As noted below, the title of this tidy book is rather cumbersome. But, with only a page or two devoted to the nine main sections and dozens of subsections, it covers a lot of territories. Among the areas discussed are how to identify a golf course architect when considering a golf course remodel; renovation principles; considerations for an upgrade to tees, greens, fairways, hazards, roughs, and infrastructure; and golf course construction criteria.
The book was edited by Jeffrey D. Brauer, an ASGCA past president who has designed 17 new golf courses (some of which received “best-of” recognition and other awards), a half-dozen golf course renovations, and many master plans. [Full disclosure: The Texas-based golf course architect wrote many entertaining, often funny, and always thoughtful articles for Cybergolf.com when I was its editorial director from 2000-15. Jeff B. even had his own section – called “Green Committee Guide” – on the website, which was the framework for a book that I was going to publish. But circumstances led me to depart the publishing business. Yet Brauer stayed with it and, thankfully, this book is the result.]
The Preface, written by 2020 ASGCA Foundation president Lee Schmidt, indicates that Brauer was joined in the effort by fellow ASGCA members Nathan Crace, Greg Muirhead, and John Sanford who “provided comments, edits, and expertise in the writing.” The result is a helpful, easy-to-understand guide that will help golf course superintendents navigate the sometimes-contentious process of remodeling projects while mitigating the egos and inexperience of Green Committee members.
“I think it’s a valuable take on golf course architecture and not the usual high-minded fluff that some past and present architects seem prone to write,” Brauer told me. “It’s a topic-by-topic ‘searchable’ book, divided into practical areas that come up often. You don’t have to read it cover to cover to benefit. If you have a question on tees, for example, there is a dedicated section, with four or five aspects, like size, shape, how to organize middle and forward tees, etc.
“I think it will help golf course superintendents convince their green committees that they know what they are doing and that many ‘by committee’ design or construction ideas are less than ideal,” added Brauer. “You know, the old expert from out of town is easier to listen to than your own superintendent.”
The book is also useful for course management companies, metropolitan park departments, and operators of single golf courses. Mainly though, it’s filled with thoughtful, proven, “A-to-Z” precepts that have been established by experienced architects over decades of in-the-field golf-course design.
In other words, every superintendent and golf course proprietor in the U.S. – and abroad – should have this title in their bookshelf.
“Designs on a Better Golf Course: Practical Answers to Common Questions for Green Committees,” published by the American Society of Golf Course Architects Foundation, edited by Jeffrey D. Brauer, copyright 2020, 135 pages, $24.95, ISBN 9798689211541
Jeff Shelley has written and published nine books as well as numerous articles for print and online media over his lengthy career. Among his titles are three editions of the book, “Golf Courses of the Pacific Northwest.” The Seattle resident was the editorial director of Cybergolf.com from 2000-15. For seven years he served as the board president of First Green, an educational outreach program that is now part of the Golf Course Superintendents of America and Environmental Institute for Golf.