In letter to us, noted architect calls for restraint in golf course design

We received the following letter from John LaFoy, a noted American golf designer, in response to our recent newsletter article “Golf Designer Chic is Dead."


        I was just forwarded your recent article regarding the fate of some current high profile real estate developments where you were kind enough to mention my name.  I greatly appreciate the kind words regarding some of my golf courses, as they mean so much

Golf is really a pretty simple concept -- it has already been "invented."

more coming from someone like you.  I have always believed that many of the "second tier" designers ultimately deliver as good a product as the big name guys, but it certainly sounds self-serving when it comes from us -- so thank you!  I think way too often the "name" architects actually try too hard to justify their lofty fees by designing golf courses with features that may be off the charts from a playability and aesthetic standpoint.  Golf is really a pretty simple concept -- it has already been "invented."  It is indeed important to be creative, but way too often many of us go wrong when we try to think of something that hasn't been done yet.  It is often a disaster!  I'll try and not get on my soapbox or this note will be way too long.

        Being here in Greenville (SC), I keep up pretty closely what is going on with the Cliffs developments, as well as other projects close by in the mountains of North Carolina.  I am close-friends with the folks at Landscapes Unlimited, so I have followed the Seven Falls project at a distance.  I hate to see any of these projects fail, as I think it sets back new golf oriented developments, and even worse, the game of golf to a certain extent.  I guess the term "irrational exuberance" would not be totally inappropriate for some of the golf related developments completed in the past few years where the golf course as a stand-alone amenity was just unsustainable.  That coupled with poor real estate sales just doomed these projects -- hopefully just temporarily!

        You mentioned specifically the financial package at the Cliffs where the property owners have been asked to consider lending the developer enough capital to complete the amenities that they already have in the works.  Let's hope that enough of them will participate and be confident that their investment in their own golf course community is a winner for both them and the developer!

        Thank you again!

John (LaFoy)


John LaFoy has an impressive list of golf course designs in his portfolio, including the Linville Ridge Country Club (NC), Country Club of Charleston (SC), and Glenmore Golf Club (VA), whose community, as well as its golf course, is a favorite of ours.  Mr. LaFoy, who is a former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, has also remodeled some of the classic golf courses of Ross, Tillinghast, McDonald, Mackenzie and Raynor.  I played the LaFoy-renovated layout at the Surf Club in Myrtle Beach, a fine example of a straightforward golf course where the designer does not intrude on shotmaking.

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