Everything You Wanted to Know About Golf Architecture, But Were Afraid to Ask

By: Jeffrey D. Brauer

Editor’s Note: Over the past few years Jeffrey D. Brauer’s installments have been among the most popular features of Cybergolf’s Architect’s Corner. We can't get enough of Jeff, so over the next several months we're going to reveal - chapter by chapter - the contents of his upcoming book on golf course design. This installment is that book's introduction.

As with his Architect’s Corner pieces, you'll find these book excerpts will help demythologize golf course design and lay bare the complexities of the art form. Jeff will also have fun with the topic, and let us in on some of the tricks of his esteemed trade.

So here goes: More wonderful, witty, cutting-edge stories from one of golf’s brightest personalities and most creative course architects.


At age 15, I discovered girls and golf, creating an immediate desire to know more about sex and golf course design. My curiosity about sex was satisfied with a timely publication called, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask.

In golf design, no such publication existed, until now! I will shamelessly ignore critics claiming I don’t know enough about either subject to write authoritatively, and to answer your questions about golf course design!

Cybergolf readers responded enthusiastically to the “Architect’s Corner” column I wrote on the Quarry at Giant’s Ridge. Several e-mailed in questions concerning the design, and golf course design in general. With that series completed (we will return with finished photographs in the spring of 2003), I can devote my attention to answering your questions in a manner in which I wanted them to be answered.

Sure, over the years I discovered articles and books on golf course design. I found them wanting in several respects, including:

Outdated Topics and Language
Particularly in “Golden Age” books, which do have some timeless concepts, but also discuss the virtues of the (now old) “modern” ball, traveling the ungodly distance of 200 yards, and other obsolete issues. Moreover, they do so in elegant – or stilted, depending on your point of view – language, which is often hard to follow.

No Chance of Elegant Language Here!
My answers will be short and sweet and specifically targeted to your questions. Or, should I say, “Answers, short and sweet?”

“Whole Lot of Nothing” Books
A problem worthy of Seinfeld, where modern architects-authors write as if they’re one of the Golf Gods and mere mortals simply can’t understand design concepts! The result is a vague, 500-page book that answers virtually none of your questions! I can’t help but wonder if the architect really understands his own design principles after reading the books he wrote. Thousands of good trees went to waste on those tomes! I plan to say something here.

Off-Topic Books
Although important, I doubt the average golfer will be asking me what CAD programs I use, or how I do site analysis. You’re seeking answers for what the architect thought when he designed a golf course. Or, as golfers usually phrase it, “What the hell was that guy thinking when he designed that golf course?”

In breaking new ground for a golf course architect-author, I’ll be honest! I won’t attribute mundane features to a “higher plane” of thinking, if it’s just not so.

In presenting this series, I will address two problems in the world of golf architecture writing. First, I’ll try to give a detailed accounting of modern design philosophy, and hopefully a nearly equivalent modern version of the best of the Golden Age. Secondly, I’ll draw other modern architects out of their writing shells. I’m sure the minute some of them read this series, they’ll sure as heck respond, because they probably – and rightly – have different opinions and methods of design!

Enjoy the series, and please feel free to send questions to me at jeff@jeffreydbrauer.com.