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Finally, after decades of near misses Australia has itself a Masters champion, and a fine one at that. As a proud nation basks in the glory of yet another bucket-list sporting triumph, an industry gleefully accepts the overdue press and attention that has come its way. Column inches and mainstream news mentions are up, and even non-golfers are now familiar with Adam Scott, and aware of just how good he really is. Despite these very real and obvious green shoots, and contrary to popular logic, the challenges faced by our great game just got harder.
The first rule of golf course design is that there are no hard and fast rules, only principles by which the game is best played. The most famous principles were the 13 written by legendary designer Dr. Alister MacKenzie, on how to create the ‘ideal golf course’. MacKenzie’s commandments were more like ‘ideal world’ suggestions, and were elastic enough to have been broken by the great man himself countless times during an illustrious career. In explaining his design doctrine in the book The Spirit of St Andrews, MacKenzie warns that a common mistake for designers, ‘is to follow prevailing fashions’ and therefore lose sight of the strategic values that underpin our great game. In the modern era, the seven deadly sins of golf course design relate mostly to this very trend, of architects building ‘modern’ courses and trying to keep pace with technology by creating holes that the average golfer cannot handle.