Forrest Richardson, ASGCA, has begun his term as American Society of Golf Course Architects president by releasing a stirring video – “Ahead of the Game” – that captures his vision of where golf course architecture is today and how architects are leading the way into the future.
“The game of 400 years ago was nothing at all like it is today,” Richardson says. “The term ‘golf course’ meant nothing at all until the game had been played for several hundred years.”
His view of the game, its rich history and the valuable role played by golf course architects focuses on three important directions for his fellow designers:
- Keep Thinking – “We need to keep looking at new formats for courses. We’ve had such a great run of looking at designs that break the mold. Our creativity needs to ramp up as we define what a golf course is and what it can be. Exciting stuff is happening across the world, but I’m certain not everything has been done or considered when figuring out how we design golf holes or how these new courses are going to look.”
Less is More – “Playing the game does not rely on hundreds of acres. That model will live on, but we need to plan smaller footprints or even not leave a footprint at all…rethink the water, the materials, the labor, the resources we use to build and maintain a golf course. In doing so, we will also be giving back the greatest commodity of all – time. We need more flexible courses that can be played in different ways, with fewer or shorter holes. The same creativity holds true with practice. Whether indoors or out, fun is now a part of the program.”
Design the Game – “When you are designing a golf course you are designing the game. There may be no better group than the world’s few hundred golf course architects to dig deep into the game itself. We’re the part of golf that has the creative DNA to design and invent what’s next. We have become so accustomed to standards, norms, policies and rules that, unfortunately, our courses have taken on some of these same characteristics. Does golf only happen when we have clubs and balls? Are courses only made up of what we call ‘golf holes?’
“Let’s start asking whether there are new ways to play the game, and also the wheres, the whens and the who? The game itself is where we can make a difference, and creativity is where we will help mold the game to fit an entirely new generation that has yet to come to golf. Golf courses of the future should be different, and they will be. We have the opportunity to ensure that difference will be more fun, more enjoyable, more diverse and inviting.”
Founded in 1946 by Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones and 12 other leading architects, the American Society of Golf Course Architects is a non-profit organization comprised of experienced golf course designers located throughout North America. Forrest Richardson is ASGCA’s 75th-year president and will serve in the role until the ASGCA Annual Meeting in October 2021