Reading Room

Selection #18: December 2019

We’re back after a November hiatus. My most sincere apologies!

The selection this month is a bit different from any I’ve made to date, but I believe it’s good and healthy to mix things up. So without further delay, the selection is “The Evolution of Golf Course Design,” by Keith Cutten.

It’s a beautiful behemoth of a book on, you guessed it, the evolution of golf course design. I had the pleasure of meeting Keith earlier this year at Cabot Links, a piece of property he knows intimately from his involvement in the building of Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs. In fact, over beers in the clubhouse one evening I, along with the whole NLU crew, was able to pick his brain about the profession and his philosophies. He sent us home with a copy of his book and I’ve wanted to feature it since, but I think December is the perfect month (more on that in a second).

This is where I need to be completely transparent and point out I am in no way a GCA (golf course architecture) buff. It’s an area that holds my curiosity, but I know less than any amount to be dangerous (my bona fides amount to a delightful reading of MacKenzie’s “Spirit of St. Andrews”). There are plenty of people far and wide in the golf universe that do an amazing job of discussing architecture (eg. Doak’s Golf Course Confidential, The Fried Egg and crew, etc etc). I do not pretend to be in that company. However, and this brings me to Keith’s book, what I love about it is the following:

  • Comprehensive: there are two distinct parts of the book: Part 1 is 200+ years of course design broken into decades. Part 2 is profiles on prominent golf course architects, authors, and visionaries.
  • Consumable: the book is over 350 pages but it’s format makes it easy to consume. Each section, each profile is distinctly marked and written. It can be a pejorative to call something a coffee-table book, but Keith’s book is something I would love to display on my coffee-table for the dual purpose of handy reading and referencing while I’m on the couch, watching golf for example.
  • Beautiful: it’s a gorgeous, hard-bound book, replete with big, colorful images of courses and people. Again, the type of book that from a pure aesthetic standpoint, would look great on a table at home or the office.

With the holidays fast approaching, this book is an exceptional gift for yourself or golf-obsessed loved one. It’s the type of book you won’t consume in a few sittings, but instead tackle piece by piece over time, probably as you’re watching golf. Hopefully, too, you’ll slowly find your knowledge and appreciation for course design expanding!

About the Author

Perma-case of the yips inside 5 feet. Completely lose my swing at least once a year. No concept of what a good leave is. Harbor delusions of golf grandeur.

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