posted on June 01, 2012 13:20
Time was when golf courses were laid out on the land without much movement of the soil. That is how our Lake Course at Olympic was constructed, and certainly this was the process of discovery that gave us St Andrews and all of the original linksland courses. But modern times and big equipment make earth movement possible and now golf courses can be built anywhere.
Last month television coverage displayed Whistling Straits, a golf course that when constructed required the movement of 800 thousand cubic yards of soil. Word has it that Donald Trump intends to move some of Scotland’s sacred sand next year as part of his Highland Clearance Redux, though hopefully not as much as the 25 million cubic yards shoved around for the Wynn project at Shadow Creek.
One has to wonder what the shepherds of Scotland would have thought about this and whether somehow it is not in keeping with the dictum of “play the course as you find it.” But such construction practices got me thinking about Richard Brautigan and Trout Fishing in America.
Brautigan was a San Francisco poet, a denizen of Washington Square and a friend during our City’s hallowed sixties. In his best-known collection of short essays, he recounted a visit to the Cleveland Wrecking Yard, and described the incredible array of reclaimed materials (windows, doors, sinks and chandeliers) that could be found there.
Then, in a typical Brautiganesque shuffle, he mentioned finding an inventory of used trout streams. Dismantled and stacked in the warehouse, he said, were straight stretches and bends, pools and waterfalls all priced by the foot. Some, he said were so clear that he could even see some lazy brown trout resting in the riffles.
So here’s my suggestion. All over the country these days golf clubs are struggling, some are even shutting down. If a local wrecking yard had some of that big equipment, they could pick up some of these courses. They could store the greens in one part of the warehouse, the bunkers in another, stack the fairways out back, and when someone wanted to build a golf course they wouldn’t even need an architect, just a big truck.