouts from around the globe, nostalgically famous for its evocative course descriptions and illustrated routing maps.

Golf Architecture - A Worldwide Perspective compiled by Paul Daley - An intelligent and detailed examination of the styles and setting of courses world wide bolstered by contributions from notable golf architects and writers.

The Old Masters

Discovering Donald Ross: The Architect and His Courses by Bradley S. Klein - Scholar, historian, and editor, Klein has raised the standard of golf biographies with this detailed and encompassing look at the Golden Age's most prolific, and often misunderstood, architect.

The Evangelist of GolfThe Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie by Tom Doak, Dr. James S. Scott, Raymond Haddock - This book traces the globe - trotting trail and career of the most ebullient figure of the classic age of design, giving new discovery and glorious illustration to his most enduring courses and several of his overlooked one too.

The Evangelist of Golf: The Story of Charles Blair MacDonald by George Bahto - Bahto takes the reader so far into the designs of the mercurial MacDonald that they'll swear they just returned from playing The National, Piping Rock, and even the extinct Lido Club.

Pretty Pictures

The 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes edited by George Peper, et al-Golf Magazine's compilation of many of the best, and photogenic, golf holes on earth, a superb reference to the game's most famous and influential holes.

The Art of Golf Design by Michael Miller and Geoff Shackelford - A supremely beautiful collection of Miller's paintings of classic golf holes accompanied by Shackelford's spot-on writing and observations - an exhilarating collaboration.

Golf Course Designs by Tom Fazio - The photography of John and Jeannine Henebry (and others) is a perfect match for Fazio's golf artistry, making this is the ultimate coffee table book; a little light on architectural insight but heavy on pictures in glorious color.

Nicklaus by Design: Golf Course Strategy and Architecture by Jack Nicklaus - Like Fazio's book this is basically a paean to his own work, but in it Nicklaus offers some important insight into the thought process behind his designs, and the photography is equally impressive.

Great Reading

The Links by Robert Hunter - Penned in 1926, Hunter captures in engaging prose the integrity and charm of the game of golf as it has evolved and been influenced by the great courses of the world, links or otherwise.

Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design edited by Geoff Shackelford - Sort of a "Best of" from this list, this is a stirring collection of essays by noted architects and authors from Tillinghast to Dye to Doak.

The Collection - Rare and Out of Print

The Architects of Golf by Geoffrey Cornish and Ron Whitten - An encyclopedic tally of golf courses, golf architects, and histories last updated in 1993; rumors are an updated version is in the works. If you own this you have one of the most valuable, hard to find, and practical references in the field.

Golf Courses of the British Isles by Bernard Darwin - This legendary 1910 tome by one of golf's greatest writers is perhaps the most descriptive and memorable book on the subject of golf courses ever written, accompanied by evocative Harry Rountree watercolor prints.

Derek DuncanDerek Duncan, Contributor

Derek Duncan's writing has appeared in TravelGolf.com, FloridaGolf.com, OrlandoGolf.com, GulfCoastGolf.com, LINKS Magazine and more. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Cynthia and is a graduate of the University of Colorado with interests in wine, literary fiction, and golf course architecture.


 
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