LECTURER TAKES OLD COURSE APART
Mike Wood, the newly appointed Director for the world’s first masters degree in
Golf Course Architecture, trying to play the Old Course for the first time without
a caddie would be like trying to cross the Cairngorms in a white-out without a
compass. To the uninitiated on a grey, misty day, this golfing Mecca can appear
bland and non-descript – but that’s all part of its enduring mystique.
all the classic courses, Wood maintains the Old Course least bears the stamp of
being “designed” in the usual sense. At St Andrews nature was the real architect
– the inherent qualities of the site took precedence in shaping the evaluation
of the course. The early players simply chose the best sites for tees and greens
and navigated their way between them, avoiding the natural hazards of gorse and
bare sand on the way. Since then on one has dared mess about with the basic layout
and, apart from occasionally adding new tees, it’s essentially the same as it’s
Wood, The Old course exemplifies sound ecological principles which, although long
recognised, have been overlooked in the more recent past by designers eager to
create “signature” holes and “trademark” bunkers. By contract, Wood argues, the
Old Course had very few gold features – no dramatic contours, flashy water features
or multi-coloured flowerbeds here. Everything appears understated, subtle and
restrained. Indeed, many of the bunkers, and even some fairways, are invisible
from the tee.
member of The Landscape Institute as well as The European Institute of Golf Course
Architects, Wood is delighted to become involved in the education of a new generation
of golf course architects. The new masters degree – the first of its kind – will
promote a return of the classic gold design principles exemplifying first and
best in Scotland. The aim, in short, is to lay the foundation for best practice
in golf course architecture by focussing on teachings students how to create golf
developments which are in harmony with the environment.
new MSc in Golf Course Architecture, which has been developed by Edinburgh College
of Art, an associated college of Heriot Watt University, commences in October
and has already attracted considerable interest from overseas candidates as well
as from closer to home.