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Thomas A. Marzolf

Fazio Course Designers
Hendersonville, NC

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Philosophy of Design

In my opinion, the most important aspect of golf course design is strategy.

Playing golf is placing your ball so that you are always in the best position to play your next shot. In this regard good players will review the shot options by studying the green (angle, shape, hole location, best route of attack), and plot their course backward from the green.

The goal is to always aim for a spot that best allows for success on the next shot. In this regard, golf is very similar to a game of pool/billiards or a game of chess. Golf, at its best, is a thinking game. The smart player is rewarded for thinking, and the un-skilled, non-thinking player is punished.

The golf architect creates the playing field for the sport with a course that makes you think, holds your interest longer.

The game's best courses are the best because the element of strategy was designed in by a skilled golf architect. Only the best strategic courses are among the Top Ten courses in the United States. Strategy has lasting value. Without it, the game is reduced to a walk in the park.

There is nothing wrong with an average course with little strategic emphasis— this course may be fun and user friendly. However, this course will never be considered great, and could never serve as the course for a major championship. Life is short, and with my work, I have focused on trying to build courses of lasting value, which means that strategy must be included.

The second most important aspect is beauty.

A golf hole is an artistic composition, painted by the golf architect and nature. The site is the stage, and the architect is the director. Soil is the canvas. The edges of the field of vision are the frame to the picture. The bunker is the hazard, and also the interest, or the spice.

The golf architect puts a golf hole together with the same elements of composition that an artist uses to paint a picture. The rules of composition are how the human brain breaks down a picture. The design process includes the desire to create interest through beauty.

The average golfer may not understand strategy. But the average golfer will recognize beauty. A beautiful course will have value.

The best golf architects have a skill to combine beauty and strategy. This is a winning combination, and is the key to a successful career in golf course design.

Without this skill, your work will be weak, or soon forgotten. The average golfer demands beauty. The game's best players strive to be tested. Strategy creates the lasting challenge, which few can master.