Rob Smith looks at some of the Mozarts and Shakespeares behind the new Top 100…
f we go to an art exhibition, we go for the paintings but need to know their artist. When we listen to music, the melody comes first but we are interested in the composer. For many of us, it is the same with a golf course. There are several major architects, old and new, whose work has shaped the Top 100.
IThe closing hole at Hankley Common The inheritance left by our early architects is not just physical. Their enduring influence on today’s architects is profound. Despite this, it is still possible for today’s exponents to create something new and genuinely different. Kyle Phillips designed both Kingsbarns and The Grove, and Pat Ruddy is the genius behind his own European Club, as well as Sandy Hills at Rosapenna and the Glashedy Course at Ballyliffin in collaboration with Tom Craddock. One-hit wonders Most of those with just one Top 100 course to their name have plenty in the Next 100 and elsewhere. For example, Nick Faldo (Lough Erne) has an extensive portfolio of very popular courses all over the world. But there are some genuine one-offs, such as Golf Monthly’s original editor Harold Hilton (Ferndown) and club maker Cuthbert Butchart (West Hill). The table (right) lists those architects whose influence appears to have been greatest in the Top 100, and includes courses they designed or substantially modified. I say ‘appears’ because some of the work is undocumented and has been lost in the mists of time. Ultimately, we have everything from some big-name contributors to the odd ‘unknown’, such as Gullane (No. 1).
With paintings, books or songs, once done they are done. Golf courses, however, are living, evolving entities and some of today’s designs would be almost unrecognisable to their founding fathers. Mostly this has been a good thing, but it does complicate definitive statements on lineage. Lahinch, for example, has benefited from the craft of Old Tom Morris, Alister MacKenzie and Martin Hawtree. Others – some to ill effect – have been modified to the point where they have the air of design by committee. The 7th at Pat Ruddy’s European Club