Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Criteria

I've given a bit of thought to the concept of milieu lately. In a way some clubs have a milieu or place away about them that is their own. Pine Valley is perhaps the ultimate natural milieu. In its humble New Jersey pine forest it is the ultimate place away without any unnecessary doo-dads nor egotism about it. It wears as well as the old club blazer with stories to tell that I first referred to in the Mid Ocean review.

Some modern architects create their milieu and this is why they get hired. It is somewhat more than a cache, it is truly a milieu. Many times it is false and does not fit. Certainly Donald Trump's marriage of faux old world luxe with the Fazio design family (Tom, Jim, Tommy, Old Tom's sons Logan and the hanger-on one) is well-known but in the end the epitome of what is wrong with American Golf with its Money On Display and its Exclusionary and Exclusivity clause.

Coore and Crenshaw surely are the masters of the milieu and darlings of raters and writers in most corners of the globe, but it all winds up a little forced and even incomplete at times for me. Tom Doak and Gil Hanse in particular take bigger and more chances to reach higher highs on lesser properties while making world-class (deserved) reputations in the process. This is not to say that I do not like the Coore and Crenshaw golf courses, to the contrary I really do (in fact I nearly joined one club they designed), just not to the jump on the bandwagon with all four paws as is the norm for the self-appointed cognoscenti. To avoid all the darts and daggers, let me expand to say that I feel some well-deserving architects such as Jeff Brauer, Keith Foster, Kelly Blake Moran, Curley & Schmidt as moderately recognizable successful architects get lost in the shuffle having created arguably or actual Top 100 Modern-worthy courses while others such as Ian Andrew, Mike Nuzzo and Jeff Mingay remain at or near the "Who?" status with the average golfer.

Golf needs to grow on a more grass-roots level going forward during and after these very challenging economic times and lauding all the praise on a few or following a model such as Trump's are not for the good of the game. I cringed at the TrWWOG(sp.?) on the Golf Channel from Scotland - embarassing - more profanity that Gordon Ramsey on a cooking show, too boot. I also don't want to feel on the set in Hollywood, either, just a little taken away. Just far enough as to be believable.