John D. Aley asks, ‘Do ya’all follow rules?’

I have gotten some mail about this series, some of which focuses on my throwing out my R.O.B.O.T’s of golf course design. I can understand this, as most architects will say something like, “My only rule is to have no rules,” and most golfers buy this hogwash hook, line and sinker.

If architects have no rules, then why haven’t we seen any 14-hole, par-98, 9,763-yard golf courses? Why are the greens, tees and bunkers of even the most controversial and/or creative architects today fairly similar in size and character?

It’s because we have learned over the centuries of golf design what works and what doesn’t and, more importantly, why it works or doesn’t. That is the information I am sharing with you in a straightforward manner.

And, while nostalgia is strong for older features like blind holes, I for one don’t long for the good old days of cresting a hill to find my golf ball lying beneath an unconscious, bleeding golfer. Golf should not be about saying, “Never having to say you’re sorry*,” or “This is my Titleist, I think that’s your ball by the dead guy.”**

Apparently, some in the golf design business may not like me sharing these ideas with you, perhaps fearing that each of you will become a competitor by the time this series ends. On the other hand, I have gotten some very favorable responses to this series from other readers.

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then I am truly flattered! Most of the responses include acronyms similar to my R.O.B.O.T. as a way to mirror and compliment my writing. Reading these heartfelt comments really warms my heart. Here are just a few samples.

“Jeff, you are full of CRAP.” (Surely an acronym for Concepts Rarely Applied Previously) What a compliment!

Here’s another:

“Jeff, you are a FATASS!” (meaning, I’m sure, a Futuristic Architect Today Actually Saying Something)

And yet another compliment:

“You’re a real BASTARD!” (Beguiling Architect Standing Tall Against Ridiculous Design)


“You must be a DRUNK!” (Not sure, but I think this acronym means Designer Really Unveiling New Knowledge)

And, “Jeff, your courses are GAWDAWFUL!” (Generally, Always Well Designed And Wonderfully Finding Ultimate Land)

Lastly, this one:

“Jeff, you make me BARF!” (Begin Assessing Real Facts)

I must confess, I did get one unflattering letter, suggesting that I didn’t know what I was talking about, and that I didn’t have a clue (Clear, Laudable Understanding of Everything?) about what serious architecture buffs were saying about this series.

Now, where would he get that idea?

* This line comes from a sappy movie called “Love Story” which I felt should be legally liable for my uncontrollable vomiting episodes upon seeing it . . .

**It should also never be about saying “I’ll have my lawyer call you.”