Ron Whitten unveils Golf Digest's annual Best New, which thanks to the economy remains more of a celebration of the few quality projects that managed to conclude with a new or revitalized course.
There's a slideshow of all the named courses here, but more interesting is Whitten's take that the changing of the guard is complete: "Old golf-course architects never fade away; they just lose their draw."
Citing Tom Doak as his mythical architect of the year and naming Gil Hanse and Coore and Crenshaw as part of the changing guard, he writes:
How did this New Wave upset the Establishment architects? Mainly because of a fundamental shift in how American golfers play the game. For decades, golf in America was an aerial game. Turf conditions were green, lush and uniform, a concession mostly to housing developers who financed most course projects.
Those conditions demanded long carries and afforded little roll. Subsequently, club manufacturers developed equipment meant to get the ball in the air and keep it there for as long as possible. Instructors taught methodology aimed at the same goal.
Then along came the upstarts, led by Doak, who embraced the Scottish/Irish (and early American) standard of drier turf and bounce-and-roll golf. The ideal, Doak has pointed out, would be to have fairway approaches into greens be firmer than the putting surfaces, but across America, just the opposite had been the norm for decades. The Doak formula was not immediately accepted in America; in many climates, firm and fast seemed impossible to achieve.