Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy & Construction

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  • Author:
    Thomas, George C
  • First edition:


One of the most comprehensive books on golf course construction and strategy written by one of the leading architects of America’s golden age. Thirteen chapters make up this sacred text. Although it focuses on golf design in America, the principles contained therein should make it mandatory reading for every golfer let alone golf architecture student.

It may not read as easily as Colt or MacKenzie’s work but its worth the effort. It is a large book with illustrations and drawings from courses across Canada and the USA.

The second chapter is where it gets interesting for the keen architecture student, as Thomas discusses The Strategy of Golf Courses.

The third chapter addresses construction issues involving soil composition, terrain as well as essential elements that collectively make up the course.

His attention turns to other matters in Chapter Four, where he discusses the essential details like real estate, the clubhouse, and other ancillary properties.

Another must-read chapter is Five, entitled “Beauty and Utility.” Here, Thomas highlights the vital task of harmonising art and utility in copying nature. This theme is nuanced in the following chapter, where the author discusses “Adapting the Course to the Ground.” Perhaps the seventh chapter has more gravity now than ever before due to the advancement of technology.

Before moving onto discussing actual construction, Thomas attempts to explain the “Balance of Area”, a tall order as abstract artistic design theory is what is trying to be conveyed. Construction considerations are discussed before “Arbitrary Values” which discusses par values then onto the question of the modern ball — finally, the topic of drainage is considered at the end.

Thomas covers a plethora of topics. Some abstract, others are definite and absolute.

The first edition is an impressive book, but it doesn’t come cheap. The USGA republished the book in 1990 (IBSN 9780941774109). Despite publishing another version in 1997, the Sleeping Bear edition can still demand a premium (IBSN 9781886947146).

Read if . . .

You want a comprehensive overview of golf course construction and strategy from one of America's golden age architects.

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