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If you’ve ever wanted to establish a golf course architecture library (GCA) library,  you may have been shocked at the expense involved. For some, this is where the journey ends. Many more are slow to invest because of the cost of the buy-in. A dusty, old book that only a few people are actually interested in can cost hundreds if not thousands of pounds… if you can find them at all.

GCA is a growing niche. Architects themselves are gaining acclaim and playing professionals are taking a keener interest. For many of us, understanding golf and what makes for great golf adds depth to the game we love. For all the talk of being woke… it is as simple as reading a book. Reading books is still the best way to gain insight and a working knowledge of GCA. Let’s look at the traditional first steps.

Building a Golf Course Architecture Library

The Cost of First Editions

£35 – 1997 – Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design by Geoff Shackelford
£150 – 1999 – The Golden Age of Golf Design by Geoff Shackelford
£50 – 2001 – The Art of Golf Design by Geoff Shackelford
£75 – 2003 – Grounds for Golf by Geoff Shackelford

£200 – 1903 – Concerning Golf by John Low
£2000 – 1920 – Some Essays on Golf-Course Architecture by Harry Colt & Hugh Alison
£2000 – 1920 – Golf Architecture by Dr Alister MacKenzie
£1750 – 1926 – The Links by Robert Hunter
£3500 – 1927 – Golf Architecture in America by George C Thomas
£1200 – 1929 – Architectural Side of Golf by Tom Simpson & HN Wethered
£20 – 1933 – The Spirit of St. Andrews by Alister MacKenzie
£20 – 1992 – The Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak

If you bought the preceding 12 books you’d probably never have to buy another again. This one shelf would serve you well and give you a comprehensive overview of golf course architecture best practice. However, you’d have to fork over £11,000 to acquire the 12 books. For most of us, that simply won’t happen. What are the other options?

The Extraordinary Value of Reprints

Most of the older books mentioned previously can be found either as reprints or print on demand.

2018 Reprint – £15 – Abebooks – Concerning Golf by John Low
1952 Reprint – £50 – Abebooks – Architectural Side of Golf by Tom Simpson & HN Wethered*

*The reprint is identical but was published as “Design For Golf”

Building a golf course architecture library doesn't need to be expensive. A photo of three books. 2 reprints and the 1952 book Design for Golf are shown as examples.

The green book is Design for Golf. It is a reprint of The Architectural Side of Golf from 1952 and can be found for a fraction of the price.

Digital Reads: e-Books Amazon & Google

£3.68 – AmazonGrounds for Golf by Geoff Shackelford
£2.38 – GoogleSome Essays on Golf-Course Architecture by Harry Colt & Hugh Alison
£1.99 – AmazonGolf Architecture by Dr Alister MacKenzie
£1.99 – AmazonThe Links by Robert Hunter
£2.38 – GoogleGolf Architecture in America by George C Thomas
£10.28 – AmazonThe Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak

While not all the titles are available online as of yet, these 6 give you everything you need to get you up and running. A comprehensive GCA Library for the grand total of £22.70. That’s a savings of £9,322.30!

Build a Golf Course Architecture Library For Free

If you’re quick, click the link below, read them once in the next 30 days and its cost you nothing! Download the Kindle App and you can read the books on any device.

Building a Golf Course Architecture Library Summary

You can take the first step in building a GCA library for free. If you want more, you can spend £25 to build your library and keep them for reference if so desired. For a couple of hundred quid, you can have a shelf that will see keep you entertained for a lifetime.

For some, golf course architecture is a high brow pursuit. Equated with privilege and snobbery, it is degraded as intellectual folly. That is a shame. The irony is that if those that hold such a view were to read the books highlighted, they would realise that golf architecture was founded on the precept is should be done with economy and for the benefit of the many, not the few. I guess for some it is still more ‘woke’ to hold an uniformed opinion than read a book.

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