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 - Amazon - Grounds 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.

From John Low to Tom Doak, Evalu18 sets out the best golf course architecture books you need to read. Some are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Others - difficult to source and costly. Despite their differences, all of them are worth reading.

The 8 Best Golf Course Architecture Books

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

History of Golf Course Architecture Books

You will notice an early work and one modern-day text. John Low didn't write the first book on the subject of golf course architecture - that title goes to Willie Park Jr in 1896. Concerning Golf, however, was the first book published to champion strategic golf design. From 1920 through to 1933, the brightest lights were shining during one of golf's most enlightened eras. On both sides of the Atlantic and in Australia, golf of the highest order was being constructed and written about.

Complete Your Education

These texts combined provide the student with everything one would want to know on the subject. After reading and digesting the information therein, what else is there to do?

For a student to round out their understanding of the matter, these design principles need to be seen applied in the wild. Exposure to the greatest golf in the world armed with the wisdom conveyed in these works provides the basis for a lifetime of study and contemplation.

Making up the foundation of current best practice, these eight books are the best texts which have ever been written on the subject. Start your journey of discovery now!

We wrote the Golf Course Architecture Beginners Guide because once you have your eyes opened to the intrigue of golf course architecture, your thirst for knowledge invariably deepens. Fortunately for us, many of the greatest architects liberally put pen to paper. With a rich catalogue of literary works on offer, where does one begin? Right here with the Golf Course Architecture Beginners Guide!

The First Step: Golf Course Architecture Beginners Guide

Evalu18's recommendation for a starting point is with the author, Geoff Shackelford. He doesn't speak down to the reader but dignifies the reader with a down-to-earth manner. What then is the ultimate first book for the aspiring golf course architect student? Look no further than Grounds for Golf - The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design. Acclaimed architect, Gil Hanse, provides the illustrations. Even if your interest in the subject is fleeting, you will be richer for having read and grasped the fundamentals contained in this book.

A photo of the book Grounds for Golf written by Geoff Shackelford and illustrated by Gil Hanse. It is included in our Golf Architecture Books Beginners Guide.
For your first purchase, you cannot go wrong with Geoff Shackelford & Gil Hanse book, Grounds For Golf. ©Evalu18

The Second Step: Golf Course Architecture Beginners Guide

Following on from here you'll be more than ready for Tom Doak's Anatomy of a Golf Course. The book should be the cornerstone of a golf architecture student's library. It is perhaps the best bang for your buck book on the subject. It is a modern classic that conveys design concepts in a logical, coherent manner even for the novice.

A photo of Tom Doak's book Anatomy of a Golf Course.
Easily found, Tom Doak's The Anatomy of a Golf Course won't break the bank.

Hooked?

The following are the best books written on the subject. Some are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Others, difficult to source and costly. Despite their differences, all of them are worth reading:

1903 - Concerning Golf by John Low
1920 - Some Essays on Golf-Course Architecture by Harry Colt & Hugh Alison
1920 - Golf Architecture by Dr Alister MacKenzie
1926 - The Links by Robert Hunter
1927 - Golf Architecture in America by George C Thomas
1929 - Architectural Side of Golf by Tom Simpson & HN Wethered
1933 - The Spirit of St. Andrews by Dr Alister MacKenzie

These texts combined provide the student with everything one would want to know on the subject. Making up the foundation of current best practice, they are the best golf course architecture books that have been written to date.

Down the Rabbit Warren?

If you're intrigued and the hook has set, Geoff Shackelford also delivers the following:

The Art of Golf Design
The Golden Age of Golf Design
Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design

Enjoy the Journey! Golf Course Architecture Beginners Guide

Your first steps down this path may lead you on a lifelong journey of discovery. Golf itself is enhanced as it becomes more cerebral. We hope the Golf Architecture Books Beginners Guide gets you off to a proper start with the first step firmly grounded. Happy reading!

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