This week’s feature from Classics of Golf spotlights the 1929 classic, The Architectural Side of Golf by H.N. Wethered and T. Simpson.
Written at the close of the golden era of golf architecture, The Architectural Side of Golf is considered the grandest literary gem of its discipline. It is the last and most lavish of the several books on design published during the 1920s, with 44 plates drawn by Simpson and 26 etchings by Wethered. The authors reaped the benefit of seeing prior publications and crafted this to be as little like a textbook as possible, while exploring a wide variety of subjects directly and indirectly related to architecture.
Wethered and T. Simpson surmise that the art of the golf course is at a crossroads in the late 1920s. Gone are the days where players were “a mere handful of local enthusiasts who did not, perhaps, take the game in quite as serious a spirit as is the present custom.” The modern ball and clubs produce better, longer shots of controlled shapes in the hands of the pros. Match play has given way to stroke play and thus increased attention to every strike. This is modern golf, attacking all the time, shooting for the pin. The best players now practice regularly—even putting—and thereby invent all manners of shots to escape trouble. Wethered and T. Simpson ponder how an architect can defend the onslaught against par.
The discussion that “today’s golf ball goes too far” remains as relevant today as it was during the Roaring Twenties.