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Golf Digest Best New: Fast And Firm Has Arrived

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.

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Reader Comments (19)

What? You mean one intensional dead boring ariel golf is on its way out? Now that would be a fine thing!!methinks this would take some time though.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Doak didn't lead this revolution. The superintendents of America did. They deserve their accolades for doing so.
Sorry- bleep bleep I pad- dimensional!!
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Great to hear, requires less water, it's more challenging and makes you a more rounded more patient golfer, it looks better and flatters the ego of club golfers as your tee shots roll further.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichD
You mean we'll be forced to strategically deal with natural land features and hazards that meld with the terrain, instead of just plopped in places to be carried? Does it make Dawson the Old Course errand boy?
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Well Done America - getting closer to playing real golf, but still have to trim some distance off while getting the challenge back into your game before you can really call your game Golf, but then its a start of sorts I suppose. Doak has the right idea just not as yet close enough to the traditional game, but then you are a young country and we must give you time to mature.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOld Tom
Yes Melvyn
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOld George
RW's statements are revisionist.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Clayman
Ronny Come Lately.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Can't wait until someone invents a permeable asphalt base that we can grow grass on---then we will have firm and fast
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCT

Ah I see, fake golf on more fake ground - yes fast and firmly getting totally away from the traditional game called Golf - next we may hear when entering The Clubhouse - Will Sir be playing on the tv Screen or venturing out onto the course today?
Don't you just love the dedicated commitment of the modern golfer to himself, the game and its traditions.

What really surprises me is that anyone understands the implications of Fast & Firm Golf.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOld Tom
OT, what is fast and firm? In golf's beginnings did that not refer more to winter time conditions? Fast and firm is a fallacy propoagated by private clubs and tv tour golf. Its the appreciation for the ground game that must be the root effect and affect of all courses played on a links. The rest are just simply golf courses to us informed Yankees and if the ground game exists then maybe its because the conditions are possibly fast and firm.

Long live and love the links.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
I can't agree that the supers led this. They did the dirty work and are the reason we're moving in the right direction, but the minimalists Ron praises are the ones who brought the ideas here and pushed for a shift back to this kind of golf. It started in some ways with Pete Dye breaking the mold and grew from there.
11.8.2013 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Golf needs to be invigorated – this is a one little step in the right direction – thanks to all, humbly mortal or not.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOld Tom
I agree with tlavin's characterization. Seemed like Ron needed to crank out a column, rather than real conviction to me.

The benefit of Ron's column is that readers beyond the circle of gca enthusiasits might be persuaded that firm and fast is a good thing.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike T.
Firm and fast the same thing as architecture that promotes the ground game? Not in my book. Nothing firm and fast about dormant grass during shoulder seasons of links golf in the british isles or Bandon for that matter.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Actually, the F&F movement in the US was led by Night Watermen, struggling with quick-couplers and unable to keep the pumps running . . . oh, and you helped, too.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLudell Hogwaller
I am a fan of f and f but let's be honest, not all courses can do this because of poor design in the past where more bunkers meant cooler looking courses and a bigger WOW factor and more lots sold on the course. Not sure we want f and f on courses surrounded by tons of water hazards and greens surrounded by bunkers. Didn't the whole f and f come from golf courses in the British Isles which didn't have watering systems? I've played golf courses in Ireland that were greener and softer than Augusta National. It all depends on the weather and natural elements. Absolutely less watering is the way to go and the way courses in the future will be forced to go. But fast and firm doesn't work on all golf courses. Good to see that ENTIRE golf industry is maybe starting to get the grand picture and it absolutely starts with the ranking panels to reward the golf courses that CAN do this.
11.8.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
As Pete Dye has pointed out more than once to completely deaf ears, soil conditions inland do not permit fast and firm design. Countless green committees are packed with idiots who look at parkland settings and say, "Why can't this be more like Scotland?"
11.8.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFila rules

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